When destiny meets innovation and passion you get Strip Teas by Kamelia:Luxe – a tea company with a sexy, flirty, bent on tea. Just ask Emily Koteff-Moreano, co-founder and owner, I did.
In 2007 Emily’s fiancé Keir Moreano (now husband), a documentary filmmaker, was hired to film “The Meaning of Tea”. Filming of the documentary required extensive travel outside of the United States – India, Taiwan, Morocco, and across Europe. While in India, the documentary crew hired Mridul Tiwari as their host and guide. Thanks to her keen eyes, Mridul recognized that Keir was sick and obtained life-saving medical attention on his behalf. Brought together by crisis, Mridul and Emily developed a long-lasting friendship. This may seem like an episode from Survivor, but in actuality, it was the point where destiny connected with passion.
Mridul, born and raised in the Darjeeling region of India, comes from a family of tea plantation owners. Tea is her heritage and passion. It was Mridul who introduced Emily to the high quality tea grown on her family’s plantation. Within months, the pair formed Strip Teas the now flagship brand of Kamelia:Luxe. This is where destiny and passion connect with creativity. Emily, a graphic designer and marketing professional by trade, used her creative flair to brainstorm the name, design the packaging, and brand the product. She never imagined being the owner of a tea company, yet 2010 marked the second year Strip Teas has been retailing its ingenious brand of teas online.
During the interview I asked, “How long have you been in love with tea?” and was surprised to discover that growing up Emily did not drink or like tea. Today she realizes this was due to a lack of exposure to quality tea. Emily credits the documentary experience for exposing her to new varieties of tea, the opportunity to drink high quality tea, and learning about tea ceremonies that are not commonly observed in the U.S. Emily reminisced about the five months she lived in England as a foreign exchange student while in college. She remembers being teased because tea was not an integral part of her culture as it was with the British students with whom she lived.
When asked, “what do you love most about being a teapreneur?” Emily stated, “Giving people an experience, not just selling a product. When people sit down and have a cup of tea they are taking a moment for themselves – even in the midst of multitasking. Tea is not just another widget but a moment in time and by selling my tea products I am able to be present in that moment.” But with all the glory of being a business owner, there comes many fears. “The worry of customs – I fear that the tea shipments will be sent back to India. Selling is hard. The uncertainties that impact success, like the economy. But overall, the fear of allowing the product to grow on its own with the hope that everyone will like the products as much as I do.”
Both the company and it’s products represent everything the founders, Emily and Mridul, believe in within a small package: the camaraderie that comes with tea, culture, design, earth friendly – recyclable, and supports the very notion of a woman in business which is not typical for women in India. Strip Teas offers seven tea varieties: Darjeeling, Kashmiri Kahawa, Sweet Khus, Maristar, Masala Chai, Pushkar Rose, and Mint. To learn more or to purchase, visit Strip Teas by Kamelia:Luxe website or read Tea Escapade’s review of Pushkar Rose or Kashmiri Kahawa.