The Jasmine Pearl: Our story and the evolution of a tea company
Hi, I’m Heather Agosta – co-founder of the Jasmine Pearl Tea Company. So much has changed in our business since 2020 that I thought it was definitely time to update our story.
We are direct importers and blenders of specialty loose leaf teas. Our company currently is run by myself, my husband and co-founder Chuck Bauman, and our four-person team. We source teas, herbs, and spices (most of them organic) and hand blend them on-site into our signature tea blends. We sell teas to retail customers online and to a wide array of wholesale customers. You can find our teas served in cafés around the country as well as grocery stores, gift shops, and wellness centers. Additionally, our teas can be found in fancy ice cream, exotic kombucha bottles, delectable confections, baked goods, and bubble tea.
We have endured for nearly 20 years for a few reasons: We make amazing tea with a lot of love. We love our staff and our vendors. Most importantly, we love our customers. Seriously, we have the best customers.
Each of our teas is packed with care and we believe that our reverence to the art of tea and the cultures each tea represents infuses them with a little something extra. We hope that operating with integrity and care will allow us to continue to keep doing what we love for the foreseeable future.
Jasmine Pearl Tea Company History
In 2002, The Jasmine Pearl began as a crazy idea in the minds of partners Heather Agosta and Chuck Bauman. Sipping tea in a Moorish teahouse in southern Spain, they pondered ways to share delicious teas and authentic tea experience with people back in The United States. Ideas sparked inspiration – and fueled by their deep interest in tea – kindled the business concept.
Two years later, in 2004, after much study, blend development and sourcing, The Jasmine Pearl was born. Agosta and Bauman began importing and handcrafting loose leaf tea blends in the basement of their North Portland home. Establishing a base of wholesale customers and online retail presence, the business began to grow.
In 2010, it became apparent that the business had grown so much that their basement was no longer large enough to house the business. Moving into Northeast Portland’s historic Bakery Building that summer, The Jasmine Pearl not only gained much more blending, packaging and wholesale space, but was also able to open a retail store front and tasting bar in October of 2010.
In addition to the sampling bar, the shop featured a wide selection of functional teaware suitable for different lifestyles and a continuous rotation of locally made artisan teaware. The shop also regularly hosted classes, guest speakers, and food pairings, including traditional Japanese confections called Wagashi.
By the end of 2019, over 18 years after the idea was born, The Jasmine Pearl had grown into a well-established tea importer, blender, and broker, with teas sold in hundreds of cafes and stores across the country.
In 2020, the global pandemic brought many difficult changes to the company and the world at large. Jasmine Pearl said goodbye to many of our cherished business partners - small businesses and friends that we had worked closely with and grown alongside for many years. We lost much of our beloved team, reducing our staff from 23 amazing people to a team of just six. The biggest adjustment for retail customers was the closing of Jasmine Pearl’s teashop after a decade of operation.
A New Era
Thankfully, the dust has settled at Jasmine Pearl and our business has stabilized. The company looks quite a bit different, though. We now have a small (but mighty) team and we have chosen to operate 100% online. Instead of being bosses, Heather and Chuck blend tea and talk to customers – like the old days. What hasn’t changed? We continue to import, blend, and sell fine loose-leaf teas to awesome people.