Humble Tea / Tea Drops
What they do
Humble Tea Inc., doing business as Tea Drops, is an Encinitas-based retailer of lightly sweetened loose-leaf tea pressed into a single-serving dissolvable drop, available online and in stores across the country. Founder Sashee Chandran says tea is very much a part of her culture growing up, as a child of a Sri Lankan dad (who was born on a tea estate) and a Chinese mom. When Sashee found herself working in a fast-paced environment, she wanted to recreate the ritual of tea without the time and loose leaves it took to create a quality cup.
Why not tea bags? According to Sashee, tea bags don’t allow for the full aroma or flavor of tea leaves, and 80% of tea bags are bleached or contain microplastics. A visit to a bath bomb retail chain at the mall inspired the notion of a sensory tea experience that doesn’t require loose leaves or tea bags.
“What if we put tea in the same format as a bath bomb?” Sashee asked herself. She tested her hypothesis in her kitchen for a year and a half, starting out with tea powder.
At her local SCORE location, Sashee connected with a retired attorney, who advised her to patent her creation.
Since then, Sashee has quit her job, fallen in love with entrepreneurship, left Los Angeles for Encinitas for a lifestyle change, and started scaling her business. Once sold at farmers’ markets and artisan shows, Tea Drops is now available at thousands of retail locations, including Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Cost Plus World Market, and Walmart.
Why we invested
Sashee first connected with Mission Driven Finance Director of Business Development Oralia Alvarez at a Village Up San Diego panel for diverse women-owned businesses.
Tea Drops sought funding to meet inventory financing needs as it expands its reach across the country, including its expansion to Sprouts, Target stores, and Walmart stores. Mission Driven Finance is proud to support this woman of color-owned business through the place-based inclusive entrepreneurship fund Advance.
“Growth has felt very fast and I’ve experienced lots of hard knocks,” says Sashee. “It takes an insane amount of grit to see something like this business through, and I’m glad Mission Driven Finance is aligned with the values at Tea Drops.”