BOSTON (CBS) — What’s as American than a refreshing iced tea on a hot July afternoon? An immigrant entrepreneurship success story.
Evy Chen, a young Chinese woman who moved to the States to attend school, has just that.
As founder of Cold Brew Evy Tea, Chen told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Wednesday that she just closed on $1 million in seed funding.
“We’ve been having so much consumer demand in the past couple years, and the money is to build that demand,” said Chen.
Boston-based Evy Tea was established in 2014. Chen set out to change the mindset of tea-drinkers in the States.
Chen said she became fascinated by the American iced tea culture after her move.
She concluded the tea available was often cheap, “and it’s so sugary it’ll eventually kill you.”
Also, ‘the tea was stuck either being very Asian, very zen or very grandma and very English breakfast style , it just didn’t fit my lifestyle and that didn’t represent who I was as a person so I said I’m going to create a product that changes the way that people think of tea, interact with tea, and consume them.”
Evy Tea is the first cold-brewed tea company in the country.
Chen compared the brewing process to making beer or wine. “It’s all about the experiment and the process of time and temperature,” she said.
The tea leaves, imported from around the world, soak in water for 16-24 hours.
According to Chen, this leads to more flavor, less caffeine “and a better tea experience all around.”
This summer alone, Evy Tea will produce about 10,000 gallons of tea. Chen estimated that number could grow to 15,000 to 20,000 by the end of the year.
Customers can enjoy Cold Brew Evy Tea at their tea bar location in Jamaica Plain, at select retailers, and by tracking down their ‘mobile tea bar” run out of a retro trailer.
“We really try to stay ahead of the trend and be innovative,” explained Chen. “Coming from me as an entrepreneur, I feel like often people really focus on ‘oh, you’re now,’ ‘where are you going?’ ‘what’s next?’ and they don’t quite see where you come from. I think Air Stream [trailer] is really quite a good combo of old and new.”
With continued success and a chunk of seed money, Chen and Evy Tea are looking at expansion.
A second tea bar is in the works in Charlestown and increases in production are planned.
While it appeared like fast success, Chen said has been a fortification of years of experience and hard work.
Chen has had gumption running through her veins since childhood.
She was born into a Revolutionist family is southern China. Her father had been working to privatize the television industry.
“Since I was little, I was who I am today, except I was tiny!” said Chen. “I was a wild child since I was three-years-old, in kindergarten I would start a riot with my three-year-old classmates. I would say, ‘we don’t need nap time, let’s go play!'”
Realizing Chen’s energy didn’t fit the mold of the Chinese society and culture, she said her parents decided to send her to Switzerland at age 15.
At 18, Chen moved to Boston to attend Emerson College, and shortly thereafter, Evy Tea Cold Brew was created.
“I’ve been working at this for quite a while now. When I graduated from college, which was 2010, that was when the idea really started to brew, no pun intended…yes, pun intended,” Chen laughed.