Our Story

The dream that started it all...

People ask me how I went from almost 3 decades in emergency services as a paramedic and managing a region to creating a custom tea blending business. So, this in part, is how it rolled out (buckle in for the ride):
One night back in early 2006 I had a dream. I was walking down the rural road I grew up on. I passed an elderly lady who I noticed was cooking something on a small fire in the ditch (Yes, down in the deep ditch). As I approached her she asked me if I wanted some apple tea. An odd question I thought, because I seldom drank coffee let alone tea; but being polite I reached down and took the cup and drank it. I remember handing her the cup back and saying “Thanks, that tasted great.” which I recall it did.  She replied, “Of course it did, you created it.” Thinking she was just a crazy old lady and with a flashback to a Hansel and Gretel episode about to play out in my head, I thanked her again and as I turned away the dream slowly started to turn from black & white to color. I know weird!
I always believed our dreams were simply issues, events, or old snapshots that can get all twisted around and played out in our subconscious. Most of the time you can figure out why you dreamt certain things. The odd thing was, I couldn’t shake this dream. I’m sure many psychotherapists could rip this dream apart – I’m easy pickings here! Trust me, I tried for weeks that turned into months. Don’t get me wrong I wasn’t obsessed with it. But from time to time it would creep back into my brain. I couldn’t think of anything that happened or that could be twisted to explain this “old lady apple tea” thing – that morning or since then. My wife suggested I try and find a solution to the mystery of the apple tea dream so that I can stop mentioning it every damn time we went to the market. So I turned to the one place all answers can be found… the internet (insert sarcasm). I learned about teas and apples- even tried to make my own apple tea from dried apples, thinking it might trigger something, bad idea – sucked! What I did discover was the obvious; tea companies create “their blends” and flavors based on what THEY think WE will enjoy – they don’t give us a choice in that process, besides a small focus group for tasting. And like anything in mass production, if consumer sales drop, they simply discontinue that blend.  I realized the missing component in that business concept was real consumer CHOICE. I knew companies couldn’t mass produce anything and offer so many consumer choices and stay practical and/or profitable. Just not possible… but what if a small company could develop a way to do it? Who doesn’t want choices in life?
So I figured out that there weren’t many tea companies that offered a lot of choices. A few peppered here and there that had a couple options to add something to blah blah blah. OK, so what happened next? I still found myself in tea aisles at stores just looking for a simple “Apple Tea“. Again, not some sort of obsession – but when around a tea isle I was compelled (now that sounds intense) to browse down and look for Apple Tea. One store- two stores. A different location a different week. Still no “Apple Tea”. At some point I recall standing looking at a 20 foot wall of different teas (yes a bit of an exaggeration but it’s leading up to a monumental moment here so keep reading…) and not seeing any apple tea, I asked myself; If I can’t even find a simple tea like apple tea- what would someone do if they wanted a crazy blend like pumpkin-mango-clove tea? I don’t recall the exact blend- but you get the idea. That’s when the dream clicked; it came rushing back, her words: “Of course it did, you created it.” It was like a weight was lifted off my back at that moment; that passion soon became purpose. I hit the internet again and learned as much as I could about tea and flavoring profiles. After much experimenting and a leap off the corporate diving board, Design a Tea was born. I wanted to create that small company that can offer ultimate “choice” for tea lovers to try new blends… their blends. Since launching, there have been other tea companies (even a few of the BIG GUYS) that have jumped on this – lets give the people choices bandwagon- but to date no place offers as many options and possible flavoring(s) and herb(s) tea blend profiles as Design A Tea 🙂
We have been riding this adventure ever since late 2007. I check the mail everyday looking for a screenplay to be presented for my review. I’m thinking someone like Sean Connery could play me. 
So that’s it in a nutshell, dreams can have meaning… or they can be the result of a burrito too late at night. You never know – but give them some thought anyway. Who knows what might come of one!    Brian

A Little More

About Us

Leaving a respected and profitable position in emergency services was a major leap of faith. Faith in the concept, the products and the dream, but most importantly myself. We all reach a point in our lives where we need to take back a little more control. Having spent years in the corporate setting and understanding the principles of what is and isn’t a priority. Life and work should not be about battles, flow charts, projections, graphs and statistics. I understand business and also realize those things are necessary in the business world to measure growth and success. But to have those become the purpose or motivation to that “measured” success is where I and the corporate world looked at things a little differently.
Maybe it’s something I learned way back before my father died. He was a great self-employed carpenter and he believed that your word and a handshake was what good business was all about. How times have changed. We still try and bring that simple business concept to Design a Tea as much as possible or as much as our attorney will allow us. Life is way too short to fight battles all the time. So grab some tea – “custom designed of course”- a cup of hot water, find a quite hiding place (maybe under your desk or in a dark closet….no, don’t do it in a dark closet or under your desk – please you are holding a hot cup of water…) and simply enjoy the next 30 minutes of this adventure they call reality.
My wife, Jenn and I- along with our dog Baco (who is the director of operations currently) and our most recent new-hire Zeena (picture coming soon) live in the rolling hills of Bennington New York. We created a small artisan tea company and we remain true to our roots to provide a great experience, a great product for a fair price all wrapped with a sarcastic bow they call Brian for that added touch. We have a core group of crazy people that have gotten us to where we are today, despite me!
Side-note our road is still a dirt rural road like it was in that dream (I know freaky)

Common Questions About Teas

Before we even start down this tea path adventure – please remember the #1 RULE– Tea is like wine, in that you can make it as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. So with that said… make AND keep it simple! 
The difference between loose and bagged tea is a little more complex than the obvious fact one starts with an “L” and the other a “B”. When you use quality loose leave teas you’ll notice that the size is the first difference. The tea used in most store bought mass produced tea bags is tea dust and or fannings, the smallest marketable part of the tea grading process.
When a tea leaf begins to steep it will expand and move around in the water or strainer. We like to refer to this as the “dancing part” of the steeping process. This “dancing” is when the flavors and most health benefits are released in the brew. As you can imagine, when you place quality loose leaf teas in a bag and seal it, you keep those tea leaves from their full range of dance moves, impacting the taste. Will loose tea taste better? We believe so, but that’s up to you. We might just be making this all up.
When finished watching the leaves dance, and enjoying your cup of tea, another added benefit to loose leaf brewing is that you can empty the leaves on your favorite plant; well don’t just dump them on top of the plant-that will make them look pretty ugly. Add the leaves to the soil. They makes a great compost and the aroma of the flavoring will stick around a bit.
The BIGGEST bonus to ordering loose leaf tea versus with the Easy Fill Bags option; is you’ll actually be getting more tea for the same price. Small loose option gives you around 15 servings. Small ‘with a packet of Easy Fill Bags’ option = 10 servings
We have grown accustomed to the convenience of reaching into the cupboard and plopping a tea bag in a cup and nuking it to perfection. That’s unfortunately the convenience part of the fast paced world we live in and we get it. We don’t always have the time to fart around with loose leave brewing ourselves. I can see the tea snobs reading this thinking this man speaks blasphemy!!
So if you order your tea with the Easy Fill Bags option- your tea blend will still come loose in the package, but you will receive a packet of the appropriate amount of Easy-Fill tea bags for that size bag of tea. Keep in mind though that that package (when ordered with Easy Fill Bags) will have less grams of tea in it than if ordered without the Easy Fill Bags. 
HOW TO USE THESE STUPID EASY FILL BAGS: Just place a level tea spoon full of tea in the bag and drape it over the side of the cup. That easy! Every packet of tea bags will have picture instructions and a cute “travel sachet” (which is fancy for a small plastic zip-lock bag you can toss a couple in for the ride to the office) for convenient brewing. *** I will share one of the big secrets to using these EF Bags. After you slip the spoon into the slot- give it a twist to open the bag BEFORE you load the spoon with tea. Otherwise you will put on a great show for anyone watching you try to fill these. 
Tea is among the richest natural sources of antioxidants, which have been linked with cancer prevention, decreased risk of stroke, and reduced blood cholesterol. Additionally, it has trace amounts of various nutrients such as the amino acid theanine; the minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium; and the vitamins C and K.
Based on available scientific research, tea and tea flavonoids have also been shown to help strengthen the body’s immune system, protect teeth by inhibiting plaque bacteria, potentially fight free radicals produced during strenuous exercise, and possibly increase calories burned during everyday activities.
Naturally occurring antioxidants are nutrients found in most plants, including fruits and vegetables. The process of breaking down food for energy creates free radicals and peroxides in your body everyday. Antioxidants help your body keep these harmful substances in check. They bind free radicals and peroxides–both of which are oxygen-containing molecules in your body that, if left unchecked, can damage your DNA, lipid and protein in your body.
All teas are rich in antioxidants, including a class called flavonoids. Green Teas contain more of the simple flavonoids called catechins, while the oxidization that the leaves undergo to make Black Tea converts these simple flavonoids to the more complex varieties called theaflavins and thearubigins.
Green, Oolong and Black Teas all come from the upper leaves of the Camellia sinensis. White Tea consists only of leaves from the branch tips-particularly the leaf bud and the first two leaves under the bud. When we talk about Rooibos as a tea, well technically it’s not a true tea because it doesn’t come from the good ole Camellia brush. It’s an herb, referred to as a tissane in the tea world. But we call it “red-tea” here in America. I guess because we can.
For all four teas, the main point differentiating them from each other comes down to processing. After being picked from the Camellia sinensis plant, both White and Green Teas are minimally oxidized for the most part, Oolong Tea is partially oxidized, and Black Tea is fully oxidized. What is this oxidization you speak of? Oxidation occurs when enzymes in the tea leaves are released, the leaf respond to the oxygen in the environment, causing the leaves to turn a bright copper color. Think of crushing a leaf and the places where it gets “folded” or torn will start to look wet. That’s the enzymes working on the leaf…oxidation is starting. Don’t believe me? Grab a leaf and bend it.
The way producers halt the oxidization process is with heat (dry or steam). So if white teas are less oxidized…you know all that means is they turn on the old hair dryer sooner than later. Relax they really don’t use a hair dryer!
With Green Tea, the leaves are steamed and/or pan fired, then some are rolled before drying. Leaves for Oolong Tea are partially oxidized (more than Green Tea, less than Black Tea), then dried. Black Tea is fully oxidized which makes it prime pickings for flavoring. The processing of all these different teas from around the world are all basically the same – in concept. But the heat/method/length of time to acheive the desired profile is different. Teas from one side of a mountain will taste different than the other side and will profiles will alter between each harvest and season. So often times growers overlap pickings to blend together so most people won’t be able to taste any subtle differences… but the tea snobs know- oh they say they know…
Longer processing gives Black Teas a more full-bodied and robust taste and less processing gives Green Teas a more delicate, fresh taste, while Oolong Teas fall somewhere in between. Since only the tips of the plant are used and the processing is minimal for White Tea, giving it the most delicate flavor of all.
Rooibos (Red Tea) isn’t really a tea at all-it’s a Tissane or herbal concoction-because it doesn’t come from the Camellia sinensis plant. But it does go through a much simpler “oxidation” process after harvested.

The simple answer is – not everything we use is organic. There are a couple reasons for that – as much as we try and purchase organic ingredients when available, many times they are cost prohibitive. We learned early on that there is a process to be able to sell a raw ingredient as organic, most importantly A HIGH COST to the farmers. There are many small tea estates and growers that practice organic farming, but don’t have the ability to market as such. With that said, if you want a 100% organic brew created by Design A Tea, shoot Brian an email and he can let you know what exactly would be organic in your blend. Might be 100% organic when complete.