Cusa Tea marks its first anniversary today!
We launched in May 2017, propelled by the passion of our founder, Jim Lamancusa. Today we are a rapidly expanding business with big plans in the books. We are proud to be in 750 retail stores around the country, with projections to be in 500 more stores by the end of the summer. And we are just getting started!
As we look back on how far we've come, we'd like to share a deeper look into the man behind Cusa Tea, and how he managed to create the world's first premium instant tea.
An intolerance for coffee (in the form of acid reflux), combined with a love for tea that stems from a two and a half year journey living in Asia, both played a part in Jim coming up with the idea to create an instant tea that actually tastes good. But the light-bulb moment came during a camping trip with friends; they would pull out their Starbucks VIA instant coffee sticks, and he would always pull out his teabag. Carrying around wet, soggy teabags evolved from an annoyance to a hatred when the ziploc bag he was carrying them in leaked and got all over his clothes. Frustration spawned creative insight as he thought "why doesn't someone invent Starbucks VIA but for tea?"
Although Jim discovered his love for tea as a young adult, his talent for creating and operating a successful start-up began long before that. Raised by three generations of entrepreneurs, he was indoctrinated early into the joys and pains of starting and growing a business. At ripe old age of 11, he learned them first-hand when he published "Dynamite Crafts for Special Occasions", a book of 30 original crafting ideas for holidays and festivals. (Although he's moved on to bigger things in recent years, that book can still be found on Amazon today.)
At 18, he left Cleveland, Ohio, for the the mountains of Boulder, Colorado, and he's never looked back. After graduating with a degree in business from the University of Colorado, he began working for start-ups like Eco-Products, GoodBelly, and Dynafit/Salewa. Those experiences gave him the foundation he needed as he began his journey to create the next evolution of tea.
It took nine months of development, 21 patents and a long trial-and-error process - with literally hundreds and hundreds of tests - to discover the dynamite process he uses today. What he discovered was a cold-steep, vacuum-dehydration technology that allows tea to be steeped over eight hours and then gently dehydrated without the use of high heat or extreme cold (which can destroy the taste and benefits of tea). The process he created ensures that the tea maintains its natural flavor without the need to add any fillers, sugars or additives.
There are absolutely no chemicals involved in this process, and all you get is pure tea. Not only that, but the tea itself is USDA Certified Organic. That's an important part of the process for Jim - in fact, not only is the tea produced sustainably, but waste from the process (used tea leaves) is returned to the earth as compost for the organic tea farms that produce it.
Jim personally selects the tea plantations Cusa Tea sources its tea from.
In his spare time, Jim is an avid mountaineer and climber with successful summit and ski descents of Mt. Rainier, Grand Teton, and 21,000-foot Mera Peak in Nepal. He never misses his daily hour of meditation and in his spare time, helps run a meditation center in Denver. He loves the bump of good house music, his wife of 15 years, and of course, many cups of tea. Although he now employs help in promoting his tea, you can still find him most weekends at events and demos around the country introducing people to the next evolution of tea.
Be warned, though - his passion is contagious!
Jim doing what he loves best - being outdoors!
Jim at the Cusa Tea World Headquarters in Boulder, CO.