|The first prototype|
“When I was going to college full time and working full time to pay for college, I wanted to still be able to drink my tea, but I was too busy for traditional means. Nothing I saw on the market for travel tumblers solved this as they all would over-steep my tea.” explains Landford. “That was when I had the general idea for this.” Frustrated with the offerings, Landford spent four months developing a filtering system that would give him better control over the strength of his tea, eliminating the bitter taste created when the leaves sit in the water for too long. He debuted his prototype at the New York City Tea and Coffee Festival, a consumer-oriented trade show that, like tea itself, has exploded in popularity, with tickets selling out for the second year in a row. The general response to Landford’s tumbler prototype was enthusiastic. “Everyone I talked to loved it! Most, in fact were blown away.” Buoyed by the public’s excitement, Landford is planning a campaign through Kickstarter.com to raise funds to bring his design into production.
With tea making its way into everything from beauty products to alcohol, it’s no wonder that the Tea Association of the USA is reporting explosive growth; according to the Association’s web site, 2011 was the second consecutive year that US demand for tea overshot demand in the UK. Among the factors contributing to tea’s rise in popularity is its grab-and-go convenience, with ready-to-drink tea sales steadily increasing every year. However, loose-leaf teas are closing the gap, with entrepreneurs such as Joey Landford striving to find a balance between ease and availability and flavor. Among other features, his tumbler prototype includes a specially designed filter that locks onto the lid to prevent over-steeping as well as a convenient storage area for keeping additional tea leaves or bags, or sugar packets. And Landford is quick to point out that the tumbler’s design would be perfect for coffee-lovers as well.
His Kickstarter campaign is scheduled to launch in June 2013. “I truly think it will be revolutionary for those who like tea but have a fast paced life or those that want a simple answer for tea on the go. The current designs don't really cut it.” Updates can be found on The Tea Merchant website at TheTeaMerchant.net.