Tea History & Culture

3 Black Owned Tea Companies to Support During Black History Month

February 25, 2018

February is Black History Month. As we honor the impact that black Americans have made on our past, it’s important to support black Americans making an impact in the now. Here, we profile three black-owned tea companies. This Black History Month, while you’re reading the poetry of Langston Hughes, unpacking Black Panther with your friends, or re-tweeting Tarana Burke, sip on a cuppa brewed by one of these black-owned tea companies:

1 – Ellis Island Tea | www.ellisislandtea.com

Nailah Ellis-Brown is the owner of Ellis Infinity Beverage Company, which makes and sells Ellis Island Tea. The product is a hibiscus-flavored tea developed from a recipe originally crafted by Nailah’s great-grandfather Cyril Byron, a Jamaican immigrant who worked as the Head Chef on Marcus Garvey’s Black Star Line before opening his own catering company. Prior to his death, Byron gave the recipe for Ellis Island Tea to Nailah’s father with some very specific instructions: “This is to be sold, not told.” Nailah’s making good on her grandfather’s order. Operating out of Detroit, Michigan since 2008, Ellis Island Tea has enjoyed quite the rise. Ellis-Brown was named to Forbes’ prestigious “30 Under 30” in the Manufacturing & Industry category in 2016.   She was also featured on the TV show Queen Boss, a show like Shark Tank that focuses exclusively on African American female entrepreneurs. Currently, Ellis Island Tea can be found in Whole Foods, Meijer, Sam’s Club, and other stores. Check out this video on Ellis Island Tea from MSNBC:

2 – Jin+Ja | www.drinkjinja.com 

Owned and operated by Reuben Canada, Jin+Ja says its products are the way to “drink yourself healthy.” The core ingredients are green tea, ginger, mint, lemon, and cayenne pepper. It all started with a drink that Canada made for himself. He soon discovered that no matter what was troubling him—an upset stomach, a hangover, or sore muscles—the drink cured it. Once he researched the ingredients he was using, it all made sense, and he began to market and sell the drink so that others could benefit as well. Jin+Ja features a variety of products that are all billed as “deliciously powerful.” For whatever ails you, consider Jin+Ja. Take it from The Doctors, who recommended Jin+Ja as a great way to boost your health:

3- Me & The Bees | www.meandthebees.com

Me & The Bees is a lemonade/iced tea company founded by Mikaila Ulmer when she was just 11 years old.  Mikaila developed a recipe for lemonade based on her grandmother’s, then went on Shark Tank and received a $60,000 investment to kick things off. Now, at the ripe old age of 13, she’s the CEO of a company whose beverages can be found at Whole Foods, Wegmans, The Natural Gardener, and more.  Variations on the product include a Lemonade with Iced Tea, featuring black tea, flaxseed, cane sugar, honey, real lemon juice, and water.  A portion of all profits go towards organizations that work to save honeybees.  Mikaila was honored by Essence Magazine as one of 50 entrepreneurs to watch.  This young lady is certainly one to watch and celebrate over a nice glass of iced tea!


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