Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Dear Tea Friends,

We have reached the last day of 2008. What a year it has been!

Right now, I am very happy to have my family back safe and sound after their 30 hour journey from India. Suruchi and Shivam are a bit tired, but happy to be back at home. I must admit, I was missing them dearly as they have been away since November 17th.

Currently, we are resting, relaxing, and looking forward to a busy 2009. January is a special month because our son turns 4 plus Suruchi and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. Interestingly, 2009 also marks 10 years of tea importing. Amazing, time sure flies when you are having fun.

Like most business owners we have faced challenges, but it has been worth every moment because we are living our lives according to our terms. Looking back, would I have done anything different? Absolutely! Like all entrepreneurs I have made some mistakes, but I regret nothing. Decisions were made and we have moved forward. I, however, have learned so much the past 10 years that I think the next 10 will be that much better. The key is to keep on learning, never look back, and just keep on persisting!

Wishing you all the best in 2009 and beyond. I encourage you to leave your comfort zone and live your life with passion!

I left my comfort zone and started my first business in 1994--14 years ago. At the time, I was a caretaker. I haven't look back and encourage you to do the same. Don't get me wrong, owning a business takes time, work, and effort; but I think the key is that you are the one who is making the decisions. Owning a business, in short, empowers you to shape your destiny and control your future.

To mark 10 years in the tea business, we have planned a special promotion that will begin on Tuesday, January 6th. Details will be released via e-mail and on this blog on Monday, January 5th, so keep an eye on your e-mail plus bookmark and visit this blog often.

Be Happy! Be Grateful!

Drink Tea and Prosper!


Best Regards,

Sanjay Gupta

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Dear Tea Friends:

2008 is quickly coming to an end. My hope is you are enjoying the holiday season and looking forward to the new year.

Looking back on 2008, I think it is fair to say that it has been a turbulent year.

We have witnessed oil rise and fall nearly $100 per barrel. The US toxic mortgage crisis precipitated a financial crisis throughout the world. Commodities prices have fallen, the stock market lost half its value, and finally to cap off the year, the Madoff Scandal projects 50 billion dollars in lost savings of many charities, banks, and wealthy investors. Indeed, it is a troubling time; with economic strife usually comes political strife.

Along with this economic down-turn we must not forget the social impact: lost jobs, lost homes, lost savings, hopelessness, and sadness. However, I think the governments of today are stepping forward and trying their best to deal with the current situation. I also think that we must all keep things in perspective. Regardless of how bad it may seem, keep in mind it could always be worse. During this season, we must never forget that there are countries in this world where the lives of their citizens are much worse off. Take Zimbabwe, for example: the Mugabe government, who seized power undemocratically are facing a cholera epidemic that may spread to other neighboring countries. Mugabe is refusing to cooperate with foreign aid and health workers and even denies that the epidemic exists. It is crazy that someone would allow their citizens, particularly innocent women and children, to suffer so much.

When I feel down, I just watch the news and realize that my life could be much worse and am thankful that I have shelter, access to health care, food, and the ability to live and work freely. We must never forget how lucky we are, particularly at this time of year when we are consuming chocolates, turkey, stuffing, and other foods.

I guess the point I am trying to make is "Be Happy" and "Be Grateful" because you only have one life to live and I encourage you to make the most of it. Consider yourself fortunate to know that you have choices and the ability to make your life better should you choose to. If you learn anything from my story, you will realize that I have always tried to design my life, I think in part because I am a dreamer by nature and understand that if I focus on my goals then ultimately they will be achieved.

Looking ahead to 2009, I am actually very excited for several reasons:

First, during economic downturns, sales of creature comforts actually rise instead of fall. For instance, cosmetics purchases increase, movie attendance rises, and let's not forget, tea. In fact, if history repeats itself, the tea industry is projected to grow from 7.4 billion to more than 15 billion in the next five years. Tea, in fact, is mirroring the rise of the coffee industry during our last recession in the 80s...recall the rise of Starbucks! To learn more, read the excerpts of the news release I posted.

Second, historically, during economic downturns, many new businesses start up particularly in niche industries. In fact, 18 of the 30 current Dow Jones industrial index companies were launched during economic downturns. Since my main focus is to help entrepreneurs start businesses, this is very encouraging because our product line focuses on specialty tea which is projected to have the fastest growth. If you want to learn more about our programs, please click here.

Finally, tea is a consumable that contributes to long life. Regardless of the economic situation, tea will always be consumed because it is a part of our lives. Interestingly, I recently read an article that the tea trade between India and Pakistan is actually projected to increase, despite the political tensions. Another interesting tidbit of trivia is the fact that tea is the second most consumed beverage in the world next to water. Regardless of the political or economic situation, the trade in tea will continue and this is great news for anyone who wants to start a tea business, particularly in North America which is playing catch up with the rest of the world.

For the remaining part of this year my goals are as follows: sleep lots...I need to catch up; reflect on 2008 and plan for 2009; greet Suruchi and Shivam at the airport on the 28th as I miss them dearly because they have been away since November 17th; finalize our inventory because I have a shipment in India and may want to add to it; and finally, start working on my year end documents for my book keeper and accountant. Of course, I am also working on some promotions for the New Year, so keep your eye on your e-mail as well.

From the bottom of my heart, may your holiday season be joyful, happy, and full of gratitude. I wish you a prosperous and happy new year.

Be Happy! Be Grateful!

Drink Tea and Prosper!


Best Regards,

Sanjay Gupta

Monday, December 22, 2008


Early in the month of December the World Tea Expo released a news release. Highlights of the release include the following:

Despite the economic downturn, the 2009 World Tea Expo is projecting record attendance - not despite the current economy, but, at least partially, because of it. Historically, economic downturns have inspired entrepreneurs to launch businesses in niche industries. With specialty tea offering a highly profitable and fast-growing opportunity in the United States, the World Tea Expo and the industry are preparing for a banner year.

Plan to attend, May 2nd to 4th, 2009 at Mandalay Bay. Stop by Tea Connexions' booth, we would love to see you.

Sales of specialty and premium tea in the U.S. are skyrocketing. Earlier this year, market research firm Packaged Facts forecasted that U.S. tea sales would double in five years, from $7.4 billion in 2007 to $15 billion by 2012. The firm further projected that, over the same period, the specialty tea segment of the market would grow to comprise more than half of these total sales, up from its current share of 36 percent. This translates into nearly $5 billion in new specialty tea sales each year for five years - more than double the growth of commercial grade tea.

Specialty tea just happens to be Tea Connexions focus. Our product line is based exclusively on the fact that this market segment will grow the fastest.


"In the past few years, we have already seen startups by former CEOs of major national companies, acquisitions by leading conglomerates and investments in top brands by private-equity firms," commented George Jage, President and Founder of the World Tea Expo. "We are expecting an avalanche of entrepreneurs starting their own tea businesses, much like what happened with specialty coffee almost two decades ago."

Karen Foley, Publisher of Imbibe Magazine, recalled, "It was amazing to see so many people leaving 20-year careers at Fortune 500 companies to open independent coffee shops, but it brought an enormous amount of diversity and experience into the coffee community." From 1993 to 1998, the Specialty Coffee Association of America's membership grew from 300 to nearly 2,000, according to industry consultant and former SCAA executive Mike Ferguson.

With U.S. unemployment figures reaching record levels, financial experts are advising those who've considered starting their own business to do it now. In fact, 18 of the 30 current Dow Jones industrial index companies were launched during economic downturns, according to venture capital firm Reference Capital Management.


The tea industry is experiencing a boom period and now is the time to get started.

Tea Connexions can help. In fact, we have been helping entrepreneurs start tea businesses since 2001.

To learn more about the five market advantages we offer to aspiring teapreneurs, click here.


1. Introduction

In 1984, a small Seattle-based coffee company took a chance on the idea that people would pay a premium for a high quality cup of coffee and opened a small coffee bar in downtown Seattle. The idea took off. By 1990 the company had more than eighty-four locations throughout North America. Entrepreneurs who took advantage of that early opportunity became rich. And they gained more than just money; they also gained control of their lives and their future.

We're looking for an elite group of energetic and independent entrepreneurs who understand that working hard and smart can bring great rewards, entrepreneurs who realize that customer loyalty will derive from exceptional value and service.

High quality teas are virtually non-existent in the North American market--what most consumers know as tea consists primarily of low grade tea "dust" or "fannings".

Tea Connexions imports Darjeeling, the "Champagne of Teas," directly from the world's finest tea plantations. As an independent distributor, you'll offer the consumer the very highest quality product in the marketplace.

Distributors for the "Champagne of Teas" have five distinct market advantages:

2. Market Advantage #1: Huge Profit Potential

Since our product is of the highest quality, you're able to command a premium price. Market our products at the suggested wholesale or retail prices and earn large profits. Whether you sell to traditional or gourmet markets, the profits can be incredible.

3. Market Advantage #2: Unique And Eye-Catching Packaging

Packaging causes the consumer to stop and consider your product. Our packaging has been called "consumer art." Each of our containers is a piece of hand-crafted art, making it a perfect gift item. Pre-packaged with the very finest teas, these items expand your markets to include gift and specialty stores.

4. Market Advantage #3: A Healthy Product

Tea contains one third of the caffeine of coffee or colas as well as natural antioxidants and flavanoids that have been shown to help prevent heart disease and cancer. According to recent Harvard University research, people who consume one or more cups of black tea daily REDUCED THEIR RISK OF HAVING A HEART ATTACK BY MORE THAN 40%!

According to the fourth edition "U.S. Tea is 'Hot' Report," released by Sage Group International LLC the greatest contributing factor to the tea industry's growth in the past two years has been news coverage of tea's health benefits. Unlike the coffee and cigar trends, distributing tea will not only make you wealthy, but it will positively impact your customers through better health and increased vitality.

Bill Waddington, owner of Tea Source in St. Paul, MN believes the wave towards tea "will have a longer-lasting impact (than coffee or cigars) because it is the only one that is good for you-IT IS THE ONLY TRULY LUXURY GOURMET FOOD IN THE WORLD THAT HAS LASTING EFFECTS ON THE HEALTH OF THE CONSUMER and that is also of remarkable value."

5. Market Advantage #4: The Power Of Creating A Personal Brand

The most exciting marketing trend of the Twenty-First Century lies in the ability to create a personal private brand for products. As a Tea Connexions distributor, you'll have the ability to create for your clients their very own private label. This market is virtually untapped and the profit potential is amazing. Imagine offering a local business the chance to offer a consumable product that features their logo and corporate name on distinctive packaging. Use your ability to private label your product for fund raisers or to develop your own brand name.

Imagine, as a Tea Connexions distributor you can create your own branded line of teas adored by your customers. Loyal customers results in long term sales and profits.

6. Market Advantage #5: Growing Market...Seize The Opportunity

"Specialty tea will represent the fastest growing segment of the tea industry over the next decade and has the capability of doubling its volume over the next five years and might grow at an even faster pace."
-Joseph P. Simrany, President of the Tea Association of the USA, Inc-

"Millions of American households will shift to tea as their preferred daily beverage choice during the next three years."
-Sage Group International, "U.S. Tea is 'Hot' Report," (4th Edition)-

"Sales of specialty and premium tea in the U.S. are skyrocketing. Earlier this year, market research firm Packaged Facts forecasted that U.S. tea sales would double in five years, from $7.4 billion in 2007 to $15 billion by 2012. The firm further projected that, over the same period, the specialty tea segment of the market would grow to comprise more than half of these total sales, up from its current share of 36 percent. This translates into nearly $5 billion in new specialty tea sales each year for five years - more than double the growth of commercial grade tea."
-Source: LAS VEGAS (Dec. 8, 2008)-The 2009 World Tea Expo News Release-

"Tea is Hot. Entrepreneur Magazine's 'The Hot List' named tea as one of the hottest trends and best business ideas."

"World Tea Expo is projecting record attendance - not despite the current economy, but, at least partially, because of it. Historically, economic downturns have inspired entrepreneurs to launch businesses in niche industries. With specialty tea offering a highly profitable and fast-growing opportunity in the United States, the World Tea Expo and the industry are preparing for a banner year."
-Source: LAS VEGAS (Dec. 8, 2008)-The 2009 World Tea Expo News Release-

The specialty tea market is growing, and will have a lasting financial impact on entrepreneurs that get involved. Timing is essential. With any upward trend, the first to get involved profit the most.

7. Tea Business Solutions

Tea Connexions empowers you to profit from this trend by providing you with TURN KEY TEA BUSINESS SOLUTIONS.

We started our tea journey in 1998 and have in-depth knowledge on what it takes to start a tea business and most importantly, know what it takes to succeed.

Using our 5 STEP Training system and 30 day plan of action, you will be able to start earning profits from the sale of teas immediately.

The timing is right--demand for specialty tea is growing.

To meet your investment needs, we have developed eight distinct wholesale packages. Click here to download our two page summary.

Our sincere hope is that one of these programs will meet your tea distribution needs.

If you have any questions, please call our office, toll free, 1.877.leaftea (532-3832) ext. 111.

I shall look forward to welcoming you to the Tea Connexions family.

Drink Tea and Prosper!

Best Regards,

Sanjay Gupta

P.S. If you want to learn more about my motivations and inspiration for wanting to help entrepreneurs start tea businesses, read My Story

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


(For years, we have been training entrepreneurs on how to start tea businesses. The excerpt below, My Story, was originally written for our online training that is only available to our members. Currently, I am working on a book called, Tea Business 101, which is designed to offer aspiring entrepreneurs insights into starting a tea business and how they can become successful. The book is based directly on my entrepreneurial experience and the current training we offer our members. The First Chapter: My Story, is below. I look forward to your feedback and comments.)

"Success is the result of having dreams, the courage to aggressively pursue them, and the inner strength to never quit until they come true."
-Sanjay Gupta-


Nearly 20 years ago I was a caretaker, looking after someone else’s apartment buildings. While not a bad job because it covered my rent while I was at graduate school, it entailed much labor-related work: plumbing, carpentry, and general maintenance. It also entailed collecting rent, renting out apartments, and maintaining tenant relations. I was one of the best: my buildings were always full and I took good care of them. However, after two years as a caretaker I realized I wanted something more. I wanted financial security and the freedom to pursue interests and hobbies.

Like many future entrepreneurs, I realized that life had more to offer than cleaning someone else’s jam-encrusted carpet--no matter how much pride I took in the quality of my de-encrusting. But what did I want to do instead? I found I couldn’t answer that question, so I sought answers elsewhere. Eventually, I stumbled across Anthony Robbins personal development tapes. Personal development. It all seemed pretty hokey, after all, wasn’t I already a developed person? But I’d paid the money so I listened anyway. I found that Robbins had something to say, and soon found myself applying his teachings. Knowledge is power, after all, but only if you use it.

Here’s the knowledge the tapes gave me:

1. Anything in life is possible if you put your mind to it.

2. Before dreams and goals can come true, you must believe in yourself.

3. Success is the result of constant programming through positive, self-empowering questions.

4. To get what you want, you must first determine what you really want.

5. The only way to accomplish anything is through persistent and committed focus.

6. Focus requires written goals.

7. The only way to achieve success is to take action. Written goals are effective only if you commit to achieving them through consistent daily effort.

8. There is nothing wrong with failure, so long as you learn something from it. Failure learned from is called experience.

9. Fear prevents success. Success only occurs when you overcome the fear to leave your comfort zone.

10. Success is the result of positive self-belief, action, and constant evaluation of the results.

Equipped with this knowledge, I dreamed big, set goals, and tried to figure out how I could achieve my newfound goals. Encouraged by my success with the self-help tapes, I immersed myself in business reading then began exploring business opportunities.


Consequently, at the age of 23, I set up my first business: I invested in Don Lapre’s psychic lines. Back then, I dreamt of making millions, becoming the Psychic Line Guru, appearing on infomercials espousing the virtues of 1-900 lines. I never became that Guru. The investment was too large, the return too small. After financing the program with two credit cards, I realized that it was going to take a lot more time and money to yield the results I wanted. Besides, the 1-900 market became flooded so that my lines were no longer competitive. Rather than pour in more money, I cut my losses and went looking for something else.

The something else I found turned out to be a variety of ventures, ranging from network marketing to commodity brokering to e-commerce. Some ventures were lucrative; others a money pit. Still I was not afraid to try something new, to put my heart into it and see it through. Knowing I gain from my failures as well as my successes, I chalked it up to experience.

Some of my failed businesses included get-rich-quick schemes. You know the kind I mean: the chain letter types that say if only you’ll sponsor a few people, you will get rich beyond your wildest dreams.

I did spend several years building up a network of distributors at one point. And I became very successful--until the company closed their doors and I lost everything. Again I learned from experience: if a business opportunity sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The only people who make millions on get-rich-quick schemes are their initiators.


This huge loss shook me to the core. I thought I would have to declare bankruptcy. Instead, I put my nose back to that old grindstone. It was then that I met a very special individual, Raj Manek. This great man encouraged me to pursue international trade, something that had always interested me. Taking his advice, I became an export consultant, helping companies distribute and market products internationally. So began Connexions Trading International in November 1994.

I had a lot to learn, but I was not afraid to leave my comfort zone. At first, I worked from my kitchen table, my only equipment a telephone and fax machine. I bought books on international trade and read voraciously. When I told Raj that my friends in Japan and the United Kingdom wanted to purchase Canadian products, he encouraged me to speak with a very successful entrepreneur who was currently pursuing export markets for his product.

When this manufacturer told me dentists were using his product to guard against infection, I recognized a great opportunity. I convinced him to give me world rights for his product, and fate intervened soon afterward. Still reading business magazines, I happened to pick up a trade show issue. The first page I turned to advertised the International Dental Show in Koln, Germany. Three months later in March 1995, I was off to Germany. Ours was one of only nine Canadian companies. Despite having very little knowledge about international trade or dentistry, I would be solely in charge of our booth. Again I left my comfort zone, traveling to Germany to meet prospective buyers. It was fascinating and overwhelming, meeting with the brass of multi-million dollar companies.

The manufacturer was so impressed with my willingness to take action, desire to succeed, and performance that he soon assigned another daunting task. I would coordinate the marketing and sales of his product in the United States. Equipped with very little knowledge of sales and marketing, I took action. I learned as much as I could, worked 18 hours a day, and focused on doing the best possible. Anything in life is possible if you put your mind to it.

Within three months, a major US retailer was stocking the product. The first order: $250,000! I was jazzed and very excited. This was a big deal, especially for someone who had started a company with little knowledge of international trade. Because of my tenacity and self-belief, in six months, I had literally transformed my life. I left behind my caretaking responsibilities and moved into a house.

I thought my life was set; I would be a millionaire before 30 and retire in Tahiti to sip margaritas amid white sand and adoring women.

I was wrong.

Despite my efforts and successes, the manufacturer terminated my contract--one of the many dangers commissioned agents face.


Brushing off the dirt, I picked myself up and went on to other businesses, selling or representing someone else’s product. One day when I stared down at a computer software game I was trying to market, I woke up. I realized the only way I could truly achieve my dreams and get real control over my life would be to create my own product line.

Thus began my research journey to India in 1997. I was not sure what product I wanted, but it would have to be unique. I examined mushrooms (not the magic kind), candles, incense, clothing, textiles, even explosives (YIKES). Nothing seemed quite right. Then I found some impressive gift boxes—-unique, multi-use containers. They would be an excellent start. Now I needed a unique, high quality consumable to package in these gift boxes. After many trips between India and Canada, I discovered Gourmet Teas. I immediately recognized the ideal product: Gourmet Teas Beautifully Packaged.

I then undertook four years of concentrated research, planning and development to ensure my plan would be the best. When I finished, I was satisfied that I had developed what would become one of the most sought after business opportunities of this millennium. In 2001, I officially launched the Tea Connexions Membership program and it was designed to fulfill the needs of entrepreneurs, needs which my experience had proven other opportunities did not fulfill.

1. Members of the buying group would have the freedom to personalize marketing and distribution strategies. True freedom. There would be no minimum monthly purchase or any of the other usual nonsense.

2. This opportunity would not be a get-rich-quick scheme. It would be a sustainable, successful business because it would not depend on the recruitment and sponsorship of distributors. It would depend on the member who would decide how to market the product and build their business.

3. Members would benefit from economies of scale, with substantial discounts on products and marketing materials based on the buying power of the entire group.

4. The opportunity would be product-oriented--a great product with high profit potential because member costs would be below wholesale.

5. Members would promote their own businesses, not the company itself. Members use their own brands. They would not suffer my fate, where I promoted someone else’s brand and lost everything when that company went under. Members would create their own local market loyal to them. I hope they remain a member of our buying group, but regardless of which tea supplier they use, once they build their customer bases, all members would have to do is provide customers with an excellent product and service. And since tea is a consumable, members can count on yearly residual income.

6. Members would benefit from my experience in the school of hard knocks. I know what it is like to start a business from my kitchen table with limited resources. That is why I designed this opportunity to give real value. I want members to achieve all the dreams and goals they set as part of the Tea Connexions family.

Since 2001, we have helped many entrepreneurs start their very own tea businesses.

Our business has grown considerably since then. Initially, we started in a 200 square foot office. In 2001, I made the move to a 1000 square feet. At the time, we did not even have one tea distributor, but I had faith. Two years later, in 2003, we moved to a new location that was 3000 square feet. After several years being based out of Saskatoon, SK, we realized that our business fate rested on our ability to warehouse our own product in the United States.

In 2006, we began intensive research on how to accomplish this objective. Our move to the US was important for three key reasons:

1. Increasing regulations caused by 9/11 were making it more difficult to ship cost effectively into the United States from Canada.

2. We needed a warehouse to better serve our growing base of US customers.

3. Finally, we wanted to lower shipping rates and also wanted to capitalize on more tea distribution opportunities.

In June, 2007, we finally moved our whole operation from Saskatoon, SK to Kingston, ON. This new location enabled us to maintain our Canadian business status and at the same time gave us easy access to our US warehouse that is based in Upstate, NY, which is less than 60 minutes away.

Like any business, we have faced challenges; challenges, however, that we constantly sought solutions for. My heartfelt advice to you is to never give up on your dreams and goals; constantly pursue them regardless of the challenges you face. Be prepared to ask yourself empowering questions and your problems will solve themselves. Bottom line, if you constantly focus on your dreams and goals, you will achieve them.

If you believe in your ability to succeed, set goals, plan and take action, I am confident your success is inevitable because your success will result directly from your efforts. Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone. As my own story demonstrates, you can quickly transform your life once you dare to leave the comfort zone.

As a final note, the Tony Robbins’s tapes always ended with the words live with passion. My hope is that you will live with passion, to lead your life instead of allowing life to lead you.

I keep the following message above my desk. It inspired me many times during my turbulent years in business. I hope it will inspire you too.




Click here to learn more about the inspiration behind Tea Connexions