Interview: TEAMOSA(HAX) from Taiwan’s traditional tea house, changing the world’s tea culture

Born in a family who runs a tea house in Taiwan and studied chemistry in the USA Irven started a hardware startup TEAMOSA with his older sister who learned system engineering and a brother — in — law who studied electronics. “I want to tell Westerners how to drink delicious genuine tea,” Irven’s products are full of Maker movement likeness.

CEO Irvine photo taken his families tea farm.
“TEAMOSA” deliciously extracts tea with ultrasonic waves. You can put it in your own tea leaves, or you can buy fine tea leaves from TEAMOSA in capsules

TEAMOSA is the startup of a freshly made Haya which just finished the tenth term of Hardware Accelerator HAX in the summer of 2017. I saw their demonstrations and presentations for the first time at HAX Asia Demo Day, held in Shenzhen on June 16, 2017.

“Westerners do not know how to drink tea, tea is Earl Gray, etc. Many things smell after harvest, they have a lot of milk and sugar in it,A genuine tea is full of sweetness and aroma So, if you deliciously add good tea leaves, you can be satisfied without milk or sugar, which is healthier and the business that provides good tea should be successful in the West “and then tea is extracted by applying ultrasound to the tea leaves The presentation introducing the product TEAMOSA was impressive and interviewed on another day.

CEO Irven`s family runs a tea house in Taiwan

Irven: My parents have been running teahouses for 34 years in Taiwan. I have my own tea farm in Nantou County, Taiwan. The Taiwanese enjoy a variety of tea, but at my house I treat only oolong tea. It is a traditional teashop who does not deal with Pu’er tea or tea which is made only in China. I have been drinking parents’ tea since I was three years old.

Irvine and his sister Kazarin

Irven: Both my sister and my sister went to Taipei, and after graduating from college I studied at an American graduate school. TEAMOSA is a family-run technology start-up, CEO I am a master of chemistry in the USA, my sister Kazarin Ph.D., system engineering Ph.D, her husband Ken acquires Ph.D. In 2016, I was thinking about ideas in the 10th year of American life. Starbucks bought a tea chain store called Teavana, and when I began to develop tea at Starbucks, I also went. It was not the scent of tea that was there. Earl Gray, Orange Peel, and all scent of perfume after all was aroma.

My idea that I felt at that time was “Why are Americans not the scent of tea?

Americans drink tea with tea bags. Even at luxury hotels and restaurants, if you order tea and bring it with a tea bag. Tea bags are usually made from poor quality tea like powder that remained under the box when making tea. Even high-end tea bags are of much lower quality than those sold in the same brand as tea leaves. Recent popular capsule coffee like Nespresso has tea such as milk tea, but it is not too high quality. It’s like enjoying a backfire fragrance or milk.

In the United States today tea is very major for health-oriented people, and PET bottle green tea is often drunk among Silicon Valley engineers. There is a possibility that the natural “genuine tea” without mixing may become more popular. Of course, there are further possibilities in Asia.

What is genuine tea?

Irven: There are six kinds of tea, but all are made from tea tree. For high-quality tea, tea leaves must first be of high quality.
Therefore, the most important thing is the environment of the tea plant where tea leaves grow. The place where the temperature is not high and there is enough water is good. In Taiwan, tea that grows up in winter at about 2000 meters of high mountain and harvested in spring is the best. It gets bitter when sunshine is too strong.
The next important thing is the process after harvesting. After harvesting, rub the tea leaves, steam and ferment. Different fermentation and steaming, different tea such as white tea and black tea. In that sense “good tea leaves” are good or bad, but it is probably that they like the drinkers’ favorite, white tea or black tea or oolong tea.

Irvine explain to me about six kind of tea.

White tea: Not much in Taiwan. Harvest when white hair is budding on the surface of tea leaves
Green tea: Make it in Taiwan too. No fermentation. Japanese green tea is steamed, but in Taiwan it is often not steamed
Yellow tea: weak fermented tea
Oolong tea: semi-fermented tea. 90% of tea consumed in Taiwan is oolong tea
Black tea: tea etc. Fully fermented and dark
Pu’er tea: Fermented with special molds. Taiwanese people drink, but manufacturing is only in China

Oolong tea is said to be “semi-fermented tea”, but the range of half is wide. The famous “Oriental Beauty Tea” smells like flowers, but it is a fermented tea that does not steam as much as 80%, and that fragrance does not need to be added afterwards. Even the same 50% fermented oolong tea is completely different depending on whether it is steamed or steamed. There are many kinds of wine, but white wine and red wine are different grapes themselves. Tea is born entirely different kinds from the same tea leaves.

In Taiwan, oolong tea is often drunk 90%. Younger generations prefer different things, such as tea milk tea, which is a matter of style, so new oolong tea should be okay. The popular tapioca milk tea is put in the same tea leaves all day, so tea leaves are deteriorating at night. I think that you can put more delicious tea without cost too much. In the West, 80% is black tea, but green tea with vitamin C and antioxidant ingredients is becoming popular recently. Oolong tea also has its advantages.

He is really the master of tea, my interview`s 80% time is only about tea.

TEAMOSA as a product and business model

Irven: I applied for HAX in October 2016 and was selected over about two months. The first proposal was a tea ceremony machine for business use as put in hotels and coffee shops. As a result of the interview with HAX, I decided to make home youth things that I could sell in the first place. If you make a huge success with Kickstarter, you will also be approaching a professional model.

Coffee can be extracted at high temperature and high pressure, but if you do it with tea, tea cells will be broken. The process of putting in tea is a chemical reaction, the liquid water that touches the individual’s tea leaves turns into tea. The optimal temperature is different depending on the type of tea. When it is high-class Japanese tea gyokuro, it has an optimum temperature such as 60 degrees for green tea, 80 degrees for green tea and 90 to 95 degrees for oolong tea. TEAMOSA is further devising to extract extraction while maintaining the taste by applying ultrasound. Extraction is quickened by ultrasonic waves, and more body-friendly antioxidant components can be extracted.

As a business, in addition to the TEAMOSA machine, I’m thinking to sell tea capsules for 1 to 3 dollars. The inside of the capsule is the tea itself that is handled at my parent’s shop, it is not processing at all. A capsule is not necessarily necessary, it can also extract tea leaves on hand into TEAMOSA. The capsule is for the United States etc. where there is no tea house near the end. TEAMOSA is made to have good tea, so for those who do not have tea leaves, tea is also provided as a handy capsule. Pu’er tea which I do not handle at home parents also wants to find and provide partners.

The design of the machine is also closer to the traditional tea tool in China, and tea sea (Tea which saves tea and keeps concentration constant) is attached. I am promoting Kickstarter ‘s cloud funding because I want to provide it for the US and Europe first, I have not experienced so good tea.

Irvine at HAX Demo Day in Shenzhen.

TEAMOSA has amazing success on kickstarter

TEAMOSA launched the Kickstarter campaign on September 13, 2017 and finally got a total success of 274,457 dollars. After that, we started a pre-ordered order at Indiegogo, which also accepted a back order of 270,000 dollars and is still in campaign.

TEAMOSA is hardware that had not existed in the past, “Slightly different from brand logo sticking to manufacturing of common parts”, And TEAMOSA is not something that can be manufactured using intermediate artifacts called Gongban, Gongmo.
The degree of manufacturing difficulty is high accordingly. Also, TEAMOSA as a company is the first to manufacture hardware, so even if the Kickstarter project succeeded, there are still many mountains to be successfully manufactured by September 2018 shipment. Furthermore, the success of a crowdfunding does not always mean that the growth of the company will succeed.

Still, it is said that traditional tea house himself makes hardware products and delivers them directly to the Early Adapter is a typical example of the Maker movement. I am also looking forward to the update mail with support. I want to pay attention to the future of TEAMOSA.

This interview made the English version of what contributed to Fabcross in Japan by the author.

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