Why I Stopped Doing Public Tea Events

why I stopped doing public tea events
UnsplashMiguel Henriquesが撮影した写真

I have a small online tea store in Bogota, Colombia: kyusuteas.com

I started the business 10 years ago, with the hope that I could convert many of the locals into tea lovers.

Besides social media, I also gave talks about tea, held tea tastings, made food pairing events involving tea, etc.

I even did cooking events where the dishes had tea as a main ingredient.

Well, all of that didn’t work.

As you know, Colombia has a strong coffee culture.

So people would try tea and maybe even like it, but the large majority would go back to drink coffee.

I feel that most of them enjoyed the experience, but that was as far as they got.

While I did manage to sell tea at the events, they weren’t repeat customers.

One thing that was cumbersome to explain was that I’m not a tea ceremony master.


Since I only sell Japanese tea, including matcha, people would assume that the tasting included the ceremony.

Then there were problems that weren’t too frequent, but brought down my enthusiasm when they happened.

For example, the guests would reschedule, arrive late, or didn’t show up at all.

Naturally, the store’s sales were insufficient. I was always having financial problems.

The only reason that I kept at it for so long was that I genuinely have a passion for tea.

But after many years of hard work, I had nothing to show for it.

In the end, I decided to start another business just to make ends meet.

It’s a store that sells Japanese ingredients and cooking utensils: mercadojapones.co

I still have the tea store, because there are a few clients that buy every month.

But the main business takes up a lot of my time.

While it isn’t making me rich, at least it pays the bills.

Specialty tea is a very small niche

This is especially true in a small country like mine.

By the way, this tea blog doesn’t make much money either, even though it can be read from anywhere in the world.

As soon as I started a business that was more commercial, the results were noticeable.

I learned this the hard way: Passion and perseverance won’t compensate for a lack of demand.

Nowadays, I just enjoy drinking tea with the few friends that actually like it.


  1. Ken Campbell
    February 21, 2023

    Sorry Ricardo…..It is a tough business but I hope you will pursue other avenues with your passion,and a healthy demand.

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      February 21, 2023

      Thank you Ken.

      I thought that by writing about this I might indirectly help other people that are stuck with a low demand business.

      1. Chuck Bauman
        February 22, 2023

        Thank you for sharing. That’s tough to hear, Ricardo, but I’m glad you’re continuing to enjoy tea.
        Lots of tea businesses have had a rough time. It’s a slow-moving product (compared to coffee) and, if you have a brick and mortar location, you need lots of bodies through the door to make it work. And prices set high enough to cover your costs.
        It’s a wonderful food. We’ll see how its popularity unfortunately over the years.
        Incidentally, there is tea grown near the village of Bitaco, to the north/northwest of Cali. Look up Agrícola Himalaya.

        1. Ricardo Caicedo
          February 22, 2023

          Hi Chuck
          It is a tough business. Some companies can make it work but many more are struggling.
          Yes, I’ve been to Bitaco once and did a small tour of the tea fields and the like. I was born in Cali, by the way.

          1. Chuck Bauman
            February 22, 2023

            Oh, great! I was down there in 2018 – my first visit to Colombia. I really appreciated all of the hard work they do to improve the region. It was quite impressive.

    2. Ali
      March 11, 2023

      Sorry to hear it didn’t work out Richardo. Tea is unfortunately a very niche industry even here in the US. I’m glad you were able to find more success with your new business though!

      1. Ricardo Caicedo
        March 11, 2023

        Hi Ali.

        Thank you for your comment.

        Yes, the new business has been growing. It’s still a small business but I think that it has a bright future.

  2. Aaron Taylor
    February 22, 2023

    Hi Ricardo,
    One challenge I have noticed is the amount of people who simply don’t share my love for Japanese green teas. My wife is one example. I have in the past tried to give her a taste, and she just doesn’t like it. Not everyone has a palette that is diverse. I like some things that have some bitterness to them, while others will not like the even the slightest hint, despite it being one of the tastes on the tongue. Some need everything sweet, and have zero appreciation for savory foods and drinks. Its amazing to me to see what some people think constitutes ” great foods, drinks” etc. Some view processed junk as great.

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      February 22, 2023

      Hi Aaron

      I agree, for example it’s much easier to sell sweetened tea, or scented, mixed with fruits, etc.
      Addiction to sweet taste, I guess.
      I try not to buy much candy for my home, because to be honest I’ll eat it very quickly. It’s a bad habit.

  3. Silvia Pinela
    March 4, 2023

    Dear Ricardo,
    I understand you.
    Vou escrever em português😁 o chá é muito especial, é preciso ser um grande apreciador para se consumir constantemente. Tenho o mesmo dilema que o Ricardo, gosto de chá mas não consigo viver do chá. A vila é pequena e muito viciada em café, chocolate ou leite.

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      March 5, 2023

      Hi Silvia, thank for your message.

      Sorry to hear that you experienced the same problem.

  4. Alex
    March 7, 2023

    Ricardo — as someone who lived in Medellin for a short time and now lives in Kamakura (though Los Angeles is home), I can understand the kind of challenges you must have faced.

    I have no answers beyond the simple fact that not all passions need to be (or can be) businesses. They say its always awkward when art and business do lunch, maybe the same can be said for passion and business — or rather, maybe passion is the art of the heart in action—so the same applies.

    Still, I’ve returned to your site over the years and find it remarkable—a genuine research-grade feat in your second language spanning several cultures at once—and I applaud your continued effort to express your love for Japanese tea and educate people like me 🙂

    Keep your head up parce!

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      March 7, 2023

      Hi Alex

      Medellin is a nice city, although I’ve never lived there. Kamakura I visited once, but it was a brief stop so I didn’t get to see much.

      Yes, now that I think of it, passion can fuel you in business but it’s also a sort of trap because it will force you to continue for way too long. Sometimes, quitting early might be a good decision.


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