Let's Talk Tea
Inwood, WV. Behind the dental office, Smile Designs of the Shenandoah Valley, sits a manufacturing facility; a solar powered tea brewery. Any given day in the southern end of Berkeley County, you can find dentist Ken Banks filling a tooth cavity and later on that night brewing the latest batch of Mango Doc’s Tea. Just recently, Banks, owners of the locally made beverage, Doc’s Tea, signed Reid’s Distributor to deliver the newly branded tea to the Hagerstown/Martinsburg Metro area and Winchester, VA.
To the hip tea drinker one may recognize some evolution in the Inwood tea mogul’s branding. Dr. Ken describes how the new look of Doc’s Tea is based on consumer demands. “It’s important for us to give our customers what they want. We listened to the feedback about our product line and evaluated how to make a good product better.” With the same health conscious formula, former “Dr. B’s Tea” is now bottled under the name “Doc’s Tea.” Ken adds, “We wanted to encompass the importance of a healthy beverage but also make sure we are known for being micro-brewed.” Along with being Organic Certified, the tea is now utilizing a glass bottle, which is more eco-friendly than the previous plastic bottles.
The Banks family has done all the research; health benefits, brewing temperatures, etc. Naturally caffeine free Rooibos tea leaves are the basis of the health-conscious tea. They declare a “hands on experience from start to finish” produces a product “We feel proud to print our name on.” They source organic ingredients as much as possible, use no colorants or concentrates in their products, and use as many value added ingredients as they can find. Monk Fruit is a unique sweetener that adds sweetness without adding empty calories from sugar to create the low carb and low calorie beverage. Ken makes the point:
“It’s important to have a product line that the entire family can enjoy.”
As a brewer/supplier, the Banks family takes on the responsibilities of production, marketing, and research and development, so when the next step is expansion, it’s difficult for them to also sell and deliver the tea; that’s where the Reid boys come in.
In the last three years, Reid’s Distributor, a beer distributor of 50 years, has been expanding into regional wine and non-alcoholic beverages like waters, sodas, milks, and teas. Owner Kim Reid describes his family run business, “We’re more than just a beer distributor, we’re a beverage distributor.” Kim’s son, Thad, explains the development, “With our success in small batch craft sodas, it only made sense that an organic tea, like Doc’s Tea, with similar philosophies would fit our portfolio.” Kim continues, “It’s a bonus tea the tea is brewed just 10 minutes down the road from our distributorship. Consumers are extremely interested in locally made products. This follows the craft beer trend and the demand to ‘drink local’. People also like knowing the brewer.”
This partnership is more than just a hand shake between Ken and Kim; it’s a family affair. Ken Banks’ son and daughter, Chris and Sarah, have been instrumental in the development of their tea brand. Chris is in charge of Marketing and adds creativity to the way consumers are educated on the health benefits of the product line. Sarah manages the daily operations of the business and strives to create relationships with current and potential customers.
Kim Reid’s two oldest sons joined the distributorship in the last two years. Thad leads business development and new brands like craft beer and non-alcoholics including Doc’s Tea. Trent is the head sales manager, and leader of drinking the most tea.
The first places to carry Doc’s Tea were farm markets and independent natural food stores. More recently, Doc’s Tea can be found at local coffee shops, cafes, health and fitness centers, and also at Whole Foods in Northern Virginia, Maryland and D.C.
Sarah describes, “We want to make sure we grow this brand on a local level. In the future, we hope to form agreements with local convenience chains that would place Doc’s Tea in coolers or on their floor displays, so it wouldn’t be a question anymore of ‘Where do I go to buy your products?’ We want Doc’s Tea to be all over the Eastern Panhandle!”
Ken adds, “Partnering with Reid’s is the essence of what I want our company to be. It is so important for me to give back to the community that has supported my business efforts. By having another family business like Reid’s on board distributing our products and focusing on growing us in our own community, it gets me excited about both our futures.” Kim agrees, “I’m thrilled to have a partnership like this with another family from the Eastern Panhandle. Most of our suppliers come from all around the country.
It’s nice to have someone in our backyard that can help benefit and grow their business as much as they can ours.”
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