Young entrepreneur taps into tea market

July 31, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

On the Web

Learn about Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics at or at

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Lawyers' offices and residences have typically dotted the sides of West Burke Street in Martinsburg.

Now make way for something a little different: a tea manufacturer.

Working to put his own imprint on entrepreneurialism and help the world's environment at the same time, Arthur Ebeling has started his own organic tea company, which he thinks will offer consumers a tastier and more wholesome brew.

Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics offers a line of eight teas that are offered for sale through a Web site at

Ebeling, 22, said he always enjoyed tea and can remember dabbling in it since he was a kid.

"I remember picking spearmint leaves in my grandmother's lot and coming home and making tea from that," Ebeling said.

Ebeling speaks knowledgeably of tea, explaining how all tea is produced from the camellia sinensis plant.


The difference between teas on the market is how it is processed, said Ebeling, a business administration student at Shepherd University.

Common, commercial tea is often ground very fine, which allows producers to get more out of the camellia sinensis plant, Ebeling said.

Not only is the tea being offered by Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics organic, but it is made with larger tea leaves, creating a better flavor, according to Ebeling.

Ebeling and his colleagues jazz things up a bit, adding ingredients like jasmine or honeysuckle to the different blends. On the company Web site, tea types like "Gunpowder Organic" and "Dragon Well Organic" are offered for sale.

Ebeling's tea comes from China and India, and his organic herbal ingredients come from a supplier in Oregon. Besides the company's Web site, the operation also operates an eBay storefront at

Ebeling blends and packages his tea at his home at 404 W. Burke St., and one of his colleagues, Eric Stevenson, helps with that part of the work in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Stevenson said he graduated from Shepherd University recently with a business degree and is working to get the tea company off the ground while he circulates resumes in search of other jobs.

Felipe Oliveira, a friend of Ebeling's from Brazil, also is working to launch the tea company.

In his Burke Street home, Ebeling shows how he is packaging some of his tea in tea bags - similar to the commercial approach - while other blends are being packaged for sale in tins.

Ebeling said he is happy with the success of his business so far, saying hits on his company's Web site went from 9,000 in May to 25,000 in July.

And Ebeling is quick to point out that just because the company's leadership is young, it has worked hard on its product.

"We are not a dorm-room fantasy. We are a serious company with a serious mission," Ebeling said in a news release.

Environmental awareness is also a part of the picture at Eastern Isles Teas and Tonics.

Ebeling said he is concerned about global warming and his company is offering a "Green Earth Tea" to bring attention to the issue. A half ounce of Green Earth Tea can be purchased for one dollar and the sales will go toward raising $1 million for global warming causes, Ebeling said.

"We want people to enjoy the tea and concurrently benefit the greater good. My mantra has effectively become, 'saving the world one cup at a time,'" Ebeling said.

Ebeling was born in Martinsburg, attended private and public schools in the region and completed an internship in the office of U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

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