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The Next Generation of Leaders

By Tom Waller, Co-Owner

Summit Tea is about influence. One of our labels reads: “While tea is our business, the next generation of leaders is our mission.”  Middle School, High School, College, and young entrepreneurs are the sweet spot of that influence I seek – the next generation.

As a lifelong mentor with more than 40 years of experience, my life’s purpose is to engage with people like you and leverage your influence. This is central to everything I do, including Summit Tea.

What this means to you as our customer, is that I am for you. I would like to see you live your life well; certainly live it better for us having crossed paths. I care a lot about the quality of teas we serve you, but even more about how you bridge from your present to the things that matter to you. A good mentor is an architect who champions impossible dreams especially when the flame of hope flickers low.

This is especially true for our Wholesale customers. We want them to be successful selling our teas, so we have created an in-store marketing system that builds growing and profitable tea programs. Taking it a step further, we want them to be successful overall as small business owners, so we created the Coffee Community where owners and managers come twice a year to learn from each other by transparently sharing what they do really well and how they do it.

The same “I am for you!” value flavors the work environment for our employees and it’s woven into our relationships with our suppliers, family and friends.  Therefore, almost all our Chinese teas are grown for us by one farmer in central China. This is a long-term relationship – they’re a small family business/we are a small family business. I go there and walk their fields, I know how they cultivate and handle their teas, and I know how they treat their workers. We  also “cherry pick” other teas from those who do it so much more amazingly well than we can.

I’m a person of faith, too, and I hope that you will see that lived out authentically but probably not very perfectly. I love God and His son, Jesus of Nazareth, but I’m not very religious, meaning I struggle at times, sometimes with “church.” Then of course, there are interests of mine including enjoying the ocean, hiking in the local mountains and also craft beer!

I want to invite you into the story we are walking out each day. It’s full of interesting people, life lessons, mistakes, and, above all else, it will be a window into how I (we) walk out these convictions. If I am for you, then, you must know I’m committed to your quality experience with Summit Tea Company.


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Summit Tea: Origins

By Marji Waller-Thompson, Founder

A great cup of tea is hard to find – we’ve traveled to China to bring some of the best teas to you. Welcome to Summit Tea! My family and I are very happy to welcome you to the wonderful world of premium teas.

Our story started when I, Marji, lived in China from 2002-2004. During my time there, I learned how wonderful loose whole leaf tea is, and I had the chance to taste traditionally produced teas of all varieties – black, white, oolong, green, and even tisanes (herbal infusions).

When I moved back to the Pacific Northwest, I brought my interest in quality whole leaf tea back to share with a good friend named Mary. Our interest in tea was piqued by how closely fine teas parallel fine wines. Just like a glass of wine, each tea is an individual to be enjoyed on its own or coupled with food.

The tea that most people are familiar with come in tea bags, however tea bags tend to be a lower grade of tea made from tea fannings, the “tea dust” that remains after the whole leaf tea is packaged. We knew that Summit Tea could provide an opportunity to share the endless, wonderful world of the highest quality teas that are just waiting to be tasted.

The name “Summit Tea” represents that our business provides the top teas available. This name is also appropriate because some of the world’s best teas are grown at higher elevations. Most of our tea is direct sourced and produced in China, but some of our premium providers are located in France and the Pacific Northwest. We have worked to gather a beautiful and delicious array of teas to meet everyone’s tastes. In addition to traditional teas, we also offer decaffeinated and herbal (naturally caffeine-free) options.

In 2011  my brother and his wife, Tom and Patti Waller, took ownership of Summit Tea and relocated to the beautiful Southern California city of Redlands.  Tom and Patti’s vision was to direct source their Chinese teas from one farmer as well as expand Summit Tea by serving Coffee Communities and independent Markets. All this while continuing to serve our growing on-line Retail Customers. 

We look forward to sharing these fine teas with you as we invite you to try all our teas. You will not be disappointed!