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Joseph Wesley Tea

PO Box 72039
Detroit, MI 48214

Joe Uhl

Entrepreneurs love to talk about partnerships. Strategic partnerships with bigger companies in their field, cross-sector partnerships with other business, partnerships with other organizations in the community. All in the name of growing business.

Joseph Wesley Black Tea is one of those small businesses that executes on its partnerships. The Detroit-based craft tea company recently teamed up with Anthology Coffee, a Detroit-based specialty coffee roaster, and Rip van Wafels (a mini-wafel company based in San Francisco) to sell all of their products as part of a monthly subscription service across the U.S. It's one of a number of partnerships the 1-year-old company has cooking.

"We're in the middle of a couple right now," says Joe Uhl, founder of Joseph Wesley Black Tea. "Beau Bein Fine Foods is using one of our teas in a preserve."

Joseph Wesley Black Tea is a slow-tea company selling high-end, hand-harvested teas. It is also aiming to begin bottling pre-made tea drinks later this year. It is also working on a book about tea, taking a comprehensive look at the chemistry behind it, the history of it, and what is in store for it in the future. To make the most of the book, Uhl and his team are working with a large variety of slow food entrepreneurs to get a broad range of points of view on the subject.

"We're collaborating with a lot of craft breweries and bakeries across town," Uhl says.

When looking for potential partners, Uhl and his team look to people who run in the similar circles. The partnership with Anthology Coffee and Rip van Wafels came about after the three people behind each company met at 2014 Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Annual Exposition recognized each other as kindred souls committed to the slow food movement.

That shared experience and point of view is a key part to making a partnership work, according to Uhl. Without it’s a group of people trying to work together by going in different directions.

"We want to support our ideology on food and drink," Uhl says. "We're looking for food businesses that look at food as a cultural icon."

Finding those people is as easy as speaking to friends of friends or just traveling in similar circles. Sometimes they even find entrepreneurs like Uhl.

"Sometimes they come to us," Uhl says. "Sometimes we go to them.” He adds, "It's all part of being in food. Food is a big part of the community."

- Written by Jon Zemke

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