Interview with David's Tea Specialist: Richard Guzauskas

Sarah Velasco: Can you tell us your story with tea?
Richard Guzauskas: I've been in the tea industry since 1987 and launched my first brand soon thereafter. I sold my last tea brand (Leaves Pure Teas) in 2001 and immediately became a consultant within the Specialty Tea Industry working with many tea brands, growers and blenders on an international level.
I met David Segal and his partner Hersch Segal several years ago when we had only one DAVIDsTEA store and, after a few brief meetings, decided that I wanted to be on board with them at DAVIDsTEA. It's been the single most exciting tea experience I've had to date. Everyday brings challenges, and more than that satisfaction.

Sarah Velasco: What does your job entail?
Richard Guzauskas: My job entails a little bit of everything that has to do with our core product, tea. I work with our blenders and growers around the globe to assure that DAVIDsTEA has the finest and most cutting edge tea, fruit and herbal blends available anywhere, at all times. I track trends in the food and beverage industries and then assist our blending teams to set new trends based on the direction of the demand, or our projection of what the demands will be - all the while being very careful to keep quality first and foremost. It's a lot of work and a lot of fun.

Sarah Velasco: Why is tea important?
Richard Guzauskas: Tea is important because it's one of the pillars of a healthful lifestyle in the 21st century. Teas provide flavorful, fun and healthful beverage alternatives that give us the pleasure we demand and the hydration we require with very little (if any) added sugars, calories and/or chemicals.

Sarah Velasco: How often should one drink tea, and what kinds?
Richard Guzauskas: At DAVIDsTEA we include our herbal and fruit blends in our definition of 'tea' so we suggest that you can drink tea all day long and late into every evening. I don't suggest highly caffeinated teas for everyone at all times of the day but our great selection includes low and no caffeine teas that really are suitable for almost anyone, at anytime.

Sarah Velasco: What can you tell us about Davids Tea? What differentiates the company from others?
Richard Guzauskas: DAVIDsTEA is a company that makes drinking teas a lot of fun. We bring an unprecedented variety of teas to the marketplace and specialize in great tasting, healthful beverages. We've brought teas to a new level by pushing the envelope on flavor quality, visual appearance and aroma while keeping quality, healthful benefits, service and social responsibility paramount in our offerings. We're a fast moving, trend setting company that loves offering our customers delicious alternatives to sugary soft drinks. And our staff is just about as great as it gets.

Sarah Velasco: Do you have a favorite tea?
Richard Guzauskas: I have not. I drink a lot of tea, all day long and into the night. I drink all types and find that I never tire of trying new ones.

Sarah Velasco: Are there any common misconceptions when it comes to tea?
Richard Guzauskas: Definitely, the biggest misconception seems to be that tea is difficult to prepare. Really it's so simple. Pour hot water over the leaves or herbs and wait a few minutes, it's really very easy.

Sarah Velasco: Are there different categories of tea? Can you explain this further?
Richard Guzauskas: There are many categories of tea, especially when you include herbals and fruit teas in the definition. I think maybe what you are seeking here are the classic tea types (from camellia sinensis): white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh types. These are basically classified according to their oxidation levels, which are carefully controlled in the process of creating 'tea' from tea leaves.
Each tea type has its own special and unique character, and each has different levels of antioxidants and caffeine. Our store staff is expert at explaining these differences.

Sarah Velasco: If there is one tea you could recommend to someone, what would it be and why?
Richard Guzauskas: Hmmm. Of the classic teas (camellia sinensis) I would recommend an oolong tea with a mid level of oxidation, like a Tie Kwan Yin. These teas have a very smooth, full bodied flavor and enough complexity to interest almost any palette.