Chris Savage started shooting his Kickstarter video on a Friday, taught himself video editing software on Sunday and released the Kickstarter on Monday. He raised almost $7,000, $4,000 more than his goal.
Once the money was there, he had to figure out how to get his tea to backers. “I didn’t really have a way to manufacture all of these K-Cups, and I knew I couldn’t do it all by hand myself,” says Savage.
The Loudoun County native started his entrepreneurial journey in 2013, when his mother gifted him a Keurig machine for Valentine’s Day. He loved the convenience but thought the K-Cups lacked flavor. He bought a prototype K-Cup and began tinkering with his own blends. Once he found the right balance of herbal flavor and sweetness—his K-Cups contain honey, and Savage is learning beekeeping—he started crowdsourcing funds for True Honey Teas.
With his Kickstarter funded, Savage, an electrical engineer by trade, returned to the mechanics lab at George Mason University, his alma mater, to create the machinery he needed. Within six months he began shipping teas: Earl Grey, English breakfast, chai, honeybush (red tea from South Africa) and orange pekoe (black tea from China). When the government shut down in the fall of 2013, he booked a ticket to Florida, and while sitting in his grandmother’s pool, he decided to quit his contracting job to run True Honey Teas full time.
The Woodbridge-based company has since expanded from K-Cups to creamed honey, which Savage describes as “extremely smooth and delicious.” The product is the crystallized form of honey, which usually happens naturally over time but at True Honey, Gunter’s Honey (from Berryville) is stored in a temperature-controlled environment to create something spreadable like butter.
This month, Savage plans to sell a tea bag line with honey granules. Up next: tea mixers in flavors like Irish Cream and Hot Toddy that can be drunk as-is or spiked.
“All I want for the future of this company is to continue releasing new and innovative products,” says Savage. “When I quit my engineering job, my boss looked at me and said, ‘You’re quitting to start a tea company?’ which was the general reaction I was expecting, but I knew it was what I needed to do.”