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TRIBUTE.TEA was established in 2002 by two doctors: high school friends (and tea-enthusiasts) BJ Miller & Justin Burke.
Tea has long been regarded as both a medicinal herb and a spiritual pursuit, so it is fitting that one should be a medical doctor and the other a doctor of philosophy. After many years of drinking and learning about tea in the U.S., Europe and Asia, they joined forces to create TRIBUTE.TEA, offering an international selection of premium teas from China, Japan, India, Taiwan and Sri Lanka.
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In the last fifteen years, the tea business in the U.S. has developed and become more specialized, and TRIBUTE.TEA has changed with the times. Since relocating to the Seattle area in 2005, TRIBUTE.TEA has narrowed its focus to Japanese tea, especially matcha - the famous powdered green tea.
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Due to its high cost and delicate nature, good, fresh Japanese tea remains hard to come by outside of Japan, which led TRIBUTE.TEA to develop close ties with producers in Japan's premier tea-producing region of Kyoto prefecture.
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Having a source for good tea in Japan, however, is only the first step on the path to offering good tea for sale in the U.S. Next, we have to transport it from there to here. The vast majority of tea imported by sea - which costs the least, but can take up to two months - a voyage that can be very damaging to delicate tea leaves and powder sitting in a container on the deck of a cargo ship. Instead, our teas are sent out of Osaka by air - which means we receive it within days of processing, not months. Air-shipping enables us to provide our customers with the freshest, greenest, healthiest, best-tasting tea possible - which is important to us because, at TRIBUTE.TEA, we're not just purveyors of fine tea; we drink it everyday, too. ENJOY!


TRIBUTE.TEA's Jus
tin Burke, photographed in 1999 for a Seattle Times story about tea.
(PHOTO: ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES)


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In Imperial times, the finest teas were reserved as TRIBUTE for the Emperor and his court.