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.
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.
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.
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!
Burke, photographed in 1999 for a Seattle Times story
ALAN BERNER / THE SEATTLE TIMES)