Wild Wednesday


Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of WILD WEDNESDAY!!  

Last week I had my special feature ready to go, when I realized that Keeley had something else in mind.  In honor of my birthday, she wrote about me for Wild Wednesday!  What a fun surprise that was!  

But now it is time to share another awesome person we have gotten the opportunity of crossing paths with.  We met this week’s star at a recent trade show in Chicago.  We immediately bonded, because like us, him and a friend started their company as college students and are now very successful!  It is rare to come across other young co-founders, especially in the food world, so I couldn’t wait to get to know more about him and their company Tiesta Tea!  Another reason we were so excited about their company is because Keeley and I are huge tea drinkers and let me tell you, this tea rocks!!

1) So let’s start with the basics. What’s your name, where are you from and what do you do?

My name is Patrick Tannous and I am from Chicago, Illinois- ChiCity. I am the co-founder, COO and President of Sales for Tiesta Tea Company. A tea company that I started in college.

2)  Tell me the Tiesta Tea story!

Dan Klein, CEO and my business partner, both studied abroad in 2009. I went to Paris and he went to Milan. During one weekend, we decided to vacation to Prague, Czech Republic. As we were in Prague, we came across a traditional Czech tea house. Throughout our 3 day stay in Prague, we ended up visiting the tea house everyday, and even bought a tea called “Granny’s Garden” to sneak back to the USA. This wasn’t your average tea. It was something different. It was an herbal tea with bursting (real) red berries and an authentic “berry” taste; not just added flavoring. We then brought this unique tea to college to share with our friends and family. Sure enough, our tea became a hit in the college apt’s. People would come to our room just to get “some of that red stuff”. Everyone would ask us what we were making, and when we responded that it was tea, our friends were shocked that tea could taste that good!

Eventually we ran out, and we had to get more! That’s when we discovered the opportunity to start Tiesta Tea. There was no where in the USA to get this stuff. We even called Czech Republic to see if they could ship us some to USA, but we could never understand the Czech-speaking employees. So we just said, why not here in the USA, why not us? What is stopping us from starting our own tea company? 

3) When did you realize that your idea of bringing good tasting tea to the U.S. was catching on?

My first realization must have been when we went to our first tradeshow. At tradeshows you learn so much about yourself, your product and your market. You realize what people are looking for, what makes your product attractive and who you are competing with.

Everyone who came by our booth was shocked that tea could taste that good. We also didn’t see anyone else doing what we were doing which is simplifying tea and putting a youthful brand behind it. The combination of very excited customers and a lack of competition made me realize that we found our niche. 

4)  What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur? The hardest?

The best thing about being an entrepreneur is actually enjoying to work. It’s a blessing to be able love what you do. I’m excited to go to work every morning, and not many people can say that. If you don’t love what you do, you won’t do great work, and if you don’t do great work, you won’t feel a sense of importance, pride and accomplishment.

The worst part of being an entrepreneur is this…nothing will come easy! You have to go and get everything you want. You will not be handed anything.  It wont get done on it’s own.

5)  Describe the most rewarding moment you’ve had in the 3 years of Tiesta Tea?

Well. nothing beats the reward of knowing that you can build a business from nothing to something special at a young age. But, the single most rewarding moment had to be when we won Best New Product of the Year from the World Tea Expo. It’s one of the most prestigious awards in the tea industry, and we won it in 2011. We knew our product was awesome, but we didn’t know it was award-winning. 

6) What’s the office/ work environment like at Tiesta Tea?? 

It’s always a TEA party at the office. We have an entrepreneurial, fun and laid-back environment. We want people to enjoy working and feel like they are making a meaningful difference. For example, when a salesman gets a new account, they get to play their favorite song for everyone to hear. Might seem distracting, but it keeps our guys loose and excited.

We have 11 teammates that are 24 or under, so there is always tons of energy in the office!

7) Tea blend you are most proud of?

For sure Maui Mango. It’s the craziest tea we have and it’s nuts. It’s comprised of huge orange slices, strawberry chunks, mango bits, safflowers and marigolds. It is the most unique tea I have ever seen. It’s amazing over ice!

8)  We immediately bonded at the trade show because we were (and always are) the minority as young co-founders of our respective companies. What was your first take on Wild Squirrel?? And since you are a few years ahead of us, what advice do you have?

I love the fact that you guys are young, fiery entrepreneurs who won’t take “no” for an answer. In my three years of doing this, I have yet to meet anyone in the food industry that was younger than myself. That changed when you guys started Wild Squirrel.

I have tons of advice for you, but the most important is to use your resources, mentors, universities, friends and family to the maximum benefit. Because we are so young, we’re faced with the natural disadvantage of not having experience. You can offset that lack of experience by consulting with people who have been there before. We consult with our advisory board and mentors before we make any decisions.  


It was so great to be able to meet Patrick at the trade show and learn more about his company.  While interviewing him I realized how many parallels there were between Wild Squirrel and Tiesta Tea..how cool is that?!

Thanks so much Patrick for being this week’s Wild Wednesday!  We wish you all the best in your tea endeavors…I’m sipping some of the Forever Young blend right now…so tasty!

That’s all for now,


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