In this episode you’ll learn… about Steve O’Dell & Robbie Page of Tenzo Tea, plus…
- What growing up for Steve and Robbie was like.
- How they came up with the idea for Tenzo Tea.
- Where Tenzo Tea comes from.
- What you need to know about tea.
- The path for the future of Tenzo Tea.
- And much, much more.
Welcome to the show!
I was introduced to Tenzo Tea, maybe about a month or may a little longer than that, ago and what it is is a matcha green tea. I’ve always loved matcha green tea, so when I was introduced to them I was like, “Yeah, for sure. I want to give this stuff a try. Sounds really cool.” I was blown away. In fact, so much so that the matcha green tea from Tenzo Tea is now my preferred pre workout supplement. Not only that, there’s a bunch of positive health benefits from drinking the matcha tea.
I highly recommend that you check out this podcast ’cause Steve and Robbie are couple of very interesting, smart entrepreneurs. They get into why you would have the tea. What kind of workouts the tea would be good for. What they’re into. We even get to talk about a little bit of entrepreneurship, which I geek out on. I hope you guys enjoy this. I want to let you know that this podcast is brought to you by Audible. You can go to allaroundjoe.com/audible to get yourself a free audio book. If you hang around to the very end of the podcast, Steve and Robbie give their top three books that they recommend to the listeners. If you hang around to the end, check out those books that they recommend and grab yourself a free Audible audio book by going to allaroundjoe.com/audible.
All right guys. Enjoy the interview with Steve and Robbie from Tenzo Tea.
All right. Steve and Robbie, welcome to the show. How are you guys doing today?
Robbie Page: We are doing awesome. Thanks for having us.
Steve O’Dell: Yeah, we are doing great. Thanks.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to have you guys on the show because I’ve been trying your guys’s product for a while. I’ve done some research on who you are. You sound like some pretty fun guys with some synergies actually with business and things like that that I’m working on so I’m excited to chat with you as well as you guys having really cool athletic careers, which is fun. [inaudible 00:02:37].
Tell me about your guys’ background. Growing up, education, sports, etc. I want to hear more about what you guys are all about.
Robbie Page: I grew up in upstate New York, in Rochester, New York specifically. Played volleyball my whole life. I was fortunate enough to go and play at UCLA for four years. Really loved my time there. That was my first real taste of all Los Angeles for me. After UCLA, I went and played a year professionally in Italy, indoor, one of the top leagues in the world. Then I played professionally two years in the sand on the ABP. That takes us to Channel 16 right around the time when Steve and I were really getting out together and started brainstorming some business ideas. In that time frame was where Tenzo was formed and the really need for healthy energy and long term focus. Came true to large sets of our life. That’s a pretty quick rundown. Want to do the same?
Steve O’Dell: Yeah. I was a similar story. I played volleyball my whole life. Actually met Rob at a volleyball practice when I was 12, and he was 14. For those of you that don’t know, he is 7’1″. He was 6’4″ as a 14 year old with this big three inch afro. [crosstalk 00:03:54]. Just a very strange sight.
Then we played together [inaudible 00:03:59] there on the court in Rochester, New York for a while. Then I followed him to UCLA two years after he went there. We played together for two years. I had another year there. Then I left school and moved in on Rob’s couch. That’s when the magic of Tenzo Tea started.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. Were you guys at all entrepreneurial before you hooked up when you were younger or was it like “Hey, we are friends. Let’s try and do something different with our lives?”
Steve O’Dell: No. We were, honestly primarily volleyball players. When I was at UCLA after Rob left, I took an entrepreneurship class and then started a very simple company one summer and it did pretty well. Got really into it. That’s why I left school and moved on to Rob’s couch. He caught the bug as well and we were just full blown entrepreneurs from here on out.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. How old are you guys now?
Robbie Page: I’m 25, going on 26 in July.
Steve O’Dell: I’m 23.
Joe Bauer: You guys are pretty young guys here, which is fantastic. I banged around in entrepreneurship since I was probably 28 or so, but man I’m jealous at getting started early. Have you guys ever had to even have jobs?
Robbie Page: No.
Steve O’Dell: Not really. That’s one of the funniest things. It’s been a massive learning curve from day one. I speak neuroscience and he’ll tell you history and none of us are in business. We knew how to learn skills, but one of the biggest and cool and challenging parts about running a business is management. Even having never really had that experience working for a major company or working for a major business, we are learning as fast as possible this fine line stuff like having employees, proper communication management. All those skills are really come a lot from a team to it’s really helpful to be part of a team. It’s been a great process learning so far.
Joe Bauer: That’s super cool. I wish I would have tried that early on. I call myself now unemployable. It’s because I had to go through that before actually figuring out that you could just become an entrepreneur. I’m jealous of what you guys have done. It’s really cool.
I know that most of my audience, they geek out on the tea that you guys are selling and the athletic stuff so we should probably talk more about that, but I’m excited about the entrepreneur stuff as well. They are just going to have to deal with that a little bit, but that’s all right. [crosstalk 00:06:38].
You guys are volleyball players and Rob you are a professional volleyball player still, is that correct?
Robbie Page: I’ve been off the court for about a year, but I was. Could still be. I could go back [inaudible 00:06:55] someday maybe.
Joe Bauer: Cool. What do you guys do for workouts? What is exciting to you about training, being healthy, that type of stuff?
Steve O’Dell: A lot of stuff. [inaudible 00:07:11] enough. We got into a very strong routine at UCLA and Rob after when he was playing professionally and going to the gym and doing a lot of dynamic workouts. Volleyball is very explosive sport. We didn’t really do any running or swimming or yoga and things like that. It was very focused on how we can be very fast and efficient with our movements and strong. We did a lot of dynamic training and explosive movement stuff.
Since then and since we’ve adopted this Tenzo lifestyle it’s a little bit more than just working out. We’ve gotten into marathons. I’m currently training for a half Ironman. Rob’s doing yoga a lot. I do that too, but we’ve kind of explored a lot of different ways to work out and fuel your body and just be healthy in general.
Robbie Page: I really thing too add on that, it’s interesting coming from a … a really love working for a purpose and doing something to achieve something or accomplish a goal. We’ve been trying after our athletic careers are in a pause or finished, we’ve been trying to find competitive challenges. We ran the marathon in seven weeks, LA marathon. That was brutal [crosstalk 00:08:25]. We [call bushed 00:08:27] like done, next.
I think that for me, whenever I have something I’m really working towards it makes everything fall into place. It brings in motivation. It brings all of what you need to get up every morning and hit the gym and work.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, for sure. Half Ironman right now for Steve, which is awesome. Do you know which one?
Steve O’Dell: I don’t know the exact name. I think it’s in Santa Barbara in the middle of September.
Joe Bauer: Cool.
Steve O’Dell: You want to come [inaudible 00:08:57]. Pretty good crew of guys running it. It’s going to be really fun.
Joe Bauer: Really cool. I’m actually imparting on living in a van for a year. I’m not sure if I’ll be in the area, but that’s a whole other story. [crosstalk 00:09:15].
Robbie Page: What are you up to Joe? What are your primary workout routines and what have you been doing on a regular basis?
Joe Bauer: I’m a competitive Crossfitter I would say. Every year I try and excel at that as much as I can. Do local competitions and then take what I’ve learned in accelerating my own achievements and teaching them to other people. Mostly Crossfit as that opens up it becomes … right now for example, I’m focusing a lot on weightlifting, and Olympic lifting and trying to get stronger with that with a secondary component of actual Crossfit and cardiovascular stuff, but every year I usually pick something crazy to do. Kind of like what you guys have been doing with these goals.
Last year it was part of the PCT, Pacific Crest Trail, from one ski resort to another in the Seattle, Washington area. It was 27 miles day one, 28 miles day two, and 18 miles day three. Almost a little more than two marathons and more than a half marathon three days in a row. I appreciate you guys’s craziness.
Steve O’Dell: Yeah, that’s brutal on the body. I’ve never experienced quite the pain that you feel after mile 20 of a marathon. Your body is just “no more” and you’ve gotta just finish. It was a pretty enlightening process to say the least.
Robbie Page: I love it.
Steve O’Dell: Do you believe in that challenge again?
Joe Bauer: The challenge. What challenge are you referring to?
Steve O’Dell: The three days running. [crosstalk 00:10:55].
Joe Bauer: I just came up with it myself. [crosstalk 00:10:59]. My girlfriend and I … I’ve got a crazy, awesome girlfriend. We got a couple people to support us along the trail so they brought in our food and tents. Then we were able to put on light backpacks with hydration and whatnot and just run as much as we could. Then hit the people up at night where they refuel us and then we go off the next day.
Steve O’Dell: That is awesome. [crosstalk 00:11:23].
Joe Bauer: I’ll let you guys know when our next adventure is and maybe you’ll want to get in on it.
Steve O’Dell: Yeah.
Robbie Page: Yeah. Anything that’s totally crazy. [crosstalk 00:11:32].
Joe Bauer: We could do a big event around it and promote Tenzo. It’d be awesome.
Steve O’Dell: Yeah.
Robbie Page: Healthy energy for the run. Sounds perfect.
Joe Bauer: Heck yeah. I think that that’s freaking awesome. I’m the type of guy too that you invite me to something like that, I might just show up so you never know. It depends on like I said where I’m at, because I’m doing this interesting van trip coming up.
I want to hear more about you guys’ interest in tea. I’ve taken tons of sports supplements. I’ve taken the pre workouts. I’ve had all kinds of coffee and tried to time things so that they hit my body at the perfect time so that I’m feeling great. It sounds like you guys have appreciated those types of things as well. Give me some background on it. Why tea?
Steve O’Dell: [crosstalk 00:12:26] That’s a good question. Basically, I’m sure you would agree with this, but as athletes energy was a massive part of our lives. Specifically when we were in college I would wake up, work out for an hour and a half with the team and you’d have to attend all your classes in a three hour period. Head right into pre practice workouts and stretching and doing stuff with trainers and then right into a three and a half hour practice. The
n you have some sort of conditioning afterwards. Then you have to go home and do your homework. The energy was just huge, huge, huge. We were doing pre workouts in the mornings. Chugging caffeine, five hours, coffees, cold produce, red bull at night. Crazy stuff.
Then we became entrepreneurs and it became even more exacerbated. We were just chugging these drinks. We both live under the philosophy that if you had a car and you only had one car your whole life, you’d treat that car really, really well. That’s compared to your body which is way more important than a car. You should really treat that as best you can. Putting those two things in line, we knew that this energy wasn’t going to go away. We weren’t just suddenly going to not need energy anymore. We wanted to keep that a part of our lives, but we also wanted to treat that car really well.
Rob and I went on this mission to find the healthiest form of energy on the planet. After some searching we found matcha green tea. When we drank it we noticed no crashing, no jitters. We didn’t have upset stomachs. A lot of these things were aligning. It really changed our lives and our ability to work out and keep going after that. We wanted to spread that mission and the same feeling that we got drinking matcha to the rest of the world.
Joe Bauer: Cool. What kind of process did you go through in figuring out that matcha green tea was the thing that you guys wanted to go after? How many different things did you try? Did you have to go places and try them? Was there scientific research that you found that you were like, “Oh this is interesting?”
Steve O’Dell: Yeah. I think a lot of the pieces just fell into place in a lot of ways. [inaudible 00:14:48] It put a lot of pieces because it has zero sugar. It’s just 100% green tea. [inaudible 00:14:54] it’s just in the green tea plant. Instead of putting it in a green tea bag and steam it where you loose most of the nutrients, with matcha you get to directly inject it. It’s 10 times the antioxidants. Way more caffeine. A lot more [elfini 00:15:07] that calm, focused energy that pairs well with caffeine.
I’m a science background so of course I dug into all the scientific journals of the antioxidants and everything like that. The antioxidants themselves are amazing for your brain and your heart and your metabolism boost and your oral hygiene. It goes on and on. It’s antiviral, antibacterial. It keeps you healthy through your immune system. We look at all these things and we are like, “First of all, is this real?” Is this a real thing? When we got it and figured out it was real, we were like “Holy, Oh my goodness. What an opportunity here.” We found in the U.S. it was really hard to find quality matcha. It’s not a very well known product. It’s still very new.
It has a 800 year tradition in Japan. We realized in the U.S. there wasn’t much of a market yet for it. It was pretty unknown. Pretty new. There was small niches that knew about it. We were like, “Wow. What an opportunity to bring amazing tradition of healthy long lasting energy to the United States and really brand it and show people how great it can be for their lives.”
Joe Bauer: Absolutely. I love it. Did you guys have to travel around to try different types of matcha? There’s different styles of matcha as well right?
Steve O’Dell: Yeah. This is honestly going to be a pretty classic answer, but it’s entrepreneurship 101. All we did was Google and then we requested samples. It wasn’t anything crazy complex. We evaluated them on taste and color profile and graded the matcha. We have a big spreadsheet. We got matcha from China and Taiwan. Literally all over the world. Tons from Japan obviously. It really just took a little bit of time. Took a few months for us to take that and get it started before we were really rolling. It wasn’t anything crazy. Since then we have gone to Japan and visited the farms and learned about the processing and stuff. When we first got started it was more two guys on a mission to make this happen because we wanted clean energy.
Robbie Page: The first two was all about kit samples. Get your friends to try it. Do they feel the same way that we do? As confirmation came back, “Wow this is great.” We’re like, “Okay, let’s move. Let’s go on this and take it to the next level.”
Joe Bauer: How is matcha different from a regular green tea?
Robbie Page: It’s a great question.
Steve O’Dell: It is a good questions. This is obviously a common thing from a lot of people, but matcha is literally a powdered green tea. Protein powder in a sense. If you can visualize protein powder, that’s what matcha looks like, except it’s bright green. Typically green tea is bagged and then steeped so you release the green tea through the bag and then you drink it with a tea bag. It’s very typical.
With matcha you actually blend it directly with the water. You can put it in a smoothie. Then you get five to ten times the amount of nutrients of a typical bagged green tea.
Joe Bauer: Cool. Very cool. I always wondered that. I’ve loved matcha tea for a long time, but it would seem like it was harder to get like you said than the traditional green tea, but you gotta put it in the little ball and you gotta dip it in the hot water and then you gotta pull it out.
Steve O’Dell: Regular green tea, you are getting run off water. It’s like thinking about you are running passing water past the green tea, getting a little bit of run off, but all that real nutrients gets thrown away in the garbage when you throw your teabag away. The other cool thing with matcha is there’s a lot of grades and levels. It’s like wine, but the really nice matcha they select the very tender baby leaves from the top of the plant. [inaudible 00:18:49] special process when they grow matcha where they cover all the plants in shade cloth which reduces their light exposure, which starves the plant of light so it boosts the chlorophyll levels and makes the plant try and go into hyper mode to capture more sun.
What that does is brings all the nutrients up from the roots and makes a really bright green, vivid green tea leaves and gives matcha its amazing color with all the chlorophyll. The detoxifying properties and antioxidants.
Joe Bauer: Wow. Cool. I love the science stuff. If you ever think there’s something to share that share for sure. I think it’s super cool.
Steve O’Dell: It’s amazing. It had amazing culture and tradition that’s just been over years they’ve perfected the process of matcha.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. What’s Tenzo Tea as the company that now has the matcha?
Steve O’Dell: As the name you are saying?
Joe Bauer: The name, the company. What does that encompass? We talked about the tea, what matcha is and then Tenzo. Why is it Tenzo? What’s the name mean? What is the company represent? I know about it, but tell everybody else.
Steve O’Dell: That’s a really great question. I think it’s one of the most important things. We’ll answer it today. Why Rob and I started this company wasn’t to make a million dollars. It wasn’t to fund college debt or any lame reason. It was purely based on the belief that we wanted to have a large, positive impact on the world around us.
Tenzo stands for that same mission in the sense that every time you drink a cup of matcha verses a cup of coffee, you are treating your body a little bit better. You are pushing yourself to do what you know is right and truly good. We believe that really makes a difference.
Also, the name Tenzo just to give a little background, means heavenly monk in Japanese. A Tenzo is a person that would bring food and drink to Buddhists in the Buddhist monastery. The name has a little bit of history. Really, the company and what Rob and I believe in as our community grows we want to exude that same belief is to really just do good to the world. To treat your body the right way and to live a positive life that you know that you can live. We just want to exude that mission to other people as well.
Joe Bauer: Very cool, very cool. Did it take you a long time to figure out that name?
Robbie Page: No actually, it was pretty quick.
Steve O’Dell: About two days. We first found matcha. We tried it and then I was laying in my bed on Google. We were scrolling through words and ideas and I found the word Tenzo on a Japanese website. I was like, “Hmm, this is interesting.” Learned more about it. Tenzo Tea. Within 24 hours we were like, “Boom. Rolling.”
Robbie Page: Yeah.
Steve O’Dell: Had the name and we were going.
Joe Bauer: I like it. I feel like as an entrepreneur sometimes the name can get you stuck, but that’s a great name. I love it.
Steve O’Dell: It’s easy to spell. It’s hard to mispronounce. It’s also [inaudible 00:21:54] global. If you look at some history of good companies, they all have that in common.
Joe Bauer: I like it. Very cool. What are the health benefits of the matcha grade tea specifically. I know you mentioned the antioxidants and whatnot. What kind of stuff that people aren’t quite as nerdy as us that would like to hear about the intricacies, what can they feel or benefits are they going to see?
Robbie Page: In particular, matcha green tea has one super powerful antioxidant. It’s called. EGCG. It’s in the catechin family of antioxidants. This one in particular, there’s a million [inaudible 00:22:31] internet and it does everything. It’s actually antiviral and antibacterial. It will help strengthen your immune system. It actually prevents bacteria and viruses from attaching to your cells and causing illness. It has really interesting in that sense.
It also has been shown to boost metabolism, which is really interesting. Compared to regular … your boost, I think it’s 25% boosts metabolism. There was a study done in Japan among middle aged women. Really interesting study. It also is very good for your brain health. There’s been studies that show it reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. The longevity of your brain, reducing those free radicals that cause harm to your neurons and everything that’s happening synaptically.
Let me think. There’s more. It keeps going and going. Oral hygiene wise. One other cool thing. Fun fact. Coffee actually works in a negative way. Coffee breath is a real thing. It’s a real thing. There’s [inaudible 00:23:35] sulfur compounds in your mouth that are caused from pockets of bacteria that form and coffee works, actually will help those bacteria grow. Matcha it’s antimicrobial properties will fight those [inaudible 00:23:49] and sulfur compounds in your mouth, which will reduce your bad breath. It’s really good for your teeth, for your gums, your oral hygiene.
Matcha is also [inaudible 00:24:00] for your skin. Applying face masks is really good for wrinkles and skin complexion, acne. These are the things I was saying before when we first started reading about matcha, we were like, “No way. This is too unreal.” It’s too good. It’s an amazing super food that the benefits go on and on. That’s why there’s a lot of studies too that just show the life expectancy in Japan is just far superior to most of the world. They think a lot of it is due to the green tea consumption.
Joe Bauer: Interesting. Do you believe that it’s right for every consumer?
Robbie Page: Yeah.
Joe Bauer: Or is there a target market?
Robbie Page: There are some, if you are pregnant, caffeine is not necessarily the best thing necessarily. Same if you are young. It depends on how you want to raise your children with caffeine or not caffeine. Besides the caffeine portion, my grandma she claims she hasn’t been sick in 10 months since she started drinking matcha every day. She loves it. She’s all about it.
It’s very good for a large population. What do you think Steve?
Steve O’Dell: Yeah, I think it’s good for everyone honestly. If you look at the U.S. there’s 20,000 independent coffee shops. There’s 10,000 Starbucks. 5,000 other coffee shops. Then five hour energy, and red bull has 100 billion dollar market. In our opinion, the world loves energy and it’s a very key part of a lot of people’s lives. If you can give it to them in an easy to drink and very healthy way, then why not?
Joe Bauer: Sure. Then from an entrepreneurial or business standpoint, who do you guys target market? At least with me, with all my business, it’s been like, “Yeah, I want to sell it to everybody,” but when you learn about marketing to everybody is a problem.
Steve O’Dell: That’s one of the interesting parts with Tenzo when we started ’cause you can sell Matcha to anyone and everywhere. Whether it’s coffee shops, juice bars. You can make matcha pies, matcha ice cream, matcha chocolate. That’s a massive thing. We’ve been really targeting … one of our major audiences starting off has been middle aged women. 25 to 50 year old women looking for healthy alternatives to energy. Maybe want to stop their coffee addiction.
We are also really working into the male performance based, like our demographic. Really a lot of the company because we loved it. We came back to that like, “Wait a minute. Let’s market to ourselves. People that are young, inspiring entrepreneurs. Athletes who really want to make the most of their day and be the best version of themselves.”
Joe Bauer: Totally. Obviously we connected and I’ve been taking it as a pre workout for myself and I’ve loved it.
Steve O’Dell: Yes.
Robbie Page: Good to hear.
Steve O’Dell: Love it.
Joe Bauer: I loved it. I was skeptical at first. I’ve always loved matcha as an energy source. When you guys connected with me, I was like, “Huh, this is interesting. I know I already like that style of tea.” I wasn’t expecting it to be as good a pre workout as it was to be honest with you. It’s great as a pre workout.
Steve O’Dell: It’s amazing. It’s literally like we take these shots. It’s called a [foreign word 00:27:14], the Japanese word for it. It just means matcha shot. Literally we have one serving and three ounces of water and just shoot it. We all did it before the LA marathon. Every time we work out we just have matcha shots.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. If we are talking performance, do you guys have anything else to add to that? If someone is listening to this or watching this and they are like, “Yeah, that’s how I would want to take it. I’m a Crossfitter or a marathoner or triathlete.” Timing or amount of times they can take it, what do you got?
Robbie Page: I personally, I think I speak for the team, have not found a upper limit for matcha consumption in one day. [crosstalk 00:27:59] anything with that. I think the the first time you do it, you should definitely be cautious because you don’t want to have too much caffeine just for your body’s sake. You never get jitters and you don’t crash. It’s really just about what you are consuming normally or daily and your body is used to that and then do you want to up it? You can always add an extra scoop. The easiest pre workout though is just mixing it with a few ounces of water or putting it in a water bottle and shaking it up and drinking it while you go.
Steve O’Dell: I think performance wise, the protein shake bottles are a perfect matcha making tool. We were actually in Japan sitting with a tea master. He made us a ceremonial cup of matcha with a whisk and he goes, “Would you like to try some iced match” and we were like, “Yeah, sure.” He pulls out an American mini blender bottle. Pulls out room temperature water. Scoops matcha in and just picks it up, pours it over ice. It’s very simple to make. I think the blender bottles with the little metal ball is a great way to mix it.
I would recommend a couple things. For one, matcha is just concentration of matcha with water. If you want a big energy boost, use a lot of matcha. If you want a little bit, a little pick me up, do like a half a teaspoon. It’s up to your discretion how much energy or boost you really want. Also, eat some food before you do a big thing of matcha because it can be a little harsh on your stomach.
Robbie Page: The more matcha you have, the more food you should eat prior. I’ve definitely experienced the adverse side effects there. Nothing crazy has happened.
Steve O’Dell: It’s just a lot of green tea in your stomach. If you do a lot. This guy makes a pretty crazy matcha shot just like with any matcha shots.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. You said let’s say somebody is starting off, start off with a half teaspoon and then what did you say is a good serving for you? I think I’ve been doing one teaspoon and that’s been good, but I’ve been wondering though maybe if I got a really hard workout should I go for a teaspoon and a half?
Steve O’Dell: I wouldn’t do anything more than three teaspoons. [inaudible 00:30:12]. That would only be if I’m doing a workout over a period of multiple hours. You are going to the beach and you are going to go maybe go for a run and then go surfing or you are doing a triathlon training or something like that, then that’s really okay. But if you are doing an hour workout a teaspoon should be good. It’s nothing crazy. I think it all goes back to what your body is used to. Any advice I would give is really all individualized so it’s hard to say here’s a blanket statement that will be perfect for everyone.
Joe Bauer: For sure. Quick question, when I’ve been looking on the package it said to put it in two ounces of hot water. Is the hot water necessary or not?
Steve O’Dell: Not always. It’s recommended, but you can make it in cold water or lukewarm water just fine. You may have to shake it up a little bit more. The hot water helps with dissolving it.
Robbie Page: Another fun fact too. Mixing matcha or mixing [inaudible 00:31:13] tea in colder water makes a much smoother flavor. Hot water brings out the catechin antioxidants which bring around a bitter taste. If you make it cold it will be smoother and a little more refreshing and will actually add a different flavor profile than when you make it hot.
Joe Bauer: Interesting. Is there any health benefit to the hot verses the cold?
Robbie Page: To our knowledge it’s all the same.
Steve O’Dell: You still consume the whole leaf. It’s not like anything is materially changing with what you are actually doing with your body. Just like some of the flavor comes out with heat.
Robbie Page: Will say though if you are using hot water it has to be below boiling because boiling water will burn the delicate leaves. You want to have it hot, but not boiling is really cool. Super scalding hot you can taste a pretty funky flavor.
Steve O’Dell: It’ll taste burnt.
Joe Bauer: We don’t want that.
Robbie Page: Actually, I’ll tell you our new packaging right now, I’m really trying to specify and really make that clear. It’s hard to portray on a small surface exactly all of that.
Joe Bauer: Cool. Very cool. Where do you guys see Tenzo Tea headed in the next few years? What’s the vision?
Steve O’Dell: This is obviously really hard to say as a start up. The truthful answer is that we are going to keep growing that mission to positively impact the world. Right now we are doing 20,000 cups a day in LA. We sell a pretty good amount online. We did 20,000 to our wholesaler locations. For the next few months we focus on LA and how we can support that and grow our e-commerce team. We want to keep expanding and we’d really like to develop new product lines with matcha and really just increase the benefit for the people.
I don’t want to say we are going to kill Red Bull or kill coffee, but we might. I think it just all goes back to that end goal. If we really feel aligned with that and our decision making is good then that’s all we can ask for.
Robbie Page: I think that the upside is really really powerful especially in the U.S. and California, across the whole country, people are moving in a healthier direction for all of their food and drink and choices really. We see matcha being a much better alternative to a lot of these other pre workouts or they are really bad for your heart, your body and your health and all these chemicals and sugars and compounds. Really just feel the really simple Tenzo Tea, there’s no sugar, just pure matcha green tea leaves. It’s just a really good replacement for a lot of those unhealthy energies. We feel it can have a large impact on the world and the country. [inaudible 00:34:02] hopefully move out.
Joe Bauer: What kind of other products? I’m just curious. Any blends or I don’t know?
Robbie Page: This is highly a discussion right now. [crosstalk 00:34:13].
Steve O’Dell: Hotly debated and also we can’t divulge these things publicly because we have competitors too. We gotta [crosstalk 00:34:21] if Starbucks would just spend millions of dollars and make these. We don’t want to give them our thinking, but there’s different flavors. Different ways to drink it, to make it easier and more affordable. That’s a big part of our game too is we don’t want to sell an extremely expensive ceremonial grade matcha that no one can afford or use. It’s more important to get the price down as much as we possibly can so we can sell it to more people and make it available.
Different ways to do that through drinks or cookies or ice cream. I’m a big fan of ice cream. Rob also loves sweets.
Robbie Page: I do love sweets.
Steve O’Dell: It’d be cool if we could make a sugar free matcha flavored ice cream or something like that that’s healthy, but also tastes great.
Joe Bauer: Cool, very cool. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, how are you guys … what’s the growth strategy? Are you contacting these coffee shops to get them into there? Are you … I don’t know, if there’s somebody listening here that’s running a small space in Seattle and they are like, “Wow, this is super cool,” is that who you are targeting or is there a bigger play or what are you guys doing?
Steve O’Dell: Yeah. That is also a really great question. That’s evolved over time too. We’ve been very dynamic with our approach, but resolute in our goal. We used to literally Rob and I would go on two different sides of a main street and walk down and pitch every available business that could sell our process. We got one. That’s how it slowly expanded.
Then we did that well and showed proven counts up and good numbers and a lot of sales. Then we’d go do a few more. We stayed hyper local every time. We started in Long Beach and had 10 to 20 locations there. Then we moved up to LA. Now we have about 150. Again, 95% of those are in LA. We are building up networks [inaudible 00:36:18] and our brand recognition here and things like that. Now it’s a little bit more blended with inbound leads and people know who we are and we had a good mix there. Eventually we will move up into mainly distributors and selling through distributors and scaling that out. We worked a lot of independent coffee shops. That’s our bread and butter.
Robbie Page: It’s really health oriented premium coffee shops. People that really love good quality products. Health focused. We really find we fit well with those kind of shops.
Steve O’Dell: If you own an independent coffee shop and you are listening to this definitely contact us because we could help you sell more.
Joe Bauer: For sure. I think the product is great. Not only that from the end consumer, I’m surprised that it’s affordable as well. I think you guys have done a great job with that. I was looking to go and get a subscription of it for myself and I’m like “Hey, this stuff is not going to break my bank and it’s actually going to be cheaper than any kind of coffee habit that I had.”
Steve O’Dell: We sell our 30 gram bags at 21.99 and it’s 30 servings so less than a dollar a serving. Comparable to a pre workout. It’s way less than a coffee at Starbucks. It’s a good deal.
Joe Bauer: Heck yeah. Because I love to ask this question because you guys are smart people and entrepreneurs and what not, three books that you would recommend. It could be entrepreneur. It could be athletic. It could be fiction. I don’t care. What are your top three?
Robbie Page: All right. I can [inaudible 00:37:52]. Number one, one of my favorite books on the planet is called When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead by Jerry Weintraub. He was a major league successful producer, manager, Hollywood. He worked with a ton of major clients and acts. What the book is all about is just making things happen. Being a movie maker. Putting people in the right places to be successful and just he’s amazing. You’ve got to read that book. It’s awesome. A lot of great stories in there.
Second book I really like is called Hey Whipple Squeeze This. It’s a content writing book. It’s about copy, marketing, advertising, creating compelling ideas, how to iterate, how to brainstorm. Really well written, well worded.
A third one I’d say is called Relentless by Tim Grober. You might have heard this one.
Joe Bauer: Oh yeah.
Robbie Page: I love that book. It’s an athletic mindset book. How to get in the zone. How to have your focus. How to be your best. What it takes to really compete at a high level and just dominate. I love the mindset in that book. It’s awesome.
Joe Bauer: Awesome. How about you Steve?
Steve O’Dell: I’m going to have to switch it up a little bit. I would recommend everybody on planet Earth read this book called the Alchemist. [inaudible 00:39:10]. It’s a beautiful book. I think the number one lesson there is to follow your heart and sometimes everyone around you, even people really close to you, may be saying “That’s crazy,” but I think that if you follow your heart you will unlock these series of rewards that most people who don’t do that never are going to get the opportunity or chance to even experience that. Definitely that one.
I also love the book Enders Game. Have you heard of it? Enders Game.
Joe Bauer: I’ve heard of it, but I haven’t read that one yet.
Steve O’Dell: It’s a book that most people read in eighth grade, but I read it in sixth grade and it’s been this really weird influence on my life. It’s about this really smart kid. He’s an amazing leader. One of the powerful examples that the book gives outside of being really well written is just how you can lead by example.
Another example in the book, but leads to my third favorite, which is Anti-fragile by Nassime Taleb. That is really about putting yourself in stressful situations, in non terminal stressful situations, allowing a period of recovery and then you eventually grow from the stress. An easy example is lifting weights. When you try to lift more than you think you can. It may be really, really hard, but after you do it, have a protein shake, a good night’s sleep, you’ll come back the next day and you go and you can lift that weight. That keeps going up and you can lift more and more and more. There’s a lot of examples where that’s really powerful. Those are my three.
Robbie Page: There’s a good example of Anti-fragility, Steve’s gone for 120 hour work week this week.
Steve O’Dell: Yeah. I’m actually pretty fatigued right now and I slept longer than I should have last night. I’ve been tracking my hours. If I’m awake I am 100% thinking about Tenzo Tea or how I can improve it or literally just working. It’s got to be productive mind space.
Robbie Page: 17 hour days. If that doesn’t make you stronger, I don’t know what will.
Joe Bauer: Holy crap. How much tea are you consuming?
Steve O’Dell: I’d rather not disclose that … Nothing crazy. Just about three or four matchas a day. A normal serving size. It’s not like I’m pounding on crazy matcha.
Joe Bauer: It’s all good. I get it. I get it. Are there any questions that I haven’t asked you that I should have that you think are relevant to the listeners?
Steve O’Dell: I think one good one is … I don’t know if it’s a question, but it’s something that I always try to voice. You definitely get this as an entrepreneur, but for anyone who is starting something new or is debating whether or not they should follow their heart, I think they should. When I think that they start they should never give up. Rob and I have found that through this journey of ours that persistence is so important. It’s really the deciding factor between people that achieve their goals and people that don’t. It’s never optional.
It always optional. It’s a choice that everyone has, whether they want to keep going or they want to quit. The people that are successful and do the 30 day workout challenge, complete a marathon, do this absolutely crazy challenge with your girlfriend to run three marathons in three days is nuts, but there’s something about you that when your mind told you to quit 10,000 times you kept going. I cannot stress how important that is in life and as individuals.
Joe Bauer: Very cool. Love it. How can people find out more about you guys? How can they get the product? What do you want to promote? Go for it.
Steve O’Dell: Check us out online at Tenzotea.com. We sell our organic ceremonial matcha there. We also have a bunch of boxes, a starter box, an active box with an awesome Tenzo shaker bottle with [inaudible 00:43:10] box with the whole combined kits. We are on Instagram it’s @Tenzotea. We’re on community there, which has been great. Shows you a lot about LA and the experience and the whole matcha life that we are building out here.
Robbie Page: Also, if you want to follow Rob Page on Instagram add Robbie Page, professional athlete. No, just check out our website though and if you guys have any questions feel free, you can e-mail us or hit us up and we are very responsive to anyone who is trying to live an active, healthy lifestyle. We love that spirit. We are building a community so we are glad to have you a part of that. Thanks.
Joe Bauer: Cool. Thanks. Yeah, guys, I really appreciate it. I’ve loved the product and I think everybody listening should give it a shot if they have any caffeine in their life at all. Good stuff.
Steve O’Dell: Awesome. Thanks so much. It’s been amazing Joe.
Joe Bauer: Thanks guys.
Robbie Page: Thanks for having us. Cheers.
Joe Bauer: Yeah, we will talk to you soon …
That was my interview with Steve O’Dell and Robbie Page of Tenzo Tea. I highly recommend that you check out Tenzo Tea. Get yourself a bag at tenzotea.com. If you’d like to pick up one of those books that they recommended on me, go to allaroundjoe.com/audible and you can get yourself one of the books that Steve or Robbie mentioned. I know I’m going to pick up a couple of them, because there was a few on that list that I have not read yet.
Check ’em out. Allaroundjoe.com/audible to get yourself that free book …
Resources and links mentioned in this podcast
Anti-fragile by Nassime Taleb
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Enders Game by Orson Scott Card
Relentless by Tim Grover
When I Stop Talking You’ll Know I’m Dead by Jerry Weintraub
Hey Whipple Squeeze This by Luke Sullivan and Edward Boches
Partners mentioned in this podcast
– Audible – Go to allaroundjoe.com/audible to get a FREE audiobook
*above could be affiliate links. I get a small commission if you click through them and buy, but they in no way make the products cost anymore. If you decide to use them please let me know so I can thank you. Affiliate Disclosure
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