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Brandon Friedman, CEO of Rakkasan Tea


A combat veteran, author of The War I Always Wanted, former Obama Administration official, and the genius behind Rakkasan Tea, Brandon Friedman is a true renaissance man. A transplant most recently from DC to Dallas, Brandon is bringing some of the most interesting and unique teas from around the world to our shores. We talk about starting a business, why Brandon writes, and the Trinity River project in Dallas. If you love tea, want to love tea, are interested in marketing or starting your own business, or love military memoirs, this is the episode you've been waiting for.


Find Brandon and his tea at https://www.rakkasantea.com/, and follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BFriedmanDC. In case we didn't do a good enough intro for him, here's the Rakkasan Tea about Brandon- "Brandon launched Rakkasan Tea Company in 2017 after more than a decade in PR, politics and public service. He has completed the Specialty Tea Institute's Level I and Level II courses on his way to becoming a Certified Tea Specialist recognized by the Tea Association of the USA. Brandon began his career as an infantry officer in the 101st Airborne Division, serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His memoir, The War I Always Wanted, was recognized in 2010 by The Military Times as one of “The Best Military Books of the Decade.” He writes regularly on politics for The New York Daily News."


This episode's challenge: Drink a cup of tea! We'd love it (and so would you) if you tried some of Rakkasan's. But whatever you have on hand works as well. Trade out that second coffee for a nice cup of tea and throw a post up and tag Rakkasan and us.

Show Notes:



Rakkasan Tea:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/oregon/south-sister-trail

"South Sister Trail is a 12.2 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Sisters, Oregon that features a lake and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping, snowshoeing, and backpacking and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash."


Brandon Friedman Wiki:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandon_Friedman

"Brandon Friedman is a writer, entrepreneur and former Obama administration official. He is the CEO of The McPherson Square Group.[1][2] Previously, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.[3] His memoir, The War I Always Wanted, was named by the Military Times in 2010 as one of "The Best Military Books of the Decade."[4]"

Brandon Friedman Twitter:

https://twitter.com/BFriedmanDC

"Co-Founder of RakkasanTea | Occasional columnist, NYDailyNews | Former Obama guy | Once a soldier" This is where Brandon himself can be found slinging opinions and flexing his writing skills. Not for the faint of mind or the weak of character.


The War I Always Wanted:

https://amzn.to/3v2pwZe "Growing up in the shadows of the giant B-52 Stratofortresses that thundered away from the nearby Barksdale Air Force Base, Brandon Friedman dreamed of becoming a warrior and defending his country. But dreams of heroism and the realities of war can look very different, and when Brandon joined the army as a second lieutenant in peacetime, he had no way of knowing how his world was about to change." Note from Andrew:

A lot of us grew up and lived hearing news reports and seeing stories of the moments Brandon writes about in this book. This isn't your traditional war memoir where the good guys are clear cut and the bad guys lose in the end. If you're ready to question the American idea of what war is and what it entails, this is the book for you. If you're not ready for that, then this is unquestionably the book for you.


Trinity River Project:

https://trinityrivercorridor.com/home

"The Trinity River Corridor Project is one of the most monumental public works and economic development projects ever attempted. As flood protection, recreation, environmental restoration, economic development, and major transportation components converge along th​e Trinity River, and thousands of residents and visitors from around the world are experiencing this new and exciting destination within the City of Dallas." Daniel's been really gunning for this to happen. Unfortunately, neither of us are on Mark Cuban's level of wealth or influence, so feel free to help us beg him to speed this process up.


Our Favorite Tea: Paksong Stardust

https://www.rakkasantea.com/collections/all-teas/products/paksong-green

"Paksong Stardust is a large-leaf, green tea grown in the meteoric soil of the Bolaven Plateau of southern Laos. Some 800,000 years ago, a meteorite 1.2 miles in diameter struck the area where this tea is grown, altering the surface composition of the region and flinging debris as far away as Antarctica."


Seriously, this is a uniquely fun tea. Maybe it's the Neil Gaiman sounding name, or maybe it's the Arthurian like meteor creating something more than what we could have without extraterrestial interference, but this tea is what started our hunt for Brandon to come on to Dead by Tomorrow. Definitely worth trying.




Transcription-

(unedited, forgive us for the many transcription errors, we don't edit it, and it's obviously not even close to perfect).


Episode 25


Interview with Brandon Friedman, Rakkasan Tea


Andrew: [00:00:19] Hello to our beautiful listeners. Thank you for coming back to another episode of dead by tomorrow. We have an extra special guest this time around, and I know, I know Daniel, and I think all of our guests are very special. But in this case, he actually has his own Wikipedia page.

So Brandon Friedman is joining us. He is a writer, an author, and a political activist in a sense,

Uh,

Andrew: [00:00:44] he worked for the Obama administration and did some really cool stuff there. And then most importantly, or at least. Why we found Brandon and how all of this started was he is the owner of Rocca Santee, which is a tea company in Dallas, just down the street from Daniel.

And it is a really, really cool concept that they're doing. They're doing some really interesting, unique things with importing, hard to find and really delicious teas. So. Without further ado. Let's turn it over to Brandon. Thank you so much for coming on. And would you want to jump into the book a little bit?

I think it was called something like the war I wished for, and I promise I actually know what it was called, but I'm, I'm just too excited. My mind's going all blank on me. So what was the writing experience like? Was it a seamless transition from the military to writing a book?

You do it at the same time, or like, how did that work?

Brandon: [00:01:29] thanks for having me on glad to be here. The book was called the war. I always wanted. so I w after I finished school, I went into the military and then when I got out of the military, I wrote the book. And it wasn't, it w I wouldn't call it seamless at all. It was a pretty, you know, a lot of people, as you can expect a lot of time when you've spent, you know, a good bit of.

Kind of in combat that transition can be a little Rocky sort of going back to being just a regular civilian. But for me I wrote the book and actually the book was it was quite cathartic. It was something really good to have done after. Living through that and experiencing that.

So I've always tried to get other people who've been through pretty heavy stuff, you know, write about it because it's a really helpful process. So I never intended to write a book. I had, when I got back, when I got out of the army and moved to Dallas. I had uh, one of my undergraduate professors who I had written my undergraduate history thesis for. He's a military historian. He was like, you gotta write a book. And I was like, no, I'm not going to write a book.

I have no idea how to write a book. I'm not interested in writing a book. And he's like, well, just, write a few stories, tell me a few things that happened and write them out. And so I wrote a few stories about stuff that happened and um, he was like, you really got something here. And I was like, yeah, I don't know.

He was like, let me call around and see what I can do. So this guy started calling book agents and he found Jim Hornfischer, who's done a lot of military memoirs and military history books. and sort of peak Jim's interest. And Jim called me and once I started working with the agent, it just kinda went from there because my agent was also a former book editor, so he really knew the industry.

I knew what he was doing and he just walked me through the process of creating a book and I didn't. You know, Andrew, you know, I mean, you've written a book, there's a whole business side of it that I didn't really understand or know even existed. I just thought, you, you wrote your stories and then they published it and then they sold it in Barnesville.


Andrew: [00:03:13] Yeah. If only it was that easy where you can just get to write the book and just be like, Hey, I'm done and everybody gets to buy it. And yeah, it gets a lot more complicated, especially after you write the book.

Brandon: [00:03:21]

Yeah. There's this whole business side of it. And that was sort of my first foray into business. Turning the book into actually a product, not just my story, but a product that would sell and. That sort of thing. But, just, and the book was really cathartic and it was really good.

And I don't know if I would be where I am today, if I had not worked through everything and sorta gotten it out that way.


Daniel: [00:03:40] So it sounds like the book really originally was something that you wrote for you that was kind of the objective of it. And then it kind of struck a chord and was something that turned out to be relevant to others as you went through that. And so now that you. Have learned that, it sounds like you have a knack for storytelling.

Is that something where you intend to go back and write a book about some of your other experiences post-military or is the focus completely now on the tea business?

Brandon: [00:04:08] Well Right now, the focus is 100% of the tea business. I would eventually like to go back to writing, but I've always been a risk taker and I have a tolerance for risk that would allow me to start a business, but that tolerance for risk does not extend into being an author.

Like it's just, it's too, it's scary to be a writer. It's hard to make a living as a writer. And so I just, I made it, I decided after I wrote the first book that I wasn't going to be a writer professionally like that, wasn't going to be my career. My plan now is, you know, once I become wealthy and retired and have lots of money, then hopefully I can get back to riding, which may never happen, but I can always dream.

Daniel: [00:04:47] Hey, that sounds like my plan too.

So.


So, Okay. Opening up a tea business, there, a lot of places where you could do that. What made Dallas, the place that you wanted to come to start that next chapter?

Brandon: [00:05:07] So a couple of things. I'm from Freeport originally. And have a lot of, have always had a lot of family in Dallas and spent a lot of time in Dallas and I was a kid. But in 2009 we moved up to DC, to Virginia, to the DC area for work and spent eight years there you know, had a son and in 26, late 2016 after the election things were looking were looking too good for me.

Politically professionally in 2016 after that election and we had to decide, why do we want to stay here? Do we want to raise our son here in Virginia to be a Virginian? And, And this is just where we live away from family and my parents and all that. Or did we go back to Dallas, which is really my wife and I had sort of our, both of our adopted home.

Or do we go back to Texas and and raised in there. And I was never, I never felt at home in Virginia or DC. I'll always love DC. Um, Ever since the first time I went there, I was 12 years old and just fell in love with the city. But I never really felt like that was my home. And I was just never comfortable the idea of raising my son there.

So, All things sort of pointed back to moving here Dallas. But, and then at the same time, and I wanted to make this transition into running a tea company is also going to be a lot cheaper to do it here than in the DC area. know, You can just get bigger spaces and there's just more room to do stuff and it's not quite as expensive.

So there were just, there were a few variables that, that all just sort of aligned and we decided to move back here in 2017 and, start the company.


Really cool that you're able to come back to Dallas. We obviously love Dallas because it's a cool city. And personally, I'm pretty excited that you're doing the ti stuff there. So. With that said, how are you balancing being the CEO of this company along with what, as far as I can tell is a fair bit of writing on the political scene for, uh, I think it was some New York company

so how does that work for you and how does running a company, everything, you know, swap your time around and all that kind of jazz.

Brandon: [00:06:57] The only time I well, I write a lot for Twitter.

I write a lot for that company. But no, otherwise until, you know, the team has gotten so busy, but up until six, eight months ago, about once a month, I was writing for the New York daily news. and I would write sort of a regular opinion column for the daily news.

and I would do it, you know, every four, six, eight weeks. I'd write something. I haven't written anything in probably several months just because it's been crazy.


Andrew: [00:07:22] I know you're saying that like in the last, you know, six months, you haven't really written much, but I have some really bad news for you. That's kind of like the standard that most writers kind of don't do. So I shouldn't have to be the one to break this to you, but it sounds like you're actually a writer.

Even if it's not a book, but you're doing like this political stuff you're writing and therefore you are a writer, so sorry, man.

Brandon: [00:07:44] yeah, so I like, I tried to quit I tried to just get out of politics, like after 2016. And I was like, I'm done, I'm done. I'm going to move to move back to Texas going to start a tea company. And that's it. I did my eight years in politics and that'll be it. But it just sucks you back in.

And so I've continued writing political columns. you know, I get pretty mouthy on Twitter about it and But that's it, it's sort of, it's mostly therapy for me. It's mostly about me. I, a lot of times I'll forget that Twitter is even public. cause I'm just, I'm just like venting.

I just like letting it out. And then, you know, somebody will come up to me and they'll say something like, you know, yeah. I, you know, I know you from Twitter, I saw you on Twitter and I get this like sense of horror, like. you're like, Oh my God. Like they saw that. And then I realized that like, you know, everybody, you know, everybody follows me, sees that. It's just funny.


Uh,

Andrew: [00:08:27] Yeah, yeah, me too. I have a lot of people that recognize me for my, my social media presence in writing. I, I have the exact same problem. It's, it's really cool that we share that that problem of people recognizing my writing.

Brandon: [00:08:40] Well,

They don't recognize, but hold on. They don't recognize they don't recognize any like my real writing, nobody's ever come up to me and been like, Oh, I know you from your new, New York daily news columns. Right. I know you from your book. No one ever says that. It's always just the sarcasm on Twitter.

Andrew: [00:08:53]


Daniel: [00:08:59] Now, one thing I have to ask is somebody who I've been in Dallas for almost eight years now. And I kind of want to know maybe you're the right person to ask. Cause I haven't found anybody can help me with this, but have you heard of the Trinity river project at all?

Brandon: [00:09:14] Yeah, I'm uh, I'm aware of it. is this I'm trying to turn the Trinity river into the river walk with all the space down there under the bridges,

Daniel: [00:09:21] Yeah. Yeah. It's supposed to be like a central park kind of thing. Do you know who we need to talk to, to make that happen?

Brandon: [00:09:27] Start with your city council person. And then any really Uber wealthy people, you know?

Daniel: [00:09:31] I've been going to a lot of navs games recently, so maybe one of these days I can like bump shoulders with Mark Cuban and just slip him a note.

Brandon: [00:09:38] takes, it takes public private partnerships, and this is not something that the city of Dallas is just going to have the money laying around to do. And. So even if the council city manager, the mayor, they want to, they want to do that. They were, had to be a ton of investment and buy-in from the private sector.

So yeah, like somebody like, like Mark Cuban, , get him interested and, a few, real estate investment firms and, , you might be, able to do something like that, but that would be, I mean, that would be great that it's such a empty, vast, plot of land,

Daniel: [00:10:07] yeah. Where my office is at, we're in the bank of America Plaza about 50 stores up And so, we can see it and I look all the time and I'm like, man, it just be so great to have that kind of beautiful space right there. That's always been my one gripe with Dallas is I feel like it doesn't have that kind of Really cool park space or outdoor, like something like a river or a mountain or whatever it is.

I love the city, but that's one thing I always feel like it's missing.

Brandon: [00:10:31] Yeah, no, I went down there one day. Uh, We went down there and took a walk and it's just very empty

Like that. There's no other word to describe it. It's just empty and it, and don't know. It's scenic, but

Daniel: [00:10:42] yeah. Yeah.


Andrew: [00:10:50] Brandon, you've had a pretty varied career from everything I can tell you in the military for a hot minute, you did the whole political activist or writing. However, they don't know how to refer to that. So, sorry for butchering that. And you ran a marketing firm, it seems and all these other things, and none of it really seems to point towards opening a tea shop.

So how did that come about?

Brandon: [00:11:13]

Yeah. This is a long story. Let's dive in. So I, like I said, I'm from Louisiana and everybody drinks, ice tea or sweet tea. I always hated that. Growing up, I just thought it was gross. I don't know, recall ever, even really being aware of hot tea of just even the idea of hot tea.

Maybe I had some vague the idea of, you know, British tea time and, high tea in England and big hats and all that, but that was sort of, you know, I never really gave it much thought. And then um, when I was in the, army uh, deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan In the early part of the century.

And uh, every, we didn't do anything with anybody over there unless it was over T and to me, that was, that was not something I'd ever experienced. Like anytime we had a meeting with locals, or we had we were planning a mission with the, the Kurdish Peshmerga or something like that. Everything was done over tea.

And for me, that. Sort of those moments where everything was calm and we could sit there and socialize with people, in their towns and their cities and be friendly and social and do it over tea. it was almost like this Oasis amid all the chaos of combat and war.

And so I fell in love with that idea of T being a a social drink something that you do with friends and something that, that promotes conversation and just being comfortable with people you like, or even doing it by yourself, but just something to chill out, drink tea.

And it was great for that environment. And then when I got out of the military, I wanted to recreate that. But when I got out and moved to Dallas, I realized there was none of that here. There was no T culture. There was not even really anywhere you could. I knew of to go find like good loose leaf tea, which is what they drink.

And most of those places and all you could find hearing on the store shelves is teabags and lifting and all that. And so I had to hunt down like bags of like good tea, from wherever, China, India, Sri Lanka Bangladesh, wherever. And it, it, it took a while, but I really enjoyed it.

And I, and I, sort of learned to make tea and kind of got back into it here. But then I went into this career, a sort of writing and I embarked on this career in politics and just. That was it like I drank tea occasionally, but I didn't really go anywhere with it. And then when I decided to move on from politics 10, 12 years later I was looking for something to do.

Let me back up here a little. So after I'd left the administration, I started a PR firm with one partner. We did that for about a year and a half and decided that we hated it. So I had, so my dad's cousin was like, why aren't you selling a product? Like, why are you selling services?

And I was like, I don't know, I don't have an MBA. I don't even know what you're talking about. so he was like, yeah, you need to sell a product. And I was like, okay I don't know anything about this. But so my business partner and I, we started thinking about it and she drank tea and I sort of had this idea. uh, I don't know if you guys have seen black rifle coffee. a, it's a military on coffee company for those who don't know. And then you get the other kind of crazy and they get funny. They're very conservative. but that's, you know, that's their stick. That's how they, they sell the product.

And I got an idea from that and I was like, I don't want to be the black rifle of tea, but there's something there, you know, there there's something there. And I realized that There was a lot of really good artisinal tea that was being produced in conflict zones.

And post-conflict countries that wasn't reaching the U S market, almost all the tea that you buy here in the U S comes from the premium T comes from like China, Japan, India. And then you'll get a lot of the stuff you get in teabags that you don't even know where it's from. A lot of that comes from Argentina or Kenya.

But there, I realized there were a a lot of countries that the U S had been involved in combat in that were sort of emerging from underneath the shadow of warfare. and they were producing really great loose leaf tea. They had these great tea makers, but they weren't reaching the U S market.

You can't find it here. You can't get Burmese tea here. You can't get tea from Vietnam. Bangladesh Columbia. It's just rare. And tea is very much like wine in that. The terroir impacts that a great deal so much, like you might enjoy California wines or Italian wines or French wines. And they're all very different.

There's always somebody who, you know, who's very attracted to the idea of a chili and wine. You know, Or uh, uh, Romanian wine or something like that they've never had. So I got this idea that we can do the same thing with tea. We could go into some of those other countries and help those T farmers reach the U S consumer market.

And what it does is it promotes peace and economic. Development in those countries helps those farmers reach the U S market, but it also brings American and busiest. It gives them access to greater diversity of teas and brings tea here that people, a lot of times they've never had it's really good stuff.

So that was the idea. My original business partner, who I started, the PR firm decided to stay in DC. And I picked up my current business partner, who was somebody who had been in the army with, and he was here in Texas and we just went from there and tried to make a company out of it.

And that's sort of what we're doing now.


Andrew: [00:15:50] That is absolutely awesome because you're right. There is, there's not a lot of teas that you can actually get that are different and finding something unique and kind of what you guys offer is just, it's really hard. You are the only people I know of that have what you are offering. So I love it.

Daniel: [00:16:04] I love, love that journey. I actually recently, as a part of a course, went through this study that took a look at the way that coffee has sort of gone from a commodity to good, to a service, to being an experience and how Starbucks took. Something that is a commodity coffee, right? Like you can, you know, the, the amount of coffee that it takes to fill up your Starbucks cup probably costs two or 3 cents, but you pay like $5 for it because it's all about the experience.

And so it sounds like you're trying to take that same approach with. T and the market here in Dallas, which, you're totally right. There's a lot of coffee experiences to be had in Dallas, but I don't think there really are a lot of tea experiences. And so are you, building that experience primarily through, the online marketing or do you have, a tea shop where people can come in and kind of experience what it's like to do?

Like what you were saying, where you meet over tea and you have that calm and that type of experience what are you going for here?

Brandon: [00:17:00] We're trying to share that experience. And auntie education is a big part of what we do in terms of educating our customers and teaching them, tea culture and how it's different all around the world and how to make tea and all this stuff. We have been very slow to create like a tea shop experience ourselves.

Right now. We are. 95% an e-commerce company we sell online. We have a small space. However, we did just sign a lease for a much bigger space here in Dallas. That space is to start. It's going to be mostly just our facility for processing T. But we are going to have a retail space upfront. So we will for the first time, probably around the 1st of April Open the door and have a front door with a sign outside so people can come in and buy tea from us directly from our, what will essentially be a tea store.

Now we're probably not, we're not going to start off by having it be a tea room where you can actually come in, order a tea and sit down and, and do all that. We're taking baby steps here.

Daniel: [00:17:53] Yeah. Is that, and is that a long-term goal to be able to have a tea room or is it really mostly focused on that distribution in your experience is really, helping people. Understand, like you're talking about the loose leaf tea and really the art behind tea. And then also a lot of where it comes from.

Brandon: [00:18:11] yeah the team rooms aspect of this would always be peripheral. We're looking to build out the company to be fairly prominent. E-commerce tea company. So that's where the focus is, but at the same time and for example, you're never going to see us set up a chain, you'll never see like rockets on tea shops, all over the country or something.

We're. Not only could I probably not do that, but it's just not something we're interested in. But we do want to have at our central one location, we do want to have space to, to hold events, hold educational events, have people come in, potentially maybe have a, have an attached tea room where people would come in and order a cup of tea, that sort of thing.

Daniel: [00:18:44] And then if somebody else down the road wants to take, the tea that you guys are procuring and open up the space, is that something where, you know, you see potential for a partnership on something along that line being like a supplier.

Brandon: [00:18:58] Yeah, I haven't really thought about it. We do have, I mean, we do sell to some, we are on store shelves. Our canisters we do sell those to some stores. Yeah. Anybody who wants to buy our tea. We're not opposed to that, obviously. So if somebody wanted to buy our tea and turn it into a tea room, then I sure


Andrew: [00:19:15] So really how I'm kind of seeing what you guys are doing is you're less of the Starbucks coffee shop thing, which is kind of a dime a dozen at this point. And you're more going for the, almost like a brewery method. You know, there's Martin house over in Fort worth, kind of in yells neck of the woods and they do something similar.

They've got their brewery and you can come in and drink and try their stuff out. But their real goal is they're trying to get distribution. They're trying to get shipments out and. You guys are coming to them. The same thing you've got this e-commerce model, but because you're storing stuff anyways, and you have to have the inventory.

If somebody wants to come in, they're welcome to do it, but you're definitely going for the supply distribution, not the T experience at your shop. So I really liked that. It seems pretty savvy. And especially at this time, it's pretty cool.

Brandon: [00:19:58]

Yeah. Yeah. Our business model is to be an e-commerce company where people order our tea and we ship it to them.

Andrew: [00:20:04] Okay, before we go any further on this, I've actually got to talk about my experience a little bit with the tea. So I'm actually sipping on some of the ombre. I think, I think it's called .

Um,

Andrew: [00:20:15] It's the thieves ombre thieves T. And so I'll just refer to as the thieves T so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong there.

But I am absolutely loving that. I also have some of the, black mountain dragon probably also butchered the order there and then some of the packs on star dust and all three of them are so unique and so interesting and so different. And I'm just blown away by each one of them. And Brandon is all sponsoring us for this.

This is, this is truly, I am. Just head over heels for this tea and just all the differences, you know, the, the packs on has this long interesting loose-leaf kind of thing going on with it. And then the dragon is this really tight ball. And the thieves is just this weird powdery thing that I have not really seen as a tea form before, and they're all loose leaf.

So it's just cool steeping them and seeing how they come out and how they taste and all the. All the joy and subtlety around the teas that you guys are producing. So with that said with, and I hope the hope it didn't go too far there, but do you have a favorite tea that you're drinking or, you know, something you're working on that you're like, this is really great.

And you know, anything like that.

Brandon: [00:21:21] That's like asking like which child was your favorite?

Andrew: [00:21:24] Well, the oldest, obviously.

Brandon: [00:21:26] No. Yeah, right. Yeah. Well, Billy here's my favorite. No no, it's it depends on the mood I'm in. I will say this my, if I was, if I had to be. Banister desert Island. And I go, I got to pick one type of tea to take with me for the rest of my life.

I'd go with black tea. I am uh, that is sort of my go-to, that's my comfort zone. My comfort grain is black tea. And it just, you know, we have a dozen of them and it just depends on the mood I'm in. I'll give you a couple that I've been drinking lately that have been kind of unfair.

So this first, I haven't been drinking a green tea called Lynn non-war elephant, which is our our new green tea. It's a wild green tea from far North Vietnam comes from is handpicked. It comes from three to 400 year old trees that are wild growing. So the war elephant, that's our new green tea have been drinking that.

And then I've also been drinking a couple of our newer black ones. One is called Sinha Raja black from Sri Lanka. And the other is called Moogle Horseman's tea which is from Bangladesh. And I really loved those two black teas, but it really depends on the mood I'm in. And, And like you said, they're all, they're also very different.

There's so many different ways to make tea. And they'll are just entirely it's, they're entirely different. I try to mix it up.

Andrew: [00:22:34] Well, that's one of the cool things about tea is you've got this variety and you've got your afternoon tea or morning tea, all this different stuff. And there's just in my mind compared to coffee, there's a lot more nuance into what's going on. So, you know, it's, it's kind of a Mike, a tea guy versus a coffee guy, sort of thing for me.

Brandon: [00:22:50]

Let me say something about that. So a lot of times people think there's this sort of this tension between like tea and coffee, and are you a tea person or a coffee person? I don't drink coffee much, but I've always, I look at it as different coffee is a very solitary drink.

It's it's the drink you have on the way into the office where people, don't talk to me until I've had my coffee, that sort of thing. Tea on the other hand is a more social drink. I tend to look at the two as coffee is the go drink and tea is the stop drink. coffee is what, like, when you're like, let's go, I'm ready to go.

Let's seize the day. Like I want my coffee. P on the other hand is more let's chill out and hang out, have some good conversation and talk about politics and religion and anything else. Or at the end of the day, you know,

I want to sit back and watch a movie or something and have a cup of tea.

Like you wouldn't really necessarily do that with coffee. So yeah, coffee's sort of the go drink and tea is the stop drink when you want to just stop and reflect and chill out and hang out with people, do it over tape. And so, there's really nothing wrong with,

you know, your first drink of the day can be coffee.

And then you have afternoon tea. Like I love. For as much as I sort of bag on like British tea culture and, the doilies and the, scones and big hats and all that. I love afternoon tea. Tea is just a great drink. Like when it's the middle, you know,

three o'clock in the afternoon, know, it's too early to go home from work, but, you know, you've had a long day, you know, to just chill out for half an hour, let's put on some hot heat up some water and, share a cup of tea. and

it's really, it's really great for that.

Andrew: [00:24:24] one of the ways that you actually caught my attention was you had this ad I saw on Facebook and I've got a marketing background to an extent. And when I see really cool ad, especially one that really targets me well, I'm like, Oh, I want to, I want to see what's going on here. And T's a big thing for me.

And Musashi is a big thing for me. And he is this Japanese samurai hero, spirit of Japan kind of thing. So I saw this ad saying, you know, when we saw she drinks tea and I just had to. Dig into it. And I thought it was just a great ad and I loved it. And I ended up getting the T because of the ad. And that's what kind of led us down this rabbit hole in the whole place.

So since then, I've noticed a lot of y'all's ads kind of have this, this warrior hero kind of thing going on. So with that set, is there one of these people that you relate to most, or kind of like the best.

Brandon: [00:25:11]

Yeah so,

I'll give you a little background, just that whole ad campaign we did. so I've always shaved at the idea. Let me say this. The tea drinking in the U S is very feminized. Versus T in the rest of the world, like in the outside of the U S everybody drinks, tea, everybody drinks, coffee.

There's just not much to it, but for whatever reason, like here in the U S coffee's the manly masculine drink and tea is seen as sort of

a softer type deal. For some, for whatever reason, you could see that in the branding, the marketing, in the grocery store you can see that And I always sorta chafed at that because my experience, my introduction to tea culture was very different.

I learned tea culture, drinking it with, you know, Afghans in a Rocky fighters with, bandoliers of AK 47 rounds. Heading into combat and drinking tea, you know, before they go into combat, that was my introduction to tea. I've always been, I've always found sort of the American view of tea.

Very interesting. And so we got the idea let's push back on that a little. And let's, let's show us, let's show some people with different side of T. So we, we went and found these these warrior hero figures not just men, but men and women uh, in history.

Who either drank, who either were documented to drink tea or who we presumed drank tea. And we, put them in ads and Masashi was one of them. And um, people, sorta, people love them. Like they, they love the love, the ads. And then we actually, we expanded it to not just be warriors. We added Jesse Owens, Susan B, Anthony, George Orwell, Theodore Dostoevsky other folks like that who drank tea.


Andrew: [00:26:41] That is just so cool because as a person, again, who likes tea, it is a guess seen as manly necessarily. Not that there's necessarily a kind of, I don't really know what that concept I'm trying to say is, but yeah, people look down on tea drinkers tonight as sense. It's just not a, a thing that people appreciate, but other people, but you do, you have all these historical figures, these warriors

uh,

Andrew: [00:27:02] you know, we saw she was doing all this really cool stuff.

I just read his book how this past summer and. You know, it's 300 years old or something, and he's doing all these different things in it. Then I'm like, this is a guide that modern health gurus are having us pay thousands of dollars to shell out this wisdom. And it's over here in this book from this Japanese samurai warrior.

So all of these people had impact and they drank tea and it's. It's this really cool way to shift. Like, Hey, there's nothing wrong with T like, stop making it this fight. If you want to enjoy tea, there are a lot of really cool, really impactful historical figures that have also enjoyed teas. I don't feel bad about it.

Like, you know, the rest of the world doesn't have this weird conundrum that America does with tea. So I'm really glad to see that you guys are actually making a concentrated effort and not just, you know, targeting people like me who are like, Oh, there's a samurai sword and there's tea. I would like that.

Before we start wrapping up on that, everything with the tea and that kind of stuff. I want to shift you a little away from actually drinking tea to the more CEO, starting a business as an entrepreneur, after a writing career, after a military career, all that kind of stuff. So what was it actually like and how did you kind of go about starting your own business?

Was it, was it really fun? Was it easy?

Brandon: [00:28:17]

It's terrifying. so most people, a lot, or a lot of people, most people, I don't even know uh, when they start a company, they start the company while they still have their other job. Which is what they tell you to do. But I didn't do that. I just, I quit my career. I was like, I'm going to start at the company.

And um, literally ran a Kickstarter to raise the startup funds for the company and we were successful. But I will say this about starting a company. If I had known, then what I know now I never would have done it. I would have been too scared. I have been too scared to do it. Yeah, it's really hard.

And I don't say that to dissuade people from doing it. If you, if this is your thing, if you want to start again, company and you have that desire and that drive and the resources, then absolutely do it. But everybody needs to go into this with their eyes open. This is by far the hardest thing I've ever done.

And that includes Combat, full contact politics. This is the most difficult thing I've ever done. But at the same time, it's also, it's the most rewarding. I can never go back to corporate life after this. So it's yeah, it's all, there's so many adjectives.

It's fun. It's terrifying. It's rewarding. And it's Invigorating. I don't know. I love it. I love, taking risks anyway. Boy. I don't know it's it is definitely a challenge though. And the, and there, there have been times in the last three years, three and a half years since we started doing this, that I had been like, Oh my God, what did I get myself in?

Like What a enormous mistake this was. But then, then things turn around and you're like, no, this is going to take off. This is, this is going to, this is going to work. And uh, you know, that those days make it all worth it.

Andrew: [00:29:46] Speaking of all the adjectives you guys probably just had a adjective filled week with this past snowstorm. So I think you guys got shut down. Right. Has that been something

uh,

Andrew: [00:29:56] interesting or hard or was that fun to take care of? Or are you in the back stock and stuff like, how'd that go.

Brandon: [00:30:02] So,

Yeah, so we were shut down. So the business was shut down for three and a half days and we had hundreds of orders backed up. And with no electricity, no water in the building and orders just kept coming in and it was that was that was scary watching George just keep coming in and there's nothing we can do about it.

And it took us about a week to clear the backlog once the power came back on. But yeah, that was a challenging week that, that kind of disrupted February a little. But at this, you know,

at the same time I should say this,

a lot of people had it a lot worse. People did not survive it.

So I w you know, we're all healthy and safe and every business and home are intact. So I can't complain too much.

Daniel: [00:30:36] Yeah, it's a definitely a great and important mindset to have, I think is, there, there are tough things, but there's always somebody that has a little bit worse. And the important thing is finding that. That next step forward. And so you're, you know, you've talked about how hard it is to start a business.

And I feel like it takes special type of person, special type of personality to do that. So I'm curious, do you, how much do you know about, the whole like Enneagram number thing, or like Myers-Briggs personality test, do you know where you fall in any of that? Just so that, you know, if a listener is like, Hey, you know what?

That sounds good to me. And actually I kind of relate to Brandon and these things, maybe I should start a business.

Brandon: [00:31:12] I N I don't know a lot about the Enneagram numbers or Briggs Meyer. I mean, I'm familiar with both, but I don't know. I don't know where I fall in any of them. To me it's not about necessarily just, finding where you fall on the graph. It's more, is this something that you can't live without doing? And it's you just have that passion and drive, then just do it and just figure it out on the fly. You don't, You're going to spend a lot of money learning business, whether you get an MBA or you do it by trial and error, you're probably going to spend about the same amount of money. That was a hard lesson for me because, you know, I don't have an MBA and people spend a lot of money on MBAs and people told me, Oh, you don't need an MBA.

And I was like, okay, we'll do this. So we've made so many mistakes that have cost us so much money that I realized that you really are going to spend about the same amount of money regardless. Either spend the money on an MBA and learn it that way or do it by trial and error. And you're going to just burn cash, making mistakes, but you're going to learn from them.

And I feel like I could teach courses on this stuff now just based off the lessons that I've learned in the last three years.



Andrew: [00:32:13] Okay. So I don't disagree that you could get both, but I am sure that there is some kind of impression that is made whenever you see your own cash going up in flames versus paying the tuition and learning in a classroom. I, I bet things stick a little bit better with you on what you learn, whatever.

Uh,

Andrew: [00:32:29] It's your money.


Brandon: [00:32:30]

no that's, that's absolutely true watching your money just inflames. And you're just like, wow, that's not going to ever do that again.

Andrew: [00:32:44] Well, Brandon, thank you so much for coming on. It was really fun. Getting to chat with you. This has been a really interesting discussion and I really hope you guys do some awesome stuff with rockets on T I know Daniel are both very excited to see you. Whenever things kind of blow over and we're able to come and visit and see what your T looks like.

In-house and try it out. So to everybody listening, thank you for joining us. We hope you all have a great time and a great week.

And you're challenged because I'm going to speak for Brandon here. Since he didn't get a chance to throw a challenge out for you. I go try and drink some tea this week. If you haven't had tea in a while, or you think you're a coffee person, let's go brew a nice cup of green tea or black tea or whatever you're feeling and replace one of those cups of coffee with it and see how it goes.

I know personally, I've tried this pretty recently and drinking tea versus coffee has done. Nothing bad. And it's had some really good side effects. If you're interested about that, go ahead and reach out to me and I can give you more details,

thanks guys. And we look forward to connecting with you soon.



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