The Last Word: Purpose Tea’s Chi Nguyen on Finding the Tea Behind Her Brand’s Mission

We stumbled onto purple tea—I had never heard of it.

Chi Nguyen
Founder and CEO
Purpose Tea
.…on discovering the company’s tea leaves—and opportunity—while researching ethical sourcing in Kenya, via Say Yes to Dallas.

Nguyen founded Dallas-based Purpose Tea in 2017, launching a purple tea beverage company that’s “powered by social purpose.” Its mission: LIfting from poverty some of the world’s most impoverished women, by giving female tea pickers the opportunity for economic empowerment so they can improve their lives.

Her brand and mission had a recent big win. In August, Nguyen was one of the winners of the TiE Dallas round of the 2023 TiE Women Global Pitch Competition. (The other winners were Shireen Abdullah, founder & CEO of Yumlish, and Kitty Bogle-Sherman and Coco Harmon, co-founders of Endora Technologies.)

In November, Nguyen will participate in the finals of the global competition, to be held in Singapore with prize money and a potential investment at stake.

“I’m an avid tea drinker, although it always bothered me how much exploitation there is in the supply chain,” Nguyen says in a profile from the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Say Yes to Dallas. “In my research I found out that 85% to 90% of the workers who pick the tea leaves and do the bulk of the field work are women.”

Her journey to find the ideal tea for her startup took her to Kenya, “because it’s the third largest region in the world for smallholder farms, and I thought I could make a bigger social impact there.”

That’s where she stumbled on purple tea—and the rest was Purpose Tea history. Unlike black tea, which can taste a bit earthy, or green tea, which can have a decidedly grass-like flavor, purple tea offers a blend of light-bodied flavor notes that are said to be free of bitterness and astringency. It’s also good for you, Purpose Tea says, with more antioxidants than green tea—including high levels of protective anthocyanins and higher levels of polyphenols.

Nguyen grabbed the niche and ran with it in a competitive CPG landscape.

“There’s a ton of wonderful resources in Texas as a whole,” she says in the Say Yes to Dallas profile, “but in Dallas especially, the startup ecosystem is strong. And specific to the CPG, food & beverage space, there’s a lot of support with other founding companies and industry association headquarters.”

Purpose Tea is sold across Dallas-Fort Worth at locations including Central Market, Whole Foods, Meow Wolf, Omni Hotels, and Southwest Airlines’ corporate campus. 

You can read more about the company’s mission by going here.

For more of who said what about all things North Texas, check out Every Last Word.

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