Joe Deinhart knows his tea. After all, he’s spent 25 years distributing high-end tea to restaurants and coffeehouses via Solstice Roasters, his Cleveland-based coffee roastery and beverage distribution company.
So when Paula Hershman—his long-time friend and owner of local company Storehouse Tea—called about collaborating, he knew it would be the perfect addition to his roster.
Joe Deinhart“My big thing is that I want to bring the best products that I can to my customers,” says Deinhart. “And I knew that Paula’s tea is absolutely phenomenal.” So began a caffeinated match made in heaven that’s been helping both companies grow since they joined forces in January.
Storehouse Tea features Hershman’s hand-blended teas of certified-organic ingredients sourced from around the world, many of which are fair trade. She started the company in 2007 after falling in love with loose leaf tea and realizing that no one was making organic tea in Cleveland. She saw an opportunity, quit her job in graphic design, and set out to learn everything she could about blending the beverage.
It was an endeavor that paid off: Today Storehouse has a storefront in the Hildebrandt Building, and is sold in a variety of local shops and coffeehouses.
Like Storehouse, Solstice Roasters also has a strong commitment to quality ingredients—Deinhart uses only sustainably-grown beans and tries to source organic and fair or direct trade when possible for his coffee. But it wasn’t until bringing Storehouse on board that he was able to offer his clients—including local eateries like Bomba, Paladar and Market Garden Brewery—a tea brand that mirrored his company values with the added bonus of being local.
“I think his customers are a lot happier with our version versus the national brand, which is what he carried before,” says Hershman.
Storehouse TeaBefore Deinhart could get Storehouse into restaurants, he knew Hershman would have to figure out how to get her loose leaf tea into sachets without compromising quality. The long process of preparing loose leaf tea wasn’t going to work in a fast-paced restaurant dining room. It took a year, but Hershman was able to find a way to produce her tea in a large sachet that maximized flavor. After only a few months, Storehouse has seen rapid growth.
“Every month, there are more and more accounts,” says Hershman. “We're getting into places that we've never been able to get into before.”
It’s a relationship that has brewed up plenty of good vibes—along with sales—for all parties involved, says Deinhart. “It's doing a service to my customers for several reasons: it's local and organic. But really, it's all about Cleveland. We all need to take care of each other and the food business here.”