Last year at the inaugural Smart Kitchen Summit, there was a small team gathered around a high-top round table pouring delicious tea for Summit attendees. Their startup, Teforia, was still relatively unknown, having officially introduced itself only a week earlier. A few months later, Teforia announced a $5.1 million seed funding round and began the work of evangelizing the magic its technology was attempting to bring to tea drinkers everywhere. Accepting around 500 pre-orders to early backers, the company is now about to start early shipping and has just announced a $12 million Series A round led by Translink Capital.
Teforia’s premise is based on a propriety technology and sleek design. Using what’s called the “Selection Infusion Process,” users can customize their tea’s caffeine levels, antioxidant levels and flavor profiles. Teforia’s infuser will know exactly the right brew time and temperature and the result is a unique twist on an ancient drink.
The company has enjoyed early success in part based on founder Allen Han, who in a previous life was one of the designers behind the original XBOX. A trip several years ago to Asia and an excellent cup of tea led Han to explore the niche beverage industry and discover a significant lack of innovation or modern investment.
“…the $90 billion dollar global tea market largely consists of commercialized brewing methods and treatments. Most tea drinkers don’t know what they’re missing, so I wanted to create a way to perfect the process of brewing tea while honoring its tradition.”
Teforia’s device uses a pod-based system, made popular first by Keurig but then replicated by many modern beverage machines. The difference in Teforia’s model lies in the customization features. The pre-packaged “Sips” are filled with gourmet teas that can be “read” by the Teforia infuser and the companion app allows tea drinkers to personalize infusions of any loose-leaf tea to their preferences.
Teforia is banking on the continued popularity of tea around the globe, but particularly within the Millennial generations. While older generations typically prefer coffee, surveyed Millennials drink tea and coffee equally – and while the company is currently only shipping in the U.S., the opportunity abroad may be even bigger. Jay Eum, co-founder and managing director, Translink Capital commented, “As the tea market continues to grow globally, we know that as the company gears up for a successful launch in the U.S., that will only be the beginning. We believe the opportunity for the company could be huge in Asia where tea is deeply integrated into the culture.”
The startup’s Series A round included participation from returning investor Upfront Ventures and Lemnos Labs along with new investment from Mousse Partners and Correlation Ventures, bringing total funding to date to over $17M.