Maya Tea Company first sprouted roots in the mind of our founder, Manish Shah, who noted the rising popularity of chai tea. Born in India, Manish sipped chai throughout his childhood and into his adult life. To meet the demand for an authentic chai product, Manish and his brother Yash developed a chai blend reminiscient of the chai prepared by their mother in youth. Packaged in teabags for convenience and freshness, the new product was labeled “MY Chai” after the first initials of the two brothers’ first names. Later they developed the first chai tea that could be brewed using commercial coffee brewers for cafes and restaurants. As business grew they received requests from customers and retail clients for traditional teas as well. Maya Tea Company was born. Over the next few years the number of teas offered by the company multiplied, and today Maya Tea offers over 130 varieties of tea for both wholesale and individual customers. Though our focus remains on quality loose teas, we have remained ever innovative, expanding our product line to include iced teas, tea accessories and supplies, private label retail programs, and of course our esteemed Maya Chai concentrate, formulated to resemble the original “MY Chai”. This year, we are excited to introduce Maya Chai’s sister, Devi Chai- a devilishly spicy new version of the concentrate. Maya Tea Company continues to grow, and the initial efforts of Manish have generated today’s team of eight, working endlessly to bring the best that the tea world has to offer into each individual cup. Enjoy!
Manish Shah was born in India, and spent much of his childhood in New York. At a young age, a business opportunity brought his family to Tucson, Arizona, where as an adult he would make his home. In the early 1990’s, Manish began to notice a rise in the popularity of chai tea, a drink traditionally served in India. This prompted the young entrepreneur to develop his own formulation of chai, which he began to sell at a small booth at a local farmers’ market in late 1996. Maya Tea Company was born. As the years progressed, the tea company blossomed and the farmers’ markets grew exponentially, and soon Manish was asked to take over their management. Today, Manish manages two local farmers’ markets and is looking to open a third, and the tea company has grown to provide over 200 varieties of tea. Eternally entrepreneurial, his eyes never close to opportunity, and those of us close to Manish are always on the lookout for what is next to come. Manish favors oolong varieties of tea, and highly recommends our Monkey-Picked Tie Kwan Yin.
Tony Gonzales was born in Los Angeles and spent his childhood in over fourteen states. In the early 90’s Tony settled down in Tucson with his wife and two children. He started his own distributorship in 2002, called Desert Bay. Engrained in the beverage industry, it was not long before he crossed paths with Manish. By 2005 the two had worked together to supply brewing equipment to local establishments and, behind the scenes, to develop a formula for a liquid chai concentrate. In 2008, Tony began working with the Maya Tea Company full time. Tony oversees all orders, from the time that they come in via phone or fax to the time they are rolled out the door for delivery. There is not a package that Tony hasn’t personally handled. His favorite tea is Jin Xuan oolong.
Roxanne Garcia grew up in Las Cruces, New Mexico on a chile and tomato farm. In 2002, Roxanne relocated to Tucson, Arizona where she planted roots with her two children. In 2004, a mutual friend referred her to Manish, who was looking for someone to assist him in running Tucson’s Farmers’ markets. With her background in agriculture and a degree in marketing, Roxanne was an ideal candidate. Roxanne helped Manish to run a successful market in central Tucson and to open a second market in Oro Valley. As a remarkable go-to girl, Roxanne has her fingers in tea as well. Her passion for cooking and sophisticated palate allow her to imagine and create some of our finest tea blends. Her all-time favorite tea however is simple and unaltered: Darjeeling black.
Sarah Price was born and raised in Tucson, with a background in accounting. In late 2006 she left a position as office manager in pursuit of her passion, tea. Her dream was to open a tea shop of her own, and began searching for a position to get her foot in the door. Her skills in bookkeeping made her an easy hire for Manish, who in early 2007 made her a part of the Maya team. As the company expands, so do job descriptions, and Sarah’s position has grown to include writing company blogs, designing a monthly newsletter, and maintaining the website and company Facebook page. Her joy in this work has inspired her to return to school, where she intends to earn a degree in writing. Her favorite tea is the one with the most caffeine to push her through the day: Yerba Mate herbal.
In the summer of 2006, Nick Szumowski migrated from his hometown of Duluth, Minnesota to Tucson—just in time for the summer heat. Nurturing a raw-vegan diet, one of his first orders of business was to find a market that could supply local, organic produce, and one that would be open year-round. A coworker directed him to St. Philip’s plaza, where Nick immediately felt at home. After a few years of frequent shopping, a series of synchronicities brought him into contact with Manish and Roxanne, and shortly after their acquaintance Nick found himself working within the markets that he so enjoyed. Today, Nick assists with the coordination and management of our four local farmers’ markets, and his enthusiasm and spirit brighten not only the outdoor venues but our offices as well. When he’s in the office, Nick prefers to sip on Yerba Maté, but when he’s home, the tea gets even sweeter: Nick blends an original brew of strong Maté with raw, organic cacao powder and sweet agave nectar… talk about a blissful buzz!
The newest member of our team, Bill Giedraitis, found his place at Maya Tea by a stroke of luck, quite literally with a knock on the door. While employed as a sales representative for a local packaging firm, Bill stopped by to see if the Maya Tea Company could use their packaging services. As it turns out we could, and began to do business with the company promptly, but it wasn’t long before we realized that Bill had far more than packaging to offer. Now, less than a year later, Bill is working full-time with Maya Tea. His warm smile and charming personality have helped him to assimilate seamlessly into the team, and have also helped him become one of our most successful sales representatives to date. Though historically a coffee drinker, Bill’s tea palate has broadened and matured over his time with the company, and today his favorite tea is the delicate Monkey-Picked Tie Kwan Yin oolong.