Aji Tea: A Taste of Indonesian Culture Now Available in D.C.
Aji Sunjaya, the founder of Aji Tea and a native of Indonesia, grew up drinking bottled iced tea with every meal. When he came to the United States 25 years ago, he was disappointed to see that there were no ready-to-drink Indonesian iced tea beverages on the market. So instead, the full-time barber decided to create his own.
Aji Tea is an iced green tea made with jasmine and honey. It’s the only ready-to-drink, authentic Indonesian-style iced tea on the market. The tea is made with no high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, or sweeteners, and only has 4 ingredients. Compared to traditional choices in the beverage market, Aji Tea is a “better for you” drink option. Made with green tea and sweetened only with real honey, Aji Tea is a drink that is not only crisp and refreshing but full of flavor and antioxidants as well.
“The love of iced green tea is passed from parent to child. It is part of each day and a way that we safely take in water and vital nutrients. Safely because the boiling of the water helps cleanse the water during the tea-making process. Add in the local and indigenous plants from which tea is brewed, and you see that green tea is essential to our people and to our way of life,” said Aji.
In addition to running his budding new tea business, Aji also owns and operates Haircut & Shave Co., a barbershop located in St. Mary's County, Maryland. As a barber for nearly 2 decades and a business owner for a decade, entrepreneurship was nothing new to Aji.
Prior to entering the Union Kitchen ecosystem, Aji Tea was sold in four local stores in Maryland, as well as farmers' markets.
“We launched our product at the grassroots level with a focused local target launch that allowed shoppers in our local market to experience our product and enjoy its unique Indonesian properties,” said Aji.
But the path to launching his authentic iced teas in D.C. wasn’t as straightforward as he initially thought. Aji learned that the CPG world has many steps and processes that the entrepreneur would have to tackle before he could bring his products to Union Kitchen stores.
The Union Kitchen Accelerator team worked with the entrepreneur to redo the types of bottles he used. By connecting him with new packaging suppliers, Aji was able to reduce his packaging costs, enabling him to have better profit margins.
“It’s very important to go through each [step] the best you can. It’s easy to get overwhelmed,” said the entrepreneur.
As Aji has worked through the launch progress, he has gained insight into how the Accelerator has supported the growth of Aji Tea.
“We have a few insights into how the Accelerator Program benefited our brand and product. First, is to recognize the energy level needed to expand your product and brand outside the local market. The power behind the Accelerator Program gives you the added energy to expand your brand recognition and place your product on more shelves.
The second insight is just how much we did not know about expanding our brand. It was a process deeper than just knocking on doors and talking with managers in hopes of gaining shelf space. The experience and flow of the Accelerator Program helped greatly in the process of brand expansion.”
Head to your neighborhood Union Kitchen and grab a bottle of Aji Tea! For more updates on Aji Tea, follow them on Instagram and see their website.