As a recruiter for the software industry, Raechel Kelley thrives in an orderly corporate world of projected growth charts and market-testing reports. But as the owner of the tea company Siply, she’s flying by the seat of her pants. “I’ve taken the approach of running with it and figuring it out as I go,” she says.
In a move that would make most marketing directors cringe, Kelley showed up at the SFC Farmers’ Market in Sunset Valley last February with little more than a batch of butter tea and not much else—no business plan, no projected earnings, no focus-group-tested name (she originally called it Sip Tea House). Yet, the end results would have pleased any CEO: She soon developed a loyal following of newly converted butter-tea enthusiasts.
Butter tea was around long before paleo buffs started chugging butter coffee. The Tibetans created the best-known version of butter tea by stirring yak butter into their cups, which helped the flavor without blocking out all the antioxidants that milk strips away. A lifelong lover of tea (“It’s my comfort food,” she says), Kelley took that recipe a step further by using milk from grassfed cows to make ghee—the clarified butter rich in the fatty acids omega-3 and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) that takes lactose and casein out of the picture for dairy-intolerant people like herself. The end result is a soup-thick tea that’s healthier and more filling than the kind that comes out of a tea kettle.
Since changing the company name to Siply in May, Kelley has shifted the business from ready-made tea to selling packages that customers can prepare at home. Her organic, fair-trade flavors include African honey, cream Earl Grey, Scottish caramel pu’er, Nepali green and jasmine matcha. They’re all blended to mix with the jars of tea butter she makes with ghee, coconut oil, honey and pink salt—so no need for a yak.
Though Kelley hasn’t quit her day job, she’s grown Siply with a recent move to the SFC Farmers’ Market Downtown and a new online store. Meanwhile, she’s expanded her own horizons with tea sommelier training through the International Tea Masters Association and a trip to northern India to pick up a few extra pointers from Tibetan butter-tea experts in exile. “Siply really feeds my creative side,” she says. “I love my career in recruiting, but tea is definitely my passion."
By Steve Wilson
For more information, visit sipsiply.com or call 512-766-6031.