About Us

James inspecting tea in Taiwan

Owner, James Chang, inspecting tea leaves in a Nantou, Taiwan farm in 2011 during the dawn of Shen Zen Tea.

Our Mission

We exist to elevate the quality of life and to inspire the human spirit by producing culturally rich beverages that distill the stories of lands, farmers, artisans, and communities.

Our Tea

Good tea is inspiring, like a good poem, simple yet layered at the same time. A great cup of tea can tell you a story about how much the artisans cared for it in production and how carefully the farmers picked the leaves to not bruise it and allow it to become bitter. A note of pit fruit or honey suckle can mean a tea was picked in the late fall when the leaves began to whether on the tree. We seek to mindfully source, produce, and blend teas that are inspiring, distilling a story in a cup.

We are amongst a few American based tea companies that source local raw organic ingredients, process and dehydrate in house so that we can yield the results we seek that is not provided in the American Tea Industry. We believe in doing so, we can produce richer flavor profiles in our teas that you will not have experienced in any other cup of tea. Our goal is that these new experiences of flavor will, in spirit, connect you to the local farmers and artisans who cared enough to rise early in the morning to fulfill their life’s work. And, our hope is to inspire you to do the same and commune.

Our Kombucha

We are pioneers in the kombucha industry. What makes Shen Zen Tea Kombucha unique is our ability to innovate while still keeping it simple. The goal of our brewing and infusion methodology is to relay the functional health benefits of ingredients into our beverages, which is why we put so much energy, focus, and resources on the core ingredients of our kombucha.

Beginning as a tea company, we believe that the core of what makes a great kombucha is great tea, just like how good wines come from good grapes. We source single origin, whole leaf premium grades of tea to brew our kombucha. This is in large part why our brews are so smooth and require less sugar. Just like a good cup of tea or coffee, you don’t need to sugar if the quality is exceptional.

Raw cold pressed juice in our raw kombucha is stabilized through fermentation rather than pasteurization. When raw foods are cold pressed and treated delicately, the phytonutrients and probiotics are preserved and give quintessential functional benefits to our health, such as digestion, immune system, and even mental and emotional stability. This is something larger companies in the industry cannot do, because they need to preserving self-life and sacrifice functional benefits of raw foods by pasteurizing for large scale distribution. All the flavors of our brews are produced from organic raw whole ingredients, juiced and infused by our team of artisans in house. We pride ourselves in purchasing ingredients from local farmers we know so well, we text them for orders and sometimes even go to their homes to pick them up.

Another unique feature of Shen Zen Tea Kombucha is we develop kombucha cultures specifically for each one of our flavors, not just one base kombucha that is flavored like 99% of all kombucha companies. Our most notable flagship culture is our Lemongrass Culture, which uses lemongrass instead of tea for the fermentation to make a truly caffeine-free kombucha. The lemongrass gives Shen Zen Tea kombucha a unique, sweet and vibrant flavor profile that no other company has. Peer review scientific articles report lemongrass as a strong prebiotic much like tea, so it was a great candidate for us to create something new, delicious, and healthy that the world of kombucha has never seen.

We brew our kombucha to yield lower levels of acidity compared to all other brands. We made this decision after reviewing the peer-reviewed scientific research about the health concerns of kombucha, which is largely based around the high acidity of the brew, which can lead to acidosis, a disease resulting the kidney and liver failure due to high exposures of acidity. Other articles also noted that more acidic kombucha actually produced less probiotics and other health benefits compared to less acidic kombucha samples. This is why when we are asked how long we ferment our kombucha for, the answer is not in the time, as much as it is the conditions, such as pH and sugar content, which tells you how active the probiotics are. Brewing kombucha is closer to growing a tomato than cooking, because living things are on their own schedule. All we can do is provide the right conditions and wait.

We do not add sugar after the primary fermentation, because we our kombucha is not so acidic that we need to sweet it. It’s really a win-win situation. We also do not carbonate our kombucha artificially. The bubbles or effervescence in our kombucha is developed by the respiration of the probiotics inside the bottle, just like champagne. Just like humans, probiotics exhale carbon dioxide. We believe that allowing carbonation to occur naturally is important because it verifies that the probiotics are present and well. This also means, because our kombucha contains live probiotics, if you ever find your kombucha flat, you can always tighten the cap and leave it in room temperature to allow the probiotics to re-carbonate your beverage. Remember to cool it down in the refrigerator before opening, so that it will not overflow.

Our Origin

Hi, my name is James F. Chang, and I am the founder, Brew Master, and owner of Shen Zen Tea. Thank you for caring enough to read about our origins. The company started in 2011, after I just finished my MS program in Biogeochemistry (the study of nutrient cycling) at the University of California, Davis, and my wife and I decided to move to Seattle so she can pursue a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine. The company first began out of a passion for tea. I was always the person sharing a cup of tea to either a visiting guest or an ill friend. Tea captivated me because the beverage is so multifaceted with its rich cultural history, nutritional benefits, and culinary art, yet it was just one plant in water. In many ways, I feel that flavor in inspiring foods and beverages speak to our human experience in ways words cannot, and tea is the most simple and direct, like the poem.

While my wife, Grace, was becoming a naturopathic doctor, she opened my eyes to importance of gut health and how it relates to more than just digestion, but also your emotional health, skin health, immune system, and the list goes on. Grace was the one who brought home that first SCOBY culture that became the mother for all the cultures at Shen Zen Tea today. When I became interested in kombucha, I researched the scientific peer reviewed research on the health benefits of kombucha and, to my surprise, most of the articles were about how harmful and not beneficial kombucha was. I found there was a large gap between the scientific community, the producers and consumers understood about kombucha and its health benefits. Namely, how to make kombucha beneficial for your health instead of harmful. I also saw most people who drank kombucha were not very knowledgeable about the tea, where it came from and how it’s made. In fact, most consumers didn’t even know kombucha was made from tea at all. That thought struck me the same way as if people did not know that wine was made from grapes or where the wine was made. These problems ignited a passion in me to connect people to the foods they consumed and to brew kombucha that was both culinary artistic yet scientific sound, minimalistic yet complex in flavor profile. My calling was to be a part of a greater mission to promote a way of thinking and to appreciate life in a holistic and simple way.

James Chang in Shen Zen Tea’s Brewery in 2020, proudly weathering through the COVID-19 pandemic without firing and cutting hours from any employees.

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