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Elena Liao about Te Company Ep 31

By Felicia Lin


A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Our guest on this episode of Talking Taiwan is Elena Liao, the owner of Té Company. She won last year’s Entrepreneur Challenge and Competition (ECC). To learn more about the ECC listen to the previous episode about the Entrepreneur Challenge and Competition. The name of her company, comes from the word “Té,” for “tea” in Taiwanese Hokkien.

Elena, founder of Té Company, is an avid tea drinker and a dedicated food enthusiast living in New York City. She was born and raised in Taiwan, then moved to the US in her early teens. Like most Taiwanese families, drinking oolong tea was part of her daily ritual growing up. Living in the food mecca of New York City, Elena was surrounded by foodies alike celebrating hand crafted espresso and the complex bouquet of artisanal wine. As her appreciation and knowledge for fine culinary craft blossomed, she found herself increasingly drawn to the delicate flavors of oolong teas. The childhood tea drinking tradition became more than a pastime. It became a culinary exploration, which led her to study oolong tea’s history and artistic craftsmanship.

Elena’s love of tea was first nurtured by her family and her passion for it shines through in this interview. Our conversation turned out to be a deep dive into the world of tea. She spoke to me about artisanal teas, how tea can be aged like wine, and even used in cooking and baking.


Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:


  • What the name of her company Te comes from
  • Her participation in the Entrepreneur Challenge and Competition (ECC), which is organized by TAP-NY and the Taiwanese Merchants Association
  • How she prepared her proposal for the ECC
  • What advice she would give to anyone preparing to go through a competition like the ECC
  • What she things is the one thing you need to succeed in participating in a competition like the ECC
  • What she did with the money she won from the ECC
  • How she got on the path to starting Te Company
  • The research she’s done about tea to prepare herself to be a tea merchant
  • Her visits with tea framers in Taiwan tea leaves are picked in Taiwan
  • How white, green, yellow, oolong and black tea can all be made from a single plant
  • How tea is similar to wine or whiskey
  • How tea ceremony can affect the taste of tea
  • What is espresso tea
  • The difference between drinking tea from a tea bag vs. loose leaf tea
  • How tea can be aged
  • How Elena comes up with new tea blends
  • The difference between ice tea and hot tea
  • How she uses oolong tea in cooking and baking
  • What’s next for Te Company


Related Links:

Te Company’s website: http://www.te-nyc.com

Taiwanese American Professionals- New York (TAP-NY): https://www.tap-ny.org/


About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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2013, Felicia Lin

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