Josephie Dean Jackson – Tea Specialist
December 31, 2016
Josephie Dean Jackson is an expert on all things related to tea; the history and culture of tea, the many kinds of tea, how to brew and serve, and most importantly, how to grow and harvest tea. Josephie and her delightful assistants Kailey Everson and Vincent Cavalin have, within the past year, started a rather ambitious project of planting tea on Josephie’s property in Coeur d’Alene. She has begun the early stages of what will most certainly become a thriving tea growing business.
Would you please tell me a little about yourself?
I was born in Australia, where my family raised sheep for fine wool. I came to America and got into the oil and gas business where I owned several companies, and my husband and I lived on a ranch in East Texas. That area is renowned for azaleas, blueberries, rhododendrons and camellias. I knew that all of these plants share the same preferences, and I knew that tea is a camellia. I did not understand why no one was growing tea in East Texas, so I started to ask around about this. I was not satisfied with the response. “Because it had not been done before” is no excuse. So I decided to give it a try, and thus began my adventure in growing tea.
You could have done many other things, what was it about tea that drew you?
I had an interest in China, and I knew about the botany of tea. Being an entrepreneur appealed to me. Tea is the second most labor intensive crop in the world aside from rice. It may not be consistent but it does generate a lot of jobs from seedlings to teacup. That is one of my goals, to generate jobs.
Kailey, where do you go to school, and what has been your involvement with assisting Josephie?
I got involved last year through my Environmental Science class. I am dual enrolled at Lake City High School and North Idaho College and am very interested in environmental and outdoor related projects. I started working with Josephie as a summer project by cloning and planting tea.
Vincent, where do you go to school and how did you get involved with the world of tea?
I am attending college through an on-line program in Mississippi and plan to go on to Medical School. Josephie was looking for another assistant and so I was involved in preparing the ground and planting the tea, in addition to building fences to keep the deer out.
Josephie, what is the biggest challenge that you see in your work?
There is never enough time, and most farmers will also say there is not enough money in growing tea for profit. It really is an investment of love. For all that goes into it, it is difficult to recoup all that you have put into it.
What are your plans for distribution?
Private placement with tea shops. But another thing I am looking into is to work with tea growers overseas (small farmers) who want us to import and distribute their tea. They are very poor, and they put their heart and soul into growing tea, so to enable these people to have a marketplace is a great idea.