Sweet Rewards from Hard Work

Rong Pan, co-owner of Ku Cha House of Tea. Photo: Ku Cha House of Tea

Not everyone has the confidence to open a tea house chain under the name “bitter tea”—but most people aren’t Rong Pan and Qin Liu. This weekend, the couple and business partners will celebrate their sweet rewards as they open up the third location of the Ku Cha House of Tea in Boulder, Colorado.

According to the Ku Cha House of Tea website, Ku means “bitter” and Cha means “tea” in Chinese. Pan and Liu explain that the bitterness in tea is derived from tannins, which, with a bit of work and patience in brewing, will eventually turn sweet.

Pan and Liu originally met in Beijing, but moved to Boulder, Colorado, to complete their MBAs. Pan’s graduate thesis eventually led to the opening of Ku Cha House of Tea in 2005. Each shop carries more than 170 varieties of tea, ranging from floral herbal teas and chai to masterfully crafted oolongs. Dedicated tea drinkers have the option to join the Ku Cha club, which provides members with discounts and exclusive events for a $15 annual fee. The third shop location will initially offer only dry teas and samples, but Pan and Liu plan on implementing a café operation by the end of the month.