A new Filipino specialty tea that celebrates the Sultanate of Sulu and the country's rich history and heritage has been launched in the United States and Canada.
Named Tausug Blends, the tea was exclusively produced by the American company Harney and Sons with the the Royal Warrant of His Royal Majesty Sultan Muedzul-Lail Tan Kiram, the 35th Sultan of Sulu and Northern Borneo, in partnership with the Amir Bahar of Sulu and the company Hold That Plate.
"We are very excited because this is the first time that a premium tea is going to be sold worldwide,” Datu Kevin Limjoco, the Amir Bahar of Sulu, told ABS-CBN News.
"In the past two weeks since we launched it in New York, it had been quite successful. We have over 2,000 sales without any promotion," he added.
The specialty tea is composed of green tea with pineapple and coconut.
"We want to capture those flavors to represent the Tausug people. It's very, very fragrant, it's floral and fresh," said Hold That Plate owner and chef Isabel Nieto Delos Reyes, who developed the Tausug Blend.
"The aroma is just wonderful. I tasted other teas and isa po siya sa mga the one you would remember. Even if you are not a tea drinker, you’ll definitely love this,” said Alisha Timbol, who tried Tausug Blends.
"Knowing here that we as Filipinos we cultivate this product. I think it is a proud moment. We can say na kami rin po meron din. World-class din naman ang quality niya," Timbol added.
But more than its flavors, this tea was created to pursue a deeper purpose.
"We also wanted to use this as an instrument to get people to talk about the Sultanate of Sulu and the Tausug people because most Filipinos do not even know who the Tausugs are and don’t even know that the Sultanate of Sulu actually exists," Limjoco said.
"So it is an important factor that we do this to be able to create awareness not just for the Filipino people but for Filipinos around the world."
Just like a famous tea brand and its association with the British monarchy, the Tausug Blend was also granted the Royal Seal from His Royal Majesty Sultan Muedzul Kiram.
In fact, Sultan Kiram was seen to be enjoying the said tea based from pictures sent by Limjoco.
"They actually have the association with the British monarchy, they were appointed by the late Queen Elizabeth II, and now it'll be under King Charles. So inspired by that association, that's why we wanted to use tea,” he said.
Now that Tausug Blends is being sold in North America and Canada, it will also be distributed in Asia including the Philippines, and with different variants using mangosteen, moringa, and calamansi.
A portion of the proceeds for the sale of the said tea will be used to support the Sultanate's humanitarian programs.
"This is not a product just to make money. If you go to Sulu, they have so much damage from natural causes and infighting, and we want to really be able to address that. If we create more opportunities for the South, we would also reduce the likelihood of piracy and the violence which is unfortunate," Limjoco said.
"We have to celebrate the beautiful things in Mindanao, from textiles, sword making, and boat making. There is so much that can be done," he added.