We can try to grab a moment here or there to breathe or just take in the moment but tea makes you slow down. It’s not the same as chugging a cup of coffee. There’s more to tea than just tea. People can enhance their lifestyle and their health by adding in a couple of cups a day. We have first-timers come in and say, “Eh, I’m not really a tea drinker” but after spending time with them and educating them they leave with an excitement about tea and the potential it holds in their lives.
Several years ago, we moved clear across the country from Tucson, AZ to Virginia for my husband’s job. After searching the peninsula for quality, loose leaf tea and not finding a source for it, I realized I had discovered a niche. I thought, “WOW! What a crazy-cool idea if I had a little tea shop and could play with tea all day? How fun!” So I enlisted my friend Ken from Arizona to help with the business plan and one thing led to another. I remember thinking, “Wow, this might actually be doable”. Ken and I go back over 20 years. We had a business together that was focused on the art of healing work. He was originally helping with the business plan and marketing for Discover Teas but then he offered to help set up shop when I was ready. So, I called Ken, got him all the way out here and he basically worked for room and board [and tea] for a while. He fell in love with the area, connected with the business and once he started to get into the teas, it all translated pretty easily for him. He’s an herbalist, in addition to an aromatherapist, and it allowed him a space to practice skills that he’s gained over the years in the healing arts. Did you know he went to medical school? It’s true. He was going to be a doctor but he had to walk away because he didn’t believe in treating with pharmaceuticals.
That’s how we operate here. Discover Teas is a family. To work here, it has to be a lifestyle fit and you have to just get it… be invested. I want people to feel empowered here and that means owning who they are and expressing who they are- no molds. I’ve had to do that way too much in my history and I refuse to do that in my own business. Even if you no longer work with us, you’re still part of our family; we stop everything and throw a party when you walk through the door.
It’s not about rushing or making a sale here. It’s about people. Build the relationships, make a connection, educate them; help them find something that excites them. That’s lacking in a lot of today’s business. We strive for experience beyond tea. Tea is simply the vehicle in which we connect and provide a safe place for others to embrace who they are. Spread love.
We’ve been able to touch so many lives here but there’s one story in particular about the power of tea that I carry with me. A peer of mine found me at a networking event, grabbed my hands and began to sob. “I can’t thank you enough”, she said. “You’ve changed our lives.” Her mom, going through chemotherapy treatments, had been experiencing all of the horrific side effects that go along with it. She hadn’t been able to find relief in anything until we created a blend for her to help manage the nausea and dizziness. As my friend held my hands and cried, I thought, “This is why. This is exactly why we’re in existence; we touched her, she touched her mom, and now her mom is touching other people. That’s how it works. That’s how tea works.”
What I feel is the most powerful example of what tea can do is the WuWo Tea Ceremony. People of all classes, races and backgrounds can come together in silence, brew their tea, and share it with others around the table. Tea allows us to put our energy and love into sharing. It’s no longer about us, but about community and peace; the power of tea and people coming together as equals.
Tea is beautiful because it’s worldwide- you don’t have to share the same language. Tea bridges that gap; it’s an understanding. It bridges anything and everything. I’ve been known to stroll into tea shops in the back streets of Chinatown where no English is spoken and you can be looked at like you don’t belong. The moment I begin chatting tea, it bridges the gap and everything opens up. Before you know it, we’re connecting like we’ve known each other for years.
Our teas are hand-selected and hand-harvested. There’s an art to it and those that have chosen this as their vocation know the right leaves to pick for the style of tea that’s being created… a machine can’t offer that. It can’t differentiate if it’s the best leaf on the plant, a bug, or even a twig. As soon as the machine picks the plant, about 40% of the oil dissipates. It’s a much different leaf (and ultimately tea) when an expert plucker is involved to help maintain the integrity of the plant. Most people don’t know that and blends can fall flat of what they’re supposed to deliver when the quality isn’t there. We’re committed to quality and providing exquisite teas, with some of them even award-winning!
We take tea seriously but we have fun with it around here too. Currently, my favorite “tea pun” is Mar-TEA-ni! We have our first ever Tea Mixology workshop on June 24th at our Port Warwick location and we’re really excited about it. I’m infusing several alcohols right now to decide which ones are going to be a hit. We’ll use the tea infused alcohols and we’ll prepare tea infused mixers for people to experience/experiment with. Essentially, it’s a guided tour to using tea-infused alcohols. It includes "mar-Tea-ni" tasting, experiential mixology, and recipes to expand your repertoire. It’ll be a great time! And as with everything we do, it’ll be Blended with Love and Steeped in Gratitude.
To learn more about this project, visit us at Entrepreneurs of Hampton Roads.
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