Passion. Learning. Friendships. All three drive our search for the next great cup of tea or coffee.
Phil and I have been in the tea and coffee business together for over 25 years. We've traveled the world to taste, learn, and bring home what we found and studied both beverages and their related cultures - extensively. In our travels, we've made friends with fellow tea and coffee lovers, industry experts all around the globe. We stay in touch with them, ask them what's new and remarkable, and continually expand our group of expert tea and coffee tasters.
We don't look for the same teas and coffees year after year. Like a master sommelier, we look for the best. The next new thing.
A friend, customer, and incredible graphic designer and watercolor painter, came into our tasting room about a month ago to help us with our packaging, and we tasted teas, talked, and discovered that his brother - who lives in Hong Kong - sourced premium and aged tea bricks of extraordinary quality. We ordered some before he left.
Last week I called a tea vendor, who happens to have an anthropology degree from Yale, and whose passion for tea and Chinese heritage led her to the study of specialty teas. She regularly travels to China to search for 'the next new thing' and told me she'd found ten new teas for me.
That's how we find new beverages to taste. That's step one.
Once we get the teas, we have 'cupping sessions' with the staff. We evaluate the dry and wet leaves, and the steeped tea, looking for how we can extend our tea (and coffee) inventory flavor profiles. We pick the best.
Then we share them with our customers in formal tasting events - and often when they just unexpectedly walk in the door.
That happened recently when a customer showed up with 10 college buddies in tow - all tea novices - all asking to try the Cream Oolong their friend wouldn't stop talking about. I wondered what their reaction would be when they tasted their first non-teabag tea! As I filled their cups, I told them, "some people say this tea reminds them of a buttery snack food." Then I saw 10 'Ah-ha' moments as several chimed in unison the tea tastes like buttered popcorn.
We learn from our tea experts and customers - and they learn from us. We share with our network of suppliers and tea experts and with you. The adventure continues.