Ah a dangerous topic, Teavana.

Many people hate them, for the special teas fiasco, for the over-flavored teas, for the pushy sales people.

Other people, myself included, see them as the gateway tea.

Tea for me started as an item in a paper bag, on a string, with a staple. My mother drank twinings earl grey every morning, and heaven forbid you talked to her before she started her second cup. She wanted the cup warmed, then the tea steeped, only a few minutes, with a lid, then a touch of sugar and milk. The water had to be full boiling, and new fresh water. She could taste if you slacked on the preparation.

For many years I casually tried teas wherever I went, restaurants, hotels, cafes.

Some places used fancy teapots, and put the tea in a strainer, which I thought was novel.

I was able to tell when a tea was poor quality, or prepared poorly.

Somewhere around college there started to be “full leaf sachets” of tea, and Teavana.  I went absolutely wild over NOVUS and The Republic of Tea. The US was coming of age with tea I think, there was much more variety in the upscale grocery stores, and there were many more tea shops. I started desperately trying to get my hand on all the tea, I wanted to try it all!

My mother was supportive through all this, she bought me tea, she went out and hunted tea down with me, attended high teas, let me place orders online. She still started each day with her earl grey, but we bought many early grey teas, and she tried them all. Very few met her standards, but she was happy to give them he a go.

For mother’s day, I bought her a zarafina.  It was this amazing tea brewing device with all sorts of settings. So began my addiction with not only tea, but methods of brewing.

In my searches, I tried many tea shops in NYC, where my fiance at the time lived, and I went and decided to not only have every Republic of Tea tea, but every Teavana tea.

I started spreadsheets, notebooks, it all started to get hard to remember. Had I tried this tea? Had I visited this teashop? How did I prepare this tea last time?

Somewhere soon after, I came upon Steepster.  I decided I would blog, and use this nice new tea community to keep myself on track. I had decided trying ALL the tea was a reaching goal, I wasn’t going to quit, just realize there was so much more to tea than a lifetime could afford me the opportunity to try.

Over time I have now attended tea festivals (Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle, WA, First Flush in Charleston, SC, World Tea East, Philadelphia, PA), tea meetups, tea tastings, tea cuppings, trainings, discussions…I have tried a large variety of ways to steep teas (gaiwan, breville, zarafina, ingenuitea, french press, tea balls, strainers…

In all this time, I have meet amazing people, learned so much, and found I have so much more to learn.

I owe my mother, The Republic of Tea, and Teavana for really starting me on this quest.

And every time I walk by a Teavana, I still manage to leave with more tea.


  1. ·

    Love this! I still stop into Teavana now and again to see what’s new. In fact I really want to try one of their new Oolongs called French Spice Quartet it sounds interesting and I’m willing to try it.

    I’m happy to say my taste has evolved from Teavana and I’ve also had wonderful people to indulge my tea need over the last few years. 🙂

  2. ·

    Hey Ms Amazon,
    I’m glad Teavana worked for you and got your interest peeked. Just a few days ago we had a big discussion on the forum about Teavana, thought you might want to see what we all said there. http://teatra.de/talk/topic/jackies-disgust-and-teavana-doesnt-want-to-sell-tea/
    Interesting that you remarked: “The US was coming of age with tea I think, there was much more variety in the upscale grocery stores, and there were many more tea shops.”
    I haven’t seen this stated before, and wasn’t aware of this being the case. How long ago was this? You know, I was actually hoping that the big tea boom is still to come. Don’t go dashing my hopes V…

    1. ·

      hmm, I thought i clicked send
      ~2001 grocery stores started to have more than just CTC.
      There started to be full leaf teas available at more places.
      I believe education, on the part of the tea industry (including Teavana) started to make customers realize there was more than bags of black tea.
      I think we have a long way to go on this upward motion before we get to the apex of tea culture in the US (compare us to England, China, Japan) but I am excited by what each new year will bring.

  3. ·

    @jackie, the boom is still ahead of you as in every country since coffee is usually the first drink and people are mostly tea bags oriented.

    Nice story.

  4. ·

    Ah, now I realize what you meant. I thought your “there was much more variety in the tea stores and many more shops” meant; as compared to today. Hence my surprise.
    Now I see, of course you meant compared to the time before 2001.
    That certainly ties in with what I’ve seen; increasing interest and an improving market.
    Maybe I just hadn’t drunk enough tea.

  5. ·

    I think the boom that @AmazonV was talking about was “THE BOOM”. At some point there was a switch from calisthenics, Phen Phen, and coke in the 80’s to yoga, organic food, and tea in the 90’s and beyond.

    The fact is, Americans still set worldwide consumer trends. It sounds Jingoistic, but Americans would have to adopt tea in a big way for a worldwide tea boom to come about.

    We sealed our fate as coffee drinkers when we threw all that tea into Boston Harbor and settle the wild west on horseback with six shooters and coffee boilers.

    Furthermore, I don’t see Americans adopting tea in a big way unless they start selling caffeine-fortified tea in a Starbucks type setting. The fact is, most people want to GO! GO! GO! from their caffeinated beverages, and Starbucks delivers. For a massive “tea boom” to take place, coffee would have to be trading at obscene prices due to world climate change, world war, or something crazy. Even then, I think people will probably opt for one of those 5-hour energy drinks, a Red Bull, or a 22-ounce can of Monster before switching to tea.

  6. ·

    Great post Nicole, though as an Australian, I don’t quite get Teavana. I think T@ here might be modelled on them.

    As for the “boom” that seems to be the topic, that would be the one where tea went from being the most widely drunk beverage on the water aside from water to being the most widely drunk beverage on the water aside from water.
    Worldwide, tea holds it own. And the tea goes where the demand is. So if, by selling overpriced teapots. Teavana creates demand, then bring it on.

    My everyday teapots are a $40 farmhouse ceramic and a $4 Woolworths glass and filter pot. But most of the tea that goes in them is superb.

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