I wish to take you on a long and meandering road to tell you about where I am now and how I got here.
Well, not HERE, actually, but here – Long Beach California for World Tea Expo.
A long time ago in Pennsylvania…
My mother taught me the importance of properly preparing tea, and the importance of never speaking to her until she had her first cup.
You had to start with cold water, she would know if you hadn’t and then you had to start over.
Next you had to boil the water. Once the water was at a rolling boil you poured the hot water into the cup, one of the specific pottery cups, swished it around and dumped it. You were also in trouble if you failed to do this step.
Now that the cup was warmed, place in the Twinings earl grey tea, add hot water, and cover the cup with a small plate.
Wait 3 minutes, pull out the tea, add a splash of skim milk and sugar/honey and wait for mom to wake up and become functional.
Now that I knew how to make tea, what other teas were there?
Every time I went out, I tried more teas, but how could I know what ones I had tried and not tried? Wouldn’t I forget which ones I liked and not over time?
Well, I would make a list.
The list started in a spreadsheet, and my OCD took hold and I was devouring every flavor of The Republic of tea I could get. I tormented my family with a tea tasting for my 25th birthday 2008.
At the time there were not many tea shops, and the selection in grocery stores was limited. The internet was my salvation.
Purchasing and researching on the internet and a ever growing spreadsheet progressed into tea blogging, around December 2009. It was mostly for myself to have an easily searchable way to remember what I had tried and what I thought of it at the time.
I found myself in the company of other tea bloggers, some who became friends.
I was devouring everything I could drink, read, and learn about tea.
This resulted in many people asking me why I didn’t start a tea company. I referenced all the tea shops I had seen close, the people I knew who struggled to keep their tea shops open, and I couldn’t compare myself to them! Where would I start? How could I give up my job? There was so much more to learn. I spread the tea knowledge as much as I could as just a blogger. It was a passion, and passions could become burdens if monetized.
In addition to making friends, tea blogging also got me in to tea events – such as World Tea East in Philadelphia, and the Northwest Tea Festival in Seattle.
I loved meeting all these tea people! I loved trying all these teas. It was not a very competitive space, everyone seemed to share what they knew.
Then came the less vague and more direct question.
Would you be the USA blender and distributor of The Devotea teas?
It was an offer from a friend. A friend who had already developed a successful line of teas, knew how to market, knew how to deal with wholesale and blending. There was even already a website ready!
How could I not jump at that chance?
After online video calls with both Robert and Anne (She really did exist!) who were as wonderful “in real life” as they were through social media, I opened an LLC.
At the time I worked 3rd shift on 4 – 10’s meaning I had 3 day weekends to work on this tea business. Business was manageable with my schedule and I got plenty of help to get started.
2 years later and I have moved to Virginia and only have nights to devote to the tea work. I work a normal 5 day work week in the IT field.
On weekends I work in a local antique store Cambria Emporium so that I can sell my tea there.
I blend as I need to in the local art co-op, The Artful Place, as I had the kitchen certified by the department of agriculture and can sell my teas at the Artful Gallery Store.
A local Bed and Breakfast and tea room – The Tea Room in Clifton Forge carries my teas.
A local gift shop, Uncommonly Gifted has sold my tea baskets around the holidays.
The biggest surprise seller this year has been the Tea of The Month program, which I often wonder if I was crazy for doing.
Sales increased tenfold from the first year to the next. Sadly blogging has fallen to the wayside until I can find a time turner or get my TARDIS working.
All in all, it has been a long path, but I have learned and enjoyed the journey and can not wait to find out what is next. I never would have had the courage to do it on my own, and am ever so grateful I am giving it a try thanks to my friends knowledge, patience, and trust.
To the Expo!
Happy Birthday Anne!
This post brought to you in honor of Lady Devotea’s Birthday Blog Bonanza