Tea and I have had a love affair since I was a young girl, age 6 or 7. I remember waking each morning and seeing my grandmother Ella begin her busy day with the solace of a peaceful and nurturing ritual. She’d start by turning the television to PBS to watch the yoga guru of the day, stretching along with this Gumby-like figure who could effortlessly pull his legs across his chest without pain or sacrifice. Then, after this brief but intense workout, Ella would prepare the morning meal: perfectly browned toast and a cup of freshly steeped chamomile tea. She savored each sip of this drink as if it might be her last.
For years I observed this act of self care and often participated in the ceremony. On occasion, I imagined I was a princess and Ella the Queen, and together we prepared ourselves to rule the kingdom. Through these mornings, tea became a symbol of a lifestyle that I cherished. Throughout my life, as I grew into a woman and traveled the world, I noticed that tea was a source of goodness for so many people. I started to see that where there was tea, there was laughter. Where there was tea, there was intellectual stimulation. Where there was tea, often there was love and delight.
I studied tea’s history and the many social traditions that grew from the drink: the Ladies Tea, the Afternoon Tea, and, of course, the beloved children’s tea party. I delighted in tea and its traditions on a daily basis, as millions of people around the world do every day. But I craved a more fresh and modern experience that I knew had to be possible.
When I visited Boston in the winter of 2003, I sensed for the first time that having my tea and drinking it too was, in fact, possible. During a brief afternoon break from meetings, I stumbled upon a totally unique, totally contemporary, totally me tea bar on Newbury Street where I enjoyed a simple yet refreshing cup of Bancha green tea. The environment, the energy, and the well prepared cup was everything I had ever dreamed of and nothing I had ever experienced.
It was a vibrant tea lounge full of people who seemed content with the day. Some were reading intently, others were working diligently on their laptops, while others were in the midst of conversation with friends. The energy was infectious and truly inspiring.
I walked out of that trendy little spot, feeling satisfied and motivated, and was compelled to design a company that would make others feel the way I felt that afternoon. Simply content.