Having a Tea Studio is very different from having a tea shop—Experience Tea is focused on classes and sale of tea and teaware–not table service of steeped tea. This is my first summer. Outside of my weekly classes, I am pretty dependent on loose leaf tea and teaware sales—not having the license or equipment to sell freshly brewed iced tea or other cold drinks. Fortunately my classes have been full each week and as I had hoped, there are many family members taking the classes together. Many times it will be kids (aged anywhere from six to 16) insisting the parent(s) do a tea class with them. With the more leisurely pace of summer many couples finally find the time to spend an evening together in a class. There are also visiting relatives who love tea and are treated to a tea class as part of their northwest tourist entertainment.
Occasionally, out of two people taking the Tea Discovery Class together, one is a tea lover and the other…well…kind of gets dragged along or comes along to be supportive. It is not uncommon to have the lukewarm partner/friend admit at the beginning that they are a coffee or cola devotee and are only in the class because their partner asked them to. It is interesting to watch body language in this case—with the non-tea person sometimes crossing arms over their chest and visibly wishing they were not here. What makes my whole teaching journey such a delight though is to watch the interest and engagement unfold in this person as the class gets underway. There is so much to learn, taste, sense, and discover about tea and its connection to history and world cultures that by the end of a class, the non-tea person is usually quite excited and happy they attended.
Truthfully though, most of these “other drink” people do not become tea worshipers, but I know they leave with new respect for the leaf and beverage, which may open their curiosity to continue to learn about and try new teas. If nothing else, they have had a fun, shared experience with their friend/partner and have something new to explore together. Tea is undiscovered; what else is there in the world that is so widely consumed, has ancient origins, and is legal for all ages, yet still has so much to teach us?