Her SpecialTEA is TEA

SpecialTea Brew
logo used w/permission

With a brand new tea company on the market, Ami Soleau has been brewing what she loves and loving what she brews. That’s the motto of SpecialTea Brew, the tea company she formed in 2010.

Her business has been getting off the ground; she’s selling online with a successful and unique Web site, and using social networking sites – and word of mouth – to get her company noticed.

But there’s something – or rather, someone – missing. Ami’s on the hunt for a business partner, someone who loves promoting and marketing tea.

“Essentially I need a 50/50 partner in crime,” Ami said.  “This would not be me paying someone to do this but someone that wants to make this company their own with me.  Someone with a lot of passion like myself!”

Ami’s looking for a partner who has experience owning and operating a business, dealing with permits and licensing. But her ultimate biz partner would also be friendly and outgoing, someone who can “talk the talk and walk the walk” when it comes to knowing teas.

Currently SpecialTea Brew is an online-only tea shop based in Seattle, WA, but Ami said her future biz partner doesn’t need to be from the area. Eventually, she explained, she’d love to open up a brick and mortar shop, and therefore the biz partner would need to be close. But it’s not a requirement, not yet.

Ami’s ultimate partner would have to have these qualities, she explained:
  • Down-to-earth
  • Business savvy
  • Knows and loves tea
  • Knowledge of tea production and blending
  • Experience in a small business setting
  • Outgoing – not as shy as she is

Ami said she gets along with just about any personality, so attitude clashing would probably not be an issue. “I think you do need to get along to go into business,” she said, adding that difference of opinions can be a good, constructive part of the business.

Ami currently works for Whole Foods as an accountant, so she has been contacting vendors to sell her teas. She’s also been reaching out through Steepster.com and other sites to not only announce her tea company but get the word out about the employment opportunity.

If you think you have what it takes to work with Ami @ SpecialTea Brew or if you have questions about her company, please e-mail her at specialteabrew@yahoo.com.

SpecialTea Brew will be featured as a company profile on Keen Tea Thyme later this summer, so stay tuned for that. J

Check out SpecialTea Brew at http://www.specialteabrew.com/. SpecialTea Brew offers a wide selection of teas and accessories at great prices. Plus, there's a "how-to" brew guide here, that I'm sure you'll find handy: http://www.specialteabrew.com/instructions


New Venture: 52Teas & iHeartTeas

Our May CelebriTEA, Rachel Carter, has a new tea venture. Together with 52Teas.com, iHeartTeas has begun offering teas "Rescued from Retirement," such as the ever-popular Blueberry Cheese Danish.

Visit her store http://tinypay.me/ss0yorhb and check out the three teas available, as well as her other tea selections.

I should disclose that I made a purchase myself, just a few minutes ago, for Blueberry Cheese Danish. I've always wanted to try this one. My heart skipped a bit when I saw it available. :)

Please note you will have to pay additional shipping charges, unlike purchases from 52Teas, which includes shipping in the price. But for shipping in the US, I paid only $1.50, so it's not extreme. 

Other teas will be available as well...but for a limited time, so when you see a tea you want, grab it! :)


Exciting Things Happening Here - Stay in the Know

With May upon us and good news around the world - spring in the air, and a certain terrorist no longer among us - I am also happy to report that I am (almost) all better. I'm back to my working self, which means Keen Tea Thyme is back in business!

First, we've got a new company profile - Mad Pots of Tea. Check out the story by clicking on the company profile tab on the main page, or here: http://keenteathyme.blogspot.com/p/company-profile.html

Next, we've featured our first CelebriTEA, Rachel Carter - the voice behind www.iHeartTeas.com. Check out her story and learn more about this fave tea blogger and her new endeavors: http://keenteathyme.blogspot.com/p/celebritea.html

Stop by Tea Stain Art to see what's new with Dara Gold, and purchase one of your very own, limited run tea stain artwork: http://keenteathyme.blogspot.com/p/golds-tea-stain-art.html Send in your questions to this unique and talented artist!

May will feature more adventures of Ally, our Teaist Apprentice (check back on Fri., May 13 - oh no! Friday the 13th!) to see what she's been up to during the hiatus.

Also, I have a very special post I'm working on for Mother's Day. Don't forget, Mother's Day is this weekend!

And in between everything, we'll review and enjoy tea!

Got suggestions? Comments on my blog? Drop me a line at: keenteathyme@gmail.com

Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy your stay; have a great "thyme" being "keen" on tea!


How sweet is it? - Poll results

The results from April's poll are in! I asked what kind of sweetener (if any) folks used to sweeten their teas. I'm surprised by the number of purists - those of you who don't add any sweetener - good for you! Some of you selected "other," such as agave nectar, which I'm currently researching.

Here are the results:

Honey - organic variety or not. 4%
I'm old school. Sugar. Cubed. 0%
I'm cutting back on calories so it's Splenda or Equal for me.   9% 
milk/creamer + sugar. 4%
I'm into the sugar crystal craze - amber or white. 13%
No sweetener. I’m a purist, baby. 50%
Other.  18%

Thanks all who voted! Don't forget to stop by and vote in May's poll:

Why do you drink tea?

Happy Brewing!


Missed out!

Darn it! I wasn't fast enough for the 52teas offering of White Chocolate Grasshopper and Hot Buttered Banana Bread! Let's petition for Frank to make more! :)


Teabean - a new kind of tea

logo used w/permission

Meet Craig Buntin, a former Olympic athlete and native Canadian, who is taking on tea in a new way - using coffee beans.

Yep, you read that correctly! Craig has created a new infusion of tea using coffee beans: Teabean. I've tried this infusion and it's definitely unique - and definitely tasty. Teabean combines roasted and nutty coffee beans with the bold, strong taste of chai tea for a marriage that is take charge and delicious. Teabean could be the gateway for coffee drinkers into the world of tea and vice versa. But how did this incredibly unique idea even get started?

1) This is a unique concept for tea. How did you come up with the idea? Why blend coffee and tea?

I was a full time Olympic figure skater for about 20 years and I came up with the idea while at a competition late in the 2008/2009 season. I tried a latte which was made from an under-roasted coffee bean and thought the concept was pretty cool. I tried to find some online but couldn't get any information anywhere. After months of frustration, I just figured I'd try to make it myself. I have been an avid coffee and tea drinker for years (coffee in the morning for the caffeine before training and tea at night for the flavor and health benefits) so experimenting at home with either one of the drinks was a pretty natural step.

2) How long did it take to craft the infusion? What did earlier versions taste like and why did you decide against them?

Under-roasting the beans gives them a grassy kind of flavor, which is pretty unique but I really felt that the process wasn't quite perfect. I had an idea of how to make it better but I knew I needed advice from industry experts, so I decided to speak to companies who might be able to help. I approached maybe 15 companies, 10 of which either didn't respond or laughed at me, four of which said "no thanks" and one that agreed to work with me in developing my vision for White Coffee. Together, we spent about six months tweaking the process. We experimented, with many methods of making the beans White but eventually discovered that by taking a coffee blend that has just the right amount of each flavor attribute and baking it, we could create something incredible.

In November 2009, while still in full training, I began selling bags of White Coffee to local Montreal cafes to be made as flavored lattes. These lattes were delicious, but I couldn't send them out to anyone as they had to be made a specific way by the barista.

By this point, I had been experimenting with baked White Coffee beans with teas, for cooking, you name it. I found that I could make some pretty amazing tea infusions that had the nutty taste and caffeine of White Coffee and the rich aroma of whichever tea I was blending it with. When I began infusing various blends of teas for their health benefits, I knew I had a winner.

3) Opening up a tea company doesn't just happen overnight. Why did you decide to open up a tea company? How long has it taken you from the conception to reality?

From the time I first thought about selling the White Coffee beans, to the first White Coffee - Chai infusion was about a year and a half. After the 2010 skating season, I retired from competition and really focused my attention on getting the new blend off the ground. I did the graphic design for the pouches and the boxes on my own and as well created the website and facebook site alone. I spent a lot of time on that stuff as I wanted to make sure that the Teabean look and feel was really reflective of how great the drink is. After that, there was the whole legal aspect of launching a company (incorporation, taxes, trademarks, etc), then I was off to the races! In February 2011 the new Teabean White Coffee Infusion was ready to go.

4) I noticed on your Web site that your tea is for sale online, but it also available in select Canadian shops. Any plans to provide your product to other shops around the globe (US and other countries)? Would you consider opening a store front, in Canada or elsewhere?

I would love to see Teabean all over the world! We are growing every week and I hope to begin establishing relationships in the US (and internationally) with companies that may be interested in helping to make that happen. While we grow, the goal is to be able to launch some of the other tea infusions have already been developed.

As for opening a store front, I could possibly see that happening someday, but I think there is a lot of work that needs to happen first. I really want to see the product available in cafes, restaurants and tea shops across the continent before looking at that option.

5) Why did you decide to sell the tea in bags versus loose? Do you plan on ever offering loose varieties?

I actually considered selling a "loose leaf" version of White Coffee Infusion, but the problem is this: it is confusing! It is tea, but it is made with coffee beans. I didn't want people taking it and throwing it into their home coffee makers. As other flavored infusions become available, I may reconsider it.

6) Speaking of varieties, you mentioned in your letter that other infusions are in the planning stages. Care to share about any of them?

Nope! :-P

All I'm going to say right now is that they are amazing. I know this because I drink them, and I really love them. I have come up with a short list based on the flavors and health benefits that I like but before I say anything, I want to hear from the online tea community. I want to hear what others like and their ideas on where to take the company.

7) You are a former Olympic athlete. Tell me about your life and your career before Teabean. (Do any of your skills come in handy with this new venture?)

Wow... I don't think I could handle the hand cramp that would come after the essay I would have to write to tell you all about my athletic career! Suffice to say, it was the experience of a lifetime. I was never the most talented but I worked very, very hard. My family and I sacrificed everything for my shot at the Olympics and I can't tell you how appreciative I am for everything that they, my coaches, my partners & friends did to help me get there.

That said, the skills that have come in handy have been hard work and dedication. I have always been very passionate about every goal I set and I know that if I apply the same attitude to Teabean as I did to my training, the company will be a great success.

8) What do you want people to understand most about your company?

That as of right now, everyone who wants to be a part of the team can be. If people like White Coffee, tell the owners and managers of their local cafes. If people have ideas for blends that they believe could be delicious, email me. If people have ideas on what types of packaging could be better, I really want to hear it. I would love to have current Teabean drinkers help grow the company and feel the same sense of pride that I feel when I see someone taste Teabean for the first time!

9) What do you hope to gain - other than profits - from your company?

Right now, I wake up in the morning thinking about Teabean. I go to bed thinking of ways I can make it better and ways that I can get new people to know about it. I am so passionate about this company and this product. As long as I am living with that kind of passion, the company is giving me everything that I need.

10) So where can people find this new infusion?

Phone: 514-931-1232

Snail Mail:
4148A Ste-Catherine O., Suite 141
Montreal, QC
H3Z 0A2

52teas Decaf Bold Masala Blend & Reblends

OK guys, get your wallets and tea cups ready. Frank @ 52teas has decided to reblend four fave teas AND introduce a Decaf Masala Blend! Holy cow!

Image from 52teas/used w/permission

Before you check out, there are four reblends available (my mouth is watering):

image from 52teas/used with permission

I can speak from experience - Pancake Breakfast is amazing! I am ordering another bag. And I've wanted to try White Chocolate Grasshopper (remember those cookies??) and Hot, Buttered Banana Bread. So I'm grabbing them now!

Frank's blends ALWAYS go fast, so get a move on, teaists! What are you waiting for?

Favorite Strawberry Teas

With strawberry season upon us, it's time for making strawberry tea - unless you are allergic, of course. (In that case, you have my deepest sympathy).

What are your favorite teas - hot & cold? I enjoy Teavana's Strawberry Lemonade - prefer cold. And Frank @ 52teas had me at Strawberry Pie Honeybush. Got any other favorites? Post here!

Welcome May!

May and June are two of my favorite months! I love the warmer air, the birds, even the bees. Capris, tank tops, shorts, skirts, sandals. (Sunblock!) I'm from SoCal, but live in MD, so I am no fan of winter. (Well less bugs are nice...) May and June are terrific months to welcome summer - and it's strawberry season too!

Thanks for all the kind thoughts about my surgery. Things went well and are looking up. (Perhaps that's the reason for my peppiness too!)

So I'm back on track with this blog. Here's what you can expect in the month of May:
-a new company profile (should post by May 5 and will run through the July holiday)
-weekly updates on what's going on at 52teas
-Ally - our Teaist Apprentice - will be back, exploring tea, tea ceremonies and the like. Keep sending in your questions!
-news from the tea world
-a new CelebriTEA! Hint: she just started her own tea biz too... more info later.
-more of my blends for sale (samples)
-so much more!

Got ideas, suggestions, comments...? E-mail me or post here. Let's see how much fun it is to be a Teaist!

We'll tea-off (heehee) - Happy Brewing!

Joy's Teaspoon - Co. Profile for March/April 2011

Company Profile for March/April 2011

There is joy in tea for Naomi Rosen, the creative force behind the new company, Joy's Teaspoon. The Las Vegas-based tea and spice company exists mainly in the online format - for now. But who is Joy? And where did this new company come from?

Naomi says she loves when people ask who Joy is. "Joy was my incredible mom who would have loved this company and what we are doing." Sadly, Naomi lost her mother in 2003, so the company is in her memory. Naomi says that while her mother did drink tea occasionally and cook with rare spices, the idea for Joy's Teaspoon's products weren't really inspired by her. But the idea of creating a tea company and joining the tea-lover community fits her mom's legacy. "She was all about friends and family and any reason to gather together." Joy's Teaspoon strives on that goal. "Joy's primary mission in life was to spend precious time with family and friends and we value the ability of our teas and spices to do just that."

Originally from Southern California, Naomi says she got the idea for starting her own store after visiting her sister in Chicago shortly after her mother passed away. "She was showing me around this cute little town she lived in. We walked from boutiques to a tea merchant to a spice house...and I loved the whole main street concept." That trip started her love of tea; she began drinking the teas she purchased there and the next few Christmas and birthday gifts were from that shop. Naomi fed her tea addiction by combing the internet for tea and spice production. "What innocently started out as fun little hobby became a passion for knowledge," Naomi says. After a visit to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, she and her husband started tossing the idea around. 

But family came first. Naomi gave birth to her first son and her family settled into life with a newborn, the idea still rolling around. Eventually Naomi and her husband decided to give it a try and officially opened Joy's Teaspoon in April 2010.

The company will be about a year old in April - and has been a success so far, thanks to Naomi's social marketing skills and reception in the online tea community. Joy's Teaspoon offers some of the best, high quality teas available. While there is no physical store, Naomi says the company does have two retail partners that carry a condensed version of the products - Ganesha Center and the Spirit Within U. Naomi says operating a physical location would be a challenge. With the economic climate it's a tough time around the country - as anyone knows.

Plus, Naomi is expecting her second son (due any minute, possibly as I write this article!). "I adore being a mom," Naomi says. "I worry that opening a physical location would take entirely too much time away from them. So for now we function successfully online!"

So what kinds of tea does Joy's Teaspoon offer? Joy's Teaspoon offers an array of tea from oolong to herbal. First off, Naomi says she doesn't blend the tea herself at all. "The majority of my vendors are quite talented on their own merits and I do no pretend to know how to blend better than they!" Joy's Teaspoon strives for quality with a capital "Q." She samples everything she sells, and keeps other factors in mind, such as a environmentally friendly focus. "Every effort is made to recycle as many materials as we can including paper, cardboard, ink cartridges, and glass and metal product containers."   Check out the Web site for more information on the JOYful Environmental Program.

Naomi has spent the past few months getting the word out about her tea company - and doing what Joy's Teaspoon does best, meeting with others about tea. She is the primary administrator of the Las Vegas/Henderson Tea Lovers Group (a badge proudly displayed on her Web site). "I enjoy taking advantage of being able to sit down with my neighbors and enjoy a cup of tea." The group sponsors tea tasting events through Las Vegas and Henderson through libraries, health and spiritual living centers and we partnering with local businesses. "It's a great opportunity to share with those around me that have similar interests or are curious about the wide world of tea."

Naomi is happy to share her wisdom on Joy's Teaspoon too; she sends out a newsletter every month or so updating customers on new tea and spice additions, upcoming events and industry news. 
She didn't start Joy's Teaspoon solely for profit, Naomi adds. The company was "a way for me to share my passion with the people around me. I have made some great friendships via this industry. The information I have collected, for my own little mind, has made me much more passionate about the products I carry and use on a daily basis." Naomi explains that her hope is for Joy's Teaspoon to grow into a solid business that can provide opportunities for her children in the future.

Naomi Rosen's life is so different than it was a year ago, before Joy's Teaspoon was a reality. "Since launching Joy's Teaspoon, my life is non-stop and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the challenge of launching a web-based business and yet still finding personal ways to connect with fellow tea drinkers and home chefs," Naomi says.

Join Naomi on Joy's Teaspoon, or check out what people are saying about her teas on steepster.com. Try some of the teas available or just browse Joy's Teaspoon's Web site to see what's available. Just make sure you follow Joy's Teaspoon's motto: put a little JOY in your life.

Update 4/4/11: Joy's Teaspoon turns one year old! YAY! At the same time, Naomi and her family welcomed a new baby to the family, little Gavin. In celebratory mode, Naomi is offering up an anniversary sale for the month of April, so get these deals while you can: http://joysteaspoon.com/prices-drop.php.

Moroccan Mint - Joy's Teaspoon

Quick Notes - Joy's Teaspoon:
E-mail: naomi@joysteaspoon.com
Toll-free: 866-795-1411
Online community: www.blog.joysteaspoon.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!joystsp
Twitter: @JoysTeaspoon
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/naomi-rosen/8/467/838

Meetup.com: http://www.meetup.com/Las-Vegas-Henderson-Tea-Lovers/
Steepster: http://steepster.com/teas/joys-teaspoon

Photo/Logo used with permission.

Page Info:
This page is dedicated to company profiles. The Page Tab will be the company's name. Please note, I receive no money - nor even free tea! - from highlighting these companies. These articles are based on interviews and e-mails with the owners/proprietors. Please note this marketing tool is meant for smaller, individual companies.

Every other month, Keen Tea Thyme will feature a tea company profile. March/April, May/June, July/August, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec. After the company's profile changes to the next month(s), the profile will become a regular post and will stay in the archives.

If you'd like your tea company to be featured, or there's a company you'd like to see here e-mail me for terms, guidelines and more info: keenteathyme@gmail.com.