Flash back to the 90’s in New York City. I was working as a textile colorist for a cheeky couple from England. They employed designers from the UK who were, of course, homesick for comfort food (bangers and mash etc.) A lovely girl named Caroline was a fellow co-worker and textile designer, and had invited me to have dinner with her at Tea & Sympathy which was just down the way from where I was living on 15th Street and 8th Avenue (back when Chelsea was the real deal.)
It was a cold, blustery night (like in all the good stories) and when I walked in to that warm little postage-stamped cafe–life changed. I knew what I wanted was to somehow be connected to the world of tea. I met Nicky Perry, the owner, who has said to me on more than one occasion (and I quote) “Are you mad??!!” – for wanting to take on tea retail. As life ticked by, I collected tea menus from all over the world and once while on a trip to Paris, stumbled upon a tea expo and attended. Needless to say it was all in French, which I don’t speak, but I went anyway. Looking back I think it was a sign pointing to the future. I knew tea would happen, but had no idea when or how.
And then it did happen.
Fast forward to June 2007 when a late-night google search brought up small online tea company for sale in Canada. After an email or two, on July 17th of that year, and I had entered the world of tea by purchasing a small unknown online tea company. It had no real customer base, and no presence in the USA… BUT… it had that really cute logo and a really cute name: Pearl Fine Teas. My accountant at that time was not thrilled and said,“No one buys a company based on a cute logo. Very unwise decision.” He is no longer my accountant.
By day, I operate as the Founder and Creative Director of a nitrocreative (hence cool logo comment). Every other minute I’m a devoted TeaLover, merchant (and consumer) who values everything tea has to offer – especially the connections one makes over tea.
My hope in 2007 was to grow this little “Pearl” into something that would make people as happy as it makes me, and a good resource for buying the best teas produced in the best tea growing regions. It’s hard to believe that 2017 will mark my 10th year in the tea industry with devoted customers who follow Pearl Fines Teas TeaTent around weekly to local farmers markets in the DC, MD + VA area. They have even voted us Runner-Up for Best Tea shop (3 times) in the Washington City Papers Best Of issue.
Time flies when your traveling the world, standing under a tent on weekends and sipping tea. I’m grateful.
Thank you for following.
~ The Chief Leaf