Discover Teas

Customer Service: 866-897-4669 or 757-847-5190


Thursday, 07 September 2017 03:21

Discovering New Transformations for Discover Teas

from Chris:

When I first thought of opening a tea shop, it seemed like such a pipe dream. Now, almost seven years later, two shops, and building a community of thousands we call our tea family, it’s clear that Discover Teas wasn’t just fulfilling my dream but satisfying an important need for many who walked through our doors and found us online.

It’s evident that the landscape of retail has been rapidly changing over the past several years. In order to retain our vitality, we have to adapt and pivot as well; our business model has to change with the times. As our lease comes to an end for our space in Port Warwick, Newport News, VA, we have made the decision not to renew. The survival of our little local microbusiness demands us to think outside of the brick-and-mortar box. This is our opportunity to do just that; an opening to do something expansive. Just because we won’t be at that address doesn’t mean we won’t be around as your go-to tea merchant and resource! (More details to come—sign up for our e-newsletter, follow us on Facebook, or join us at our Transformation Celebration to learn more!)

Our location isn’t the only thing that will be changing. As Discover Teas embarks on a new future, I am handing over the reins to Mai-Anh and Emily, who will take ownership late September. They have spent years investing in the company and believe wholeheartedly in what we’re doing. I know they hold the Vision of what was started and established and are capable also to breathe new life into our Mission. Together we created a beneficial situation that lets Discover Teas continue and thrive in trusted hands, and become a dream for someone else to nurture into blossom; while at the same time allowing me to step out to explore what lies in waiting for me to dream up next.

Please join me in celebrating our transformation and supporting the growth of Discover Teas. I know exciting things are coming!

from Mai-Anh:

A little over four years ago, I walked in the doors of Discover Teas for the first time. I knew I had found a special place, an oasis of passion in what seemed to be a desert of big box stores and, of course, a source for amazing tea. What I didn’t know then was that this humble tea shop would soon grow from a hangout space into my next workplace, and from a workplace into a passion of my own. The love of tea and of sharing knowledge that surrounded me from the moment I walked in showed me that here was more than just another retail space.

In my journey with Discover Teas, I’ve seen the power of tea to bring people together, to create and support a sense of community. I’ve learned how to use tea to heal, to nourish, to provide a sanctuary in the midst of chaos. With tea, we have helped people in so many ways beyond simply teaching them how to make their best cup of tea (although that is a big one, too!). I’ve enjoyed helping people invent custom blends to reflect their personalities or businesses, and how to think beyond the teacup and enjoy tea in other aspects of their lives as well, such as cooking. Sharing the love of tea has become much more than just a job to me—it’s a joy.

But it’s not only about the day-to-day. As I’ve been with Discover Teas, I’ve seen firsthand the power and the freedom of small business, as my work goes beyond the mundane and has allowed me to fully engage with just about every part of the business, from marketing to event catering to website management. From day one, Chris has believed in me and encouraged me to spread my wings.

Despite this, it was still a shock when Chris came to me and to Emily with her proposal, even though we had known that changes were coming for Discover Teas. I can’t describe what an honor it is for us for her to trust us with her mission. This business, her baby, has meant so much not only to us, but also to you, and we will do everything in our power to continue bringing that dream to life and helping it grow.

Our expansion project will allow us to reach our tea family from Williamsburg to Chesapeake, and potentially even beyond. In order to do this while still providing the quality of service and tea education that you love, and to continue fostering a sense of community, we’ll be partnering with multiple local hangouts of all kinds (shops, spas, salons, and more) to feature Discover Teas pick-up locations. These locations will also be the forefront of our pop-up shops, where you'll still get to do your in-person shopping. And, when you order online or over the phone for delivery to a pick-up location, shipping is free! We also intend to continue our tradition of education by having classes and workshops at these pop-up shops as well, and perhaps offering them online so you can participate no matter how far away you may be.

As we move forward into our next steps to keep the mission of tea alive, it’s my hope, and Emily’s too, that the new aspects of the model will help bring that moment of sanctuary even closer to home—right to the cup of tea by your elbow. Thank you to our tea family for your support, and we hope you'll join us as our tea adventure continues!

Steeping tea is a very personal experience. While we're always happy to provide brewing and steeping recommendations for those new to loose-leaf or looking for new ideas, each of us steeps in our own ways at home. Step into our tea cabinets and take a peek at how we steep at home!

Chris' Home Brewing

My tea brewing ritual at home is a bit eclectic and nothing fancy, but it works for me, has for years. The equipment set up: a temperature control electric kettle, a 12-oz tea press, a 36-oz tea pot, and an electric cup warmer.
My electric kettle has adjustable temperature control so that I can heat the water to exactly the temp most favorable for the tea I’ll be drinking. My preference is to use a tea press for steeping since it allows optimal room for a thorough infusion of the tea leaves. Depending on the tea, I typically measure about 3 teaspoons of loose leaf into the press. I like to get the most out of my tea so I do three rounds of steeps in my 12-oz press. Once each steep is done, I pour it into my tea pot. The benefit of doing that is a well-balanced combination of all three infusions of that tea together in one pot—appreciating the top, mid and low notes of the leaf all in one cup. I serve from my tea pot and keep it nice and hot for hours by setting my tea pot on the cup warmer.
I love using my double-walled glass cup to sip my tea. It keeps it hot for longer; I enjoy the delicate nature of the glass; plus, I can appreciate the color of the liquor as it oxidizes throughout the day.

How Ken Does Tea

My morning starts with me crawling out and starting a kettle of water. I like to stand and watch it heat up. As my water heats I do my morning gratitude prayers and plan out the day ahead. While it is finishing heating I will choose a tea, (sometimes I choose the night before knowing I am not a morning thinker ha ha ). I use a press frequently as I enjoy the full flavor from the unlimited access to the leaves a press provides. Although different days, different ways sometimes. If it is a day off, I am just as likely to pull out my Chinese porcelain teapot set and spend the whole day steeping a tea multiple times and reading a book from cover to cover. I often do not even use an infuser; just leaf in a cup and add the perfect temped water, and my world is complete.

Mai-Anh's Steeping Strategies

As many of our customers know, one of my favorite things to do is play around with different custom blends. When I steep at home, I'm no different. My first step in picking a tea to sip on at home is to figure out which teas I want to experiment with. I probably have at least 20 of our teas at home at any given time, so there's always a lot to choose from! Once I've chosen a blend, I take out my pitcher of filtered (not distilled) water from the fridge, for a consistently delicious truly smooth and best-brewed cuppa. I pour the water into my hot pot, which has served me faithfully since my college days (in decades long past) and plug it in to heat up. This is the trickiest part; since my hot pot is so old and no-frills, there's no temperature gauge, so I have to rely on my senses to tell me when the water is ready. Because that means I have to stay close to the pot, I usually use that time while the water is heating to measure out my tea, put it in my trusty Folding Handle Infuser, and choose which shark mug I'll be drinking from that day. Once the water's at the right temperature, I pour it over the tea leaves, set my oven timer, and wait for the polite beeping to tell me when I can finally enjoy my cup of tea!

Emily: How I Tea

At home, I often have several things drawing my attention at once—usually, some combination of taking care of my daughter, doing laundry and housework, and my herbalism studies. Time isn't something I always have, unfortunately! As much as I'd love to heat water in a pan on the stove and spend a few mindful moments watching my tea steep, having an automated tea brewer is nice. It was a birthday gift from my mother-in-law, and it has different programmable settings for different kinds of tea. All I have to do is fill the carafe with water, put my tea in the automated infuser basket, press a couple buttons and let it do its thing! One of the best birthday gifts ever, I think. (I shudder to think of the Before Times, when I used a coffee machine to heat the water and frequently oversteeped it because I had to chase down a toddler.)

Now that you've seen how we like to steep, if you're interested in what we like to steep, step on over to our Staff page for more about us, and a breakdown on some of our favorite teas!

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