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Mar 31 2020 In Tea Journal By

Tea in the Time of COVID-19

We are living in frightening times, now more than ever. Fortunately, community and love have been Discover Teas’ backbone since we began operations, and they are our guiding light now. At this time, we want to assure you about how we are keeping your (and our) safety and health at the top of our priorities at Discover Teas, in more detail than we have in our Facebook posts and newsletter. For information about our pick-up locations, please click here. For information about our current shipping procedures, please click here.

We are fortunate in that the pivot we made in 2017 to our current business model now allows us not only to be mindful of and respect our health needs, which we prioritize year-round, it also allows us to enact policies that would not work as well in traditional retail, such as flexible hours and the ability to work from home. Work Nimbly, which houses our office and operations base, is well-stocked with sanitizing equipment that we use for the building itself, and we have our own equipment for cleaning our office and supplies, too. We are also often, if not always, the only ones in the building.

By which we mean, the only one, as you can see from the picture above with Mai-Anh's car; currently, only one of us is going to the office while the other works from home. The person going to the office is now taking their temperature before going in, and in addition to our regular thorough sanitizing schedule, we are double-gloving when packing and handling your orders. In order to minimize any need for unnecessary contact, we have also reduced our hours, which will lead to some delay in our processing times. You are still welcome to call, text, or e-mail us with questions or orders, just be aware that it may take us some time to get back to you.

The current situation is changing quickly, and we are adapting nearly every day. An essential part of our philosophy since we have taken over the business is that we will never put the business above our own health, or the health of our tea family. Please rest assured that if worst comes to worst and we are required to shut down temporarily for our safety and yours, we will absolutely do so.

In the event that this happens, please note that although we cannot fulfill orders if we are shut down, we will also not shut down our ordering system. If we are to shut down, the website and ordering platforms will be updated to reflect that backlogged orders will be informed and given the option of a refund; new orders will be fulfilled in the order they were received once we are to open again. However, we are currently OPEN for business and fulfilling orders, with a few days' potential delay in processing times.

We are so grateful for your understanding and patience with us as we do our best during this time. For all our various shades of physical distancing, we never feel alone, because you, our tea family, are always in our thoughts.

We are also grateful for and stand in support with the our fellow local small businesses, which we will be highlighting on our Facebook page in coming weeks with ideas on socially distanced ways to help them without having to leave the house, as well as the many shows, expos, and conventions that have had to postpone or cancel. And of course, we would not be able to still be serving you without our local postal workers and those who are advocating for them to have the paid sick leave, telework opportunities, and equipment they deserve to do their jobs safely.

Our love for our community doesn’t stay in the office, though. Through the grassroots effort CoronaAid757, Emily has been delivering groceries and necessary supplies to people on the Peninsula who can’t afford them or can’t leave their houses because of compromised immune systems. Mai-Anh has donated what we can spare of our disposable face masks to the tireless clinicians at a local health center. Our friends at the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank are organizing drive-through distribution sites in Gloucester, Newport News, and Hampton. If if it possible for you to safely help with donations of money, food, supplies, or time and energy, we encourage you to reach out to these groups. (If you can’t, of course, then stay safe in the ways most appropriate and healthy for you!)

There is a lot of information out there regarding safety measures for your home during the pandemic. We're sharing a few links with information you may find useful on COVID-19, particularly in the realm of food safety:
Food Safety and Coronavirus: A Comprehensive Guide
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Frequently Asked Questions (COVID-19): How to Protect Yourself
World Health Organization Q&A on Coronavirus

On a heartening note, current research suggests that keeping food or drink at a temperature over 150°F for at least 3 minutes should be sufficient to kill the virus (https://europepmc.org/article/med/15350737, as quoted in the Serious Eats article above)—and our teas' hot steeping temperatures range from 165°F-212°F, anywhere from 3 to 7 minutes. If you are looking for an iced tea in these trying times, we suggest brewing the tea hot and then icing it following our recommendations here.

We believe that these efforts will not only help in the short term, they will also create long-term, long-lasting change in how we support, protect, and build ties in our communities. Afterwards, we can all share a cup of tea together, maybe even in groups of more than ten people at a time. We certainly hope so, at least!

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