Hello there, tea businesspeople! This is Lindsey from The Tea Mavens, here to share just a little glimpse into what we're all about.
Over a decade ago, my beginnings in the tea industry were pretty ordinary. It all started with me managing a tea shop. And then working in a different tea shop to gain more experience and broaden my horizons. And then deciding to start a tea business.
Sounds like most tea entrepreneurs, right? Except that this is just where my story gets really, really different.
You see, I didn't decide to start a tea selling business. I was living in NYC, where there were already plenty of people doing that quite well, thankyouverymuch, with far bigger budgets than I had at the time. And sure, I could have set up an online business, but I knew that would have taken away much of what brought me joy about tea—the opportunity to connect, to teach, to inspire.
So, being a creative problem solver, I took a different direction. A very different direction.
I started offering tea classes and tours in New York City. (You old schoolers probably remember Vee Tea!) There wasn't so much being written about tea on the Internet in those days, and my site quickly started topping Google rankings for all sorts of things, from recipes for masala chai and tea cocktails, to reviews of tea products I had tried and an offer to give away tea seeds I'd procured from a tea contact in India.
Soon enough, people started asking me to do the same for their websites (the Google-superstar part, that is), and my copywriting business began to take form. For a long time, I didn't offer these services publically—it was just through word of mouth, yet people kept finding me year after year, and I kept writing for their sites.
Meanwhile, in 2008, I started writing more journalistic articles about tea. They were published all over the place—in tea industry publications, in mainstream weekly papers, in glossy magazines, on web news sites—and I used the opportunity to interview hundreds and hundreds of tea professionals in the U.S., plus more abroad, clocking in at more than 1,000 interviews to date. I learned so much from seeing the inner workings of each tea business, and from gathering the accumulated tea knowledge and wisdom from so many incredible tea professionals. It was a radical departure from handling day-to-day matters in a tea shop. It gave me a bird's-eye perspective on the industry, from the ancient wisdom to the novel innovations, from the mainstays to the upcoming trends, and from the successes to the failures. Much of what I was doing was gathering the best of what the tea industry in the U.S. had learned and then sharing it with the tea world. Lucky for me, I got to keep everything I shared (and then some).
I enjoyed that work, but soon enough I saw the journalism empires crumbling around me. When I got an email from an editor at a (highly respected, very well known) magazine saying that he loved my article idea and wanted to publish it, but he's sorry to say that they can no longer pay for any content whatsoever... well, I knew it was time for a change!
Soon enough, I built up Copy & Taste, which was primarily a tea copywriting service, with Elle and Elin (two longtime tea collaborators). I kept it low key. I let copy clients trickle in, as always. And I prepared for a big growth spurt of a different kind.
After getting rid of nearly all my worldly possessions and saying goodbye to my beloved apartment, I packed a suitcase and a backpack and headed for Asia! It wasn't my first time there, to be sure—I'd traveled to India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan before—but it was to be my first time really living there, of living tea in true tea cultures.
Again, I was exposed to a radically different world from that of a tea shop, online retailer or cafe. I rode a motorcycle through a tea field in a typhoon in Taiwan. I pressed my own puerh cake and saw enormous old-growth tea trees in Yunnan. I drank chai with beggars in Kolkata and elites in New Delhi. I covered tea competitions and worker strikes for tea publications. I looked deeply into modern tea culture in Japan and Ayurveda in India. I harvested tea. I processed tea. I ate tea (tempura-fried, pickled, boiled into Tibetan soup, mixed with miso and shoyu after brewing, baked into sweets, used to flavor tea eggs, added to countless dishes as matcha...). And I drank even more of it. Sometimes liters of tea in a day at a tea and Zen center in Taiwan. Sometimes dozens of tiny cups of chai to fuel me through grueling travel across India. Sometimes pot after pot of shincha and gyokuro and kabusecha in Japan. It was all a delight, from luxuriating in the gorgeous, perfect tea shops in Japan to being glad my tea water was boiled in India (even if the cup was filthy). Even when the tea was bad, it was still good.
After three years of travel and life in Asia, I decided to settle down a bit. But first, I was off for one more big adventure! I had dabbled in herbs as infusions and medicine (like in writing about Ayurveda and covering the trend of olive leaf tea with a visit to the Adriatic Sea). And I was ready to dive in deeper. Much deeper, in fact.
I apprenticed for a famous herbalist, Susun Weed. It was a 'Shamanic Herbal Apprenticeship' that lasted 13 weeks, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. (This from someone who has sat through multiple ten-day, silent meditation retreats with no Internet, phone, reading materials or dinners!) But completing that apprenticeship taught me more about herbs than I had ever hoped it would, as well as more about living from a place of personal power than I had ever imagined.
These days, I've settled down in Germany with my husband (who I met in Ladakh while researching Tibetan yak-butter-and-puerh tea). I've synthesized what I've learned in these last 11 years. And I've expanded my team.
Ya see, tea clients kept on coming in through all these years abroad. They started asking for more things. Different things. Like more design services. And digital marketing coaching. And social media campaigns. And we kept growing to meet their needs. Eventually, the name 'Copy & Taste' just didn't fit anymore. It was more like 'Copy & Taste & ... & ... & ...' So now, we've rebranded and expanded. With more people on board, we're ready to offer our services more publically (without having to worry that we might not be able to meet a deadline because my laptop got waterlogged in a typhoon... again). Which just about catches us up to the present!
What you're reading now is how The Tea Mavens came to be. It certainly gives you some hints as to what The Tea Mavens is and what we have in store for the tea world! But you'll have to wait a little longer to learn more...
In the meantime, a few things to whet your appetite:
- About The Tea Mavens
- About Lindsey
- Contact us for a free, 45-minute consult call to discuss our services
We'll trickle in more content soon, so keep an eye out! And if you haven't done so already, be sure to sign up for updates using the form below. We'll be sending out all sorts of goodies to our subscribers. (More on that next time!)
Until we meet again, I wish you all the best for your tea business!
- Lindsey, The Tea Mavens' tea guru