The following is an article that was sent to me by my friend who is a financial analyst at a top equity firm in NYC. Even the financial world is getting in touch with tea…
“Making tea the next big thing”
BY FARNOOSH TORABI
NewYork August 14, 2006
If you like music, you’ll love an ice-cold blend of Chinese green tea with lemongrass. At least, that’s what the owners of Tavalon Tea Bar on East 14th Street are betting. Since April the sleek 400-square-foot drink shop near Union Square has been brewing customers a fusion of teas, while DJs spin Bob Marley, Madonna and John Coltrane from atop.
“Music brings everyone together, and we want to appeal to everyone,” said Tavalon co-owner John-Paul Lee. “We want to revamp [tea’s] image so it’s not so foreign, to say it’s not just a feminine beverage. People think you drink tea with your pinky in the air and that it’s aristocratic,” he said. Of course, Lee was referring to tea’s general depiction in the United States, where it’s yet to catch on as the drink du jour, as it has in most other countries. “We grew up drinking tea, so we have a natural, innate liking for it,” said Lee, who is Korean. Co-owner Sonny Caberwal is from India. Still, Tavalon couldn’t have opened at a more booming time in tea’s modern history. It’s reportedly the most consumed beverage in the world (after water), and while the United States lags other nations in tea sales, more Americans — especially hip and health-conscious New Yorkers — are sipping iced chamomile over a mocha frappe. Lee describes the bar’s customers as “dynamic” and include a mix of women, men and “hip-hop kids.” And it’s not just Earl Gray in their cups. Organic teas and exotic mixes come highly requested. The most popular order this summer has been the “Genius” tea, which is said to “boost brain activity,” according to Tavalon’s assistant manager, Jessica Sachs.
If you’re still not convinced, Tavalon has its own tea “sommelier,” Chris Cason. He creates and teaches patrons about the bar’s teas, which come from various countries, including India, China, South Africa and Japan. Cason also hosts a free seminar on Wednesday nights from 6:30 to 7:00 at Tavalon that educates guests about tea’s health benefits, its aid in weight loss and how it can enhance brain power. Looking ahead, Lee and Caberwal are ramping up their Web site to sell Tavalon tea and merchandise. The company is also expanding its business by wholesaling its tea blends to restaurants and hotels. There are also plans to bring more Tavalon Tea Bars to the city. “Our mission is to make tea the next big thing,” Lee said.