37,000 cups and counting…

I’m coming up on my 3-year anniversary with Tea Spot as well as my 3-year anniversary/ introduction to loose, whole leaf tea. Before I was introduced to tea in it’s loose, whole leaf form I simply knew of it as the iced beverage with loads of sugar and lemon that my grandmother frequently served at family gatherings. Read here for additional details…

But if you know Tea Spot’s business in the last few years you probably know our line of Loose Leaves from seeing it in grocery stores like Whole Foods & Vitamin Cottage. And chances are that if you’ve seen it in those stores than you’ve likely run into yours truly wearing a Tea Spot T-Shirt with “Steepin’ it Loose” or “Tea… Hot!” emblazoned across the front all while preaching to customer after customer about the benefits of drinking tea in loose, whole leaf form. Oh the things I do to sell a product! I spend a lot of my time in grocery stores. In fact, Whole Foods on Pearl Street here in Boulder recently asked if I would write them a rent check this month.

Yeah… I know what you’re thinking and I can hear it now. “C’mon Robbie C. Get a life man! How many hours of your week are you going to spend standing around in a grocery store selling $10 tins of tea?”

Well… funny you should ask. If I actually calculate the number of hours and cups of tea that I’ve schlepped all over the US in the last 3 years the numbers are… well… staggering.

I figure that I’ve averaged about 1 demo/ tasting per week for the last 3 years at Tea Spot. Let’s just round that off and call it 150 demos/ tastings that I’ve participated in over that 3-year period. Now if you estimate the number of 4 Liter push pots of tea that I’ve so diligently prepared and dragged into these stores at 3.5 per demo than my expert-level math skills calculate 546 push pots of tea in 3 years. Take into account that each taste that I offer is roughly 2 ounces worth of delicious, freshly steeped, Tea Spot tea and I get about 68 cups of tea per 4 Liters push pot. Now get ready…

546 push pots of tea * 68 servings on average = 37, 128 Cups of tea served to date in my Tea Spot career! Yeah… I’m a pretty big deal =)

And during these demos I’ve heard it all.

I once had a customer at Niwot Market tell me that the reason Darjeeling tea was such a “fantastic, premium, choice tea” was because of the “giant cobras that tea farmers have to fend off during the growing and cultivation of the leaves.” Sure buddy. Whatever you say… I’m sure they’re abundant. I’ve been hit on by women old enough to be my grandmother and rejected by more cute girls than I care to confess. “Tea? Oh thanks… but I’m a coffee drinker.” I once counted 7 women consecutively who walked by me in a VA grocery store and never batted an eye or even considered stopping as I offered each one of them (as politely as I could) a cup of tea to drink. I must have looked like an obedient puppy-dog watching a ping-pong match for the first time… my head going back and forth as I was passed up from one side… and then the next… and then again from the right… and doubled up from the left… and oh boy, I might have a taker… nope… she’s still walking and talking on her cell phone. It was enough to make me dizzy.
I’ve seen children throw tantrums, inquiring minds eat (yes, that’s right) eat dry tea leaves right off of my table, and more folks than I can recount miraculously lose their entire cart full of groceries and belongings as soon as they stop to check out the offerings on my table. “Attention Whole Foods shoppers. If you are pushing a cart with someone else’s belongings please return that cart and those belongings to the customer service desk at your earliest convenience.”

Maybe I should write a book.

But beyond all of the giggles, laughs, and entertaining episodes the thing that I love the most about my experiences is that each customer has offered their own individual story and take on tea to my listening ears. I get to hear from the die-hards who drink tea and only tea. I hear from concerned mothers who are introducing tea to their young children as an alternative to soda and juice. I meet devout coffee drinkers who often end up surprised at the bold flavor produced by our Bolder Breakfast. I talk to folks that have traveled to China or other countries in SE Asia and have seen tea estates and farms first hand. I’m always excited when someone tells me that they’ve visited Teance in Berkeley, CA because to date it’s still my favorite place to have a cup of tea! And I’m always filled with pride when someone walks by my table and says, “Love your Earl Grey!”

Every one of these stories is worth listening to because they ultimately contribute to our own story here at The Tea Spot. Ultimately it’s this variety of experiences that tea creates that I think is one of the most powerful things that it has to offer. And yet behind this multitude and vast array of experiences there’s always that one thread and common link.

Tea. So simple and so powerful. And all of that in one little leaf.

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