Welcome to the first edition of our monthly blog. Let’s start by introducing ourselves. My name is Sarah, an RN first assistant who has worked in the operating room for the last 10 years. My husband Chris has served the military as a Search and Rescue Technician for the last 9 years. As you can see, both of our jobs are demanding and stressful so we often need to unplug and recharge.
On our days off we like to spend time outdoors and finish the day at a local coffee shop. For us, nothing can describe the calming effect of sitting down to sip a hot beverage while discussing whatever we have on our minds. At one point, we even thought of owning such a place and that’s how our interest in coffee and tea began. I, Sarah registered for a Barista course and became certified as a Tea Sommelier through the Tea and Herbal Association of Canada. Although we were very motivated the reality was that opening a store would be difficult due to the possibility of being posted by the military. Our dream of starting something was still very strong but we didn’t know how to make it happen.
The beginning of Number E Tea
Everything started when our friends, Annie and Corey from Small Town Juicery, made the suggestion of renting a space at the Wellington Farmers Market in Prince Edward County. We contacted the market ambassador and attended the last two Saturdays of the 2015 season with a basic setup, a homemade logo and no expectations. Although we only had a minimal selection of loose leaf teas and some hot tea to go, the overall response was great. On those two days, we fell in love, not only with entrepreneurship, but also with the interactions we had with the customers and fellow vendors. We went back home, proud of our accomplishment, but knew that things needed to be improved if we wanted to sign up for the next season. We realized that hot tea would not be a hit in the summer months and decided to work on developing new iced tea recipes. After much experimenting, combining ingredients and trialing new processes, we came up with a number of artisan sparkling teas that we intended to serve on tap. Chris built our first tea bar and with a generic logo we went on to do our first full season as tea tenders at the market.
Growing our Business
In the fall of 2016, we approached the Northumberland Business Advisory Centre in Cobourg, Ontario to see if they could help us in our entrepreneurial journey. We signed up for the Faster Forward Growth Plus Program and got connected with a team of experts that gave us recommendations on how to improve our business.
Research and Growth
Even though we were on a roll, we knew that something was missing. We were able to find small farmers to source our organic teas from, but had never been where tea grew. Both Chris and I agreed that selling mass produced or lower quality products was out of the question. We realized that in order to offer meaningful ingredients we had to look not only into buying directly from the producers, but experience their farming practices and listen to their stories. After minimal research, we took some time off, bought our plane tickets and went on our first sourcing trip to India in the spring of 2017. This turned out to be a life changing experience as we were able to connect with dedicated tea farmers and had the opportunity to visit some plantations both in Assam and Darjeeling.
A New Look
In 2017, we started our season with a professionally designed logo, website and Facebook page, rearranged our setup at the market to reflect our new image, created new sparkling tea recipes and started selling them in different locations. We enjoy what we’re doing and are now planning a second sourcing trip to Taiwan to learn everything there is to know about Oolong teas and the Taiwanese tea culture.
We hope that you will follow us on our journey as we discover everything there is to know about tea.
Please, do not hesitate to join our conversation, make comments or suggestions for future blogs.
From two adventurers turned into tea lovers,
Sarah + Chris
What is your passion for tea? Let us know in the comments below.