Sweet or unsweet? The answer to that all-familiar question was about all I knew about tea six years ago. (It’s sweet, by the way.) When I purchased Red Stick Spice Company, it had a small line of loose teas, and I was rather intimidated. I knew my way around a glass of Southern iced tea and the occasional cup of Earl Grey with scones. But I was unsure when it came to terroir, flavor profiles or steeping instructions.
When it comes to cooking questions, I’m your girl. Customers look to us for answers to mealtime dilemmas, and I wanted to provide that same level of knowledge and confidence when it came to tea. So I decided to change my approach. I began investigating the plants that make tea—the Camellia Sinensis leaf along with the world of botanicals—the same way I approach a new ingredient or cooking technique, reading everything I could get my hands on and asking tons of questions. I also began testing and tasting tea. Lots and lots of tea.
I also went to school. Literally. I am enrolled in tea certification classes on a continual basis. I have moved through multiple levels as I study my way toward Certified Tea Professional, Certified Tea Health Professional and Certified Tea Sommelier. Sound impressive? It’s not. There’s a Chinese saying: you can study tea every day of your life and the day you die, you know nothing.
Today, I am much more confident compared to the “Sweet or Unsweet” days. When you stop by the shop, you’ll find more than 100 hand-blended teas that are unique to Red Stick Spice. We’re so confident, that we branded our tea line SoGo Tea—the name stands for “South of Government,” an homage to our Mid City location.
I present this Lookbook to you, not as a tea expert but as a perpetual student of this ancient beverage. With every cup I steep, I’m reminded that this simple drink is anything but. Browse these pages, and take a sip.
Tireless Champion of Home Cooks