Before the Beginning – Opening a Tea Shop in Belfast, ME

Have you ever wandered on a sunny afternoon, walking somewhat aimlessly, only to find yourself in a place you hadn’t planned on? Though when you look back, the path that brought you to this point is perfectly clear, almost structured, with this destination in mind…

That’s exactly how I came to start a tea business. When I look back at the choices and life changes I made, and listen quietly for remembered conversations, it makes perfect sense. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, which I credit my Nana for. She inspired me, even at a young age, to work hard, learn, be creative, listen well, and laugh a lot, because enjoying what you do is so important.

Throughout my years there were pieces of the puzzle being put into place – Nana’s tea kettle perpetually half-full on the stove; the elderly neighbor who always greeted my mother and me with tea and cookies; that summer working in a tea room at the book store in Camden; my son asking for a tea set for Christmas when he was four; a kitchen drawer dedicated to a variety of teas, perfect for after school and late night studying; and the pivotal point which changed my life: Afternoon tea with a dear friend and colleague at a quaint teahouse in South Carolina.

We had “gone to tea” before, in various locales and always enjoyed our two hour excursions to these unique, well-appointed and welcoming tea rooms. With both of us in the specialty food business, investigating the food offerings overshadowed the tea selections – the food and its presentation was the focus. The pot of tea, however, allowed us the opportunity to linger in conversation long after the smoked salmon, scones and petit fours had disappeared.

This time, however, the conversation turned as I muttered, “I could DO this…I love this…this is what I want to do”. The next few hours, beginning with the drive back to our vacation home, were filled with excitement and brainstorming. From that moment I couldn’t let go of the idea that I was going to get into the tea business. It consumed my thoughts and I spent every evening reading and making lists. I knew that this change couldn’t be accomplished overnight, and decided to put into place a five-year plan. Every day I challenged myself to learn something new about tea, or taste a new tea, and think about my tea business.

Patience is not a virtue of mine, so my five-year plan became a two-year plan. Several factors came into play which allowed me the luxury of starting my business sooner, but it was far from handed to me. Banks like numbers, good numbers, ones that make sense and show them guarantees. Yeah, right. Somehow this “tempest in a teapot” became my reality. Every day I continue to learn, listen well, work hard and laugh a lot, because I love what I’m doing and am so appreciative of this opportunity.

I am forever grateful to my family for their unwavering confidence in my abilities, my friends for being a sounding board, confidantes, brainstorming team and shop painter, and of course my husband for his support from the very beginning – not once did he look at me and ask, “Are you CRAZY?”, though there were a few times I thought I might be.

Welcome to The Treasured Leaf Tea Company – May you enjoy exploring the world of tea and make time to linger with friends in conversation.