Tea With…Tea Mavericks of America – September 14, 2010
In an unprecedented Bay Area meeting of the world’s foremost tea influencers, culled from a variety of industries including technology firms, retail and wholesale outlets, and literary authors, these savvy entrepreneurs will share insights about why the tea industry is surging in America. Noting the clear benefits such as providing focus and clarity to a distracted and hyper-connected society, these experts will explore, taste, and discuss this fascinating artisan world and its relevance today. They will converse about health benefits, sustainability trends, challenges in the industry, and other topics.
Each participant will also bring along the latest and greatest artisan teas from their collection for an on-camera tea tasting. Never before have these tea impresarios all gathered together. Come learn about what’s currently happening in the tea industry in America, and why, and hear the inside scoop regarding all the new innovations on the horizon.
Here’s more on each of the Tea Mavericks:
About Jesse Jacobs (CEO of Samovar Tea Lounge)
Jesse Jacobs pursues his mission of creating peace through drinking tea, one soulful, savory cup at a time. Over the last eight years (2002 – 2010), Jacobs has developed a multi-million dollar business with three San Francisco locations and a robust online sales network. Since Jacobs’s infancy on the East Coast, his family always made time for tea with a constant flow of visitors from around the world visiting his home: business people, nuns, yogis, rabbis, FBI agents, chefs, massage therapists, writers, and musicians – his parents kept a house with open doors and community. English was the least spoken language with the deluge of Asian and European visitors. A spark was ignited early on for Jacobs to embrace a love of language and culture. Jacobs is now conversant in Spanish, Danish, Italian, and Japanese.
Inspired by the amazing characters who entered his life, Jacobs was motivated early on to make the most out of life. He shined shoes, performed as a magician, worked at countless diners and restaurants as a dishwasher and short order cook, and ended up as sous chef in a fine Italian restaurant in Boston’s Italian district, the North End. He painted houses, cooked at a Japanese restaurant in Belgium, taught English at a ceramics factory in Japan, and then again taught English to migrant workers in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Finally, Jacobs ended up in the Bay Area, getting deep into the technology world, during the dot com heyday. The bust came just after his passion for the corporate world waned. He wanted to get back to his roots of connecting with people, communicating, and experiencing cultures of the world. The vibrancy of tea was it. Jacobs left the corporate world and established Samovar Tea Lounge, a company delivering an experience rooted in tea: equanimity, community, vitality; all making up the timeless tradition of tea. As an alternative to the grunge-cafes in urban America and the bar scene, Samovar stands out as an urban oasis from life. Jacobs wanted it to be an affordable, exotic, and yet comfortably approachable experience.
Samovar directly partners with tea experts and suppliers from small family farms all around the globe, and is home to over 50 of the world’s finest teas (i.e. many of which are organic and fair trade certified) served alongside funky-fine internationally traditional food pairings.
About Ahmed Rahim (CEO of Numi Tea)
Ahmed Rahim is the master blender, alchemist, CEO and Co-Founder behind Numi Organic Tea. Before starting the Numi business in 1999 with his sister, Reem, Ahmed lived and worked in Europe for ten years. In the early part of the 1990’s, Ahmed lived in Paris working as a professional filmmaker and photographer. Ahmed continued traveling throughout Europe and ended up in the German Alps where he continued his artistic expression in the music scene. Ahmed was led to Prague where he spent the next 6 years in filmmaking and photography. During his stay in Prague, Ahmed was asked to help create and design teahouses. He then became a partner in a teahouse and helped expand and grow the business. Ahmed is fluent in English, Arabic, French, German and Czech. He holds a BA in Psychology and Theatre, from New York University, and has studied Film and Photography at various universities in NYC, Paris and in Prague. He is currently studying Architecture to create a sustainable future.
About Joshua Kaiser (CEO of Rishi Tea)
Rishi Tea began in 1997 when Joshua Kaiser, founder and tea buyer, recognized that the traditional handcrafted teas he grew so fond of during his travels in Asia were rarely available elsewhere. Joshua felt that North American consumers would embrace artisan tea as they did single origin coffee and fine varietal wine if they were given access to it at reasonable prices.
Joshua enlisted a well-traveled and longtime friend Benjamin Harrison as partner. The two, along with help from friends, worked in a 400 square foot windowless space in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward district, hand-blending original botanicals blends and individually packaging premium teas imported from origins that Joshua frequented. The space was soon outgrown and Rishi Tea moved into the burgeoning Bay View neighborhood. While the production facilities expanded, Rishi Tea preserved its founding principles including unique hand-blending techniques, meticulous hand-packaging and strict quality control. Today, the Rishi team has grown into a passionate group of tea lovers who serve as guides for their customers into the world of premium tea.
About Kevin Rose (CEO of Digg.com)
Kevin Rose, an obsessive tea drinker, spends his time in between podcasting, climbing, digging, and inventing Digg’s next gen features. Prior to founding Digg, Kevin produced and hosted hundreds of segments on TechTV – a cable television network available in over 45 million homes in the United States and distributing content to more than 70 countries. Unfortunately, Kevin’s extended exposure to Digg results in him repeating the words ‘dupe, dupe, no digg’ over and over while sleeping.
About James Norwood Pratt (Author, Tea Dictionary, The Tea Lover’s Treasury)
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and brought up on land which has been in his family since before the American Revolution, James Norwood Pratt was educated at Chapel Hill and abroad and published his first book on tea in 1982. He is the acknowledged instigator and prophet of America’s present Tea Renaissance and is quite possibly the world’s most widely-read authority on tea and tea lore, thanks to books translated into multiple languages and numerous columns, articles and print and TV interviews in US and overseas media. His landmark James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary was named Best New Publication by the World Tea Expo in 2010. He appears in several films and theatrical productions and lives with his wife Valerie Turner in San Francisco.
About David Lee Hoffman
David Lee Hoffman has been traveling the backcountry of Asia for years seeking out the finest, best tasting leaves. With his 25-year passion for tea and a background in vermiculture and soil fertility, he is now working in China with the prestigious Tea Institute and the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences to implement sustainable organic tea farming.