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Shui Tea
Chicago, IL
Tea crazed entrepreneur
Interests: travel, running, tea, sleeping, cooking, reading, underground hip hop
Recent Activity
Sorry, Lainie. I should have said that just because I hate the taste doesn't mean everyone does :) There are thousands, if not millions of people who drink it because they like the taste, not because of health claims. This was more my reaction to the mountain of unsubstantiated health claims about kombucha. I want people to know the whole story. And any product can harm you... from chicken meat to soda pop.
Thanks Tatiana! You were drinking Ruby Black from Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan.
Toggle Commented Jul 8, 2010 on WTF is Rare Tea? at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I like my steak medium-rare. I prefer rashes and mosquito bites to be rare occurrences. Back in the day, when you stole candy, your granddad could spank your bottom rare. It’s easy to use the word “rare” in concrete, meaningful ways. So then, WTF is rare tea? Step 1: Some teas are of “rare quality”. It’s not a mysterious thing: The tea trade has a grading scale. You can read about the Orange Pekoe scale, used in India and Sri Lanka, and focuses on leaf age and size, on Wikipedia: The highest grade is FTGFOP, also known as “Far... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I coughed once and ended up drinking a mug of tea made of cicada skins. (That experience led to my Prime Directive for Living in Taiwan: Ask before consuming or don’t ask at all.) Similarly, but less disgusting, my grandma believed flat, warm coke cured most ailments. Myself? I treat everything with ginger. We’re talking folk remedies, and that’s how Kombucha started. What is it, exactly? It’s vinegar made from tea instead of wine. Sweeten tea, add some bacteria and yeast (a mix known as a mother of vinegar), let it sit for 2 weeks and then you have kombucha.... Continue reading
Posted Jun 29, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I've had some great success with steeping tea into weird stuff. Tea infused butter is so delicious. I actually had to throw out the white tea infused frosting because I kept eating spoonfuls of it. I ain't classy. Anyway, I haven't shared my failures, and my latest experiment was so unbelievably bad I want to share it. If someone, one day, googles "infusing tea into wine", I hope they read this post and do NOT do that thing. I opened a bottle of chardonnay and it was pretty bad. Kind of like dirty socks. It wasn't vinegar, it was just... Continue reading
Posted Jun 26, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I was recently invited to a formal women’s tea. “We’d love to have you speak at our event!” was how my conversation started with the organizer. “It’s a big fundraiser, but I completely understand if you can’t make it.” It was a pretty fancy gig, with lots of ladies in proper dresses and large, designer hats. Clean linen on the tables, real silverware. Fundraiser + bad economy = no pay. I’d talk about tea for a minute, answer some questions, and have them sample some teas from around the world. They could buy if they wanted. “Whatever,” said the organizer,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I just saw a tea blend that a company is claiming to be blended specially for people going through chemotherapy. I get bloody pissed off when someone tries to use cancer to sell a product. It’s not an excuse for bad marketing, it’s an awful ploy that plays on some of our deepest fears. Almost everyone has been touched by cancer, myself included. There are far too many sad cancer stories out there; cancer is one of the leading causes of death in America. So, when I see tea companies market their green teas as a health food that can... Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
The first thing to know about Kuala Lumpur is that the KL Tower trip is a waste of money. The second... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I hate whistling tea kettles. But before I start to trash them, I do recognize that people have fond kettle memories. My grandmother drank a lot of tea. She was Irish. Truly, her tea kettle came to a boil faster because it ran on Catholic Guilt. Anyway, she always used her whistling tea kettle. I remember her putting water on to boil and walking away. The whistling would start. Continue. Go on and on. Finally, the water evaporated and it was time to start again. For a watched kettle never boils, eh? Memories aside, let’s explore the tea kettle. It... Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I was at an inauspicious tea store a few weeks ago and they told me that I need to buy some of their ultra antioxidant super-blend of tea to help clear up my complexion. My immediate reaction was: screw you tea store dude for telling me I have bad skin. Total tea-bag move on your part and I hate you. But, I'm a polite fellow so instead of expressing it, I smiled and walked away from him. (The interaction felt like something from Better Off Dead) Tea is healthy, and what follows is my plea for you to stick with... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I’m always eager to give a reason to drink more tea, and I found a great one: Water! Not the 6 ounces of hot beverage that are sitting on your desk, that’s nothing to the 42 liters* of water needed to grow and process and transport that tea. It sounds like a lot, but there are good things about the water used to grow tea. First, almost all tea plantations are in rainy areas. They don’t require irrigation, and don’t generally pollute groundwater. Coffee, on the other hand, is a different water story. Each cup of coffee requires 140 liters*... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
Near the end of my time in Taiwan, I went out with a few Taiwanese friends to an American style restaurant. Ally, my friend, nearly gagged on her iced tea. She shared her glass, which she described as “the worst tea ever made”. She dared us all to take a sip. We passed around the glass, each diner studying the pained expression of the person drinking. I was the last to sip. Kind of grainy with a stale tea flavor. Immediately, I recognized a brand of powdered tea from an American company. Taiwan is famous for iced tea stands, which... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
Your bank account is begging you to stop buying tea from a mall. Actually, you probably shouldn’t buy any small consumable from a typical mall store. Candy, chocolate, tea... because of the higher costs of running a store in a mall, it’s hard for you to get a good deal. You’ll probably end up paying way too much for something of lower quality. Here’s why: First up, according to Retail Traffic magazine, malls have some of the highest costs of any retail format. All that air conditioning, parking lot maintenance, and the huge open foyers and common areas! It’s expensive... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I'm searching for a tea that is grown in Africa on an estate that is either owned or managed by a woman. It’s for a partnership I’d like to start with an amazing charity based in Chicago, African Women in America. I called a large tea wholesaler that sources several teas from Africa. I asked if any of their teas came from a farm owned or managed by a woman. After a moment of silence, she drew my attention to the Ethical Tea Partnership badge by the teas from Africa. And that’s a great program, based in the UK. Their... Continue reading
Posted Apr 15, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
When I first went to Office Max to buy paper to start business planning, I met a discount bin full of school supplies that the local Tweens refused. Gone was the Miley Cyrus trapper keeper, and left were notebooks with cute puppies on them and Ed Hardy-esque folders with punk rock designs. Now that I've been in business for a few months, I have a pretty solid idea of where I want to go with Shui Tea, and a lot of business planning is written out in my puppy notebook. Here's what's up, a summary of what Shui Tea is:... Continue reading
Posted Apr 9, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
The new website will be up in 3 weeks, but the teapots have already arrived! I'm not going to update the old site with new inventory now, so I'm quickly putting up the Japanese teapots for sale on this blog. If you're interested in any, or have any questions, please shoot me an e-mail. All teapots come with a built-in high-quality infuser. Also, this is kind of cool: the metal parts of all these pots are designed to detach and reattach easily, including the metal handles. Why? So you can use the teapot itself to microwave the water. Big Boy... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I've been spending a lot of time thinking about loose leaf tea packaging. (Which had caused some very dry conversations with friends recently. Sorry.) For the Shui 2.0 Relaunch, I want some new packaging. Here's the shape I want: But I'm picky. It needs to be Resealable, easily opened Spoon-friendly No leaking tea or tipping over Environmentally friendly Not expensive Pretty Metal Tins don't work great in shipping, and they require an extra bag for the tea. Plus, only half end up recycled and they don't biodegrade in landfill. Food-quality Bags can tip over and aren't always spoon-friendly. I'm imagining... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
First off, if we haven’t met, I’m a white guy. I started Shui Tea without any regard for me being a guy, but I’ve been thinking recently about race, gender and privilege in business. (Really, this is what I think about on Sundays. Better than my March Madness bracket which was destroyed by Northern Iowa last night) There’s a subtle assumption that tea, especially specialty tea, is a feminine product. Check out and this blog post from Chicago Now, both of which hammer that point home. I couldn’t disagree more, and here’s why: Teavana was founded by a man... Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
About 3 weeks ago, I made a list of things to do. I did a little bit of business planning and decided on two big things that I needed: a new website and find some new, unique teas. I thought I'd be finished with it all in like, a day. I was pretty motivated. But, there were issues, like tax day. So I learned, when life gives you lemons, make sure you keep the receipt and file it for the tax deduction. (It goes on line 4b of the 1120S) As for the new website, after I put an ad... Continue reading
Posted Mar 16, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I hope I’m working on the next Thing in Tea: Free, Mobile Education. I’d call it a Tea Party, if that name weren’t already taken. What do I mean? I just asked Google what a tea party is and this is what I found: Yikes! I’m neither doomed, a cult, nor invading Iran anytime soon. Here’s the deal: I'll come to your house* and teach you about tea. You bring at least two people, and I'll bring 6 teas and lots of info about the beverage. Answer your questions. You don't have to buy anything, but I wouldn't mind... Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
The First Contest: Some like it HOT Facebook Raffle To help make Valentine's Day/Singles Awareness Weekend a little better for everyone, we're giving away 2oz of "Good in Bed" and 2 oz of "Cherry Bomb" teas. To Enter: In your Facebook status, tell us your favorite time of day to drink tea. Then, tag it with "@ Shui Tea" to make sure we get the notice. If you can make it funny, you get a doubly entry! Open until Midnight on Feb 14th Facebook tagging is a new thing... a menu will pop down after you type the @ symbol.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
Hold on to your tea cups, I have a confession: I drink coffee. I recently spent a week going to all of the coffee vendors on a few block strip of Jackson Blvd. to find out which one I like the best. It was a fu n experiment, but I'm kind of sad that I can't do the same with tea because there's not enough competition. Apparently I'm not the only one looking for good coffee. Something pretty interesting... Consumer Reports couldn't find a stand-out coffee company after testing 37 different blends. That's really sad. Weak sauce, coffee companies. I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 3, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
Saturday, I woke up angry and grumpy. Everything seemed to frustrate me, and I put everything on a back burner to chill out. I wanted to blame everyone for everything, and then I wanted someone to pay for my dinner to cheer me up. It started when I slipped on a patch of ice on Friday morning while walking to the train. It sidewalk ice in the suburbs, in front of a very large new house that has nice imported cars. From what I can tell, they hire a service to clean their driveway, but haven't done anything for the... Continue reading
Posted Jan 25, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
I've studied Haitian history, and I found it surprising and interesting. Haiti is located on the western third of the island of Hispaniola, one of Christopher Columbus' first European settlements in the New World. The eastern territory is the Dominican Republic; the island was split hundreds of years ago after a war between France and Spain. (The language barrier still exists). It is the second oldest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, with only the United States older by a few years. It broke away from France during the French revolutions in the late eighteenth century. It is the first... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag
What would happen if everyone cared? I'm pretty bad with resolutions, but I still like to stick to classic hopes of a better, more just world. If New Years Resolutions can increase happiness, justice, and well-being, then I'm all for it! So before I talk about how tea can make your 2010 better, I encourage you to do something altruistic for 2010... whether its increase charity donations, volunteer at a hospital, or becoming a better citizen, we all can do out part to make the world better. Now, if I could suggest a second resolution, "Be healthier" (or something similar)... Continue reading
Posted Jan 4, 2010 at Don't Be a Tea Bag