I share all of that as background t0 this post because I am currently on the road learning and exploring. In addition to my passion for marketing and tea, I also have a deep love of growing and designing with flowers. This year I have decided to take some time away from my own farming and design work to travel and work with other flower farmers and designers around the world. I began my flower journey at the end of May, so it is only just getting started, but of wherever I land to explore the world of flowers I inevitably end up also connecting with my fellow tea lovers.
This month I am in Sacramento, California. For those of you who do not know, Sacramento is the capitol of California. It is about an hour and a half from San Francisco and is a very flat river valley city that boasts more trees than any other city in the world other than Paris. I am not sure where that statistic comes from, but coming from the cool climes of Prince Edward Island I have to say that I am really appreciating the tree-lined streets and all the shade they provide given that the first week I spent in Sacramento the temperature was around 40 degrees Celsius.
One of the first things I did after arriving in Sacramento was to head over to The Tea Cozy in search of some premium quality loose leaf tea to enjoy while I am here. The Tea Cozy is my go-to place in the city for great tea. Unfortunately, at this point The Tea Cozy is a retail location only, so when I want to sit down for a cuppa I have to go elsewhere.
In my online quest to find a good spot to enjoy afternoon tea in Sacramento I kept coming across listings for Classy Hippie Tea Company. The company was started by Leo Hickman -- a professional tea sommelier, biomedical engineer, post 9/11 soldier, world traveler and marathoner originally from Philadelphia. Leo is also a budding herbalist who has a passion for helping people achieve their best level of physical, mental and spiritual health through sharing his knowledge about the healing properties of herbal remedies. Classy Hippie Tea Company is located just down the street from UC Davis Medical Centre in The Grange Performing Arts Centre. The Grange is also home to the Green Valley Theatre Company, which puts on regular performances, and if you visit for tea you may well be serenaded by one of the many musicians in the building who also offer piano and voice lessons throughout the day.
I stopped by to meet Leo and enjoy a cup of tea on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Leo gave me a warm welcome at the door and gave me a tour of the theatre, tea rooms, and even took me outside to check out the herb garden he has started to grow ingredients that he can add to his teas.
After our tour Leo and I sat down for a chat about tea, community, philanthropy and joy. I asked Leo to prepare one of his favourite teas for me to try. He chose Wuyi Yancha or Rock tea. Rock tea is a heavily oxidized dark oolong tea grown only in the protected Wuyi Mountains in China's Fujian Province. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by a certain tea, and the emperor sent great red robes to clothe the bushes that the tea had been plucked from. Six of these original bushes reportedly still survive today and are highly venerated. The plants grow out of the rocky cliffs, which gives the tea leaves a distinct mineral flavour characterized by the particular type of rocks surrounding the plant when it is growing. Wuyi Yancha is processed using traditional processing techniques. It is considered one of China's top ten teas, and is often reserved for honoured guests. I enjoyed the bright colour of the liquor, the smooth, buttery flavour, and found the sweet mineral aftertaste refreshing.
While we sipped our tea Leo shared a little more about his vision for his company. Leo serves "afternoon tea" at 7pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, as well as a vegan brunch the 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month from 10am-2pm. Each tea has a theme. Tuesday's theme is tea and chocolate. Wednesday's is a communi-tea meditation which is a beginners guide to meditation followed by an open conversation intended to build community. On Thursday Leo hosts a tea and food pairing event with a guest chef. As I talked with Leo it quickly became clear that building community is one of the main goals of Classy Hippie Tea Company. He also has a membership-based group that takes part in tea events, theatre performances and any other event that Leo hosts. Part of the membership fee goes to humanitarian organizations supporting women's rights, disaster relief and other community initiatives both in the Sacramento area and elsewhere.
At the end of the day Leo's goal is to build community by providing a space where people can gather to rest, learn, share, rejuvenate and meet others over a cup of tea. I had a wonderful afternoon at Classy Hippie Tea Company, and encourage you to reserve a spot at one of his upcoming events if you find yourself in the Sacramento area. To learn more about Classy Hippie Tea Company and sign up for a tea event visit www.classyhippieteaco.com.
This blog post about Classy Hippie Tea Company was written by our Social Media Marketing Manager Ariana Salvo. Ariana has been a tea lover since she can remember, and has been enjoying Lady Baker's Tea Trolley teas since 2006 -- Katherine's first year of operations on Prince Edward Island. Ariana manages and helps us to implement our marketing strategy both on and offline. When she is not selling our tea she is busy working on her photography, growing flowers and designing floral arrangements, and hosting social media marketing workshops for businesses and organizations.