My goal for STEAP has always been to give people more than tea.
As lofty or aspirational as it may seem, my goal was - and still is - to create community and connection through tea.
Creating a community in lieu of a physical space seemed a bit daunting, so I focused on connection first. I had an idea about naming teas Michigan inspired names. Names that reflected Michigan places and culture - places people may have visited with family and friends and aspects of cultural they may have experienced while living in or visiting Michigan. My hope was that these names could evoke memories and re-connection, create nostalgia, and simply bring joy.
When I’m hosting booths at craft shows and farmers markets, I sometime hear people exclaim, "I love the names!", "Cute names!", or "That's so clever!" There's a sense of excitement in people's voices when they find a tea name that resonates with them - Lake Life, Campfire, Yooper Yellow, Snow Day...
When I was at the Southgate Band Booster craft show last fall a man was standing in my booth while his wife browsed at the booth next to mine. I asked if I could help him. He responded no, he didn't drink tea. No problem! I responded, feel free to look around and let me know if he had questions. He continued to look and I continued passing out samples and talking to others. When the gentleman's wife finished making her purchase, he brought her over, saying, "you have to look at these names." They looked for a few more minutes. I asked again if I could offer them a sample of the tea I was serving. No, they insisted, "we don't drink tea." This time the man added something about the names.... I don't remember his exact words, except, "they bring back so many memories." He was shaking his head almost in disbelief that the names of tea could have such an effect. There was a smile on his face and a glint of emotion in his eyes. The three of us had a moment. Then they were off to enjoy they rest of the show and find other treasures.
The encounter stuck with me. The couple were my favorite customers of the day. Never mind they didn't purchase any tea - or even drink tea! No, what they got was more than tea.