Although I’ve loved tea since I was a little girl, owning a tea shop wasn’t always my plan. I studied history and biology at Mount Holyoke and had plans to pursue veterinary medicine. At one point I worked as a whale trainer at the Mystic Aquarium, and worked a series of other jobs before finally turning my lifelong passion for tea into a business.
With support from friends and family, I opened TeBella Tea eight years ago despite having no real background in business. I had no idea what I was doing or where it would take me, but since then, I’ve visited Japan, China, Sri Lanka, and India on tea-buying trips, and have learned so much from the tea masters and farmers I’ve met in each country.
On the home front, TeBella Tea has grown from one small shop to four locations in three cities and a thriving wholesale business. We are proud to supply tea to over 100 cafes, restaurants, and hotels in the Southeast US.
What I’ve always loved about tea is the ritual aspect of it. The process of making tea is an art form, even in the every day. You choose your tea, a favorite cup, something sweet to eat with your drink–it is a respite from the frantic pace of daily life. To bring that love of tea to other people, and teach them about the complexities and nuances of loose leaf tea, has been a dream. I couldn’t imagine my life unfolding in any other way that would be as fulfilling as this one. I hope our tea shop on the island can be a little pocket of happiness for our customers as well.
-Abigail StClair, Founder of TeBella Tea