Welcome to another spotlight on a tea company we’ve reviewed here at STeaP. I recently asked a few questions of Summer Plum, the “Owner/Founder/Blender/Tea Mistress” of the tea company, Felicitea. I also want to mention that, in addition to having her own little tea kingdom, Summer has just agreed to join the STeaP family.
What does this mean? Well, for starters, you’ll be seeing Summer on the blog as one of our contributors. The other thing you will be seeing down the line is occasional footage (especially tutorials) on tea that Summer will be doing specifically for STeaP. We’re very excited to have her, and I’m happy to share the interview below with all of you. Enjoy!
When was the company founded, and where?
What eventually became Felicitea was founded in 2001 in Lancaster, PA and was called Seasonal Touches with a focus on more then just tea. When I went to massage school, it was changed to A Touch of Autumn focusing on teas and massage.
Then, in October of 2007, we found the perfect name in Felcitea, a company focused on bringing everyone a taste of happiness through tea, massage, and related gifts.
Talk a bit about starting your company.
When I was 14, we lived in a little town called Wharton, about an hour south of Houston, TX. There was a small cafe/coffee shop/book store there that I simply adored called the Blue Moon (something or other). I decided, upon my first visit, that I wanted to have something like this when I grew up. I still do.
I hung on to this dream all through my teens. I wanted to pursue this actively but was nay-sayed and doubted by many around me. Then a friend saw me scribbling a sketch of store front ideas. She asked what I was doing and I told her about my dream. That night she said, “Let’s do it!” The next week we ordered our first small batch of teas. Refreshing Afternoon and Day Dream blends were created out of that first batch of herbs.
I started there because as a child my mother would make herbal remedies when we were ill. These helped but tasted awful. I wanted to create blends that were good for you AND tasted good. I think I’ve managed to find a good balance between health and taste.
We started with green and herbal blends, and have included oolongs and blacks as both our market and my palate increased.
Wholesale, retail and custom blending is not where I pictured being when we started, but I’m very happy with the organic growth and change we’ve experienced. I love tea and I can’t imagine doing anything else.
What are your company’s specialties?
Felicitea is special for a number of reasons.
First, we’re tiny. And every customer gets to interact with the owner/blender. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am involved in every step of the process.
All of the blends are special. They were created in the test kitchen based on what I liked, enjoyed and thought would go well together. Many we custom made for friends, and then happily shared with the world. Each blend has a true story, something you’ll only find at Felicitea.
I think the best service/product we offer is custom blending. Find the story that a customer wants their tea to tell, and creating a blend that does just that. I think of it much like creating a play. The customer gives me the lines, and I fill in tone, set, props, costumes, music and lighting to create their vision in a cup.
I also do these custom haiku tea cups. You can get a tea cup with a tea related haiku on it – customizable to an idea or a name.
What do you sell the most of?
My best selling tea is Sloth Tea. It’s a delicious blend of gunpowder green tea, peppermint, catnip and chamomile.
I think it’s one of those teas that offers a little something for everyone: it tastes great, it’s good for you, it’s fantastic iced and hot. It’s the tea I offer people who say, “but I don’t like tea.” I haven’t met a single person who’s tasted it and walked away still feeling like they don’t like tea.
What tea would you recommend to a novice tea drinker, and why?
Sloth Tea, again, because it’s easy and if you over steep it the herbals mellow any bitterness from the green tea. It’s a strong tea that can handle a little scalding or over steepage, and it just wonderful when made perfectly.
What is your process? How does your company work?
I select herbs from a number of sources. I try to get as much local, organically grown herbs as possible. What I can’t I get from a sustainable, earth-friendly source. Teas also come as close to the estate as I can manage.
From there teas are blended based on my awareness of flavors. I love playing with flavors and using just a hint of this to add a touch of sweetness or spice to a tea. I think some of the best tastes, in tea and food, are the little surprises you find in your cup or plate and I aim to bring that to my customers.
What is YOUR favorite tea?
This is tough! I carry at least 20 blends currently.
Lately I’ve been drinking this new blend called Earl Grey Brandice ;) in the mornings. It’s delicious and I think it’ll be my winter favorite. Though Oolong Summer is my favorite oolong, and Sloth Tea is my favorite green blend.
In the summer I love Oolong Summer and Sloth Tea iced. Made double strength and poured over ice, blended with juice, lemonade or even some vodka, they’re awesome.
For caffeine free yumminess I go with the Rooibus Sweet Tea, which simply rocks my world with a touch of local honey!
I told you – tough to choose just one.
Do you offer purchasable samples of your teas?
I offer sample tins that cost $2. They hold enough for 3-5 cups of tea, breaking it down to 30-50 cents a cup. A deal for a tasting.
Plus, the tins are recyclable. I use them for paper clips, spices, stitch markers, any small sewing notions, spare screws.
Take a look at what Felicitea is offer right now during the holiday season!