Saturday, October 27, 2007

Biker Rik, Part 1

One of our regular's we've not seen in awhile is Biker Rik. I will never forget the first time he walked into my shop. He pulled up to the front of the store on his beautiful candy apple red Indian bike, decked out in leathers, skull ring, and looking very much like a typical biker. Not so much like your typical tea drinker. But, I was soon to find out what a serious tea drinker he was.

He's a merchant seaman on the Great Lakes--First Mate, to be precise. He was stationed out of Cleveland at that time, and on one of his leaves where he visited friends in the Toledo area. I'm not sure how he happened upon our shop, but he came in, ordered a pot of tea and made himself at home. We started to chat, and the next thing you know, we were deep in conversation to solve as many of the world's problems as we could. I couldn't remember when I'd had a more enjoyable afternoon. He then wandered around our tea shelves and did some serious tea shopping.

Since he was on board ship for long stints of time, he bought enough of each of his favorite teas to get him through. Manly teas, like Lapsang Souchong and Scottish Breakfast, along with a cast iron Tetsubin teapot. He had his well-worn wooden tea chest with him, and he carefully packed his tea wares to make sure they would all fit for travel aboard ship. And the other appreciators of tea on the ship all knew the path to his quarters--that's where the good tea was to be had. So, it gave him occasion to pull out his heavy cast iron pot and perform his sea-going version of tea ritual.

As he was about to leave, I mentioned that I was starting my first tea tasting series that evening. He not only came to the class that night, but as it fit into his time on shore leave, he signed up for the entire 4 week series. I think some of the ladies in class just couldn't make him fit into their conventional image of a tea drinker. But, his warm and outgoing personality won out, and they all came to enjoy his company and participation in class.

So, he became a regular and stopped in whenever he was in the area for pot after pot of tea and long, spirited conversations on every subject under the sun. The ship line he'd been sailing on has since been sold, and may not even be in operation by now. Rik had moved to Florida the last I heard. I miss those long, leisurely and most entertaining afternoons. The seaman's version of 'afternoon tea'!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tea and Sympathy

One of our regulars came in this week after a long absence. She had come in at least once a month for several years, and I'd just been thinking about her and wondering why the absence.

I was delighted to see Barbara when she walked in the door. She looked fabulous, as usual, always dressed to perfection. Something underneath the surface was different, though. As we caught up on events of the past 6 or 8 months, I'd shared how my husband and I had lost our entire animal family--a beautiful Siberian Husky, Kira, and two lovely cats, Chelsea and Eykis. She was totally sympathetic and recounted her sad losses of these past few months.

One day, coming home after running some errands, she found her elderly husband dead after apparently falling down a flight of steps. And, as if that wasn't shocking enough, a short time later, her only son was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after. My heart broke for her! I couldn't imagine how difficult that must have been to bear. I asked her how she was even still standing, and she said that she'd decided she just needed to move on with life. With one foot in front of the other day by day, she managed to move into a new house to distance herself from the horrible memory, and is putting her life back together. Still undoubtedly in shock, but moving forward, and living life. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong she is until she gets into hot water." I am totally in awe of Barbara's strength.

We shared a few more sips of tea, now both perhaps better understanding the pairing of 'Tea and Sympathy'.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Autumn Nip!

That autumn nip is finally in the air, and, in a business that's as unpredictable as the weather or stock market, I was right. The tea drinkers have started coming out--as witnessed by the increase in lunch traffic today.
Another of our regulars, Suzanne, is here today, and as she's gotten to know Carolyn fairly well, it's like 'old home week'. They start chatting, and usually get other customers into the conversation. It's delightful to see these ladies (and the occasional gent) enjoying our peaceful atmosphere.
Mission accomplished!
Gotta get the newsletter out today as our next event is coming up soon. In case you're in the vacinity, you can check out these fun events, such as tea leaf and angel card readings at and this month, we'll be learning how to tap into our own intuition and even read our own palms! We've almost got a full house for this event--I just love it when things pick up in the fall!

Thursday, October 4, 2007


Who can believe it's October already? It's unseasonably warm, and will possibly break records with temps near 90 degreesF! So, business has been very slow, like the end of every summer, until that autumn nip is consistently in the air. Then we see the tea drinkers come out!

But, no matter how slow business is we can always count on our 'regulars', and one in particular, Carolyn, who is here EVERY DAY! She's such a steady customer, and up in years a bit, that we worry if she doesn't show up. We're just sure something dreadful has happened, since she also usually informs us when she has a schedule so full she won't be in for lunch. She's an amazing character. She loves to talk, and sometimes, I admit that I worry about all the talking and not much work getting done. But, it's usually worth listening to her ramblings as she's very interesting and well informed on a whole host of topics. I think she reads every word in the local paper, and basically, that's how I get my news.

We are getting a larger repertoire of 'regulars' all the time, and it's one of the things I like most about running the shop. It's great to know so many people by first name--it gives a "Cheers" kind of comfort to both us and the customers.
Cheers to Tea!