I've been giving a lot of thought to what the next month looks like for the tea shop in lieu of the announcement from the State of Arkansas on re-opening restaurants and retail shops.
The quarantine has taken quite a toll on my little business. I never thought I would face such an extreme hiccup in year three.
All that said, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the outpouring of support from friends, regulars, and complete strangers.
The past 7 weeks has been a LOT of shifting gears and a LOT of hard work but we are doing okay. My tea shop will be okay.
There is still so much uncertainty about how this virus spreads, how many people have it, can people get it again, and on and on. As many of you know, I run the shop with my mom and my sister, Jessica. Both of them are diabetic, my mom is over the age of 60 and I am currently the main contact for my Grami - doing her errands, taking her groceries, and visiting with her weekly. My considerations are not just for me, but my family, and ultimately for my customers. Opening the shop too soon could put those I love in jeopardy.
I have decided to continue with curbside pick-up, online order/shipping, and the Tea Stand through May.
We just released our fall loose leaf tea blends here at the tea shop! Our friends over at Rock City Eats have taken some time to try the new blends and give a few thoughts on their favorites.
The new blends include:
The Sassy Sage: bright, complex & no caffeine
Banana Nut Roo: rooibos base with warm nutty texture
Spiced Orange: black tea with a light spice & lots of citrus
The Drowsy Poet: yerba mate & rooibos with smoky citrus layers
Chamomile Cardamom Chai: floral and spicy, a nice non-caffeinated alternative to traditional chai
Be sure to swing in over the weekend for our all you can drink blend release party on Sunday! $5 gets you a cup and the chance to try all the blends!
We had a great time on Good Day Arkansas this morning with Chris from Colonial Wines & Spirits talking about our event on Thursday night! Come see me at Colonial Wines & Spirits from 4-7pm this Thursday to try Abbi's Herbal Mojito and our Blackberry Patch cocktail!
We will be selling tea and Colonial will be serving up free tea cocktail samples!
LET'S GET THIS PAR-TEA STARTED!
We've partnered up with the most creative, locally owned boutique tea shop in town – Abbi's Teas & Things – to bring you a delicious new way to experience two of our favorite things: beautifully custom blended teas and handmade gelato.
For two weeks we'll highlight three new spring tea blends created specifically for this beautiful time of year by Abbi Siler. Join us at ZAZA for a scoop of Strawberry Harvest Mint Tea Gelato, Lavender Lemonade Tea Gelato, and Blueberry Basil Tea Sorbetto (dairy free).
Each batch begins with freshly steeped tea from Abbi's. We then blend in fresh fruit, spices, and premium ingredients to highlight the inherent flavors and aromas of each tea to create a uniquely tasty cool spring treat. Be sure to try all three exceptional flavors over these two weeks and then stop by Abbi's Teas & Things in Hillcrest to pick up your favorite blend to enjoy at home. In addition to teas and treats, be sure to make time to chat with Abbi while you're in the shop. Incredibly knowledgeable about the health benefits and history of tea, Abbi can guide you to the perfect blend for your needs.
👉WIN A 'TEA to TABLE' BASKET
Tag your Gelato Tea Time pics with #AbbisGelato and you're entered to win a basket from Abbi's and ZAZA worth $75! Winner will be selected and announced on May 3rd.
👉MORE ABOUT ABBI'S - A SMALL FAMILY BUSINESS:
Abbi's Teas & Things is a small boutique tea shop in the Hillcrest Historic District of Little Rock, Arkansas. A family operated business: mom, daughter, and sister! Abbi's shop offers unique teas and a collection of cute things to browse. Their selection of tea ware, jewelry, and gifts are unique and ever changing; you never know what you'll find! Abbi's offers their own proprietary loose leaf tea blends alongside traditional tea favorites. • Learn more here: https://www.abbiteas.com/
👉MORE ABOUT THE FEATURED BLENDS:
🍓 Strawberry Harvest Mint:
Ingredients: white tea, rose petals, rose hips, dried strawberries, peppermint leaves, hibiscus flowers ••• A lightly caffeinated white tea that is naturally sweet, pink, and subtly minty.
Ingredients: dried blueberries, hibiscus flowers, green and purple holy basil (leaves & stems) ••• This special spin on Tulsi tea is spicy, aromatic with a sweet finish. Perfect hot with a splash of local honey or ice it up for a refreshing summer cocktail.
Ingredients: french lavender, green tea, dried apples, orange peels, marigold flowers, vanilla extract, lemon zest, blue butterfly pea flower ••• a springy and brightly aromatic green tea with a color that is as vibrant as the the height of spring
If you asked me last year if I would be sitting in my sweet little tea shop reflecting on the first 6 months of business today, I'd have likely not believed you. This tea shop has been a dream for so long, and those closest to me over the years have known of my love of tea, my heart for service, and the always present call back to waiting tables.
One of my last conversations with my dad was about why I was afraid to open a shop, and all the reasons why it wouldn't work or how it could go wrong. My deep fear of failure. He laughed with me and at me and told me to be brave. We talked about how I felt silo'd in a career that I was very good at, but not very fulfilled. We talked about who I have always been in his eyes, in my own eyes, and who I wanted to be going forward.
At the time, just a year ago, the tea shop was a symbol for who I wanted to be eventually. But to my dad (and to my mom) - they knew it was who I was all along.
When I decided to quit my very GOOD job at a very respected agency with a title and salary that I was very proud of, I had decided to let go of that chapter in my life.
The letting go wasn't really easy, but the 9-12 months that followed - - where I was forcing myself to BE STILL and figure myself out - - that was the hard part.
The starting over.
This morning, I'm sitting in my tea shop reflecting on all of the things that have changed in my life since last February. And, in these last 6 months.
How I've changed, how I've come back to life, how I've stayed true to myself after getting a little lost for a few (like 10) years. I'm thankful for my parents for seeing me even when I couldn't see myself. I'm thankful for my husband who has loved, supported, and cheered me on through all those decisions up the ladder, and now back down it.
And, I'm thankful for every single person who has come to the shop, talked about the shop, and all of you who are not just guests here, but friends.
Gotta go! Aspen is here for his morning treat & head pat! I'm thankful for the sweet puppy friends, too. 💚
When you put your heart on a shelf, it might stop beating.
For years, across various jobs I have decorated my cube, office or corner - surrounding myself with quotes, notes, gifts from friends, art and --- tea. Teapots, tea cups, tea steepers, and actual tea of every kind. Often my desk was known for the afternoon hang out or the place to smell a fancy candle or to just take a minute away from email to laugh, and many times I would make a cup of tea for those who stopped by.
My shelves were covered with things I loved, quotes or articles signifying who I strived to be, notes and kind words from friends and colleagues that were meant to act as reminders of who I was to them at some point in life.
You see, at the heart of me, I so desperately want to be liked - to be loved - to be accepted. I often have to remind myself that I don't have to try so hard, and that I am already loved by so many. This deep seeded insecurity - this forgetfulness of the goodness of my heart (JUST AS IT IS) - this desperation .... it is one of my biggest flaws and a point of frustration for those who love me best.
I am a constant and unnecessary apologizer, too. A resolution I have for myself this year - but one I fail at almost every day - but I swear I am trying!!! And, as soon as I apologize I instantly want to say "I AM SORRY I AM SO SORRY ALL THE TIME!" Sigh.
So, I placed my heart on the shelves of every office I have ever worked in. And, many times that's where it stayed - except for that quick afternoon break. As the years passed and the jobs changed and my shelves got higher and the jobs got bigger in responsibility and "importance" -- that heart of mine remained tucked up on those shelves...untouched, dusty, neglected, and sometimes even too high for me to reach at all.
I would forget to read the words I intentionally put in front of me, and instead I was focusing on the words in my inbox, or the words whispered in hallways about my type A awfulness, or worst of all...the words inside my own head:
"You're so annoying." "Wow, what an idiot, did you just do/say/type that?!" "What's wrong with you, Abbi?!" "God, look at you, you're disgusting." "You're so stupid." The tea shop has been so incredible - we've been open going on 3 weeks. But, to say that it has fixed every single struggle and bout of anxiety, insecurity and depression I have is simply not true.
I am human. I am flawed. I still so desperately want to be liked. I so desperately want to please ... everyone.
But, everyday, I get to be myself.
And instead of having my heart on a shelf I get to wear my heart, I get to share my heart, I get to cover my walls with my heart.
My heart is in the tea, my heart is in the jasmine I planted on my patio this morning, my heart is in the apron stitched together with love and sewn into my father's favorite shirt that I gave him so many years ago.
My heart is in that little kitchen where I bump up against my mom who reminds me every day that I am worthy of this dream come true. That it's okay to be happy for myself. That people like me. That people love me. That I am cherished.
My heart is in every crack and cranny of that old house.
My heart is beating again.
It has been raining for days and it really has impacted me. I am all about some rain once in awhile but the first 17 days of being open 13 of them have been rain and the other 4 have been cloudy or foggy. It's been bleak and I have tried so hard to SHINE BRIGHTLY. Some days I shined brighter than others, but it's been a real struggle to keep the brights on inside of me. Yesterday, I was discouraged and cried quietly in the back tea room with self doubt and frustration. I said to my mom, "I just need the sun to come out. I need to feel the light again. This weather is hurting my heart."
As soon as I got in the car, Who Am I by Casting Crowns came on. Instant tears came to my eyes because it is shamelessly one of my favorite songs and I belt it out every time I hear it.
I have sung this song in the car so many times - second only to Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson - I have sung it on mountain tops at sunrise after hours of driving at night, I have sung it driving over Bonner Bridge, Alligator River, on the beach walking in search of beach glass, and on so many rainy and sunny days. It's one of my favoritest songs.
So, I sang all the way to Home Depot. Embarrassingly loud and with my windows down. When I arrived, they had jasmine. Fragrant, beautiful - jasmine. I bought two trees, and a few other annuals, and some lavender. I headed to the shop and got my hands deep into some soil and let the garden loosen me up. I set up Mimi's garden tables along with a few of mine from the house.
It was the perfect morning. I had dirt under my nails, I had damp spots on my jeans from watering, and I smelled like the earth.
My heart was beating. My was heart praying.
"Let this garden be a safe place for my friends and anyone who gathers here. Let this patio be filled with laughter. Let my heart shine with your light and let that light fill the walls of this tea shop every single day."
And, as my first customer for the day strolled up, my heart was singing...
Whom shall I fear? Whom shall I fear?
For I am your's .... I am your's ...