Last week, I visited My Cup of Tea showroom off of East Raines. The business, which sells specialty loose teas and tea accoutrements, was started in 2005 by Mary Beth Bryce.
Bryce got into tea when she decided to wean herself from diet soda. "I couldn't find quality loose tea [in the area] and recognized the niche market I could serve," she says.
The teas are sold online at shopmycupoftea.com and at Palladio, the Woman's Exchange, and the Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market.
While at the showroom, Bryce schooled me on tea types, history, and brewing (a big no-no: over-steeping). "People are mystified by loose tea," Bryce says. "I educate them."
But Bryce isn't just spreading the gospel of tea. A big part of her business, she says, is selling hospitality. Bryce notes that a natural conversation starter with people from other countries is to ask them about their tea culture. As for Americans' tea culture, that revolves around iced tea.
"The simplest form of hospitality is to have your neighbor over for tea," she says.
I was thinking about tea and neighbors over the holiday weekend. I imagined making a large pitcher of iced tea and visiting my neighbors. Which neighbors, I'm not quite sure. The only thing I know about them is that they're fireworks enthusiasts of the highest order.
In the days prior to the Fourth, the fireworks start and continue, even during daylight hours, for about a week following. By the end of the onslaught, my dogs have been pop-pop-popped into quivering messes, and my own nerves are shot by the constant whining and the panic spelled out by the dog nails clicking on the wood floor.
So in my fantasy neighbor visit, I would take my pitcher of tea to my neighbor's house and pour it all over the fireworks.
Hospitality? More like hostility. I suspect Bryce would tell me to chill out with some tea.
"You drink a cup of coffee," she says, "but you have tea. It's about slowing down and savoring the moment."