“I won’t forget it when the gal came in just pissed about the tea and told me to my face across our little pastry case that “everyone hates you” and that we would fail. She was sure of it and she knew why it was going to happen: the iced tea and it’s lack of free refills all day.”
We were a coffee company. We loved coffee and all the nuances and stories that made each cup special. Admittedly, we didn’t know as much about tea, it’s processes or what made each tea distinctly special.
BUT – we had an ethos of doing things the right way and being students of what we served and put on the bar in front of people as them came in. We needed to know the ins and outs, it’s DNA, everything there was to know about each menu item so that we could best represent where it came from and what it was supposed to be like in the cup or on the plate.
Tea was no excpetion.
I knew 100% that I did not want an iced team brewer. In fact, I flirted with the idea of not serving tea at all…. not because I didn’t like it but because I did not feel comfortable serving something I didn’t know more about. I mean – there is a reason the top pizza shops don’t serve burgers, right? It sorta felt like the same thing to me.
In this world, though, we needed tea.
We ended up teaming up with whom I still think might be the smartest tea mind in Oklahoma City – Kristy at Urban Teahouse. Kristy is the queen of tea. She knows so much and I knew that we had to sit down with her and spend hours learning all the things we had no idea that we didn’t know about tea.
We spent hours with Kristy and her team learning everything we could so that we could offer a simple but curated tea menu – a menu that we could stand behind, prepare well and that we were sure our friends would like to drink.
We landed on a team program that was always going to consist of 6 loose leaf tea options plus a chai.:
2 Black — 2 Green – 2 Herbal
We learned which of these teas went great as iced teas as well and how to best prepare those for our guests: hand brewed to order by the cup just like our coffee.
We were stoked to present it to Downtown Edmond on opening day and were very happy with what we had put together with the help of Oklahoma’s tea experts.
We had a lady who worked a few doors away from us come in full force in those early days and told us all she knew about the issues with our new company and her thoughts on our future.
Remember – we were brewing these teas to order… by the cup… with some of the best teas we could source. This wasn’t McAllisters with their gulp sized sweet tea with free refills till your head exploded. We were crafting what we hoped was an experience you would remember for a few days and maybe one that would bring you back for something new later.
Man did we make a “mistake”…..
I won’t forget it when the gal came in just pissed about the tea and told me to my face across our little pastry case that “everyone hates you” and that we would fail. She was sure of it and she knew why it was going to happen: the iced team and it’s lack of free refills all day.
Lady – this was a $3.00 tea that you just watched us brew for 5 minutes (our most popular teas over ice were herbal and thus took a bit longer in the steep cycle) specifically to your taste – like the other options on our bar (brewed to order coffee and espresso).
What I wanted to tell her if she would have allowed 3 extra minutes for a conversation was that we valued the process of what we were serving and that how we brewed this team and why it mattered so much. I wanted to explain that I understood that she was used to the fountain service of quick draw food spots in town but why this might be different and that she might actually really like it.
I wanted to tell her about us, EVOKE, so she could learn why we did what we did. I wanted to ask her to get to know our staff instead of chewing their heads off. I wanted her to know our names.
I don’t believe that you need to have a curated beverage or nothing at all. In fact, I’m all about the diner coffee experience, instant coffee, and big jugs of Red Diamond iced tea as much as I’m all about a smoothy or coffee milkshake – it is all good!
BUT – I’m also all about experiencing food and drink in a way I might not have before.
It wasn’t just iced tea.
It was more than that and we just wanted a short second to explain and introduced. That’s all.