Lindsey Goodwin, Vee Teas
By Christine Rillo
Tea at Hand: In this column, we here at TeaMuse hope to feature different people within the tea industry and their unique stories about how they got to work with their favorite drink! If you or anyone you know has a fun story to share regarding their job in the tea industry, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.Meet Lindsey Goodwin, aka Vee of Vee Tea. Vee's Tea is a relatively new company based in New York. You won't find any storefront for it, however; Vee Tea specializes in tea tours of the Big Apple. After doing tea-themed tours through word of mouth for friends, Vee decided to make it into a business, opening up her website just last month. I met with the arty Vee after exchanging several emails with her. I was pretty psyched, considering it was my first interview for TeaMuse. Also, through our email messages, it turns out we had a lot in common. She suggested we meet in Brooklyn, at the Roebling Tea House, one of her favorite spots for tea and lunch. Over cups of tea and vegetarian bratwurst, we had a great discussion about art, feminism, New York City, college life, health, and of course, tea.
Obviously, one of Vee's passions in life is tea. Growing up in the South, Vee was familiar with Sweet Tea, but notes a trip to a Chinese restaurant as the first time she tried hot tea; "One day my dad took me to a nice little Chinese restaurant…the meal didn't really stick out to me, but what I remember was the tea; Green tea…My dad said the tea had the taste of the earth after the rain and I remember really tasting a food for the first time; really understanding the complexity it was capable of. I loved it.
Later on in life, Vee explored tea further while working at various jobs such as Whole Foods, where gourmet tea became more affordable, bartending; where she helped expand the drink menu to include tea based drinks, and at Takashimaya department store, where she would research extensively on tea, printing out material to read for her long subway trips home. Moving to NY also presented a range of different tea establishments that Vee was all too eager to check out. She found tea places that were great and really awful ones, but noticed that even the best places had some questionable items, and that one could find real gems in the worst places. Along with checking out different places and drinking tea, Vee was always reading up about the drink, always eager to learn anything new the complex brew.
After being asked by a major tea company, who was interested in recruiting her, what her dream job would be, Vee came to realize that she wanted to educate others about tea, as a tea educator, "That's how I think about tea. It's the thing I'm most passionate about. Sharing what it's all about, opening people up to new tastes and the culture behind it, the history. It's such a rich thing and there are so many aspects to it."
And does she know her stuff! Being well-read regarding tea, she was able to go in depth and tell me things about tea that I wasn't aware of. I sat like a small child, wide-eyed and entertained as she told me the story behind Matcha and how it came to arrive in Japan. There is a certain ease she has while throwing out scientific jargon regarding caffeine levels in tea that really engages the listener. This is the Vee that people meet when one goes on her tours: informative and detailed, while being friendly and unpretentious. She loves to chat up her clients and find out their interests as to incorporate them into the tour, making each one unique and quite an experience. And each tour is also a learning experience for her: as much as she loves teaching her clients about tea, she also has an opportunity to learn and further specialize her knowledge.
She notes her luck in being able to pursue one of her passions as a form of employment, " I'm lucky, in that I have many passions in life, but not too many that it gets overwhelming and that I get to do this as a living." Vee Tea offers a range of tours including Vegan Tea Tours, Tea and Sweets, and All the Tea In China, all created out of her interest in those particulars within food and tea. Vee keeps busy with her company by giving tours throughout the week, maintaining her website by posting daily blogs and weekly articles, and researching about the latest news regarding her favorite drink; "I don't dread working. I love it! I get up in the morning and start working on stuff. I'll start working even before I take a shower, and sometimes I'll find I have been working all day and think, ‘Why do I feel all weird?!' ''. She also offers her knowledge for upcoming tea businesses as a tea consultant.
What does she think about the future of the tea industry? Vee sees the Internet as a big tool in networking among the community of tea lovers. Also, she notes that e-commerce is not as risky as it once was and that more tea-based businesses are taking the opportunity to open websites to sell and spread their love of tea. "It's more established, and it gives an edge within our generation, as well as in our general business approach". Vee herself embraces technology, as she plans to add video blogs and pod casting to her website. She also talks about offering online tea classes to clients that are not in the New York area. Fancy technology will supplement her thirst for tea knowledge. Vee plans to take specialized classes at the upcoming World Tea Expo. She is also planning an amazing trek to India this summer, where she will be traveling throughout the country visiting various tea estates, taking more tasting courses, and absorbing the Indian tea culture.
With her entrepreneurial spirit as well as her seemingly undying love for tea, her future in the tea industry is as bright as the tealeaves she is so fond of! Look her up next time you are in Big Apple; she will definitely help you take a bite out of the best tea the city has to offer!
Find Vee Teas tour information, blogs, articles, etc here: http://www.veetea.com
The Roebling Tea Room is located at 143 Robeling, Brooklyn, NY 11211