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Tea with Tom: Higher Grounds

Tea with Tom: Coffee Shop Best Practices Episode 3 – Featuring Pastor Bill & Alicia of Higher Grounds, Crestline CA

Welcome back to another episode of Tea with Tom. Here, we discuss the best practices our entrepreneurial customers have taken to build and maintain successful coffee shop business. In this episode, we explore Higher Grounds Coffee’s story. Now, listen along as we brew some Matcha, Tropical Black, and Chamomile Spice Teas with Pastor Bill and Alicia. Uniquely, Higher Grounds is a profitable coffee shop adjacent to a Non-Profit Church. Find out how they paired community with natural leadership to create a successful business.

Non-Profit for Profit

A Social Purpose Corporation is what Higher Grounds Coffee is categorized as. Although, the shop is a for-profit shop, it is owned by a non-profit local church. This relationship between the patrons of the store and church are what makes Higher Grounds unique. Pastor Dan and Alicia unpack how a non-for-profit can have a for-profit enterprise.

Community Integration

The relationships that Pastor Bill had formed through the church community became essential to opening Higher Grounds. The small community they served came together to give back to the idea of a coffee shop. From receiving a better loan rate to having a fund thermometer printed in the paper, Higher Grounds became a local project. Community alone brought the ability raise their 30% down payment. This goes to show the importance of building strong relationships prior to starting up a business.

Natural Leaders

When tasked with managing the Higher Grounds Coffee shop, Alicia stepped in and went above and beyond for the shop. Here, Alicia found herself a natural born leadership. Natural leaders have the ability to provide innovative insights that one cannot simply pick up in a book. Expressing ideas and directions with intention are how these individuals are able to bring utility and positivity to the culture of a shop. When it comes to hiring a manager, it is essential to bring in these types of individuals to have a successful business.

Just want to listen? Here is the audio! Want to listen on the go? Download the MP3 Audio!
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Summit Tea’s Cold-Brew (Steep) Guide

Cold Brew Nation

Demand has been increasing for these “ready-to-drink” beverages, as they embrace the spirit of efficiency without ever sacrificing flavor. It is no wonder that Oliver Strand stated in The New York Times “The United States is becoming a cold brew nation.” – so why not do so with tea?

Cold steeped teas are perfect for home and office as the method brings you the ideal refreshing ice cold tea every time. While hot and room temperature teas would melt your ice to some degree, refrigerated cold steeped tea will not immediately melt your ice, giving you the perfect iced tea just in time for lunch. Tea takes a while to steep; this is just longer and in preparation for the next day. Therefore, it gives you something to look forward to.

Why Cold-Steep?

Cold brewed tea, or more accurately cold steeped tea, is a great alternative to preparing delicate teas. White, green, and Oolong teas are picked from the youngest of leaves, and therefore are easily affected by hot temperatures. The cold-steeping process is a great way to extract and maximize all flavor, and unlike steeping in hot water, is gentle with the delicate leaves.

When you traditionally brew or steep coffee or tea in hot water, the naturally occurring oils and caffeine are activated, releasing the more bitter and astringent flavors of the plants. However, when you cold brew coffee or cold steep tea, the oils never “cook”, therefore you don’t get that “robust roasted” flavor. In its place, you get fuller and more naturally sweet tastes in your coffee and tea. Refreshing cold steeped tea is easy to make, as it uses the same process and equipment as cold brew coffee.

Cold Steep with Summit Tea

We would like to show you three different ways in which to cold steep the most delicate of our premium teas. But first, are some factors to consider before cold brewing the perfect glass of tea. Of course, this is just how we make it at Summit Headquarters, so feel free to experiment using different amounts of tea and time to your personal preferences.

TeaTimeWaterSweetness
3.0 grams of Tea per 8 oz of Water12-16 hoursRegular Filtered WaterTo Taste
Better tea, better results. Add more tea for a stronger cup or if diluting in ice. Cold steep overnight in the refrigerator. Use less time for delicate teas. Flat waters yield flat tea, as mineral content brings out flavor. Use a simple syrup, as cold tea will not easily dissolve sugar or other sweeteners.

White Tea– Classic Method

You Will Need
White Tea5 gr
Drawstring Bag1 bag
Glass Jar with Lid 16 oz
Filtered Water12 oz

White tea leaves are the youngest and most delicate of the tea leaf life cycle. These leaves are especially susceptible to hot temperatures. Therefore, when we cold steep white teas, we are not only extracting their delicate flavors, but we are also making the most out of caring for the young leaves.

We used the Classic Steeping method for our white tea. First, we added our Rose Silver Needle Tea to one of Summit’s Drawstring Bags. Then, we filled a glass jar with cold filtered water and added our bag of tea and sealed it – just as if we were brewing a regular hot cup of tea. With white tea being so delicate, we allowed it to steep in the fridge on the lower end of the cold steeping spectrum at 12 hours. Finally, remove the bag and it’s ready to serve, or place the lid back on and save it for later.

Oolong Tea – Decanter Method

You Will Need
Oolong Tea5 gr
Tea Brewing Decanter12 oz
Filtered Water12 oz
Glass16 oz

Oolong green teas are are beautiful to watch unravel. When picked, these leaves go through a clumping process that produces long rolled tea leaves. Therefore, when we cold steep Oolong teas, especially Oolong Blends, in clear decanters, we can appreciate their uniqueness as we extract their flavors.

We used the Decanter method for our Oolong tea. First, we added our Passion Oolong Tea to one of Summit’s Double Walled Glass Tea Tumblers. Then, we added cold filtered water, to almost the top of the container, placed the tea-strainer lid, and carefully filled the rest with water, finally sealing the tumbler. With Oolong tea being so flavorful we allowed it to steep in the fridge on the mid range of the cold steeping spectrum at 14 hours. After, we appreciated the leaves and poured into a glass.

Green Tea – Concentrate Method

You Will Need
Green Tea10 gr
Drawstring Bag1 Bag
Filtered Water12 oz
Ice12 oz
Glass Jar with Lid16 oz
Glass32 oz

Green teas are the most popular because of their health benefits. However, many people do not enjoy drinking green teas because when they are not brewed just right, they can be bitter. Cold steeping is a way to obtain all the benefits and flavors of green tea, without all the bitterness.

We used the concentrate method for our green tea. This method works to create a concentrate of tea that you can dilute with ice or water over time. This is especially useful for coffee and tea shops that serve larger quantities of iced tea per day.

First, we added twice the usual amount of our Green Mountain Thunder Tea to one of Summit’s Drawstring Bags. Then, we filled a 16 oz glass jar with cold filtered water and added our bag of tea and sealed it. Since we enjoy the dewy taste of green tea, we allowed it to steep in the fridge on the high range of the cold steeping spectrum at 16 hours. Then, we filled a 32 oz glass with about 12 oz of ice. Finally, we poured our green tea concentrate in with the ice to yield us two cups of iced tea at the end of the day.

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The Next Generation of Leaders

The Next Generation of Leaders

By Tom Waller, Co-Owner

Summit Tea is about influence. One of our labels reads: “While tea is our business, the next generation of leaders is our mission.”  Middle School, High School, College, and young entrepreneurs are the sweet spot of that influence I seek – the next generation.

As a lifelong mentor with more than 40 years of experience, my life’s purpose is to engage with people like you and leverage your influence. This is central to everything I do, including Summit Tea.

What this means to you as our customer, is that I am for you. I would like to see you live your life well; certainly live it better for us having crossed paths. I care a lot about the quality of teas we serve you, but even more about how you bridge from your present to the things that matter to you. A good mentor is an architect who champions impossible dreams especially when the flame of hope flickers low.

This is especially true for our Wholesale customers. We want them to be successful selling our teas, so we have created an in-store marketing system that builds growing and profitable tea programs. Taking it a step further, we want them to be successful overall as small business owners, so we created the Coffee Community where owners and managers come twice a year to learn from each other by transparently sharing what they do really well and how they do it.

The same “I am for you!” value flavors the work environment for our employees and it’s woven into our relationships with our suppliers, family and friends.  Therefore, almost all our Chinese teas are grown for us by one farmer in central China. This is a long-term relationship – they’re a small family business/we are a small family business. I go there and walk their fields, I know how they cultivate and handle their teas, and I know how they treat their workers. We  also “cherry pick” other teas from those who do it so much more amazingly well than we can.

I’m a person of faith, too, and I hope that you will see that lived out authentically but probably not very perfectly. I love God and His son, Jesus of Nazareth, but I’m not very religious, meaning I struggle at times, sometimes with “church.” Then of course, there are interests of mine which include enjoying the ocean, hiking in the local mountains and also craft beer!

I want to invite you into the story we are walking out each day. It’s full of interesting people, life lessons, mistakes, and, above all else, it will be a window into how I (we) walk out these convictions. If I am for you, then, you must know I’m committed to your quality experience with Summit Tea Company.

Cheers!
Tom

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Summit Tea: Origins

Summit Tea: Origins

By Marji Waller-Thompson, Founder

A great cup of tea is hard to find – we’ve traveled to China to bring some of the best teas to you. Welcome to Summit Tea! My family and I are very happy to welcome you to the wonderful world of premium teas.

Our story started when I, Marji, lived in China from 2002-2004. During my time there, I learned how wonderful loose whole leaf tea is, and I had the chance to taste traditionally produced teas of all varieties – black, white, oolong, green, and even tisanes (herbal infusions).

When I moved back to the Pacific Northwest, I brought my interest in quality whole leaf tea back to share with a good friend named Mary. Our interest in tea was piqued by how closely fine teas parallel fine wines. Just like a glass of wine, each tea is an individual to be enjoyed on its own or coupled with food.

The tea that most people are familiar with come in tea bags, however tea bags tend to be a lower grade of tea made from tea fannings, the “tea dust” that remains after the whole leaf tea is packaged. We knew that Summit Tea could provide an opportunity to share the endless, wonderful world of the highest quality teas that are just waiting to be tasted.

The name “Summit Tea” represents that our business provides the top teas available. This name is also appropriate because some of the world’s best teas are grown at higher elevations. Most of our tea is direct sourced and produced in China, but some of our premium providers are located in France and the Pacific Northwest. We have worked to gather a beautiful and delicious array of teas to meet everyone’s tastes. In addition to traditional teas, we also offer decaffeinated and herbal (naturally caffeine-free) options.

In 2011  my brother and his wife, Tom and Patti Waller, took ownership of Summit Tea and relocated to the beautiful Southern California city of Redlands.  Tom and Patti’s vision was to direct source their Chinese teas from one farmer as well as expand Summit Tea by serving Coffee Communities and independent Markets. All this while continuing to serve our growing on-line Retail Customers. 

We look forward to sharing these fine teas with you as we invite you to try all our teas. You will not be disappointed!