(makes one 8 oz serving)
3 tsp Aztec Spice
1 cup Hot Water
1 tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 oz Whole Milk
3 tsp Sugar or to taste (we recommend unrefined black sugar if you can find it – check your local Asian supermarket)
We’ve been working with Brew/Well since they opened in July 2013 in LA’s Koreatown. Owners and sisters Grace and Elizabeth Rhee have succeeded in creating a really nice relaxed atmosphere with a modern but rustic feel. It’s even been called “the secret spot you didn’t want anyone to know about,” so we think it’s safe to say their hard work paid off!
Brew/Well is still a relatively young business. Can you tell me how it all started?
Grace: Did I tell you how we were open upstairs before? Our mom always wanted to have a coffee shop. She learned how to pull shots and did all the training, but once we opened the shop and we realized all the day to day operations, it turned to us. We didn’t have a perfect vision. We didn’t have everything figured out. It was a lot of learning, a lot of coming up with ideas on the go. Then we ended up having to move downstairs to our current location and we were faced with a choice about what we wanted to do.
Elizabeth: We got a taste for what kind of role we could play in the community. People coming to our shop, getting to interact with the regulars, seeing the same people every day, that’s what got us really excited.
Grace: Also, our personal interests and passions, we could bring those into a coffee shop. It’s more than simply serving coffee.
Elizabeth: It’s more than just selling people products and making people drinks.
Grace: We wanted to provide a space where we can build relationships and have community. Art and creativity could be inside a coffee shop too. We got a glimpse of what this could be and what we could do, so when we had the option, we took it.
Tell me about #brewcommunity.
Elizabeth: It was when Instagram was getting really big. Someone came up with #brewcommunity, and it fit well with us. We want to keep going with the whole community aspect and really build meaningful relationships. On our Instagram, we introduce our community and have them tell their stories. I think it’s interesting how we run into hundreds of people every day and their stories and what they go through can really make you think twice.
People must also come here because they love what you serve. How do you come up with all your creative drinks?
Grace: From the beginning, we wanted to include creativity into the menu and make specialty coffee and tea more approachable for people. We know we’re serving good coffee, so if you just want an espresso, we’re confident in serving that. But for someone that wants good coffee, but still wants to add a little bit of this or that, we can make things interesting. We want to be more creative and we both like experimenting. In terms of the type of shop that we wanted and the kind of environment we wanted people to feel, we decided to develop the menu to provide a different experience. We certainly sell more coffee, but we sell a good amount of tea because we also put them in our specialty drinks. We have one customer that comes in, literally, every day and gets our Assam Tea Latte. She thinks it’s the best thing in the world.
So how did you find Art of Tea?
Grace: Since creativity is such a big part of our menu, we wanted to serve interesting teas. A week before we opened up in the new space, I came home and my sister told me she found this new tea company online. I was freaking out. This was just a few days before we started training so we got into an argument. But she showed me your website and all the different types of teas you have. I think she had already emailed you and we were asked to visit. We ended up going and meeting with Steve and he gave us a tour. He showed us the entire space and introduced us to everyone. We got to sample some of your teas, which were amazing. But on top of that, just the way that the place was run and the friendliness and service was great. Then you offered training for our staff. It was very personal. We really liked the iced teas too. She was literally researching online and found you. I guess it started out as a sister fight.
What a great story! So looking back from your opening, what kind of advice would you give to someone opening their own business?
Elizabeth: In the end, it’s all about relationships and how you treat others that sets one café apart from another. Coffee shops sell coffee, teas, and pastries, but no matter how good it is, it comes down to your interactions with people. I feel like there are so many details and technical things that you’re perfecting and it’s easy to disregard the other aspects. For us, what we value is the relationship. One interaction in your day can make or break your day. Because we interact with people constantly, it’s our goal as a local community coffee shop to make the other person feel valued for who they are.
Grace: We’ve been extremely lucky with the people we choose to work with. For instance: our staff, it’s rare to find people like that. Or our vendors. If I could give advice to someone who’s starting a shop… obviously love the product. Find something that you love and want to serve, but also find the people that you want to do that with.
Interview by Charles Kellogg
Photos by Brew/Well
With the holidays only a few weeks away, chances are you will be needing hostess gifts, stocking stuffers or presents. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite Art of Tea gifts that are as thoughtful as they are delicious. Grab a travel gift pack for the friend who is always on the go, or a leather tea box sampler for the hostess who loves to serve dinner and dessert. Have a friend who is just discovering artisan tea? Gift them the tea sampler pack to help them find a new favorite. With so many options, you’re sure to find something for everyone on your list.
[ Travel Gift Pack | Ammo Gift Set | Pyramid Tea Bag Sampler | Wooden Tea Box Sampler | Leather Tea Box Sampler | Tea Sampler Pack ]
4 cups Double Strength White Tip Jasmine
3 cups Club Soda
6 oz Simple Syrup
6 Sprigs Mint
2 Limes Juiced
1 cup Ice
Interested in coming to taste tea with the pros? On Thursday, November 20, from 10 am to 4 pm, we are opening our doors for a free pop up tasting room. Come sample a wide variety of teas, ask questions, and learn about the brewing process. We can’t wait to see you there!
Address: Art Of Tea Tasting Room, 748 Monterey Pass Rd, Monterey Park, CA 91754
Perfect with some biscotti, muffins, or alone, our warm winter chai will make you want to stay warm and inside all day long.
This caffeine-free, alcohol-free tea take on a classic cocktail is filled with spicy cinnamon and tangy cranberries. Delicious for those cold and wet fall nights.
Royal Milk Tea
Makes 4 cups (8oz each)
30g Black Tea (like Assam Whole Leaf)
2 cups Hot Water
2 cups Whole Milk
Create a concentrate by simmering Black Tea in 2 cups of hot water for 3 minutes. Add milk and sugar (normally 4 tsp) and allow to come to a simmer. Do not allow to boil. Strain and serve.
In a 1 quart (liter) container, brew black tea in boiling hot water for 10 minutes to create a concentrate. Add sugar, milk and stir. Strain and serve.
For convenience, the black tea concentrate can be set aside for storage. Add sugar, mix, and strain. Store concentrate in refrigerator after cooling to room temperature. It is common for this concentrate to turn cloudy when cooled. This shouldn’t pose a problem as milk is added before service. Add milk and heat before serving. Also good iced.
[Recipe by Charles Kellogg]
Named after the wide straws used to consume their delicious bubble tea drinks, Fat Straws was founded in 2002 in Dallas, Texas by Terry Pham, who quit his IT job to try his hand at something new. His perseverance, dedication and optimism paid off and now he owns and operates two locations. Terry has even been featured by “Entrepreneur Magazine” as an entrepreneur who successfully launched a business during a recession. We’ve been working with Terry since 2006 so he’s one of our oldest and most valued customers – his clear vision, extensive knowledge and role as a trendsetter in his industry is inspiring and honestly, you just couldn’t find a nicer guy!
How did it all start?
My Mom worked as a Field Consultant for the Southland Corporation, parent company of 7-Eleven. So I practically grew up in the service industry. This is before Starbucks, so back then everyone got their coffee at 7-Eleven in the mornings. Whenever stores were struggling, they would send my Mom in to bring up sales and improve operations in the under performing stores. What always amazed me was that customers would follow her to the new store. People literally would go out of their way during their morning commute to give her their business because of the relationships she had developed.
This had such an impression on me as a young man and it taught me to value relationships and the impact that people in the service industry can have on people. I was passionate about that relationship and knew that I wanted to be able to create and share experiences with people. That is what led me to Fat Straws. I remember the first time I had bubble tea and how it blew my mind. I obsessed over it and wanted to get one every day. There were few bubble tea stores here in Dallas and none of them were passionate about the customer experience and building relationships. I saw an opportunity and quit my full time IT job and decided to open Fat Straws. Twelve years later, here we are.
It sounds like Fat Straws is a fun place to work. Can you tell us about your company culture?
Our company culture is all about people. We take care of our customers, and we take care of each other. Because we are a small, privately owned business, every member of our team contributes to making our company run smoothly—from customer service to drink quality to all the smallest details that contribute to our unique Fat Straws identity. We are blessed to have a strong core group of individuals who can not only work hard, but also care about our customers and have fun in the process. Because we are a group of like-minded tea enthusiasts, we want our customers to experience and love bubble tea just as much as we do.
We know it was a big decision for you to start incorporating hot tea in your menu. What was it about Art of Tea that helped you make the jump and how did the risk pay off?
In 2006 I traveled to Las Vegas, and embarked on a quest to find the perfect wholesaler at the World Tea Expo. We had a three-day opportunity to meet with dozens of tea companies, try out their products, and find the right partner with whom we would build a long-term relationship.
Amidst the hundreds of vendors, Art of Tea caught my eye. Steve and I had great chemistry; he made me feel as though we were old friends, he was passionate about his company, and he shared my passions for tea and lasting relationships. I knew immediately that Art of Tea was the company I wanted to partner with.
This decision transformed our brand. We have always been known for making great boba, but the addition of Art of Tea’s loose leaf teas gave us more phenomenal drinks to pair with them. Not only did our menus change, many of our operational processes changed, and we ultimately restructured our brand around Art of Tea. Art of Tea is a large portion of the Fat Straws DNA. Our tea of the day rotates between some of the most favored blends like Blueberry Pomegranate, Happy Tea, and Passionfruit Jasmine which was voted Best Iced Tea of Dallas in 2007. We could have easily chosen another company and privately labeled our teas, but instead we elected to keep the Art of Tea brand and feature it proudly and prominently throughout our store. We even have one of our new menu boards dedicated to all of the amazing teas we carry labeled “ART OF TEA.”
Are there any exciting upcoming trends in the tea/drinks industry?
We have featured several seasonal “mocktail” drinks that bring together some favorite non-alcoholic mixed drinks with the iced tea world. A few years ago we hand crafted a Moji-tea which was Moroccan Mint Tea, fresh muddle mint leaves, with mangos or strawberries. Another favorite is our Jasberry Iced tea, which fused the refreshing, floral taste of White Tip Jasmine with muddled strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries. As a group, we are continuously looking for creative and innovative ideas, as well as expanding on old ones. Part of the fun is to find new, exciting ways to transform our product into something that will surprise and excite our customer’s taste buds.
Do you have a favorite milk tea recipe you could share with our readers?
We are currently featuring a seasonal favorite, our Pumpkin Spice milk tea. It incorporates Art of Tea’s Pumpkin Pie rooibos tea, cream and just enough of Torani’s pumpkin sauce to highlight the notes of cinnamon, clove and ginger that make you feel as if you have harnessed the essence of autumn in a cup. Not only does it provide a delicious caffeine-free milk tea alternative for our customers, the authentic base of the rooibos tea allows for the natural flavors to shine through, as opposed to other beverage companies which just pile on seasonal flavored syrups to the drinks on their standard menu. When spring arrives, fans of this tea always lament its temporary loss.
[Interview by Katie Kirby. All photos provided by Fat Straws.]
Everyone has a different way that they enjoy their tea. Some may call this their “tea ritual.” In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, the ladies at Art of Tea have shared their favorite way to drink and enjoy Tea for Her. When you purchase Tea for Her this month, Art of Tea is giving 10% of the proceeds to Los Angeles Breast Cancer Alliance. A tea that tastes good and does good! Let us know in the comments how you like to enjoy your tea, or what your tea ritual is!
Tea for her can be found here
Whether you are in school or working, we all can struggle with focus or motivation from time to time. To enhance your ability to get work done, we have complied a list of helpful study tips to keep you motivated, as well as a relaxing, classical music playlist to keep your mind calm, and drown out extra noise. Enjoy!
Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte
(makes four 8 oz servings)
You will need:
– 10 tsp Pumpkin Spice Chai
– 2 cups hot water
– 2 cups milk
– sugar to taste
Simmer 10 tsp of Pumpkin Spice Chai in 2 cups of hot water for 3 minutes. Add milk and sugar (normally 4 tsp) and bring to a simmer. Do not allow to boil. Strain and serve. If you have a milk frother, you can heat the milk separately, froth it and then add to the strained chai.
Enjoy this delicious fall treat!