This was not an overnight idea though. In 2019, my cousin (Claudia of @teaepiphany) and I started an Instagram account to share our love for everything tea. We were simply posting about our experience with single-origin loose leaf teas but thought, “is there a better way to share this”? That’s when a lightbulb came on and Teakan’s Tea Exploration Kit was born.
Here’s a Q&A on how Teakan and the Tea Exploration Kit came about.
The Challenge With Specialty Tea
After starting our Instagram account in 2019, we discovered some reasons why tea, especially single-origin loose leaf tea, are not as popular:
- Specialty teas are often more expensive than commercial teas such as tea bags
- Committing to even a 25g bag seems like a lot, especially if you don’t know whether you’ll like the tea and the smell of the tea often doesn’t translate to how it tastes
- There are too many choices and you don’t know where to start
- You pigeon-hole into certain tea or tea types
- Poor experience(s) turned you off from a particular tea or type of tea altogether
- Loose-leaf teas seem less convenient
- Teas are not as “cool” as coffee. (haha)
So to combat some of these, our idea is to encourage people to try single-origin loose leaf teas in a fun and modern format.
Why Single-Origin Loose Leaf Teas?
While all teas come from the same plant – Camellia Sinensis – each tea has its own unique characters and flavours thanks to where they are grown and how they are processed. However, in the West, teas are commonly blended with fruits and other flavours or are consumed with milk and sweetener. This often masks the native characteristics of tea. Single-origin teas offer us the opportunity to explore the wonderful qualities of the tea leaves and the craftsmanship of the tea producers in the most natural way.
What is the Tea Exploration Kit?
The Tea Exploration Kit is our way of making it easy and cost-effective to access a variety of quality specialty teas. Think of it as a single-origin loose leaf tea flight. Each of the five teas are thoughtfully curated, taking into consideration the season and allowing for a simple vertical or horizontal tasting.
The Exploration Kit is for tea drinkers of all levels. It comes with a simple tasting wheel and tea stories with more information about each of the teas. Every volume of the kit includes at least one guided virtual tea tasting event, exclusive for our Exploration Kit purchasers. Claudia, with her tea sommelier background, provides the tea information and guides the participants through brewing and tasting. My love for food naturally lead me to tea and food pairing as well as experimenting with tea recipes. We hope that our customers are able to explore the teas with their senses and take the time to learn about the teas through the information and tools we provide.
Why are we called Teakan • 茶間?
We tried to come up with a name that represents who we are and what we believe in. Teakan is actually two words. The first word is Tea (茶) and the word “Kan” (間) means Space or Time in Chinese and Japanese kanji. Together, Teakan can mean tea time or make space for tea. “Teakan” is our way of encompassing the concept of “Ichi-go Ichi-e” (一期一会). We want to remind ourselves to treasure every moment because no single moment in life can be repeated.
It still feels so surreal that Claudia and I started Teakan and the Tea Exploration Kit just two months before Covid. Shortly after our launch at the Vancouver Tea Festival in March 2020, Vancouver went into a lockdown that lasted for months. Pivoting to an online storefront was not what we had planned since shipping is ridiculous in Canada. Somehow we made it work. With 2022 looking a lot safer, we’re hoping to start up what we had always wanted to do – in-person tea experiences and workshops! If you’re curious about Teakan and what we offer, visit our website at https://teakan.co/ or follow us on Insta: @teakan.co.
PS: Want to know how I got into tea? Check out the post on my first tea journey.