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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Tea time in Tucson

    A collection of teas available for sale from Ausperitea at the St. Phillip?s Plaza Farmers Market. Joe Hess began his loose-leaf tea business four years ago after attending a business workshop in Las Vegas.
    A collection of teas available for sale from Ausperitea at the St. Phillip?s Plaza Farmers Market. Joe Hess began his loose-leaf tea business four years ago after attending a business workshop in Las Vegas.

    Joe Hess’ self-owned tea business has roots that stretch back to his childhood. For a third-grade science project, he chose to make a tea from dandelions picked in his backyard. Today, Hess is working to expand his business, Ausperitea, by showcasing new products with biweekly tea tastings.

    Hess, a native of Flagstaff, first got the idea to pursue a loose-leaf tea business after sampling an oolong tea in Vancouver, Canada.

    “”It was by far and large the best thing I had ever had in my life,”” Hess said. “”I already knew I was a tea fan, but at that moment there was finally some meat behind my fascination … I would have to be a fool not to see where it could go.””

    Hess attended a workshop in Las Vegas four years ago to jumpstart his business and Ausperitea was born. Now, Hess sells tea and related products at shopping malls and weekly farmers markets in Tucson.

    Hess brewed more than a dozen teas for sampling at his most recent tasting on Friday, including several oolong, rooibos and chai varieties. To relieve some of the summer heat, he also debuted three iced teas at the tasting, as well as a “”tea-monade,”” a blend of both tea and lemonade.

    Hess explained that tea tastings are an opportunity to premiere his new products. During each tasting, he also offers instructions and advice, such as the best amount of time to steep a certain tea, and what foods and moods best accompany various tea blends.

    Terri Lawrence, a regular attendee of Hess’ events, had never been to a tea tasting until she encountered Ausperitea. But through the events, “”I have learned more about teas and their regions and blends than I ever thought I wanted to know. And that’s not a bad thing,”” Lawrence said.

    And the tastings aren’t only beneficial to new customers. Tim Lawrence, Terri Lawrence’s brother, and another regular customer of Ausperitea, added that Hess’ tastings help to expand the horizons of people who already buy tea.

    As a treat to customers, Hess offers a 10 percent discount toward all products at the tastings and a 20 percent discount to customers who purchase both a pot and a tea. The tastings are also an easy way for buyers to place special orders before teas are made available to other customers, Hess said.

    “”The tastings are a good way to build a customer base, promote product and expand our tea family,”” Hess said.

    Ausperitea hosts tea tastings every other Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Acacia, 3001 E. Skyline Drive. Ausperitea can also be found at St. Phillip’s Plaza every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, visit www.ausperitea.com.

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