Young Bay Area entrepreneur is a tea triple threat
Victoria Boyert was taken to a “tea club” by her mother at age 7. “I was very excited. We learned about the history of tea, how to make a proper cup of tea…I knew even then I wanted to be involved with tea,” she says.
Fast forward to 2008. Boyert has just graduated from college, the Great Recession has struck, and jobs are scarce. Solution: Open your own business, which she did—a “tea bar” in San Jose, Calif. But Boyert was a little ahead of her time, and by 2010, when her industrial space building was going to be razed, she had to regroup. She decided to go into online retail and wholesale tea, using connections she’d made worldwide. And in partnership with her mother, Tamara Malove, she opened a whimsical, charming teashop, The Tipping Teapot, in the Silicon Valley “village” of Saratoga.
Right place, right time
Boyert’s online and wholesale business operates as Satori Tea Company, selling black, oolong, green, white, single origin, herbal, and occasionally, puer teas. Retail customers can purchase sizes from sample to 1 pound. Examples of single-origin offerings include Anxi Tikanyin ($12.50 sample), Dehong Black ($35 sample), and Milan Xiang ($31.50 sample). Green teas include Matcha ($26 sample), Gyokuo ($31.98 sample), and Hoji Cha ($14.41 sample). The site’s category of “premium teas” includes many popular in the shop, including Earl Grey Creme ($7.16 sample), Marie Antoinette ($11 sample) and #1Darjeeling-Monsoon ($10 sample). Boyert also sells herb teas, including Amazon Fine, blending guayusa, rooibos, and spices ($8.50 sample) and Coconut Chai, with Indian black tea, shredded coconut, and spices ($7.75 sample).
Boyert does all her own blending. Online retail sales continue to increase, she says, as customers’ tastes become more sophisticated—but it’s her wholesale business that’s booming, especially catering and corporate sales. “Companies want to upgrade their tea programs for their employees,” she says, noting that many Silicon Valley tech hubs employ Asian immigrants accustomed to good quality tea. “They come to me. I haven’t had to actively ‘sell’ in the past two years.”
The village tearoom
By contrast, The Tipping Teapot is a sort of fantasy version of a classic British tearoom. Boyert’s maternal grandparents emigrated from Britain, and the shop serves scones from an 1890s family recipe. Customers sit at small tables, are served in china cups, using the traditional English service items, and choose from a menu that includes options such as “English Afternoon” ($37), which includes five finger sandwiches, a cream scone and toppings, tea fancies, a crumpet, and a pot of tea. The shop’s most popular menu item, according to Boyert, is the “Tea for Two” ($63), which includes four finger sandwiches, cream scones, tea fancies, and two pots of tea.
The Tipping Teapot’s separate party room hosts multiple events, from bridal to birthday to girls’ afternoon out. Special, more elaborate menus are available for these events. “We like for the patrons to feel they’re having an elegant, special experience,” Boyert says. Loose, packaged teas are also for sale in the shop, along with tea accessories and a selection of tea-based cosmetic and bath items.
Tea detox power
As if two businesses are not enough, Boyert recently created the online “Strip Teas” business, selling cleansing and beauty tea blends. Her own early experiences with serious digestive problems led her to seek out natural healing based on whole foods, good nutrition, and foods that detoxify the body. Strip Teas sells packages of detoxing herbal tea blends under the name “Teatox,” and others called “Beautox.” These are premium products with appropriately premium pricing.
“Even people who don’t usually drink tea are attracted to the health benefits of it,” Boyert says. “It’s related to taking that moment of self care, to relax.”
Looking to the future, her thoughts circle back to a version of her original concept. “I’d like to have a tea tasting room,” she says, “perhaps within the next five years.” Considering her entrepreneurial powers, it’s likely that dream will come true much sooner.