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Made for Tea, Meet the Mighty Leaf Tea Team: Eliot Jordan

September 29th, 2015 by Eliot Jordan


By 10:30 a.m. every morning I’ve tried at least 10 teas. That puts the morning cup of tea in perspective, doesn’t it? But as the VP of Tea at Mighty Leaf, my days are packed with whole leaf tea.  More than anything I’m diligent about tasting tea, lots of samples so as an example, when differences arise in say a black tea tasting, I’m able to stop and ask, “what’s different about this tea?” Tasting tea is like exercising a muscle, or maybe like studying a painting. The more it’s done, the better shape my palate is in to taste discrepancies or nuances. In addition to tasting tea, my day-to-day job involves communicating with our suppliers and cross-checking  with the people I work with to secure ingredients from around the world. What I love about tea is it’s the ultimate yin-yang; it’s both simple and complex. My days are full of work that I’m passionate about and I work closely with our tea team, Anni and Danielle to ensure the teas we blend and provide to our customers taste great with fantastic aroma.

My interest in tea started like perhaps many others. Growing up, my mom would throw tea parties and her interest in tea trickled down to me. After college, I took on a job at Peet’s Coffee & Tea. At the time, there were only 5 stores. As I worked at Peet’s I embraced tasting tea and coffee, which led me to conduct internal trainings. This started out as a part-time position that then grew into a full-time position. My interest in coffee waned and my desire to drink and understand tea grew. Jim Reynolds,  now roastmaster emeritus at Peet’s mentored me in tea as I learned on the job. Over time and after 5 years of working with Jim directly, I began purchasing the teas for Peet’s, which also provided hands-on experiences traveling to tea-growing regions to meet with our suppliers. In 1995, I visited India for the first time, then in 1999, I first visited China.  I draw inspiration from the care and diligence shown by the people who produce great teas, and I love traveling in countries where it’s consumed liberally. The business of tea is old-fashioned and relationship-driven—something I enjoy immensely. I worked at Peet’s for 30 years and am now thrilled to be a part of Mighty Leaf Tea.

Made for Tea, Meet the Whole Leaf Tea Team: Anni Pattee

September 22nd, 2015 by Anni Pattee

Anni - tea team

As the tea assistant at Mighty Leaf, I steep hundreds of teas a week for cuppings. Working with tea everyday creates awareness in the rest of my life. When I steep tea, my full attention is focused on ensuring the tea is steeped properly and my thoughts drift to the passion used to create these teas.

My mom brewed tea regularly when I was a child and I relished the opportunity to tear open a new tea box and discover which ceramic creatures were hidden inside. When I discovered Russian Caravan Black Tea years later, I knew tea had completely won me over. I still drink Russian Caravan and also enjoy Lapsang Souchong for the same reasons. I loved how it enveloped me in warmth and had a smooth richness I hadn’t found in coffee. Little did I know, it would become my livelihood years later.

While studying Industrial Design in college, I took a job at Market Hall in Oakland where I perfected my barista techniques and continued to develop my tea palate. I began picking up on the nuances of tea— its subtle flavors and complex layers. After 4 years there, I moved on to Peet’s as a trainer and shift lead, successfully competed in several rounds of a barista competition, and participated as a sensory judge for other barista competitions.

While I appreciate coffee, I always come back to tea. Tea is amazing! Its origins and how it’s grown influence the final cup. The flavor profiles and character of tea are so versatile. At Mighty Leaf, I spend every day focused on my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you!

Made for Tea, Meet the Tea Team: Danielle Hochstetter

September 17th, 2015 by Danielle Hochstetter

Danielle Hochstetter
At the age of six or seven, my Dad would sit me down regularly and say, “It’s time for a cup of tea.” He served black tea with honey. A few years later, he moved to South Africa and in high school, my brother and I flew out to see him. He took us to a fancy resort so we could have teatime. I still remember the taste of the Keemun tea from the resort fondly. So, the tea bug had bitten me early on, but it kept growing. During high school, I leaned heavily on tea to help me pull through all-nighters, trying as many teas as I could. In college, I began reading tea books from the library like “The New Tea Lover’s Treasury” by James Norwood Pratt and got it into my head that one day I wanted to meet him. I developed a preference for loose teas and visited an Asian grocery store in Charlotte, NC for loose leaf tea, which at the time was hard to find.

In college, I studied music business but worked at a tearoom where I continued my tea tasting studies and a co-worker opened my eyes to single origin black teas, gyokuro, and my fast favorite, green oolongs. After college, I moved to South Korea to pursue a Fulbright. While there, I taught English and studied the Korean tea ceremony and Korean drumming. In Asia, I realized people opened teahouses dedicated to loose leaf tea and made a living from it. With the encouragement of fellow Fulbrighters, my career path shifted to one steeped in tea.

Upon my return to the states, I moved to Savannah, Georgia and waitressed at a tea room—I wanted to see how they operate and save money so one day I could open my own. Over time, it became clear how difficult it would be to make a living in the US running a teahouse and that I needed to rethink my plan.  I decided to move to China. The manager at the tea room invited me to accompany her to the World Tea Expo where I finally met James Norwood Pratt. I asked him where I should move in China and he suggested either Hangzhou or Fujian. Before I moved to China, I worked for Devan Shah’s tea company for a year and a half. But China beckoned.

In Hangzhou, I applied and studied at Zhejiang University (浙江大学), recognized as the third best college in China (with the first two being in Beijing where no tea grows). For two years, I studied Mandarin and later worked part time as a teacher, pursuing my passion of tea in my off-hours. I led tea tours and traveled to points of tea origin. A teacher of mine encouraged me to apply to the tea science program at Zhejiang, so I applied and was accepted to study for a master’s in tea science.  During my studies, I attended the World Tea Expo in the United States and met Eliot Jordan. He had been looking to hire a tea assistant immediately; while the job sounded tempting, I needed to finish my studies. He hired Anni Pattee during that interim period. He offered me a job in September and I started in January – I’ve been surrounded by tea ever since :).

Since I’ve been tea buyer at Mighty Leaf Tea, my job consists of juggling what we need to cup for QA or purchasing decisions with correspondence to our vendors. It’s clear how each step of my path led me deeper into tea and my job keeps me rooted in my passion for tea with people equally invested in the pursuit of great tea.

Finding Romance with Mighty Leaf

December 13th, 2010 by admin

It’s always fun to see how Mighty Leaf Tea fans express themselves and their passion for tea. We found a series of videos on YouTube that a fan produced. As you will see, the videos certainly highlight the emotional connection that a tea drinker shares with their tea. At Mighty Leaf we are happy to continue the ancient tradition of providing people with a beverage and experience that stirs both the creative and contemplative spirit.

A Feel Good Bank Ad with Mighty Leaf

Mighty LeafOctober 1st, 2010 by Mighty Leaf

Nothing like a feel good banking ad to make you aspire to be more. We thought you might enjoy seeing a local ad that was produced by the Bank of Marin, our local bank, highlighting their relationship with our company. It provides a quick peek into Mighty Leaf and introduces you to our CEO, Gary Shinner. The Mighty Leaf footage was shot at our headquarters in San Rafael, California (about 20 minutes north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge).