The principle of Ujamaa-Cooperative economics, to build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and profit from them together, is one that has been ever present in my thoughts and in my search to convert thoughts to actions I have begun the journey in earnest. A while back, a few years, there were only a few women of color involved in the “business” of tea. A very small group though I could see that in both our learning process and business development we were asking the same questions and most of our answers came from trial and error. What I found disturbing was if we just spoke to each other on a consistent basis some of the processes and costly mistakes could have been avoided.
Yes, I am aware there are many organizations and social media conversation groups where you can pose questions and get a wide range of answers, though I am finding lately the answers seem to have an underlying feel of someone trying to sell something. I also know that when I sit down to have a conversation with my “girls” or “guys” the questions and answers seem right and the results satisfactory, even stellar. Our customer bases are different, our locals as well, though our concerns are the same, surviving and thriving within business and specifically in our chosen industry. In an effort to address these issues I decided to join forces with my fellow tea entrepreneurs to provide consultation, coaching and help when needed through a Tea Consortium.
Just recently one our local tea entrepreneurs, CuriosiTeas NYC, came up with a wonderful service, TeaForHumanity.org. This service to offer tea comfort and warmth of a hot cup of tea along with a listening ear to the recent evacuees and volunteers helping in the recovery process after Hurricane Sandy. Her motivation came from her own personal experience being a New Orleans resident when Hurricane Katrina hit. I read about her efforts called my Harlem resident tea sister Tea by Tiffany and arranged a meeting of the minds. We each have our own individual strengths and focuses and when brought together, we are exceptional. With the help of donations from a variety of segments in the industry as well as individuals who donated both time as well as products, we have served over 3,500 cups of tea and established 3 hubs for service in Brooklyn and Staten Island at the gracious hospitality of Occupy Sandy.
From this awesome collaboration and learning we intend to continue this effort and expand our business entrepreneurship in the future as a part of “The Tea Consortium” which is the expansion of the vision I have had of creating a business forum and partnership for persons of color within the tea/small business arena. This is the realization of quote “what I can’t do alone we can do together”. I am blessed to be a part of this experience. For more information and volunteer/donation opportunity visit TeaForHumanity.org. For more information regarding The Tea Consortium, please contact agiftoftea at gmail [dot] com
African Jewel Rooibos Tea Cake
Prep 20 minutes | Bake 20-25 minutes
This recipe was originally posted on my blog here. The tea used in this cake can be purchased from one of our consortium members, Teafields, in Englewood, New Jersey. I am not a baker, so please do not think any less of this recipe, because I used a pre-measured box product. I am sure those of you gifted with a “floured thumb” can adapt it with more natural ingredients. If you do, let me know maybe I’ll garner up enough courage to try it as well.
1 box cake mix (recommend Pillsbury Moist Supreme)
1/3 cup softened butter or margarine
1 cup African Jewel Rooibos tea (room temperature)
One recipe for African Jewel Rooibos Tea Icing (recipe below)
1. Following the package directions for making the cake and add 3 eggs and 1/3 cup softened butter or margarine. Instead of adding water, use African Jewel Rooibos tea.
2. Follow the package directions for baking the cake or cupcakes.
3. Drizzle African Jewel Rooibos Tea Icing when the cake is cool.
African Jewel Rooibos Tea Icing
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
3 oz. African Jewel Rooibos Tea (room temperature)
1 oz. corn syrup
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth. To use place the desired amount in a double boiler and warm to 100°F. Let cool before using.
A Gift of Tea Profile: With “a passion for creating with tea”, Jo successfully helps small and mid-sized businesses reach their goals by setting up plans for growth and profit through community outreach and contact development. She specialize in tea business consulting and service training, tea and tea product marketing/promotion, and tea event catering and coordination. In addition, Jo is a co-author of the following children’s books: The World’s Special Tea A History Of Tea For Children, ©2011; The Princess Arrives With Tea, ©2012. This year, she was a core conference speaker at World Tea East Conference Educational Conference.