Moving Forward

Building out: April 2012

Building out: April 2012

Opening a retail tea store has been a dream of my husband’s and mine since the late 1990s. A New Leaf began as an assignment to prepare a marketing business plan for an MBA class I took at Hofstra University (I got an A). We waited quite some time until [what we thought was] the best time and then jumped in feet first. Living locally, we honestly believed that Seventh Street was the location in which we wanted to open our first store. Once a site opened up, I got up my nerve to leave a 24-year career to start my own retail business. At the age of 42, I showed my three beautiful daughters not to be afraid, to follow their dreams, and to take a chance. You only get to do this once – live life.

Clearly as a result of our customers’ loyalty, and the great growth of our online presence, A New Leaf has recognized double-digit growth nearly every month of its operation. However, after nearly three years on Seventh Street, A New Leaf has plans to relocate to new retail space this fall.

Reading The New York Times

Reading The New York Times

The decision to relocate is not related to lack of growth. As a result of creative marketing efforts, loyal customers, and fantastic publicity, A New Leaf has grown to happily serve the niche tea market in Nassau County. A New Leaf has a heavy social media presence (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, WordPress, LinkedIn) as well as an ecommerce Web site. Additionally, in just over two years’ time, A New Leaf has been written about in The New York Times, Newsday (twice), Long Island Woman, Long Island Pulse, the Malverne-West Hempstead Herald, and was used as a location to film the season premiere of “Long Island Medium.” Impressive for a “three-years-young” small business.

Life IS Good!

Life IS Good!

Fighting the battle of a fast-moving society also turned out to be quite the challenge. Tea has a lot to do with being mindful. “Tea time” is a time for relaxation and peace. For centuries, the tea ceremony has been one of reflection, meditation and simply “being.” In today’s society, no one stops. Very few people relax for extended periods of time to just “be.” Trying to encourage people to slow down and relax is a challenge not easily fought by one person/business in a community where most people are running to work or running to do errands, or running to schools to pick up children. If I could fight the battle alone, I would.

I am grateful to those customers that believe in me, the store, the tea, and the business model. For those customers that thought A New Leaf wouldn’t make it (and especially to those who told me I wouldn’t make it, for one reason or another), I challenge you to patronize a small business today and find one nice thing to say to the owner. Perhaps you can thank them for boosting the economy. Thank them for employing people (A New Leaf employed six local college students). Thank them for trusting in your community to believe that it was strong enough to allow them to follow their dream. Tell them how beautiful their store is. Tell them how helpful their staff is. Find something nice to say to brighten their day. Rather than express an opinion on what you would do if you were in their shoes (especially if you’ve never been in their shoes), perhaps simply take a moment to thank them for their effort in the small-business sector, and give them words of encouragement for believing in your local economy. Trust me; they will appreciate it. Those truly are the moments that can help someone get by.

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Store design

A New Leaf has received so many great compliments over the course of the three years we’ve worked on designing, building, and operating the store. From the layout of our space, to the courtesy and knowledge of our six wonderful staff, right down to the calming atmosphere – compliments came frequently, and nothing pleases a business owner more. I lost count on how many times I was asked if A New Leaf was a franchise – we spared no expense on making this, our first location, the most appealing and relaxing spot we could think of.

A New Leaf also received its share of advice from customers. From, “You should serve food,” to “You’ll never make it because you don’t sell pancakes,” we’ve heard it all. It is my firm belief that Seventh Street is predominantly food-oriented. This is very challenging for a retail business. Through no fault of its own, this local community craves more eateries. In order to preserve the original plan for A New Leaf and to hold true to my business model, A New Leaf did not enter into the restaurant or food business. There are plenty of other people who could do that a lot better than me, and who would love the opportunity to do so.

Tea with Seniors

Tea with Seniors

A New Leaf is proud to have provided Garden City High School with tea for three “Tea With Seniors,” events since 2013. We’ve donated to wonderful charities, non-profits, and causes when we were able. We’ve helped people sleep better, cleanse their bodies, and start their mornings with tea. We’ve provided tea-tasting classes, had guest speakers and converted “coffee-only” drinkers. We’ve helped provide relief from colds, allergies, insomnia, and the occasional not-so-common illness. I’ve spoken at events and lectures, all in the interest of tea.

10628438_791923067497838_372141737129996260_nHow wonderful it is! I beat the odds; I am very proud of the 33 months that I worked tirelessly both in the store and at home to share my love of tea with all of you. What I am most proud of, however, is that I was able to do something that very few people could say that they did. I followed my dream. I took a chance. How many people will look back at their lives and say, “I’m so happy I did that?” Not many. Most will say, “I wish I did that;” but not me. I have no regrets. What a life lesson I learned and what an example I set for my three daughters: take a chance; what do you have to lose? Money? You can always make more money. But you can’t get back time or an opportunity. What do you have to lose? Whatever happens, you’ll have a great story to tell.

I look forward to my next location, and details will be disclosed soon.

As of August 1, our inventory will be available online from ANewLeafTeaCo.com, and we will continue to restock our most popular teas.

Any questions and/or comments to this open letter can be directed to me at info@anewleafteaco.com.

Good luck to all of you! A New Leaf looks forward to serving you online at www.ANewLeafTeaCo.com.

Kimberly Orlic

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It’s our Two-year Anniversary!

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take …”

My story

Celebrating Two Retail Years

Celebrating Two Retail Years

Over 18 years ago, at the tender age of 25, I developed the marketing plan for a tea shop while earning my MBA. Three children later, I completed my degree and continued my full-time career in higher education. Upon turning 40, I started to become discontent in my 20-year career. I decided to dust off that marketing plan and, with the help of my husband, created a full-blown business plan. I took one of the biggest gambles in my life and left my career to follow my dream of owning a tea shop. Many people thought I was crazy and I often hear(d), “I could never do what you did.”

Being a small-business owner is a great feat. Every day is a challenge in strength and perseverance. Oftentimes (and certainly in the case of A New Leaf), you wear many different hats. Not only are you the go-to person, you’re also the marketing executive, accountant, salesperson, IT technician, decorator, cleaner. But in my case, I’m also still a wife and a mother. Learning to balance all of it is very challenging and more difficult than running the day-to-day. I could never be where I am today without the help and support of my wonderful husband and three beautiful daughters. I look back at everyone that told me that they could never do what I did and hope they see that risk can pay off — but with the combination of hard work and a great support system.

Looking back on two years: sure, there are things I would have done differently, but learning is part of life. I encourage everyone: do something that scares you, and take those chances before you regret the fact that you didn’t take them at at all. Thank you to everyone who has made A New Leaf a success; even to the doubters: I couldn’t have done it without any of you.

 

Steeping the Perfect Cup of Tea

Quite frequently I’m asked if it really matters that people steep their tea properly. My answer is a resounding yes. Without a doubt.

I’ve seen many customers amazed at how precise we tend to be at A New Leaf with the measurement of the proper amount of tea for both our in-store and to-go cups, our proper water temperature, and even the rinsing of our oolong leaves. We also be sure to let our tea drinkers know how long the tea they will be drinking should steep. I can’t stress enough my belief that taking the couple of extra steps certainly makes a difference in your enjoyment of tea.

1. Tea amounts

ImageDifferent types of teas have different densities which can greatly affect the taste of the tea when using the wrong proportions. A leafy white tea is very different from a black tea when it comes to density. One tablespoon of our White Champagne Raspberry weighs 1.5 grams, the same measurement of our Keemun Panda weighs 9 grams. Black teas typically fit better into a tea- or tablespoon, but white teas, like Pai Mu Tan are difficult to measure in a spoon. We realize that not everyone has a gram scale at home, so A New Leaf measures approximately 6 grams of tea for each 12 oz. cup. Keep in mind that high quality loose-leaf teas infuse at a slower rate, as the leaves unfurl and release their flavor into the water.

2. Water Temperature
oggi_red_KettleThere are varying opinions on tea and water temperature. A New Leaf has calibrated filtered water dispensers to steep your tea at the proper temperature. Many of our customers tell us our tea is very hot; however you’re tea would not be as delicious if it were steeped improperly! We recommend:

  • White teas and mate: 170-175 degrees F (let water sit approx. 10 min. in the open kettle)
  • Green teas: 180-185 degrees F (let water sit approx. 5 min. in the open kettle)
  • Oolong teas: 190 degrees F (let water sit approx. 3 min. in the open kettle)
  • Black teas: 205 degrees F (let water sit 1 min. in the open kettle)
  • Herbal tisanes and pu-erh: 212 F (boiling water)

If the water is too cool, no tannins in the tea leaves will be released, resulting in an incomplete flavor. Too hot a temperature, too much tannin is released, often resulting in a metallic or bitter taste.

Never use water that has been boiled previously or that has been sitting around. Always use filtered water when possible.

3. Steep Time
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If you usually leave your tea in your cup for a lot longer than recommended (or until your cup is empty), I would encourage you to follow our recommended steep times;  the taste of your tea will certainly improve. Different teas require different steep times. In general, 5-7 minutes for herbal tisanes and mate, 3-5 minutes for black teas, 3 minutes for green teas, 1-3 minutes for white teas and many oolongs, and as little as 30 seconds for pu-erh. By combining the perfect steep time with the proper water temperature, you’re sure to notice a difference in your cup.

To take the guessing out of water temperatures and steep times, I would recommend the Breville tea maker. This wonderful piece of equipment is the most prized possession in my home kitchen. After measuring your tea, the Breville makes it for you! It’s the best $249 I’ve spent (and use a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon to save!)

IMG_0620Kimberly Orlic, co-founder and chief operating officer of A New Leaf, LLC is a new entrepreneur, with over 25 years’ experience in the workforce. The mother of three daughters, she is an avid tea lover and developed the idea for A New Leaf along with her husband over 15 years ago while obtaining her master of business administration degree. She holds bachelor of arts and master of business administration degrees from Hofstra University. Kimberly has over 15 years of management experience and significant experience in process improvement, systems implementation and enhancements. While at Hofstra University she demonstrated the ability to adapt to changing environments and learn different operations. In every role, she left a better organized and more efficient department. In her most recent role as the University Bulletin Editor, she recognized the potential of digital media and migrated a labor-intensive, print-only process to an efficient print, online, and mobile app product full of previously unavailable features. As a member of Hofstra’s Public Relations department, she was a member of the team that hosted the 2008 Presidential Debate and worked extensively on the program. A New Leaf is her first business venture. As owner, co-founder, and COO, Kimberly’s responsibilities focus on running the retail operation, marketing, and promotion.

Tea in Croatia: Kuća Čaja

Just outside the ancient walls of Diocletian’s Palace (built in 305 AD) on Ulica kralja Tomislava in Split, Croatia is the charming loose leaf tea shop, Kuća Čaja (House of Tea). Stop inside, and you’ll be amazed at all of the fine loose-leaf teas housed in the cozy shop. With over 100 teas stored in aluminum tins behind the counter, Kuća Čaja also has other specialty blends with flavors like, “New York Cheesecake” and “Angel’s Tongue.”  Glass shelves in the customer area are stocked with beautiful, delicate porcelain tea pots and cups, matcha wares, whisks, gift items, tea timers, and other tea accessories.

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Siniša Kaliterna, Mila Skoko, Kimberly Orlić and Ivan Orlić outside Kuća Čaja Split.

Siniša Kaliterna, the sales manager, and Mila Skoko were more than happy to speak with us about their growth in a place where coffee prevails. Siniša and the staff have been supplying Split, its tourists and the locals from the surrounding towns, with premium quality loose-leaf tea for the past four years.  When I asked Siniša why he decided to open a tea shop he explained that there was nothing like it in Split and he understood that it was a huge gamble.  He explained, “Here, our culture is very focused on cafés and wine. Friends meet for coffee or a drink; people would often associate tea with something you drink when you don’t feel well.”  The staff at Kuća Čaja have noticed a change since they opened.  There is a growing interest in tea and the many heath benefits from drinking tea.  “Also, people are beginning to explore the many favors of tea while appreciating their subtle differences.”

While strong tourism brings in people from across the globe, while I was there, a local Croatian mother came in from Trogir, a town about 30 km away, because she heard of one of their teas which helped with a particular ailment she was experiencing.

The selection of teas at Kuća Čaja are selected from around the globe and include many masterful blends. There is also have a growing selection of local tisanes which include chamomile, lavender and sage.

Recognizing the enthusiasm for sharing her knowledge and love for the Camellia sinensis plant with her customers, Mila was happy to open container after container of tea for this Long Island, New York tea shop owner.  From fine Silver Needle white tea, a common Irish breakfast and a less common green Assam to distinct aromatic blends containing healthful ingredients such as sage, nettle, lavender, and calendula flower this duo certainly knew their teas.

Of course, I had the overwhelming urge to purchase 50g of every tea Kuća Čaja sold, but settled on a handful to bring back to New York:

  • Oasis of Senses: a Sencha (green tea) leaf with apple pieces, almond slices, lemon peel, coriander, pistachio, pink peppercorn and calendula petals.
  • Angel’s Tongue:a Pai Mu Tan (white tea) leaf with calendula petals, scented with bergamot and vanilla essence.
  • White Dragon: a blend of two exceptional white teas: Silver Needle and Mao Feng.
  • King of Pu-erh: a fermented dark tea produced in China with may health benefits, purportedly including cholesterol reduction, weight loss, and many antimicrobial properties.

It was certainly a pleasure to meet two individuals as enthusiastic about tea as me, and to learn about the growth of a startup to a comfortable place in the Croatian small business world. I’m already excited to go back next summer!

Be sure to visit Kuća Čaja‘s web page and like them on Facebook!