STI: And what advice would you give to people just starting to be interested in specialty teas?
Todd: Wow, there’s lots of things I would love to share. But I think I would distill it down to three points: first, learn the basics of tea. Second, I recommend trying lots of different teas; find the ones you like the most. And finally – we have an expression at The Republic of Tea that we call TeaMind. It’s about having a moment when you’re enjoying your tea, and creating your own tea ritual, whatever that is. I definitely believe everyone should find his or her TeaMind.
STI: How did you come to be involved in STI and what are your goals as an Advisory Board member?
Todd: I was nominated to STI’s board by colleagues and have only been involved with the board for a few months. But giving back is a passion of mine, and I’m looking forward to working with other members to help build the awareness of specialty tea in general as well as the focus on the importance of a quality tea education.
STI: Who do you think is the most interesting person in the world of tea today?
Todd: You can probably guess my answer from the conversation we’ve been having! I truly believe that the most interesting person in the world of tea today is anyone who’s just discovering tea for the first time. I love the joy that tea can bring to someone’s life, and I love seeing people realize what specialty tea can do for them.
STI: What a great answer! And one that’s definitely consistent with everything else you’ve been sharing. But you’ve set the bar pretty high for my next question: what’s your most memorable tea experience?
Todd: I’ve been lucky – I’ve had many memorable tea experiences. But there is one that really stands out. When I was a high school student, my family lived in St. Louis, and we still have many friends there. My mom’s best friend – who volunteers at a St. Louis elementary school – called her not that long ago to tell her about a teacher at that school who has a weekly ‘tea time’ with her 5 th grade class. One of the teacher’s students wanted to interview me for her journalism unit. She emailed me a few questions. I was in St. Louis for a business meeting so I was able to visit the classroom, have tea with the students and answer the questions in persons. What a time we all had! The whole class chimed in with questions ranging from my favorite tea to how many states I’d visited. Then I spent some time teaching them about specialty tea: how to make it, where it’s grown, and the main types of tea. Finally, we all shared some Coconut Cocoa Tea and some Gingerbread Tea. Beginning to end, it was an amazing experience for all involved.
STI: Well, that answer certainly builds on your previous one! And, what is your favorite tea?
Todd: Lucky Irish Breakfast! It is the tea that I start my day with every day.
STI: Okay – last question. If you could talk to any individual in the history of tea, who would it be and why?
Todd: Thomas Lipton. He so significantly impacted the expansion of tea worldwide; I’d love to talk to him about his vision and how tea impacted his life.