2013 — From Beijing to Vancouver
We moved back to Vancouver after living in Beijing for four years. Our new home was fairly empty, but we did have a tea set in the living room, and we would occasionally have friends over for a nice afternoon of tea over good conversations.
It was then that the idea of opening a tea shop first came up - we realized there was no place in this city for us to enjoy tea and try different teas in the company of others.
April 2014 — First sourcing trip / finding our own space
I spent a month in China meeting many small scale tea farmers in Yunnan, Fujian, and Guangzhou, and a few ceramic artists in Jingdezhen. I was very happy to have found some delicious teas that I would want to drink everyday and share with others.
For months after the sourcing trip, we searched around Vancouver for a suitable place to open up our tea shop; driving and walking around different neighbourhoods in the city.
August 2014 — Finding Main & 20th
After months of searching, we finally secured the space on Main & 20th and we started planning right away!
A lot of things were unknown to us, but we were certain about a few things: i) we wanted the space to be simple yet calming, using as much natural materials as possible; ii) the focal point of the space would be a tea bar, serving as a stage to showcase the ritual of tea making, the beautiful utensils involved, and for people to sit and engage in conversations.
November 2014 — Making the space our own
Most of the labour that went into making the space our own was done by us—we tore down walls, took down the old ceiling, stripped away the old tile flooring. We also designed our own tea bar system, including the hidden sink, and found a small company who custom-made it for us.
Every element that went into creating this space was carefully considered to reflect our values.
By the end, we were exhausted, broke and covered head to toe in dust, but the experience of building our own space was so rewarding.