Craving for tea or wanting to try one for the first time? No better place to get it than The Tea Mistress! As not everyone would know, tea is a versatile beverage with many different flavor profiles, and The Tea Mistress offers an extensive variety of teas for their customers.
Amanda Vermillion, a.k.a. The Tea Mistress, has had a lifelong interest in teas and herbs — especially that her French mother introduced her to tisanes (herbal teas) as a child. Both Amanda’s passion and knowledge of tea serve as the very core of the business.
The inspiration behind
As quirky as it sounds, Amanda grew inspiration to start a tea business after the beloved owner of a tea shop in Houston passed away — specifically after learning from the obituary that the owner was a certified tea master.
“When I read the words “certified tea master” it was like a lightbulb went off in my head. I had no idea such a thing existed and I was instantly intrigued!”
During that time, she lost her job in finance and, right on cue, it served as a sign from the universe that this was the direction she needed to be heading to.
Without wasting any more time, she called the American Tea Masters Association and signed up for the next class. Long story short, Amanda became the second ITMA-Certified Tea Master in Texas!
Forming the business (and its name)
The business started in 2013, right after Amanda had just completed her Tea Master certification and tea blending class. If you’ve ever wondered about the catchy business name, it came about over a dinner table with friends having fun.
“One of my friends said, “Tea master? You’re a woman, so you should call yourself the Tea Mistress!” I liked the way it sounded — traditional, elegant, and a bit naughty all at once — and decided it would be a good name for the company,”
On penetrating the market
Admittedly, there’s not much of a “tea culture” in Texas. Although iced tea and tea rooms are traditional, Amanda still found it hard for her to penetrate the already-populated tea market. The Tea Mistress was, and is still, surrounded by so many other great tea companies in the Houston area, much more so in the whole of Texas.
“Over the years I’ve done pop-up shops, farmers markets, and craft shows and had people walk up to my table asking, “WHAT IS THIS?” When I tell them it’s tea, their faces widen with shock and confusion because they’ve never seen a whole table full of different types of tea before, and, in fact, it has apparently never occurred to them that there are different types of tea or people who would want to buy them!”
On what sets them apart
Are you wanting to take a tea class? Do you want to do a tea tasting? Are you looking for a very special tea or herbal blend? A vintage teapot? Local honey? Coffee? Teapot jewelry? The Tea Mistress can help you with all of that!
The business stands by its slogan: infusing knowledge. Amanda believes that her knowledge of tea and herbs combined with a large variety of products being offered to each of their customers is what sets them apart from the rest of the competition.
The Tea Mistress products
In the beginning, there was a lot of trial and error for the business’ product offerings. Amanda’s first event in 2013 was a tea and chocolate pairing where she did a whole presentation and served 3 types of tea paired with six types of chocolate.
At the time, she didn’t even have her own line of teas and bought everything for the event at full retail price! Of course, the attendees asked if she was selling the items and where to purchase them. It was then and there that she learned to have some products of her own to sell.
The next event she did was a farmers market at a local university. She had just come back from the World Tea Expo — the largest tea industry trade show in the USA — where she luckily met and sampled products from many different tea companies. During the time, Amanda still did not have any of her own blends ready for sale yet but she had merchandise from new contacts at the trade show that she was able to sell.
The first blend she ever made herself was Organic French Evening, a tisane inspired by the herbal infusions she personally drank before bedtime when she used to visit her mother’s family in France.
The best tea combo
Tea goes with just about everything, which means it’s hard to pick just one food to pair their tea with! The Tea Mistress has teas that are great with desserts and some that are great with savory foods.
From Amanda herself:
“I’d have to say my Tasty Butterscotch Crumpet black tea [is perfectly paired] with a Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpet. Growing up in Philadelphia I ate a lot of Tastykakes, so it reminds me of home,”
Where to get The Tea Mistress products
Visit their website to browse the items in stock, then reach out to Amanda via email or phone when you’re ready to place an order. You can also click on “events” on their website to find out where they will be vending.
Before March 2020, most of The Tea Mistress business’ income was coming from vendor markets, mail orders, deliveries, the tea of the month club (which Amanda founded in January 2019), and her speaking engagements.
Amanda had to pivot and reevaluate several business factors — especially now that times are rough due to the pandemic. Tea of the month club is currently going strong, along with more mail orders, deliveries, and curbside pick-ups. Just recently, Amanda also started doing online classes and online tastings once a month.
What to keep en eye out for
Their Tea of the Month Club is a great way to try different types of tea and tisane without breaking the bank. Unlike some tea subscription boxes that surprise you with things they think you’ll like, they will let the customers choose.
Each month you can select three different teas from a curated list of 7-8 seasonal selections. What to love about this deal? Amanda always makes sure to offer a variety, including caffeine-free choices. And on your birthday month, expect to get free extra tea!
You can sign up for as little as 3 months or as long as 12 months, and you can cancel at any time. Visit their website for more information.