In Oakland, over on Broadway, there’s a co-working space in a bustling complex known as the Hive. As you open the front door, you’ll probably see the smiling face of Numi Organic Tea co-founder, Ahmed Rahim. He and his sister Reem are the founders of local and nationally distributed tea company Numi Organic Teas. I had been familiar with their teas and their social initiatives for a while. But, it took me moving to Oakland to truly understand how they embody the spirit of this city in the diversity, activism, and attention to ingredient sourcing, and so, I’m pleased to welcome them as the next guest on my tea podcast.
People who work tradeshows have a certain unspoken camaraderie. There is a worn look about the sparkling eyes that says, I too will talk to 500 people today. The moments leading up to a tradeshow tend to be squirreled away and regarded as precious time of quiet before the floodgates of the convention doors are opened wide. It is with this in mind that I started my morning several years ago at Blue Bottle Coffee, waiting in an absurdly long line for a short cup of caffeine and a bowl of oats to tuck down before making the short trek to the Moscone Center. Sometimes, I can’t help my curiosity or my need to say hello to strangers wearing badges that look just like the one stashed in my cross-body bag. At the time, I was working at a food company in another vein than tea, but found that morning that kismet or providence had seated tea kitty-corner to me. And that is how I first met Eric Ring, the tea buyer for CHOICE Organic Teas. Later during that show, I would meet Anne-Marie Phillips and even later, Valerie. But on this particular morning, licking the foam from the inside rim of my paper cup, Eric reminded me that working in tea is like being part of a coterie that you never really leave.