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Talking Tea: Tea Tray in the Sky

by Cindy Gold

We pose a similar set of questions to tea entrepreneurs around the world. Our answers this month are courtesy of Cindy Gold, owner of Tea Tray in the Sky, a pair of fashionable caf�/restaurant in Arlington and Cambridge, MA, USA. The company is six years old, and offers close to 300 teas.

What teas are popular this week?

Without question our most popular tea is our house chai. This is a handmade chai, not from a commercial blend, but from a slowcooked (8 hours) blend of spices and milk blended by taste with freshly steeped Assam.

This week also the weather in Boston has been very hot, so we are selling a higher proportion of iced teas than hot. This is unique to only the hottest days of the year.

What portion of tea orders is to-go?

In our Cambridge location about 25%, in our more formal Arlington restaurant, less than 5%.

What percentage of orders is for coffee?

Less than 1%

Distance to the nearest Starbucks?

Around 3 to 4 blocks for both locations.

What did you do in prior life?

Immediately before, a Pastry Chef, before that, the Corporate World, high-tech.

The best aspects of your job?

Seeing and hearing a very satisfied customer.

Project on the furthest backburner?

Thoughts of a location overseas.

Who is your business role model?

Chef Lydia Shire of the Boston restaurants Biba, Pignoli and Locke Obers, who made a complete life and career change, selling her wedding ring to finance going to culinary school!

For tea, the person who I admire most is Roy Fong of the Imperial Tea Court who exhibits more passion and quiet knowledge of tea, while chasing after 'tea perfection' than I ever could have imagined. I am in awe of the man.

What is the best business advice you've received?

-

Any suggestions for others following your footsteps?

Wear comfortable shoes.