Here is the full interview Tea Party Girl held with the lovely Monica Naples of AR-T the art of tea. We hope you enjoy it!
About AR-T the art of tea, The Product
How Would You Describe AR-T Teas to People Wondering if They Should Drink Them?
AR-T tea blends are committed to producing unique and socially responsible teas.
All of our ingredients are organic and the teas are from fair trade sources.
Our blends range from black to green to herbal tisanes and can be enjoyed hot (with or without milk) or cold.
What Can Tea Lovers Expect When They Purchase AR-T Products?
Have an open mind and expect something a little different, but tasty and busting with flavour.
Do You Have a ‘Signature’ Tea Product?
One of our most popular teas is Lavender Grey: Earl Grey tea with the addition of organic lavender and rose petals. Its heaven in a cup! Its great as a latte, AKA, London Fog. Also popular are our herbal tisanes, Hibiscus Mint and Citrus Bliss. They work very well as iced tea!
Are You Planning to Add to Your Range?
Yes! In recent weeks I have come out with an Organic Herbal Chai: its very similar to our Organic Chai but the black teas are replaced with Organic Honeybush and it is a dry blend (not mixed with honey) for those who are cutting back on sugar.
I would also like to introduce some of the finer, more delicate black, green and white teas of the world to the tea drinking community.
Is There Anything Else You Want Tea Lovers to Know About AR-T Teas or Becoming a Customer?
All of our tea blends are hand-crafted in small batches to ensure you receive the freshest tea possible. I have background experience with essential oils, so I think it has helped me to understand the characteristic flavours of tea, herbs and spices to create balanced blends. As a gardener, I grow some of the ingredients myself and try to source most of them locally.
We are located in Australia, but I am open to expanding to the US.
We can ship orders internationally.
About Monica – What Do Our Readers Need to Know?
Where Are You Located?
AR-T is located in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia.
Where Are You Originally From?
I am actually from Texas, where my parents and family members still live. I went to university in Austin and that’s where my passion for tea was born!
What is Your Story With Tea? Where Did Your Love for it Come From?
I was always experimenting with herbs and drinking herbal teas. My college roommate/high school friend would always joke about the stinky brews I would be drinking. She was the biggest coffee drinker I had ever seen and when I tried coffee, the caffeine was so strong I knew it wasn’t for me. So instead I started drinking black tea, in order to have late night study sessions.
How Did You Develop Your Knowledge About Tea?
At the time I started drinking black tea, I found this beautiful small book called The Book of Tea. It had tea recipes of popular cultural tea drinks: chai, Russian caravan, etc. So I started making these and that broadened my knowledge on different types of black teas. When I would go with my roommate to cafes, I only ordered tea and would try all that were on offer.
Monica, What Are Your Personal Tea Preferences?
What’s the First Tea You Ever Remember Drinking? How Was it Served?
Twinings Earl Grey believe it or not! It was just a cup of hot water and a tea bag.
What are You Drinking at the Moment?
Do you really want to know? For school drop off, I have a chai with soy milk in my to-go cup. Then a couple more when I get home. About an hour later, I have a pot of Darjeeling, with a cup to accompany me on school pick-up. Then in the afternoon I switch to a soft green tea. And in the evening, I may drink more green or AR-T’s Mint Fusion.
What is Your Favorite Tea? Why?
Can I have more than one? I absolutely love a strong Chai! I love the healthful feelings I get when I drink it and it warms me up in the winter months! Then I love it cold in the hot summer! Darjeeling is my new favourite black tea as it has a sweet after taste, with floral and earthy notes. First flush green and white tea is a delicacy that I enjoy sometimes when I want to feel special! It is so clean and beautiful tasting.
Who are Your Tea Heroes? Are There Tea Retailers or Brands Who Are Your Inspiration?
The workers who pick the tea all over the world, sharing it with the global population!
(I admire and respect many tea companies, but stress the importance of those offering fair trade and organic teas because they are being socially and environmentally responsible.)
But I do have to give a shout-out to Starbucks (in America) who have “introduced” tea to the younger populations and to the main stream take-away coffee consumers; and T2 (in Australia and now America) who are the trendy “go-to brand” for loose leaf tea and tea paraphernalia.
With Sugar or Without Sugar?
No sugar, but honey. When I discovered Earl Grey, I always had it with honey. Then I started reducing my sugar intake and drinking tea without it. Now I prefer no sweetener at all, as I feel it changes the characteristic flavours of the tea too much.
About AR-T, The Business
“In a Nutshell”, How Would You Describe AR-T as a Place to Purchase Tea?
AR-T’s mission is to make good quality tea available to the masses. Being a tea drinker, I feel a bit of injustice when cafes offer premium quality coffee to coffee drinkers, while tea drinkers are not catered for and are expected to pay the same price as a cup of great coffee for a cup of hot water and a 5 cent tea bag. (Don’t get me on my soap box!)
Does AR-T Have a Physical Shopfront, or do You Trade Solely Online?
Its only available online at the moment, but will soon be available to purchase in local retail shops and to order at local cafes.
Where in the Country Are You Based?
I am in Southeast Queensland, Australia.
Do You Sell to the Public? To Businesses (Restaurants & Cafes)? Are You a Wholesaler?
Yes, my first customers were fellow tea drinkers. I am also focussing on selling wholesale to cafes and retail shops. I would love to partner with a local coffee roaster for them to supply AR-T to their clients.
What is Next for AR-T?
I am hoping to get Australians hooked on iced tea in the hot summer months! Being from Texas, I grew up drinking sun tea. Then in Austin, I discovered Hibiscus Mint iced tea. So I had to make an AR-T blend reminiscent of that tea. Its one of my most popular!
About Being an Online Tea Retailer and Tea Business Owner
What Was it About the AR-T Business That Took Your Fancy?
Well, it all started when I happened to look online at businesses for sale in my area. I never do this! What I found was the local tea shop for sale. So I enquired about it, but they already had an offer. So I let it go as being meant to be. But when that tea business started focussing on mostly retail, I noticed a niche for a local wholesale tea company. It was then that my husband suggested that I should start my own tea business. I started looking into it and found a tea blending course in Melbourne that was coming up. So off I went on my first ever trip without kids and husband and had the best time playing with and drinking tea!
It took a while thinking up the whole company, but it slowly it taking shape early 2017. AR-T comes from the idea of having unique tea blends artfully designed by me.
Is This your First Tea Business?
Yes! Unless you count my sustainability education business which was mostly me giving gardening classes.
Has it Always Been Your Passion to Own a Tea Business?
It has been more of a dream that I never fathomed would materialised. My real dream is to own a tea sanctuary; a place with beautiful gardens that people can come to retreat from the hustle of the day and relax with a beautiful cup of tea in comfy chairs in the garden and tea house.
What Were You Doing Before You Became the Proud Owner of AR-T?
I am a botanist so I was teaching school children gardening through our school’s Garden Club.
What Do You Like Most About Being an Online Tea Retailer?
I like the freedom. I have two kids below the age of 12 so it allows me to drop off and pick them up from school, be supportive at school sporting events and allows me to still be a domestic goddess!!!!
Do You Run the Business on Your Own or do You Hire Staff/Have a Business Partner?
Yes I do everything myself from designing the teas to designing print material and sourcing/growing ingredients. I do have a good support system with lots of input from friends and family.
What Advice Would You Give to an Aspiring Online Tea Specialist?
If you have the passion, then go for it! Quality tea is only getting more popular and socially acceptable to drink in cafes. Maybe one day it will surpass coffee as the #1 consumed beverage.
Do you have any recommendations for our readers?
Do You Think Everyone Should Drink Tea? Why or Why Not?
Yes! (Good Quality) Tea is so good for you! I love the fact that I am not harming my body by drinking so many cups of it. I think there are even more health benefits when you choose organic loose-leaf tea.
Health benefits aside, tea is so versatile! You can enjoy it cold on ice in the summer and you can have a steaming cup of it to warm the soul in winter. Plus, the range available is so extensive that you can enjoy a different blend throughout the day; a strong black tea with breakfast and even a sweet dessert tea after dinner.
What (Ailments) is Tea Good For?
Virtually anything from increasing metabolism to strengthening teeth and bones.
Without making any health claims, tea has been studied extensively and research has found that it has cancer fighting qualities due to constituents called flavonoids and polyphenols. These are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to fight viruses, slow aging, and have an overall beneficial effect on health.
Although tea contains caffeine, it is more relaxing than it is stimulating due to the amino acid L-theanine, which counteracts the side effects of caffeine. In my opinion, that’s why it’s a great mood lifter!
I do have to add that the higher the quality of tea, the more health benefits there are, with even more if its organic. Also, loose leaf tea, which is usually of higher quality, is more healthful than tea bags because white tea bags are bleached and the material is either synthetic or was grown using pesticides, which introduces unnecessary chemicals into your brew. Not to mention, loose leaf tea is environmentally friendly in that you can just add it to your compost!
What Occasions is Tea Good For?
Tea has many personalities! It can be cultural and a part of weddings; formal, adding sophistication to parties; a comfort when a friend is down; a refreshing drink when temperatures soar; or as pure enjoyment any time of the day.
Tea Party Girl would like to thank Monica for taking the time to tell us about her beautiful business and passion for tea.
We here at Tea Party Girl wish you all the best in your business, Lovely Lady and we will keep in touch!
Readers can contact Monica via her Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/ARTtheartoftea/ and website www.AR-T.com.au