The last time we wrote a year-end retrospective was 2020. It was the year of pandemic darkness, and we remembered articulating its silver lining right around this time: New Yorkers re-claiming the joy of personal space through social distancing, the true meaning of solitude, what bird chirping sounds like, and how long it takes to cook your own meals via elaborate recipes.
This year we felt the pandemic truly behind us – we have replaced sourdough bread with adventurous travel plans and meditative solitude with emotional family drama. However the seasons change, for some of us (the “mature” crowd, mostly) one thing seems constant: the year-end reflection is a reminder that each year is passing quicker than our own cycle of short-term memory. Seriously, how have we gotten to the eve of 2024!
Highlights for Té
As much as it feels like the year flashed by in front of our eyes, we’ve held screenshots of a few memorable events.
- Inaugural sourcing trip post the travel ban - visiting all our favorite tea producers and eating our body weight worth of Taiwanese pastries as “research”.
- Discovering your affinity for our tea sourcing trip when we sold out of our Sourcing Bounty Box in a matter of hours.
- Seeing you introduce Taiwanese pineapple cakes to your family and friends and watching you contemplate “linzer vs. cake” the same way CNN analyzes news headlines.
- Introducing the organic tea collection to improve our collective carbon footprint.
- The top 3 teas you brewed in 2023 were - Oriental Beauty, Frozen Summit, and Mount Ali.
- Your top 3 choices of treat in 2023 were – Pineapple Linzers (shocker..), Taiwanese Mooncakes, and Pineapple Cakes.
Most memorable moment for our team
On a more personal note, here are the most memorable moments from each of the staff. Persimmon project was a big hit!
Meeting with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen and finally understood what it means “to feel seen”.
At last, being able to offer delicious Taiwanese pineapple cakes after eight years in business.
Being the persimmon caretaker: from hanging them, massaging them to serving them out of the wooden dragon box at the tearoom. This is also the first year I started running our morning tea seminar program at the tearoom!
The big flood on the Friday of Mid-Autumn Festival in September, incidentally our last day of mooncake pickups. The chaos of everything running 2 hours behind schedule, including massive delays shuttling boxes of mooncakes between Brooklyn and Manhattan was quite memorable. Not exactly a good moment but certainly left a strong impression.
Preparing and hanging the persimmons! It was my first time and had a fun time learning how to dry them out. As a side note - hearing our guests talk about how they or their parents used to hang their own persimmons!
Definitely hanging the persimmons together! When they were first hung up on the ceiling, they seem like bright stars (before they start to dry out with wrinkles). There was a couple at the tearoom seriously arguing about whether the persimmons are fake or real. They did not ask us for some reason and left without knowing the truth. I also enjoyed the fallen ones as a snack.
Recalibrating the pineapple jam in a new kitchen, we went from gas to electric, and melting a plastic container in the oven by accident. Also - saving up and buying a camera I really wanted.
Finally, getting an apple computer after waiting and saving up for nearly three years to process my photographs faster!
Improving my techniques at making pizza for staff meals on Fridays.
Learning how to make things I haven’t seen before, like winter melon in a pastry filling.
Getting used to living and working away from my family. This is my first job.
Outlook for 2024
If we were to look back ten years from now, 2023 would have seemed like a normal-ish year. We would remember it as the first post-pandemic year, the inaugural days of organic teas and pineapple cakes, and the first year operating out of our HQ at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
Sitting by the commissary kitchen in front of a pile of boxes during the last week of 2023, we smell pineapple jam being reduced and the humming of a new tea sealing machine. This year felt like a foundational one for us. Lots of setup and preparation for the future.
We are optimistic about the new year. There are abundant ideas to add (red bean mooncakes? A Brooklyn popup?), to revisit (funky finds like yellow tea from an aboriginal tribe, definitely more aged teas), and to improve (maybe a reusable tin for tea or cookies so it’s forever less packaging). We are excited about what’s to come and are eager to share it with you.
Thank you, for finding time to read our ruminations, for indulging in our impulses and taking them wholesale (you remember them - precious hand embroidered tea towels, persimmons installation for gazing), and for accompanying us through this journey of tea and treats. Hope it’s been a joyous and delicious one for you. Here is to a better 2024!