Kim Nguyen, who has been running shop in Monrovia for nearly six years, says she found her vocation "just sort of by luck."
Originally, Nguyen's brother ran the store, but when he decided to pursue another line of work, she changed the name and the focus of the venture.
"When the opportunity came, I just decided to go for it. Before it was all sort of like dessert, boba and ice cream. Now it's more of a tea cafe with gifts," she said.
Nguyen currently runs the shop with business partner and co-owner Cindy Thai. When it comes to the store's offerings, the two like to keep it loose.
"We try to have fun with a lot of the teas and make a lot of concoctions," Thai said. "Sometimes I feel kind of like a mad scientist a little bit."
Nguyen said that the tea at their shop is unlike much of the standard bagged tea sold in grocery stores, which is very processed. The store likes to focus on natural flavors, natural fruits, and natural herbs. The shop carries around a hundred types of tea.
"We wanted lots of varieties, true flavor, and health benefits, too," she said.
In order to select their teas, Nguyen and Thai sample as many teas as possible and attend trade shows twice a year.
“It's fun. You get really wired with all the caffeine they give you,” Nguyen said. “We'll just drink lots and lots of tea and from there we'll decide if we like it enough to carry it.”
"We'll try the same tea probably like twenty different times, or varieties of it. It's kind of tedious, but it's worth it because every tea we put in the store we want to be a really great-tasting tea," she added.
In addition to meeting vendors and sampling teas, Nguyen enjoys learning from the educational programs at the shows, and has picked up lessons from Korean and Japanese tea ceremonies.
One of the international tea-drinking customs she enjoys involves the tradition of drinking mate from Argentina. Nguyen said that the person who prepares the mate drinks it first, and then passes it to the others.
"It's very social. You drink it out of a gourd with a bombilla," she said, explaining that a bombilla is a kind of straw which has tiny holes in it. "It's an infuser, actually," she said.
Nguyen said she enjoys running a business in Monrovia and appreciates it's street fair and the "small-town feel." Although she loves to offer high quality teas, she doesn't want to intimidate those who might pass up the shop because they aren't as familiar with specialty offerings.
"It's not such an uptight thing, so proper, with rules. I want people to be be able to come in and try things," she said. "I want to drink good tea, and I want it to be accessible to everyone. We take our teas very seriously but we like to have fun with it, too."