Culturas Corner highlights individuals who make their community a better place through their work, business, volunteering or activism. Today we learn more about the Tea Bar 901, a small business based in Memphis founded by Titilé Niamké and Danielle Gipson.
Why did you decide to go into the tea and honey business— how did The Tea Bar begin?
We decided to go into the honey and tea business because we felt that we could help our peers live anxiety-free, depression-free and joyous lives by introducing them to herbs and tea! The Tea Bar began in 2016, as both Dani and I (Titile) were sophomores in college. I’d come across herbs for the first time (lavender, sage, etc.) and chose to Google them. After finding out that by drinking them as tea they could help me not be a nervous wreck everytime I left my dorm, I developed a burning desire to tell everyone else about how these divine herbs could help us (millennials) with anxiety! I kid you not, my anxiety was so bad that if I was late for a lecture hall, I would rather miss that class than face the doom of everyone looking at me as I entered.
We read you like to study spirituality, Blackness and holistic health? How is your business an extension of that?
Awesome question. Our business is a divine example of holistic health. We advocate healthy eating and tea consumption for a healthy body. We advocate prayer, meditation and tea consumption for a healthy mind and spirit. And last, but always first, we advocate Jesus Christ for a whole, healed and saved soul. Our business is an extension of Blackness because we, the founders, are Black. In addition, my great great grandmother, an herbalist, was also Black. Although I did not meet her, nor is my mom, grandma, or great grandma an herbalist, the gift fell upon me anyway. I guess you could say it’s in my blood. Spiritually, I believe the Divine blessed me with my gift, as he does all of us. The Tea Bar 901 was originally named DIVINITY, meaning “of, from, or like God”. We wanted to emphasize that the tea, herbs, and honeys are not produced by us, they are produced by the Divine. WE are just the vehicle to get those divine commodities to our family and friends.
We’d love to hear more about your honey! What was it like learning to harvest? What was your reaction when the first pre-sale of the raw honey collection sold out?
You know, I’m still learning to harvest to this day! I have two amazing and very experienced beekeepers as mentors who help me along the way. We’re on our own for the jarring and infusion part, however! It blew our minds when the tweet about our honey first went viral! We were only selling locally at the time. We launched our website overnight to meet the demand and when we sold out, we were too busy filling orders to celebrate. We did, however, give glory to God as soon as the tweet started to increase in numbers. We saw then that a miracle was on the horizon. We’re thankful, happy and motivated to continue providing the highest quality of tea and honey we’re known for, and we can’t wait to do it all again!
What are your ultimate goals for The Tea Bar?
My goal for the Tea Bar 901 is to have a location in every city across the world. We want to be local to everyone and build amazing relationships with people across the globe, just as we do here in our hometown: Memphis, Tennessee. Every city that has a Tea Bar 901 location will have local beehives. Bees are endangered and they bless us humans with their work more than some of us know. They pollinate a majority of our food supply! We have to help them (the bees) as they help us.
What is your favorite cultural memory?
332 BC – Alexander of Macedonia conquered Egypt. He planned to keep south toward Ethiopia, but because Candace and her warriors were on the border waiting for him, he decided to go further east instead. To this day, Ethiopia is the only African country that has not been colonized.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Know someone who should be featured on Culturas Corner? Nominate them here.