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The Take Away: Chatting with Tea Queen Vanessa Sanchez 

click to enlarge LEA THOMPSON
  • Lea Thompson
Name: Vanessa Sanchez
Job/Title: Founder of San Antonio-based tea company Teaness
Birthplace: San Antonio
Impact: Infusing San Antonio’s culinary scene with farm-to-cup organic tea blends
Industry Experience: When Sanchez isn’t growing her tea empire, she works as a manager for Rosella Coffee
Money Quote: “If there’s no passion in the making of the tea, you can taste the sadness.”

What’s the best part of your job?
I love [hosting] tea tastings. I’ve always loved brewing tea for people; it’s a great way to connect and learn. L-theanine, an amino acid found in tea, really helps create a nice, happy environment unlike anything else.

What have you been up to recently?
I created a CBD-friendly tea blend exclusively for Dab Hemp Café, now available at the store. I’ve also been collaborating with Ventura San Antonio — you’ll find my SpecialTea lemon-mint vodka cocktail on their drink menu, and you’ll see our new matcha-lada drink enter the local Michelada Madness Competition on September 1.

What’s one thing you wish people understood about the tea industry?
Know what you’re drinking. Most grocery store teas are mass-produced and sourced from multiple farms. In the tea industry today, there are too many farmers who don’t treat their employees right. So many employees are underpaid, have no tea education and no passion. They’re just working long hours, spraying plants. If there’s no passion in the making of the tea, you can taste the sadness. It affects the quality of the tea leaf and the drink.

I initially wanted to grow my own crops but realized that was a huge undertaking for one person, and it’s difficult for the plants to really thrive in this heat. I started reaching out to those farmers and growers [in the U.S. and throughout the globe] who are passionate about the tea, from ground to harvest, and the tea-making process. You can taste the difference.

What’s your go-to tea drink?
As a kid, I fell in love with the iced tea at Bill Miller’s. I’d put a ton of lemons in those giant cups of iced tea, and I thought it was the best thing. (Laughs.) It definitely inspired my go-to drink: Teaness’ Lemon Black Tea. It’s a blend of black tea from India, organic lemongrass and hand-peeled dehydrated lemon. It’s so satisfying and refreshing.

What’s next for you?
I’m working to make Teaness and great tea experiences even more accessible to people, especially in San Antonio. I recently launched Teaness’ new website so I can take online orders, but now I’m looking to bring my blends and events to more places and bigger spaces.

So many restaurants, so little time. Find out the latest San Antonio dining news with our Flavor Friday Newsletter.

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