Lawrence Lai and Ann Lee, co-founders of Naivetea, understand the culture of tea.
Lee’s interest began when she learned that her great-grandfather started a very successful tea business and owned tea farms and shops in and near Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. Members of her father’s family are also tea farmers in Ping Lin, a region near Taipei, and are famous for their Bao Zhong oolong teas, a lightly oxidized oolong that exhibits characteristics of green tea and oolong.
Lai spent his early years in Taipei, and along the way developed a passion for the art and cultivation of Taiwan oolong teas.
So it was only natural that this couple launched a company that would bring the products of small-production tea farmers in Taiwan’s renowned tea-growing regions to a larger market. As the only company in the United States to focus specifically on Taiwanese oolong teas, Naivetea works with many products that are otherwise only available in Taiwan and China.
Their work has not gone unnoticed. This year, the company won First Place in World Tea Media’s North American Tea Championship for its Dong Ding Oolong (available in The Food Channel Store). The tea is what they call a “heritage” tea, with layered flavors of toasted rice, caramel notes, and a roasted sugar aroma.
The husband and wife team want their teas to be a part of a healthy family life for people, and Lee cites their own family as an example. She says, “I love the time my family and I spend together drinking tea. It is a wonderful way to bring family together and express love and care. In a fast moving world, we need to slow down sometimes to enjoy the simple and delicate pleasure of just being with our love ones.”
Lai agrees, adding, “The complete experience, from arranging a tea setting to enjoying the aroma and taste of the tea, is absolutely pleasing and calming to all five senses. We should all enjoy it as a spa treatment for the mind and inject a little quietness and stillness in our thoughts.”
Naivetea’s teas are all from high-altitude regions or regions with a rich heritage and culture of producing a specific tea. The line includes a range of 18 pure oolong teas from different regions.