In between Habersham and Price Streets, cozied on the ground floor of a red brick building, sits the 406 E Oglethorpe Ave. cafe, Ashford Tea Company.
The owner, Wayne Ashford, serves as a tea connoisseur and a motivational speaker who teaches how drinking tea may influence a lifestyle of health and wellness. Ashford first began his tea offerings in Indianapolis, IN, where his shop Tea’s Me Cafe still resides.
He expanded his tea services to Oglethorpe Ave. just three years ago, and since then he has gained favor from many visitors.
Behind Ashford Tea Company’s glass door and windows are bright-yellow walls, lined with fragrant varieties of black, white, green and oolong teas, inviting locals and visitors to stop inside of the modern shop, where Ashford will be waiting to serve and share his insight on the perfect cup of tea.
What’s the best way to have tea? Hot or iced?
I get that question a lot and my answer is “do tea.” There is no wrong way to have a high quality cup of tea. If you do a good quality, loose tea, you will still reap the same health benefits from it whether it’s warm, chilled or iced.
How can people enjoy a cup of Ashford Tea Company tea?
We do a retail piece and we also do a wholesale piece. We wholesale to some hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and museums. On the retail side, you can buy it loose and purchase it in tins. You can also just come in and have a cup, a pot or a pitcher of tea.
Yet, Ashford Tea Company is not about selling tea.
It is about introducing a lifestyle which is drinking a beverage that I believe is the second most important beverage that we should drink… water being the first. When you look at the world, tea is even the second most popular drink in the world.
You share that you have been in the business of selling and serving tea for over 20 years and it is something you are passionate about. What got you started?
Well, the short answer is, I never liked coffee. I tried it, but it’s just something I never enjoyed. Now to go a little deeper than that, I don’t know if that [distaste for coffee] is because I was so fascinated by my first experience with tea or the taste from that experience.
I remember in Mississippi, when I was about 9-years-old, my mother would make sun tea. She would take a huge mason jar, place what looked to me like a hundred tea bags inside of the mason jar and put it on the sidewalk early in the morning and let the sun steep it.
Then she would bring it inside—and here’s the best part—she would put about 2-3 pounds of sugar in it. That was the best drink I ever had as a kid.
Your slogan is “Living Life to the Tea.” What does that mean?
Living life to the Tea is a play on words with my passion for tea. “To the T” with the letter “T” means you hit it perfectly, but “Living Life to the Tea” is not living life perfectly, but living life with a purpose.
How has tea been purposeful in your life?
One of the things that I’ve been purposeful about on my journey is being the best individual I can be, body, mind and soul. I believe that most of us, if not all of us, are trying to achieve peace and happiness in our lives, and tea is a beverage that envelops all of that.
I often speak about the health benefits of tea and how it mirrors who we are. One of the things I talk about when I lecture is that as humans we are made up of amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and we have about 20 or so amino acids in our bodies.
After becoming passionate about tea and doing the research, I discovered that tea has about 19 amino acids so it almost plugs in exactly with the needs of our bodies. Therefore, tea is one of the beverages that can be used to slow down and fight our physical ailments.
Also, tea is one of those things that automatically implements self care in our lives. Just saying the word “tea” settles the body before even having a cup. When enjoyed, tea works from the inside out and on my own purposeful journey, I realized that peace and happiness works the same way.