Monday, November 23, 2015

Interview: Naomi Rosen of Joy's Teaspoon

Naomi Rosen at World Tea Expo
Today's interview is with Naomi Rosen of Joy's Teaspoon. She is an online tea retailer, based in Las Vegas and is involved with the US League of Tea Growers, where she is helping to support our nation's expanding tea farms. Read below to learn about her adventures in tea, and family.

When did you discover your love for tea?

My sister moved from San Diego, where we grew up, to Chicago in 2005. The first time I visited, in October, she had this really cute tea place that was down the street from her house. They were hosting a tea tasting on the Saturday that I was there and we thought it would be fun to go check it out. We had drank Bigelow as kids when we were sick but we had no clue what loose leaf tea was. That morning we were introduced to Lung Ching, Genmaicha, Sencha, and one other that I can’t remember…and we were hooked. From then on, it became a fun hobby that the two of us could share long distance.

Why did you decide to sell tea online?

My family moved to Las Vegas in 2009, and we decided that I would stay home with our son. I wanted something I could do when he was napping and I was passionate about finding good tea, so we decided to launch Joy’s Teaspoon. It was 30 assorted teas and 9 spices, with a sprinkling of accessories for good measure.

How do you choose the teas that you sell?

For our blended teas, it’s mostly flavor. We have worked with a handful of blenders for 5+ years now so I initially set up what I thought was a diverse offering of flavors. I’ve since had blends made, or fulfilled customer requests of certain blends. We trust where they are sourcing their base teas from and are very open with the ingredient lists on our site. As for the unblended and orthodox offerings, first we get the story of the teas. We want to ensure that the field employees are being paid fairly and offered social services. Most of our unblended teas are farmed organically, although few are certified because of the cost to do so. We sample and cup the teas, compare them to other blenders we have received tea from in the same regions, and keep copious notes.

Naomi's tea plant George Michael

What is it like to be involved with the US League of Tea Growers?

It’s been exciting watching an industry grow right in front of my eyes. I’ve learned more than I ever thought I could from the farmers and I’m fascinated at the different processes these farmers are using to grow their tea. It’s an honor to work with these growers and represent their needs and ideas and I’m really excited to see where we will be in another 5 or 10 years.

What are some of the challenges of spreading awareness for tea and tea growing in the US?

Tea growers face a few challenges, but there are three that are perhaps bigger than some of the others. Best practices of tea growing is probably one of the biggest hurdles and the driving force for my support of the US League of Tea Growers. While tea itself is an old crop, tea growing in the US is fairly new and the information for doing it successfully isn’t readily available. Equipment is another big one. Hand producing all of the tea in the US is not an option. Some of the processes are going to have to be mechanized and right now there’s not a whole lot of machinery designed for this. Lastly, knowing which tea plant varietals/cultivars work in which zones. I was gifted a tea plant from North Carolina a year ago. I live in Nevada and that plant died within 8 weeks of getting here. On the flip side, I received a tea plant from a nursery in California and that plant is thriving after 6 months. There are universities that are compiling plant DNA databases, and setting up the framework, for a reference database to help determine which plants are best where.

What inspired you to organize the Southwest Tea Fest?

Back in 2012, we hosted a Las Vegas Tea Fest that attracted over 300 tea drinkers. While not the largest tea festival, the attendees gave us overwhelmingly positive feedback and proved that there was a thriving tea culture here in Vegas. I’ve been wanting to do it again for the same reasons that I like offering tea tastings and classes: tea drinkers want to know more about tea. New drinkers want to know how it’s made and where it’s from. Tea snobs want to try something they’ve never had before. Most tea drinkers want to know the story behind the tea and a festival is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the tea businesses in the Southwest US and introduce tea to people who might not otherwise have access to anything but the bagged stuff.

What are some of your future goals as a tea activist?

I don’t consider myself a tea activist at all. I look at people like Austin Hodge, Elyse Peterson, and Rajiv Lochan and I think they’re activists on the US front.

Do you have any daily tea rituals?

Does brewing tea and then getting busy and leaving it on your counter to cool count? Because that’s definitely a daily occurrence in these parts.

How do you get your young children involved with your passion for tea?

My oldest is obsessed with maps so we are always talking about where my cup of tea has come from. My youngest likes being able to eat it, and drink it. Our Almond Cookie is all stuff he likes (apples and almonds) so he picks the pieces out that he wants. To be honest, I don’t care if they grow up to be passionate about tea, but I do want them to think they can be passionate about whatever they do for a living. If they happen to like tea, that’s just a bonus.

Thank you so much Naomi for taking the time out for this interview! To learn more about Joy's Teaspoon, you can visit the website here.


  1. It should be noted that she is also hilarious. And so are the rest of her in-home family.

  2. The photo image of Joy is super-imposed to look as if she is at a tea plantation picking/snipping of the tea buds...yes? Thank you for sharing Joy with the world of tea drinkers.

    1. Hi Ainee, Yes this is a picture of Naomi from World Tea Expo posing with a photo of a tea plantation. Thank you for reading!