Naja's Tasting RoomLast Thursday I turned in the keys to my 12-foot-by-10-foot tasting room, located in a Craftsman-style bungalow turned interior design boutique in Long Beach, California.

During its nine months in business, Naja Tea Tasting Room & Boutique became the Cheers of tea, a place where people could commune around my self-made bar, opening up to me and their tea-bar mates with humor, depth, and unexpected honesty.

Although there was work involved in its day-to-day operations, my tasting room was my reprieve.  On the two days a week that I personally worked in the tasting room, I was in a world unlike the rest of my daily frenetic life.

Naja's Tasting RoomWhen I received the news that the interior design shop owner was not extending my lease so that she could expand her own growing business, I felt mixed emotions.  On one side, there was a pang of sadness for what I built and for what started as an exciting extension of my core business.  On another side, my ego was activated as I thought about what others would think.  Had I failed?  So many saw the potential in creating something unique and special for our community.

But as many of us know, potential is nothing if not realized, and with my wholesale business and other work commitments taking up much of my time, I was unable to give the tasting room what it needed and deserved to thrive.

So for now, I say farewell with ease and relief knowing that when the stars align, I will make another great tea spot.  To those with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a cup of tea at my boutique, I say, don’t be mad that it’s ended.  Be happy that it began.