Teazers World Tea Market in Fresno
Apr 24, 2017 11:00AM
● By Jordan Venema
Story by Jordan Venema
Photos by Kailyn Julianna
Ann Liao knows tea. Having grown up in Taiwan, the Fresno resident enjoyed the country’s unique tea culture, though she is quick to add that every culture has its own take on tea.
“You know, all the countries have a tea culture, and usually they’re passed down by generation. Like Russian and Armenian people, they enjoy their tea with marmalade, and Japanese have Dao tea, where they get together and appreciate art and take shots of Matcha,” explains Liao. “Chinese, we have Kung Fu tea. It’s basically like the espresso of tea; you have very little teapots that you pack with oolong tea, and little cups to drink it. They call it Kung Fu tea because it refers to the time put into it, to master something.”
Drawing from her diverse appreciation of tea, Liao opened Teazer World Tea Market in Fresno’s Tower District in 2003. Three more stores have opened since, but Liao isn’t surprised that Teazer has become popular in a culture where coffee is king.
“I’m not surprised,” she insists. “I actually think my ability is not as fast as my peers that I only have four places.”
According to Liao, people need gathering places and they want to have options. Teazer offers both.
“There is a very strong coffee culture here, but not everybody’s body works good with coffee. To be honest, the dosage of tea for Americans is pretty heavy,” she chuckles. “There are so many different kind of energy drinks out there, and it’s normal for people to drink three shots of espresso. So we’ve learned the portion of our teas here are way stronger than back home.”
But that’s the wonder of tea: its diversity. Between white tea and green tea, black tea, herbal and fruits, there’s a leaf for everybody’s palate, blended to taste and brewed to strength. And while some Americans hold to the stereotype that tea belongs to the British and their crumpets, Liao insists that the leaf holds its own special place in American culture.
“I have to tell you,” says Liao, “Americans created iced tea. You know the World Fair? I think it was introduced at a World Fair in the 1900s, and I’m telling you, I love a good brisk American iced tea. When I go to Europe or Asia – like in Japan, their iced tea comes in a six-ounce cup - so whenever I’m on the road traveling, I miss American 32 ounce iced tea.”
“So back to the question, am I surprised,” Liao continues, contemplating the success of tea in America, “I don’t think I am surprised because it’s already in everybody’s life.”
Teazer is Liao’s vision of a tea bar or kitchen, where customers can order loose-leaf teas for home, or order a custom cup in the store.
“We want to cover the basic category of tea, starting from green tea, oolong tea, black tea, white tea, fruit teas and herbal teas. Basically we make tea for everybody, and that’s the beauty of California. Our customer, like our name, is serving the world group. We serve all kinds of different people.”
And serving tea in a diverse community means Liao has learned a thing or two about tea, as well. Teazer opened with about 35 different teas, but they’ve expanded their collection to more than 120.
“We learned from our customers. Basically people would walk in and want a tea that I hadn’t heard of before. So I’d look for it, bring it back to the valley, so everybody can enjoy it.”
Liao also ensures that Teazer’s version of the barista, or tea tenders, stay as informed about the different teas they serve. “We want them to know all the product, and what it tastes like, and in the end it’s not what we like that is important, but it’s what the customer likes - to make them a tea that hits the spot.”
Liao then lowers her voice, chuckling, “I have to be honest. There is a smoky tea called lapsang, and since I have to taste everything I sell, I had it one time but I don’t like it.”
If true for Liao then the maxim should hold true for everybody: not every cup of tea has to be yours. But with more than 100 teas to choose from at Teazer, you’re more than likely to fine one, maybe even two.
Teazer World Tea Market • www.teazerworldteamarket.com
Four locations in Fresno: 3140 W. Shaw Avenue; 645 E. Olive Avenue;
2405 Capitol Street; 115 Paseo Del Centro
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