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TEATIME WITH GRACE

Reno native uses tea for energy and health.

WRITTEN BY GERALDA MILLER
PHOTOS BY ANETT MINDERMANN

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Grace Lee is a warrior on a mission: to encourage fellow warriors to enjoy the experience of having a cup of tea.

A year ago, this 25-year-old Reno native launched Natural Warrior Tea Co., an online business featuring high-quality, organic teas from China and South America, after battling an illness caused by the stresses and rigorous demands of college.

Difficult battle

After graduating in 2009 from Edward C. Reed High School in Sparks, Lee was excited to pursue an education in finance and Chinese at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. She also was busy with extracurricular activities. She continued playing basketball on intramural teams, was part of the winter drumline for the Fighting Irish, and also found time to be part of several campus clubs. And she spent three summers studying abroad in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Beijing.

“I did all this while working part time at one of the school gyms/pools from 2010 to 2012,” she says. “As you can see, all of this required quite a bit of stamina that I gained from coffee. I began drinking coffee in 2010 in order to stay awake when I needed to study for exams and complete schoolwork on top of these other activities.”

Her daily coffee dosage was three to four cups, with triple shots of espresso. Instead of getting that energy boost she desperately needed, she always felt tired.

“I needed a serious alternative that was healthy,” she says.

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Tea master

Lee grew up drinking tea with her parents and began to explore whether there were any variations of the camellia sinensis plant that could become alternatives to her coffee habit. She soon realized that there were.

After graduating in 2013, Lee made trips to Hong Kong and China to study with a tea master, tasting many different teas and learning their grades. She moved back to Reno and began working as a business analyst. Last February, Lee officially launched the website for Natural Warrior Tea Co., selling seven tea varieties, including black and green tea from China, yerba mate from Argentina, and guayusa from Ecuador. Guayusa, a leaf grown in the Amazon by the Kichwa people, is the most popular, she says.

Becoming a tea master is a lifetime process, but Lee wants to share what she’s learned.

“Drinking tea is an experience,” she says. “If I could just affect a small percentage of people, then I would know what I’m doing is fulfilling.”

Freelance writer Geralda Miller has lived and worked internationally and loves having a fine cup of tea.

Resources

Natural Warrior Tea Co. is not yet available in stores, but it can be purchased online. For details, visit Naturalwarriortea.com, or find Natural Warrior Tea on Facebook.

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