This was not our idea. That should be said first and foremost. The content is ours, the word choice is ours, the development and production of every weekly show is ours, but the original idea was not. You may blame Jim, of the Food Radio Network.
It was a typical, sunny spring day in Tucson, Arizona, and the crew of Maya Tea worked busily within their offices, packaging tea, shipping boxes, and creating invoices. That was our business—selling tea to other businesses. And then the phone rang. It was Jim, and he had an idea.
Manish Shah, owner of Maya Tea, had never spoken to Jim before. In fact, he had never heard of the Food Radio Network. But Jim had heard of Manish—he was acting on an anonymous tip from an attendee of Coffee Fest, a leading industry tradeshow, who had attended Manish’s lecture and was impressed with his speaking skills. “I think you would make a really excellent radio show host…” Jim explained. And thus the idea was hatched, and began to worm its way through the mind of eternally entrepreneurial Manish Shah.
We had been looking for an outlet for our expansive tea knowledge for a long time. Manish had taught at tradeshows like Coffee Fest for years, and he and his crew had long intended on taping his classes and making them available to the public on YouTube or on our website. Jim’s idea was a good one, and would cater to our educational desires: a short, weekly podcast focused entirely on tea.
Perhaps we were tired of the same old tea questions circulating around. Perhaps Manish needed a place to organize all of the facts and commentary that bantered around in his brain. Perhaps Jim just wanted a witty show, about anything. And then, just maybe, it was fate—the people and planets aligning in space and time to give birth to something so great, so extraordinary, so unconsciously awaited for in the cosmos, as to transform the thinking and drinking of tea forever…
This is Steeping Around—not our idea, but our interpretation. Our content, our words, and now your knowledge.
Who You’re Steeping Around With
Manish was the owner of a small tea company, the Maya Tea Company, and spent his days juggling phone calls, conferences, appointments and emails. He had a knack for speaking, to which any of his friends or associates could attest, and had hosted numerous classes on tea for trade affiliates: how to integrate tea into a coffee shop, how to sell it, how to make it profitable. Then, after a fateful phone call from the Food Radio Network, he began to address an entirely different set of inquiries on tea: what is the darn stuff, and why do we drink it? His silky voice found a home in the earbuds of listeners from around the world, who eagerly began Steeping Around with him. The podcast was born, and so was its host.
Lisa once worked with a very young Manish in retail. Nearly twenty years later, their paths crossed again. Lisa began selling her organic dog treats at a local farmers market, which Manish managed. The two worked closely together at the markets for several years. In 2012, when Tere LaBaw stepped down from her position as the Steeping Around’s co-host, Manish asked Lisa to fill the role. Lisa’s vivacious personality, he thought, was sure to bring something special to the podcast. Lisa joined Manish for the first time on the air in November of 2012, in the show 89, “Welcome Back”.
Co-Host & Producer, Season One
Tere managed the tea booth at our community farmers’ markets. The markets were our only live retail outlet for tea, so Tere handled most of our direct contact with consumers. Week after week she was inundated with questions and thoughts about our products and the nature of tea in general. When Manish needed a little help in researching, organizing, and delivering content for Steeping Around, Tere was a natural choice: she, if anyone, knew what the public needed to know. But it was soon discovered that Tere brought more than her mighty mind to the table—the microphone loved her. Tere’s unique point of view and hearty laugh became a priceless component of the show, as her title transformed from producer to co-host.
Producer and Editor
Sarah was a bookkeeper. She handled numbers and figures, and was burning to do something with a little more… creative flexibility. When the raw, unedited Steeping Around files began to stack up around her, she leapt on the opportunity to transform them into something beautiful. They would need music, color, life—and a few less “umm”s and “uhh”s. So Sarah became the show’s editor, carefully clipping and piecing the original files into their polished version, ready for the air.