Sue Korosec has two beverages of choice—wine and tea—but she’s been focusing more on tea for the past year since taking over the local business, “Smashing Tea.”
“People frown on me drinking wine for breakfast,” Korosec chuckled, noting she took over the business last October from Nicke Baird, Heather Bridgeman, and Chelsey Simpson—friends who had launched the premium loose leaf tea business back in November, 2013.
“I just happened to see a little ad in the paper one night,” Korosec noted.
She said the little hobby tea business intrigued her so she decided to phone and look into it.
“The more I checked into it, the more I liked it,” Korosec enthused.
She noted the trio who started the business had a great product but they didn’t have the time to develop it.
“So I bought it myself because I like to see little things continue on in Fort Frances,” Korosec explained.
“I don’t want to see the town dwindle—it’s nice to see it flourish.”
Korosec admitted she had a lot to learn in getting started with the business.
“There’s so much to know,” she remarked.
Despite being a tea-drinker all her life, Korosec still had plenty to learn about all the different teas, in addition to learning the website, ordering, and invoicing.
And while having kept the business basically the same, she has expanded it.
“The girls had a great product so I didn’t change it,” she reasoned, but she has added to the inventory.
“I have all kinds of tea,” Korosec stressed. “When I bought the business, there was about 25 [kinds] and I have over 60 right now.”
Here in Fort Frances, “Smashing Tea” is sold at From the Grind Up, as well as seasonally at the The Christmas Store.
“I have probably the best support system that you can imagine,” Korosec enthused.
“Ben at From the Grind Up serves my tea and gives me a space that I can display it and sell it,” she noted.
“Donna Lowey at the farmers’ market helps with displaying it beautifully and sells it for me.
“It makes it so much easier when I have these great business people to go to,” she said.
People, in general, also have been really supportive.
“You don’t have to go to Thunder Bay or Winnipeg for premium loose-leaf tea—it’s right here,” Korosec stressed.
Korosec has an online store (www.smashingtea.com) and provides delivery in the Fort Frances area from Rocky Inlet to Ducharme Road.
She will ship her tea but, due to the expense, there is an added fee.
“People text a lot and just ask me to drop it off at their homes,” Korosec said, noting she doesn’t mind doing that at all.
Additionally, people can stop by her home 958 Portage Ave. to check out her “tea room,” where she has a wall full of canisters and all the different teas.
“It’s one of my favourite places,” Korosec said as she smells the aroma in the room.
“It’s not a big room but I have it set up so people can come,” she noted. “I like when people come and smell and taste it.
“I have a lot of people who come and they can see first-hand.”
Korosec said someone might want to start drinking tea because of the health benefits, but they don’t know where to start.
“So I let them browse,” she remarked, noting there are so many different teas—from herbal and oolong to black tea, green tea, and rooibos.
She said proper brewing is important since different teas require different temperatures and steeping times vary.
“Not everyone is a tea-drinker but sometimes it can be because they aren’t prepared properly,” Korosec reasoned, adding there are lots of other ways to use tea, such as serving it chilled as iced tea, putting fruit blends on yogurt, and even adding alcohol.
“You can do so much with tea—you can cook with it—and tea has many, many health benefits,” she stressed.
Korosec also sells tea accessories, such as tea bags, glasses, and timers.
“I’m slowly adding more to it,” she said, noting she also attends trade shows and vendor blenders throughout the district.
And she can make baskets for gifts for birthdays or Mother’s Day, and also provides tea to parties and weddings.
In fact, she has a wedding coming up where the bride and groom are going to give out tea as favours.
“The bride is a big tea-drinker and I told her she can create her own blend,” Korosec said.
“I told her I’ll mix it for just their event.
“I always try to offer the best service,” she stressed. “My slogan is ‘Offering quality and service to a Tea.’”
While there are other businesses eager to deal with “Smashing Tea,” Korosec said she’s taking her time so she doesn’t get too big too fast.
“I wanted to walk before I ran because there is nothing worse than saying you’ve got it and then you can’t provide the service,” she remarked.
“To me, the service is what it’s all about,” she added. “You have to provide good service.
“I still work so I can’t commitment 100 percent yet,” Korosec conceded. “But when I retire, it will grow and expand even more.
“But it’s big enough now that I’m not disappointing anyone and small enough so I can still do what I do.”
Korosec said she’s still learning and is hoping to attend some tea workshops in larger centres so she can learn more.
“So we’ll see where the business goes,” she smiled.