For the EVOLution of Business

Stories Steeped In Culture That Build Community with Niraj Lama of Happy Earth Tea

Episode Summary

When Niraj Lama asked himself what he could "give to the community through tea," he applied the storytelling he honed as a journalist to weave a rich narrative acknowledging the journey from leaf to cup and celebrating the many layers of tradition that diverse cultures have imparted on this simple combination of leaf and water. Along the way, these stories and his commitment to a "Happy Earth" fostered a devoted following and earned recognition for Leaf Tea Bar among CNN's World's Best Teahouses. Happy Earth Tea was established in 2011 by Niraj Lama and his wife Mary Boland. Niraj hails from Darjeeling, India – a region that produces some of world’s finest black teas. Before Happy Earth Tea, the family owned and operated Darjeeling Tea Exclusive, a global purveyor of fine Darjeeling teas, based in Darjeeling. After the family resettled in the US, Darjeeling Tea Exclusive gave way to a Happy Earth Tea that is focused on a newer market with a more global selection of teas.

Episode Notes

[1:20] Developing a passion for tea as a journalist in the tea industry in Darjeeling, India

[6:50] Turning a passion for tea into a business, connecting the two worlds of his roots in India and his new home in Rochester

[11:20] "What can I give to the community through tea? A wellness of body and mind, tea fosters through its many traditions an appreciation of art and diversity...tea connects these very diverse worlds."

[14:00] How Niraj fosters a community at the Tea Bar by telling the stories and history of tea
Sign up for the next tea class here:

[17:00] How Niraj supports tea farmers that treat employees and the environment well, while also helping them to do better

[22:00] The Triple Bottom Line at Leaf Tea Bar. Learn more about committing to 1% for the Planet

[29:00] Being a conscious consumer of tea

[35:30] Making conscious choices toward sustainability

[40:00] Being named one of CNN's 11 best tea houses in the world:

[43:00] Advice to entrepreneurs on creating a community: "For any business to build a community, not just of customers but of need some sort of commitment to giving back."

[46:00] Taking a long-term perspective and balancing giving and taking

Visit Leaf Tea Bar at 650 South Ave, or learn more about Happy Earth Tea at