Hurricane Sandy’s magnitude, fierce winds, and devastation etched a place in our collective memory. For survivors, the impression is lasting because the recovery continues.
“It is a day that I’ll never forget,” said Darlene Meyers-Perry, New Jersey resident and president of The Tea Lover’s Archives. “When we walked outside, it looked like a war zone.”
“It was important for me to bring some semblance of home to people who had nowhere to go.” So Meyers-Perry took her teapots, cups, and kettle and set up a tea station within her church’s soup kitchen, reminiscent of the tea carts used during war times to bring cheer.
More than 100,000 New York and New Jersey residents lost access to electricity, gas and heat. New York City shut down all schools, bridges, tunnels, and the mass transit system that transports seven million people daily.
Beachfront properties Coney Island and Atlantic City surrendered boardwalks to flooding. Staten Island reported 22 storm-related deaths, 14,000 homes damaged, and thousands temporarily displaced.
In this time of crisis, the tea industry responded.
Power in The White House
New Jersey resident Kirsten Kristensen, owner of The White House Tea Room in Ocean, NJ, converted her business into a safe haven, welcoming neighbors without electricity to come for tea and to charge their phones and other electronic devices.
Tea for Humanity
Sheena Foster, CuriosiTeas founder and Hurricane Katrina survivor, used Facebook to post her plan for serving tea to Lower Manhattan flood evacuees. Harlem-based tea businesswomen Jo Johnson of A Gift of Tea and Tiffany Denise of Tea by Tiffany joined her to form the non-profit Tea for Humanity. Its purpose is to bring a hot cup of tea to those needing warmth and comfort most. “People in the [tea] industry have been very kind of us. I didn’t have to ask twice.” For example, North Carolina-based TeaMotion donated enough tea for the group to serve 3500 cups. The non-profit now focuses on Staten Island, Queens and Brooklyn.
Yoon Hee Kim of Hancha Teas/Tea Classics used Twitter (#TeaAid) and Facebook to encourage tea business owners around the country to host tea-related events to raise money for relief efforts. Events have raised more than $4,500 to date.