Denise Wright

How one Ohio woman brought tea to the forefront

Many people didn’t understand why Becky Corbett, now the owner of Bec’s Tea Nirvana of Cleveland, wanted to start a tea business back in 1999.

“People thought I was stupid,” Corbett said. “I just felt that people were going to get sick of coffee, so I had a good feeling about going into the tea business.”

At the time, Corbett had just gotten out of international shipping and corporate sales, and she was looking for a change of pace.

“I knew I wanted to slow my life down,” she said. “And with tea being the ‘universal beverage,’ it just came to me one day that I wanted to open a tea house in Cleveland.”

Corbett later found out that opening a tea house was “a little daunting,” so she chose to open a stand at the West Side Market instead.

As time went on and earnings decreased, Corbett realized she needed to figure out another solution.

In 2001, Corbett began distributing tea from an office in her home. In 2006, she moved to a warehouse.

“It (Bec’s Tea Nirvana) has evolved quite a bit since its inception,” Corbett said. “I was probably the first person in Cleveland to start a tea business, and now there are a few tea houses in Cleveland.”

Although Corbett doesn’t have a walk-in business, she said people can access Bec’s Tea Nirvana through her Web site, www.Becstea.com.

She sells assorted tea bags or foil bags of loose leaf tea on the Web site.

Corbett said although her menu changes seasonally, she typically has about 25 types of tea available.

“It’s so much better than Lipton or anything you can get in the grocery store,” Corbett said.

Individuals may also purchase Corbett’s handmade origami boxes or wood-carved tea chests, which both come with tea bags included.

According to the Web site, Bec’s Tea Nirvana “strive(s) to carry natural, organic and recycled products.” Corbett does so by using recycled paper to wrap the tea bags, which she makes herself. She also uses recycled cigar boxes to create the origami boxes.

In the future, Corbett hopes to get more involved in the community by setting up at the local market and hiring handicapped individuals to help her wrap tea bags.

In addition, she said she would like to sponsor various functions throughout the community.

For now, Corbett focuses her efforts on her products and services. Her products are sold at the Mustard Seed Market & Cafe and Nature’s Bin.

Corbett said she is also available for presentations at company parties and local functions. At these presentations, Corbett provides information about the different functions and production processes of tea in various regions of the world.

“To me, tea is like the perfect food,” Corbett said. “It’s natural, and it’s old in its traditions, which you can’t really say about anything else.”

According to “Health’s in the Tea Bag,” an article posted on Corbett’s Web site, tea has even been shown to help with heart disease and slow the growth of cancerous tumors.

“I have to create awareness because a lot of people don’t know much about tea,” Corbett said. “They might be more apt to buy something they’ve never had before if I can educate them on it.”

Contact general assignment reporter Denise Wright at [email protected].