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November 2013 Posts


A Day in My Shoes
Blog Entry

Episode 11, Part 4 - A Day in My Shoes - Linda Villano, SerendipiTea

Monday, November 18th 2013 @ 12:00 AM

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A Day in My Shoes – Episode 11, Part 4 - Linda Villano, SerendipiTea

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Welcome to A Day in My Shoes – a blog and sometimes vlog as The Tea House Times publisher, Gail Gastelu, puts herself in another person’s shoes for the day – going behind the scenes in the tea industry!  If you are just joining us, go to the Archived entries in the left column to catch up - beginning with January 2013.  OR

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Hello everyone, here we are back to a Day in My Shoes – I have been traveling so much lately, it has been hard to keep up with weekly postings for this fun project, but I will post as often as possible moving forward.

So, back to the day when I spent time with Linda Villano.   Linda is Co-Founder and President of SerendipiTea, a NY-Based Importer/Manufacturer established in 1995, specializing in Premium Tea & Tisane and Small Batch Blends. 

What a great day it was spending time with Linda and her staff at SerendipiTea.  I remember posting to Facebook after returning that day and saying that it could possibly have been the Best Day EVER immersed in Tea!  Truly. What a great experience to get my hands right into the tea as Linda walked me through the process of tea blending. Of course you have already heard me go on and on about that, so let’s talk more about Linda and SerendipiTea.

SerendipiTea was established with Green and Socially Responsible principles and values which remain firmly in place today.  SerendipiTea is committed to the highest quality loose leaf tea, packaging fine certified Organics & Fair Trade when available, evaluating every flush and picking prior to selection.  SerendipiTea works closely with some of the most prestigious tea gardens, estates and specialists around the world so as to maintain knowledge about all facets of tea and production.  The company is also committed to Earth-friendly packaging of post-consumer recycled & biodegradable materials.  SerendipiTea is socially responsible, employing people not machines, opting for handcrafted rather than machine-milled.  The company is education-based, conducting staff training, lectures for the trade and seminars and tastings for the public.  Fully involved in every aspect of the tea business, SerendipiTea offers Retail, Bulk & Food Service programs, and private labeling.  In a word, SerendipiTea is – SERIOUS – tea!

When I arrived at SerendipiTea, Linda showed me around and I must say that I was quite impressed by their operations. You can only imagine what a business is like unless you see it with your own eyes, and fortunately, I had an opportunity to really go behind the scenes and walk through every interesting part of it.  The building is two levels. Deliveries enter the building at the lower level where most of the tea processing takes place.  Storage areas are quite spacious and organic storage and organic product handling are completely separate areas of operations. 

SerendipiTea carries a large variety of all types of teas, herbs, spices, organics, tea blends, and single origin teas. –Over 200 loose teas, blends, and around 13 varieties are created into sachet style teabags as well. As we learned through the blending process, each blend is carefully documented and recipes created and logged into recipe books for constant use.  After we walked through the storage and processing areas, we proceeded to the second level of the building where SerendipiTea offices are located along with a beautiful showroom. 

Because of the need to carefully track all ingredients and all ingredients as they become a part of a blend, SerendipiTea uses a very unique computer program called Fish Bowl to manage it all. The system can track purchase orders, track inventory, quality control and organic information, bills of lading, shipping documents, invoicing, packaging, lot numbers, recipes, manufacturing orders (for when a certain blend is low and needs to be replenished).  Fish Bowl also integrates into Quick Books and UPS.  At this point, Linda left me alone with Sonam and she walked me through every step of the entire process. I told her I had better not touch it even though they were very willing to show me everything and share all of this with me so I could pass it along to you.  We spent quite a bit of time in the system, and it seemed a little complicated – well pretty involved – to me – but a breeze for Sonam as she is used to it and works with it every day.  They also use Miva Merchant which I believe integrates their website and orders received into FishBowl.  The entire system is also tied into customer accounts including shipping details and other important notes pertinent to each customer.  It seemed like a great way for this type of business to stay on top of things and I am sure the software provider must have offered some training when they first began using it.   I must say it works incredibly and impressively well.  I have witnessed the entire process and besides that have been a customer of SerendipiTea as well, and orders are always processed so quickly and delivered so quickly, you can hardly believe it.  Definitely a well-oiled machine.

Oh – there is a picture of their “UPS GUY” – Jamie – who came into the office when they were trying to teach me Fish Bowl!  Don’t you love how businesses all have their beloved “UPS Guy” The trusted person who carries out all of the deliveries! 

That is all for this week, please stay tuned for next week when I share with you what a typical day is like for Linda, really in HER shoes.

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