Owner of Firepot Nomadic Teas and Firepot Tea Bar located on 12th Avenue South, Sarah Scarborough, was inspired to connect tea lovers with tea growers since 2001. Cooking at a Tibetan teahouse in Boseman, Montana (her side gig after a decade working in sustainable agriculture in Connecticut, the Caribbean, California, and Montana), she was beginning to look at sustainability through a global lens, with an ethical and organic slant when it came to trade. At the same time, she came up with a delicious and vibrant chai recipe and Firepot was born! When Sarah’s not traveling the world with her family, she’s forming relationships all over the world, in search of the best tea for her loved customers. We got a chance to get to know Sarah personally before she speaks at our Body + Soul event coming up on August 17th!
The Nashville Edit: Tell us a bit about what inspired you to start Firepot Nomadic Teas?
Sarah Scarborough: Firepot brought together so many of my loves- travel, plants, culture, and agriculture. I bought the domain fairtradeteas.com and was on my way. A friend helped me build a site, another friend made labels and before I knew it I was shipping chai from Oregon to Sweden!
TNE: How can teas aid in health, but also in inspiration?
SS: Long before tea was a beverage to be taken with milk and sugar or iced and sweet, it was viewed as medicine for body, mind and spirit. You can look at this from a scientific perspective or from an energetic one. Scientifically, the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, contains a plethora of beneficial compounds: Caffeine, of course, gives you energy. Catechins are the antioxidants that bind to the caffeine so that it releases slowly (up to 20 hours) in your body, as opposed to coffee which releases in a few hours.
L. Theanine is an amino acid that increases alpha waves in your brain giving you calm focus. Theobromine just makes you feel good! Together, these compounds give you [a sense of] calm, alert focus, or Zen mind, when you drink tea.
As far as gaining inspiration from tea, you have to look at it from an energetic perspective. Tea that has been grown and produced intentionally with the health of the tea plant, the soil and the people who will consume the leaves in mind, has a high energetic vibration. It speaks more loudly than tea that hasn’t been infused with so much love. This kind of tea can teach you so much– if you just get quiet enough to listen!
TNE: What is your favorite tea that you carry?
I love Firepot’s GABA Oolong. It is grown organically in Taiwan by a pioneering tea master and produced to contain high levels of GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter inhibitor that eliminates your brain’s stress reaction and brings you into a relaxed state of mind. People are always surprised, since tea contains caffeine, that this one can deliver such calm.
I also am very proud of Cult of Flowers, which is a tea in our Rituals Collection. It doesn’t actually contain any tea. It is a botanical blend with hibiscus, schizandra berries (a traditional Chinese adaptogenic herb for overall wellness), lavender, vanilla, and roses. It is such a unique and effective blend. The back of the bag has rituals for attracting love and beauty!
My overall favorite has to be Firepot Chai concentrate. It has been the heart and soul of Firepot for 18 years. Made with slow-brewed, freshly-ground organic spices and a bright and clean black tea from Rwanda, it tastes amazing and makes you feel alive!
TNE: Where can we find your teas locally?
SS: Firepot Tea Bar, Frothy Monkey, The Bobby Hotel, The Fairlane Hotel, The Café at Thistle Farms, Kettner Coffee Supply, M Street restaurants, Herban Market, Bode, 21c Hotel, Caviar and Bananas, Loews Vanderbilt Hotel, Mockingbird Drinber, Kroger, E&B Coffee Roasters, Deacon’s New South, BATCH, Baked on 8th, Hathorne, Headquarters and Vui’s… to name a few!
TNE: Tell us about your partnership with Akilah Institute?
SS: We donate 1% of all of our sales to Akilah, an incredibly inspiring women’s university in Rwanda that is paving the way for leading sustainability education globally. Firepot has always been about improving lives and this partnership allows us to make a positive impact beyond ethical and organic sourcing. It allows us to improve lives in tea communities where we work and beyond!
TNE: Where does most of your tea originate from?
SS: All of the black tea for our high-volume teas like chai and iced tea comes from an organic and Fair Trade garden in Rwanda called Sorwathe. After that, it is all over the map from Japan and Taiwan to India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and even Hawaii! Every tea is from a garden or producer I know personally and have visited or it was purchased by someone I know and trust… That is how we ensure that our teas are all ethical and organic– we travel and form relationships.
TNE: Tell us about your life in Nashville. Where do you like to frequent for food and drinks?
SS: My long-standing favorite restaurant is City House. I love their cocktails, their wine list, their pizza and their vibe. I also love Epice. They have the most delicious Lebanese wine and the best hummus in town. My favorite place for coffee is on the front porch of The Abode… It is an art gallery and gathering space and also the home of my dear friends, Brooke and August. I spend a lot of time in the Warner Parks and having tea on my front porch with friends and family.
TNE: What led you to open shop in Nashville?
SS: When I brought Firepot back to life in 2013, I moved into our current space on 12th Avenue South. It was there that I started brewing and bottling Firepot Chai. I quickly outgrew the space, but remained committed to the vision of opening a tea bar where Nashville could experience and learn about tea. I wanted to create a place where I could hold tastings and classes and innovate new recipes. Today, that is exactly what we are doing!
TNE: Describe your customers in three words:
SS: Beautiful radiant beings!
TNE: What is your favorite summer tea for cooling off this summer?
SS: Matcha lemon soda! It is sugar-free, uplifting, refreshing and full of vibrancy and health! Matcha is naturally cooling and you can add a shot of CBD oil to cool down even more.
TNE: You’re also very inspired by yoga practices. Where do you practice yoga locally?
SS: I teach a class called Tea Flow at Liberation every Sunday at 11 am. We practice yoga for 45 minutes and then sit for Tea Ceremony for 30 minutes. It is an amazing escape! I love to go to Raquel, Melissa or Donna’s classes at Liberation, as well.
I also love to go to class at Sanctuary, especially for Daphne, Danny or Tom’s class. When I want to sweat, I go to Shakti at 6 am.
TNE: How do you find peace and inspiration here in Nashville?
SS: In the woods, on the water, with my friends and in my teacup.
TNE: How has yoga affected your overall well-being?
SS: Endlessly! I have been practicing for 25 years and I really cannot imagine life without it. It has given me an awareness of how my emotions live in my body and a way to release emotion through movement. It has given me peace, clarity, community, music, wisdom and health. It has been a constant friend, always there to support me, to help me evolve and to bring me back to center.
TNE: You like to travel often. Where has been your favorite place you’ve traveled? Where to next?
SS: I lived in New Zealand for a couple of years once and thought I’d stay forever. I have a very sweet spot in my heart for that island… I miss the cold ocean, the music, the unique fruits, local wines and seafood, the fern-covered forests and most of all the gentle and rugged people! I would love to have a reason to return more regularly! As for upcoming travel, I am heading on a surf trip with my family to the Azores in a few weeks, and then in 2020 I am leading yoga retreats in Morocco and Japan and visiting Akilah and Sorwathe in Rwanda in November!
TNE: What is your current mantra?
SS: I am light. I am love. You are light. You are love.
Meet Sarah at our Body + Soul event happening on August 17th. You can find out more about our Body + Soul event here.