Do you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to consume a trillion calories eating a decadent sundae, cake or cookie? I certainly have a sweet tooth….especially for anything made with chocolate…the darker, the better! BUT I also know that I want to be around for lots more years so I don’t indulge myself as often as the urge hits me. However, I have just recently found a way “to have my cake and eat it too”! I bet you’re wondering how is that possible?The answer is Sweet Simpliciteas, the brainchild of creator and tea artisan, Aisha Echols. I recently became aware of Aisha’s product and being a tea lover was enthralled by how she could blend teas to produce something that could be a healthy alternative to desserts full of sugar, calories and fat. So, I asked her if she would meet with me to explain the how’s and why’s of her products.Aisha explained that while working in marketing for a credit union, a co-worker introduced her to tea and the experience was life-changing both for her and her family. The first tea that she blended three years ago was Berry Sleepy, made for her daughter when she was teething and features chamomile and berries. Since then, she has been on a quest to find and create delicious and unique tea blends. She classifies herself as a tea artisan because she takes basic tea leaves and transforms them into delicious gourmet dessert teas, using premium tea and all-natural ingredients. Her teas are inspired by decadent desserts although she also finds inspiration everywhere, from the strength and persistence of a tiny ant, to the majestic greatness of a mountain. She states that her driving force is her family due to their unconditional love that leads her to a strong desire to do something extraordinary to make them proud.Her grandmother’s pound cake is her favorite dessert and inspired some of her first creations (she also is proud to admit that she has perfected the actual recipe too!). The flavor combination of lemon and berries is her second favorite. Because of that, one of her personal favorites and best sellers, is Lady Marmalade…an adaptation of Earl Grey with a tempting blend of bergamot, citrus and vanilla. Second to that in her list of favorites is her Grasshopper blend, which combines a refreshing blend of green tea, lemongrass, vanilla and peppermint. Because she also has a sweet tooth, she keeps a list of desserts that she would like to transform into delicious tea blends….so there’s never of shortage of dessert inspiration.To create the Sweet Simpliciteas tea blends, she starts with a high quality green, black, white or rooibos tea leaf. The unique dessert flavors are developed by blending the leaves with high quality, all-natural ingredients, such as spices, flowers and dried fruit. Each of these tea blends is a work of art. She currently has 10 different flavors: Berry Sleepy, Caramel Cake, Chocolate Chip Chai, Cookies & Cream, German Chocolate Cake, Grasshopper, Lady Marmalade, Morning Muffin, Pina Colada, Strawberry Lemonade but is putting the finishing touches on two new flavors: Lemon Scone and Apple Pie.When I asked her if she is a tea purist…sugar? cream? Her response was simple…“Our teas are full of flavor, so they taste great without using a sweetener. But I encourage my customers to have tea on their terms … when, where or however they want to enjoy Sweet Simpliciteas.”
Currently, she sells her special teas at Dames Bond Marketplace in Short North and in Cleveland at the Espresso Room and they will soon be available at The Angry Baker in Olde Towne East and Celebrate Local in Easton Town Center. In addition, this summer, you can find Aisha and Sweet Simpliciteas at the Easton Farmers Market. She will be there on at least 5 days: June 13, July 18, August 15, August 19 and September 12. She will also be a vendor at the Goodale Park Music Series on July 28 and August 18.
Aisha is working hard and using her background in marketing to create awareness about her business. She envisions becoming a supplier of bulk loose leaf tea to coffee shops, cafes, hotels and restaurants around the U.S. Her degree in journalism (Kent State University) and certification in graphic design have also assisted her in developing her brand. To that end, she recently was a finalist in the Bad Girl Ventures – Columbus competition. As a finalist, she competed with 9 other women for a $25,000 low-interest small business loan. The loan is unique because it’s based on the the winners’s potential and not on their creditor business history. As part of the competition, she attended 9 weeks of business classes in areas like marketing, pricing, accounting and more. At the end of the competition, she was required to submit a homework assignment for each class, a business plan, a marketing plan, 3 year financial projections, and a SBA loan application followed by a presentation to the selection committee who determined the recipient of the $25,000 loan. Although she was not awarded the loan, she felt that the experience was was extremely useful in furthering her dreams as an entrepreneur. She has also joined the Columbus-based women’s networking group, Dames Bond and is a member of the Women’s Business at ECDI.
In addition to her growing business , Aisha is the proud wife of a Columbus Firefighter and the mother of two children, ages 5 and 1. Although her young family keeps her busy, she still finds time to write, make jewelry, read a good book and, obviously, experimenting with new tea blends.
When we concluded our time together, Aisha was gracious enough to offer me a sampling of her luscious teas. I chose the Cookies and Cream blend made from black tea; rose, calendula, sunflower, jasmine and cornflower petals and natural flavors. As I sit here writing this, I am sipping this luxuriant tea. The aroma upon opening the packet was intensely chocolate and made me anxious to get my tea kettle into service! The taste of the tea is as decadent as she promised and I decided to try it both hot and over ice. Oh, my! They were both delicious!!! I also added some soy milk to the cold version to make a tea latte. Truly decadent and hardly any calories or sugar…Yay! I can’t wait to try some of her other flavors….now you know how to satisfy your sweet tooth without sacrificing your diet/health!
I whole-heartedly believe Aisha when she says:
Sweet Simpliciteas is like “dessert in a cup”.
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