Feng Han-Hirt, who goes by Fay, lives in Frisco but was born in the province of Guangxi, China. Growing up, she was surrounded by tea culture. Tea is not only communal throughout China, but it is also central to a way of life that focuses on both physical and mental wellness. When Han-Hirt moved to the United States in 2016 to be with her husband, she knew a love of tea would keep her connected to home.
“In China, tea culture is related to the philosophy of how to live life. The process teaches how to be a good person, live a good life. There is a meditation to it, the brewing process. It forces you to calm down and relax. Either you’re preparing for guests to come or for a tea event. That preparation applies to life in general, too. We have to prepare for the future well,” Han-Hirt says.
Tea is widely known for its health benefits, but the process of preparing and enjoying the drink with family, friends or on one’s own is a time to recenter. She has used tea as a way to stay centered when she missed home. After just a couple years in the States, she knew she wanted to share that with others.
“Every time I went back to China, my friends and family gave me a lot of tea as gifts. I ended up bringing a whole suitcase of tea back here. All my friends and coworkers loved it, so they came to drink my tea every day,” Han-Hirt says. “I was like, ‘Why not start a tea business here?’ I always feel good when I share my culture.”
In 2019, she quit her corporate job and started Sprouting Tea and Leaf, an Etsy shop where she sells high-quality Chinese teas, tea balls, tea wares, teacups and teapots. She has hopes to soon have a physical tea room where customers can spend time with one another.
Han-Hirt uses Gongfu Cha methods, which essentially mean “to brew tea with skill.” It assumes that the brewer is focused only on the teamaking process, dedicating one’s mind to it so that the tea is as high quality as possible.
“I love to share my passion for tea with others, and a life focused on Cha Dao, or The Way of Tea,” she says.