We had the good fortune of connecting with Sabastiani Leon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sabastiani, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have always been surrounded by tea. Growing up, my family would drink hot tea with every meal. While attending high school, the popularity of bubble milk tea boomed in California. Originating from Taiwan, the authentic bubble milk tea consisted of black tea, milk, sugar, and tapioca pearls. Over time, bubble tea shops opened and made many variations of the popular drink, favored by the younger generation. I recall that my friends and I socially drank this beverage on a weekly basis. In college, I would drink caffeinated tea to stay up for those late night study sessions. It wasn’t until recent that I developed a stronger appreciation for tea when I started traveling internationally for work. I found it fascinating that every country had their own way of brewing this aromatic beverage. A few years ago, I had a memorable experience in China- I had discovered blooming tea. In the form of a tea ball, consumers can steep the blooming tea in a clear teapot and watch the ball unravel into a beautiful flower. In 2020, many businesses in San Diego shut down temporarily due to the pandemic. At that time, I stopped traveling and realized that many people were experiencing tough times mentally and emotionally. I too was also falling into a rut and needed to find purpose. I brainstormed ways to think what I could do to help not only myself to stay motivated, but to help the people around me to stay positive. That was the moment I decided to open an e-commerce business named Nintai Tea. In Japanese, Nintai means patience. I felt that we all needed to be patient during this time and eventually things in our lives will improve. It’s a reminder that no one is alone in what their experiencing and feeling. Tea connects me with good memories throughout my life. I want to share that same happiness with people by shipping bubble tea kits, loose leaf tea, and blooming tea that they can enjoy in the comfort of their homes.
What should our readers know about your business?
Nintai Tea was created during a tough year. With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading throughout the world and the political unrest in the United States, many individuals face many forms of hardship. What people once enjoyed were stripped away in exchange for safety, financial stability, and good health. I knew I had to think of something that could help remind people that they are not alone and happiness can still be found. I automatically related my happier moments in life with tea. That’s when I decided to create Nintai Tea, an e-commerce business that can spread happiness by shipping tea to our customers. The memory of sipping bubble milk tea with friends can now be enjoyed at home with friends via video chat. The delightful visual of the blooming tea allows spectators to appreciate the beauty tea can offer to its drinkers. I am proud to have created this business because it’s given me motivation to work towards something, especially dealing with something I’m passionate about. Coming from a bloodline of business-savvy individuals from both sides of the family, I always wanted to continue the tradition in running a business. Shadowing my parents and listening to their advice helped the process of opening and running mine. Considering that they opened their business many years ago, a lot had changed. I had to study and understand everything related to e-commerce business. From advertisements on social media to transaction fees from online purchases, there was a learning curve. From this experience, I learned important lessons. If I hadn’t taken the leap of faith to open a business, I wouldn’t have the knowledge that I currently have. It’s given me perspective that owning a business is not for everyone. It’s one thing to open one and it’s another thing to maintain one to keep sales running. The process has also tested my patience. With employees working at home, the process to file official documents with the government is very slow. Therefore, its’s important to be proactive over the things you can control over and not to be overly concerned on things that are out of your hands. I’m proud of Nintai Tea and the reason for its existence. It’s ultimately a representation of what people are capable of achieving during times of struggle.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Outside from the famous areas in San Diego to visit, the following are top places to enjoy a mug with your favorite tea: *Cabrillo Monument – The southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, this monument allows visitors to enjoy the view of San Diego Bay and the history of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo *San Diego Bay Walk – Enjoy a stroll through downtown San Diego where visitors can see famous landmarks such as the Star of India, the USS Midway, eventually walking towards Seaport Village with many shops for visitors to purchase souvenirs *Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – Home of delicious food, good shopping, and great atmosphere of Old California *Liberty Station – Previously a Naval Training Center, Liberty Station is known for its weekend activities with locals, alongside a surplus amount of food vendors to choose from *Balboa Park – Home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, gardens, trails, and other recreational attractions *Coronado Island – Known for its cashmere-soft sands, a walk along the beach towards the Hotel Del Coronado is something out of the ordinary.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to every individual that has shared a cup of tea with me. They have been a driving force in creating this business because they allowed me to connect tea with happy memories. These individuals, from across the globe, opened my perspective about life and acknowledge that everyone has a different path they choose to take. Since I believe I am very fortunate to be surrounded by an encouraging support group, I would like to pass on that same positivity and support to those who are hesitant to take risks in achieving their goals in life.