The Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association (MATBA) is celebrating ten years. Members will gather for a celebratory luncheon cruise at the Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, Maryland, on Monday, June 22, 2015.
MATBA was founded in 2005 by Janet Young of Over the Teacup, Nancy Reppert of Sweet Remembrances Tea Room, and Susanna Reppert Brill of The Rosemary House. The mission of the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association (MATBA) is to advance the knowledge of tea through networking and educational opportunities for the entrepreneur within the tea business. Membership meets quarterly with the annual meeting and seminars taking place each April.
Janet Young, who owned and operated Over The Teacup Inc., a teahouse in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania for 12 years, recounts the association’s history and said, “For me personally, it all began in May of 1998 when I attended The Harney Tea Conference in Rye Town, NY. Exactly one year later, I opened my teahouse. This was a time when computers were just making a real impact in the business world, while at the same time the world of tea was beginning to emerge. After attending The Harney Tea Conference and the Take Me 2 Tea (now World Tea Expo) conferences, it was then that I soon recognized the need for an organization that would come together to support other people engaged in the business of tea. Tea was trending. Teahouses were proliferating, but with little support to guide these individuals on their journey, I felt there was a need for this kind of support. I happened to mention this to Susanna when I was in her shop one day, and she agreed and said that she and her sister, Nancy were both thinking the same thing. So in 2005, the three of us sat down and started laying out the groundwork for what was to be called the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association, or better known as MATBA today. Our objective was to provide a networking opportunity for each member to share their successes as well as their concerns, while providing each member with educational instruction from leaders in the field such as, Bruce Richardson, Elizabeth Knight, Bill Waddington, and Pearl Dexter to name a few. Over the years MATBA has grown and due to the strong leadership it has maintained, MATBA is growing and serving the tea professionals a much appreciated service.”
Nancy Reppert and Susanna Reppert Brill own and operate two unique businesses located in downtown Mechanicsburg, PA. Nancy owns Sweet Remembrances Tea Room (est. 1990), a private party place and tea room, while her sister Susanna is the owner of The Rosemary House (est. 1968), a herb and spice specialty shop originally opened by their mother, Bertha Reppert. Special events featuring herbs and tea in workshops, classes, programs, and themed teas are scheduled throughout the year. “Over the years, MATBA has provided a wonderful outlet for business owners to meet well known tea professionals, network with other tea business owners, and share ideas and concerns and reinforce their tea education on a variety of topics, said the Reppert sisters.”
MATBA is managed by a board of volunteers voted in by membership every two years. The current executive board members for the 2014-2016 term include president, Michael Raab, Tea-For-All, NJ – vice president and membership director, Darlene Meyers-Perry, The Tea Lover’s Archives, NJ – secretary Marcella Farina, The Tea and Hat Lady, PA – treasurer, Kathleen Rogers, Set to a Tea, PA – and chief information officer and press liaison, Gail Gastelu, The Tea House Times, NJ. Kirsten Kristensen, Tea 4 U, LLC, at The White House in Oakhurst, NJ, held the position of president prior to Mr. Raab and remains involved.
Michael Raab, stated, “MATBA members represent a cross section of the tea industry from retailers, to educators to tea houses. Collectively this diversity helps all members to raise their business and professional knowledge in the tea industry. Simply put, members and our speakers and guests educate so that we keep abreast of industry trends, identify and qualify suppliers and continue to improve our individual businesses. I am proud to be a part of MATBA.”
Previous president, Kirsten Kristensen, commented, “I have been an active member of MATBA since 2006 and especially enjoy networking with fellow tea professionals. Our meetings are always a valuable combination of networking and learning in the tea area and I don’t think I would have dared opening a tea house of my own without the experience, pros and cons, ups and downs, I have learned from being a MATBA member. The cost of being a member is a fraction of what other tea associations cost and being able to drive to a meeting without an overnight stay or airline travel is a great benefit.”
Full Membership privileges are awarded to members inside the Mid-Atlantic region states including Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association invites all Tea Businesses within the Mid-Atlantic Region to register at the website to become In-Region business members with voting privileges among other benefits. Tea Businesses outside the Mid-Atlantic Region are invited to join as Out-of-Region members with slightly reduced member privileges.