Victoria on Satori Tea Company: "I'd say all the people I've met and connected with has been the most rewarding."
Self-described as taking “a contemporary approach to an age-old tradition,” Satori Tea Company first opened in August 2010, specializing in organic, fair-trade loose-leaf tea and providing a relaxing, community-oriented space to enjoy a traditional tea service.
After studying communications at Boston University, owner Victoria Boyert moved to Los Angeles for a year to pursue an unfulfilling career in fashion. She moved back to San Jose in 2008 and began taking specialty tea classes at the Tea Association in San Francisco, where she became a certified tea professional. In addition to a selection of quality teas, Boyert’s shop also offers tea classes and tea tastings throughout the year.
Name: Victoria Boyert
Occupation: Owner of Satori Tea Company
How long have you lived and worked in San Jose?
I’ve lived here since I was 11, so 16 years. I did go to school in Boston for four years, and then I lived in LA for a year, but I came back because my family is here. I’ve worked here since 2008.
What do you like most about San Jose?
Probably all the really intelligent people—all the computer geeks.
When did you first get involved with tea?
I first got involved in tea when I was really little, but the most pivotal moment was when I took a tea class when I was seven years old. That was kind of when the whole journey started.
At what point did you decide to stay in San Jose and pursue your career?
I was living in LA right after I graduated, and I hated it. I absolutely couldn’t stand it down there. I knew I needed to come back home and I knew I needed a job. I thought I might as well just try something and start my own thing, rather than find a career and sit in an office all day. While other people were going to grad school and all these other things, I felt like I wanted to be a bit more creative. Tea is a thing that’s been constantly in my life. I would always buy teas and try teas, and when I saw a trend in teas over the years, I decided to go for it. I had nothing to lose.
What were some of your biggest challenges in starting your own business?
I think there were two things. The first thing is obvious to me—going through all the government red tape with the health department and the the city. It was a disaster. It took me one year to open a little tea shop where I just wanted to sell dried leaves and boiling water.
The second thing is the negativity I faced, because tea isn’t like coffee; it’s kind of a counterculture, it’s very niche. A lot of people would criticize me saying, “How are you gonna make money selling tea?” or they would say, “How cute, you wanna open a tea shop,” and be very condescending. I just had to ignore it and soldier through.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
Definitely the people, and of course tea—because I love tea. But really tea is just a way to promote community and human connections and human relationships. You can really get to know people over a cup of tea. It’s not a cup of coffee where you can brew it in two seconds. You come up here and order a cup of tea and you have to wait three minutes if it’s a green tea, four minutes if it’s a black tea, ten minutes for an herbal tea, and you have to talk to someone while you’re up here. I’d say all the people I’ve met and connected with has been the most rewarding.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not at the shop?
I like to go to the movies; I do that a lot. Or go out to eat. I love to be active. I was a dancer my whole life, so I still try to do as much physical activity as I can, whether it’s ballet or jogging or yoga classes. And I really want to do ballroom dance. I try to balance my work with some sort of physical activity, but I do have a family so a lot of my free time is spent with them.
What are some of your favorite places in San Jose?
I love the San Pedro Square Market. I love the Naglee Park Garage and I jog around the Almaden Creek Trail. And I really like downtown. It’s definitely growing and there are really fun and interesting places popping up.
If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?
I would change how hard it is to open a business. I think that if I would have known how hard it would have been, I wouldn’t have opened here. I think that there’s a lot of people that have really great ideas and they would be so wonderful here. There are people who want to do something, but the city makes it nearly impossible for them to do anything. People who are trying to do something here, all the permits they have to get and everything they have to go through stifles any sort of natural growth or creativity. My shop would be different had I not had to invest so much in just a piece of paper.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?
Besides my fiance—because I met him here—the other person would be Gary Singh because I am obsessed with him. He is awfully moody and I love it. He comes here quite a bit.