Teaism is a teahouse and fast-casual restaurant serving high-quality loose leaf tea and wholesome Asian-inspired meals at four locations across the Greater Washington area.
When Teaism opened two decades ago, the American public possessed limited knowledge about tea and vegan options. Today, Teaism stand out among its fast-casual restaurants peers with a range of vegan and vegetarian options, and moderate meat and fish portions. Teaism cooks from scratch, roast and grind our masala, make yogurt, cheese, seitan, and bake breads and sweets.
In addition to operating as a teahouse, Teaism caters breakfast, lunch and dinner, fulfills online orders at Teaism.com, sells wholesale to the local restaurant community, and operates a free-standing tea shop.
Catalyst for Healthy Eating
Our values are reflected in what we do daily, through baby steps—as we like to put it, “one bag at a time.” In celebration of Food Day, an annual day of events to honor wholesome food and a more just food system, Teaism hosts a panel discussion called “Chefs as Catalysts for Change”. The panel is an educational afternoon for the chefs that feed the policymakers on Capitol Hill that features farmers, environmentalists, policy wonks, chefs, and slow food enthusiasts.
Our relationship with staff and the community strongly reflects our values. We strive to source from local farms where possible, represent local artists, and our larger locations act as meet-up spaces for a host of local groups and organizations that all contribute to DC’s vibrant diversity and even its political life.
We also collaborate in neighborhood initiatives. For example, our Penn Quarter location donates a portion of its sales on certain days to the middle school next door, and to UCM in Old Town. In addition, Teaism hosts a monthly “Healthy Happy Happening” Happy Hour in Old Town, Alexandria for people concerned with wellness. Featured guests have included a bee farmer, Chef Nora Poullion, an ER doctor, a nutritionist, a yoga teacher, an EFT trainer, a chiropractor, and fermentation specialists from Number One Sons, and others!
Of the nearly 80 individuals that Teaism employs, a majority work 40 hours per week above minimum wage. Managers are actively involved with staff, and have acted as wedding photographers, tutors, and mentors. As a result, Teaism enjoys a retention rate unheard of in the restaurant industry – most employees have worked with Teaism for 5 year, and many have worked for more than a decade.
When it comes to Social Responsibility co-founder Michelle Brown is most interested in America’s food supply. Teaism began serious efforts five years ago to make its offering non-GMO, a step achieved by only two other eateries in the U.S. – one in Seattle, and the other in California. Her first step was to remove canola and soy oils from its kitchens. As part of the journey, Michelle and her chefs constantly read and educate themselves about tea and the food supply. They are vigilant about reading labels of everything that enters Teaism’s doors. They challenge their vendors to supply cleaner, wholesome products and long for the day it is easier to find more quality, affordable fish and meat in the mid-Atlantic region that has not been fed corn or soy.
Recently, Teaism was pleasantly surprised to learn that guests gave rave reviews to the strictly vegan menu it offered during Old Town Alexandria’s restaurant week. They also learned that new guests sought the restaurant specifically because of its non-GM offerings.