Josephine JohnsonFor Do SavannahView Comments
Wayne Ashford is on a mission. His goal? To help make the world more mindful, healthful, purposeful. And he’s certain he can do that, one cup at a time with high quality, loose-leaf tea.
Ashford is the integrative mind, body, and soul aficionado leading the charge at Ashford Tea Company where he considers each cup a gateway to better living and holistic health.
Opened December 2018, the shop features some of the world’s best white, green, oolong and black teas hand selected by Ashford from farms and distributors all over the world.
“I’ve been in the business over 20 years, and I have cultivated relationships with tea purveyors in Germany, Amsterdam, Costa Rica, and India,” said Ashford. “I know the people, where and how the tea plants are grown. I work with organic farmers and sustainable harvesters.”
At 61 years of age, Ashford is in excellent health and keenly focused on sharing his enthusiasm for healthy living. He exercises regularly, meditates, practices yoga and vegetarianism, and considers regular tea drinking integral to his vitality.
With more antioxidants and less caffeine than coffee, white tea especially is Ashford’s elixir of health.
“There are four types of tea,” explained Ashford. “White, green, oolong, and black. White tea is harvested only once early in the season. The leaves are young, light in color, more like delicate shoots. The young leaves are packed with antioxidants, and what little caffeine there is, binds with the antioxidants and is released slowly into your body. Studies say antioxidants in white tea lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, and could prevent some cancers. White tea is excellent for the immune system.”
But Ashford wasn’t always a tea guru. In fact, his introduction to the drink and its preparation came like it does to many living in the South. His mom would make sun tea in the summer then add cups of sugar to sweeten it.
“I remember riding my bike, watching the water change color in the mason jars on the sidewalk,” recalled Ashford. “My mom would bring the jars in late afternoon and add lots of sugar. It was the best thing, but in my early twenties when I started getting into tea, Lipton and a lot of sugar just isn’t the healthiest way to drink it.
Ashford found he genuinely preferred drinking tea and dove into its research as both beverage and portal to world cultures. After serving in the Army and working in the corporate world, Ashford opened his own tea shop, Tea’s Me Café, in Indianapolis, which he owned for over 20 years, developing strong relationships with tea growers worldwide.
“When I sold that business, I had the great fortune to sell it to a customer who also loved tea,” said Ashford. “Actually, she made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse, and now Tamika Catchings, four-time Olympic basketball gold medalist and retired WNBA star, owns the business in Indy.”
In 2017, Ashford and his wife moved to Savannah where, of course, he continues his tea mission.
“Preparing a cup of tea provides an opportunity for purpose, a chance to slow down and be mindful of the process,” emphasized Ashford. “And that slowing down allows for better integration of mind and body, a sense of peace. I’m not perfect, but I strive each day to do my best to honor this sense of purpose I feel for sharing health through tea. One cup at a time, I offer my best effort.”
Wayne Ashford will be guest speaker at Healthy Savannah’s Encourage Health series. Ashford speaks at 1:00 p.m. Thursday, July 1st, on Healthy Savannah’s Facebook page.
The Ashford Tea Company is located at 406 E. Oglethorope Ave, Savannah, GA, 31401.
IF YOU WATCH
WHAT: Health Benefits of Tea with Wayne Ashford
WHEN: Thursday, July 1 at 1 p.m.