Nicole Basso, founder of Sip Tea Lounge, grew up in an Italian American household. Though she still likes her coffee, she likes tea better. Despite having black coffee and espresso every day, Nicole's grandmother had tea every night before going to bed, too. Nicole always refused her grandmother's offer to join in this ritual. The tea was generally the true tea of Red Rose or Tetley, in bags, mixed with an herbal tisane from fresh ginger root, which was brewed on the stove.
Nicole later developed an interest and taste for Japanese green tea.
When Nicole moved from New York to San Francisco in 2002, she began going to tea houses. A friend introduced her to Samovar, a particular favorite. It was there that she started sampling a wider variety of teas from several different growing regions.
Nicole would bring the tea to work and brew the leaves in the office. Having tea in the afternoon became a daily ritual.
After deciding to relocate back to New York in 2004, her interests in the topic of locally grown, organic food led her to assist at the local farmers market. A friend from the market encouraged her to try sharing the tea she enjoyed with the locals. She eventually had her own stand as a tea vendor at the farmers market.
In 2009, while Nicole's interest in the origin of food and tea was continuing to grow on the local level, she went with her husband to India to attend friends' wedding. It was Southern India. It was beautiful. It inspired her to create a website for her tea.
After creating the website and testing the concept at the market, Nicole learned there was a local customer base that was interested in high quality tea.
In 2012, Nicole and her husband visited China to learn about Pu Er tea, tea processing, farming and brewing. It was eye-opening. The passion and hard work that went into every part of tea making, from leaf to cup, was overwhelmingly apparent.
Shortly after returning from China, Sip Tea Lounge was opened in Huntington, New York. Though the tea lounge closed in July of 2016, Nicole's passion for tea remains strong and constant. She continues to develop her tea knowledge and share it with others by holding tea classes and tastings at various local venues, participating in pop-up tea events, and discovering new tea sources.