We were lucky to catch up with Connie Lacobie recently and have shared our conversation below.
Connie, appreciate you joining us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?
In 2013, I was diagnosed with pre-diabetes with a strong chance of this progressing to type 2 diabetes. My holistic doctor’s recommendations were to cut off my sugar intake, including carbs. I also needed to do more exercise, and to lower my stress level- a major factor in my high blood pressure and the high sugar in my bloodstream. Starting to put these practices into action was the beginning of my wellness journey.
Running Te’s brick-and-mortar storefront required twelve hour days, seven days a week. With my full attention going to my business and my kids, my physical health came last. But I listened to my body’s request, and finally took a drastic step. I closed the Te physical shop after Christmas 2015, continuing to do wholesale to serve our communities.
My new path and way of living : Holistic way of Living
I needed to understand how my body functions to help myself. I believe that eating properly, exercising daily and sleeping decently will improve my blood pressure and pre-diabetic issues.
Working on my own health led me to YMCA exercise programs, garden work, tea demonstrations and Asian Cultures promotions. In the fall of 2021, I began a new journey to pursue Apothecary certification from The Human Path- Herbal Medics.
1. Extended knowledge of Herbalism
During Té’s period, even though I gained awareness of herbal infusions (aka tisane), my knowledge of herbs was limited and was confined to limited choices, like hibiscus, mint, chamomile, honeybush , verbena, and Rooibos bases, which are mild and safe to serve.
40 % of our daily customers demanded tisane. Like “Party Too Hardy”, “ Blue Grass” and such- personal blends I made for helping with hangovers and stress.
2. Personal Experience: Anxiety & Sleep
I have a sleep problem. Generally, a cup of chamomile, lavender and lemon balm – my own concoction like “ ZZZ calming” – could not guarantee an effective result to clear my running thoughts at night. Time to look for a proper herbalist sleep formula to help myself and my Té patrons and my local community in Houston cosmopolitan area.
My goal is to obtain full legitimate knowledge of herbs and traditional herbalism to earn a certificate of a proper Apothecarist. I am ready to be legitimate , true herbalist with confidence to serve my Té customers.
My dream is to set up a separate line of my business and legitimately sell herbal medicine- proper herbal infusions which could effective target certain disorders like sleep disorders , digestion and such.
I am particularly interested in women’s health issues, and I am generating more medicinal cuisine recipes based on my Asian culture background to help out postpartum women, (teaching them how to make Hong Kong Ginger Wine Chicken Broth).and general women’s care.
My current mission can be defined as Wellness Activism : reaching out to my local social and volunteer communities, advocating for healthy eating through cooking demonstrations. I have started to partner with Plant it Forward Farm to hold herbal education classes using the African herbs they grow., introduce the benefits of those herbs and how to use them. Herbal vinegar infusions , cooking with herbs, and just simple tea decoction.
Food is Medicine. Organic veggies is essential to our health.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
I ran a retail tea shop in the Montrose area of Houston, Té House of Tea, from 2005 to 2015. Te served the community with teas and bistro food from all cultures. We also connected with our community through community dances, all-ages talent nights, and fundraisers for charity, even a wedding! I became a master of the history and production process of Camilla Sinensis teas- black, green, white, oolong and puerh. All of the teas I sold were either local, sustainable, or Fair Trade. We recycled and compsted our food waste in our own garden space. I am passionate about social justice!
My tea selection at Te had a large and varied selection of tisanes (herbal infusions) that are gentle and effective, but pretty well-known to most customers, such as peppermint and chamomile. After I complete my certification in 2023, I want to extend my horizon to include medicinal teas for my customers; teas with a broader range of herbs, and my truthful knowledge of their benefits.
I am already inventing new tisanes with my new knowldege, such as my “ Dreamer’s Secrets “ which includes some ingredients I learned from Apothecarist program.
How’d you build such a strong reputation within your market?
Two years ago, at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, I started to volunteer consistently in cooking demonstrations from our Houston-area local farm, Plant It Forward, a nonprofit organization for refugee resettlement projects, and also the YMCA of Greater Houston. In my cooking demonstrations, I used veggies I was familiar with through my Asian culture background and long years of kitchen experience at Te. Okras, spinach, water spinach, sun chokes. I wanted audiences to accept these veggies and their benefits, to show how to preserve the veggie’s nutrients as much as possible, and to turn on the audience’s taste buds to these veggies.
What’s been the best source of new clients for you?
Since I am focusing on herbal education programs, natural plant-based benefits and their medicinal values to human beings, my best sources are the urban farms in the Houston area. Plant it Forward Farms and FAM Houston are the guaranteed organic sources for urban farms . You could go there personally to visit, inspect and buy from the farmers directly. People should shop at farmers market to support local conventional farmers or hydroponic farmer.
I also reach out to FAM Houston, another farm group for Congo refugees. I want to partner with farm groups and their knowledge of their native veggies, like jute leaves (molokhia) to advocate about different cultures’ herbal medicine and sharing with our public who are interested in alternative medicine – an herbal holistic way of living and eating, and how to preserve herbs by infusions through vinegar, honey or teas. Food is medicine!
- Website: tehouseoftea.com
- Instagram: @tehouseoftea
- Facebook: facebook.com/tehouseoftea
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5Zk36zin_p82MPsRGqZB5g