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By Leah Small
A Zen Life at CaryTown Teas
s the drinker nears the leaves at the bottom of the pot, different
notes come out.
The parallel of this statement to Patricia Guillouard, a
former New York fashion designer turned Richmond tea shop
owner, is evident. After a hectic design career, she came to
Richmond seeking spiritual asylum, and found it with CaryTown
Teas. Patricia is a sommelier of tea. Her extensive list contains
over one hundred blends. The shop carries medicinal teas,
imported teas, and new twists on old traditions, reflecting the eccentricity of their
Patricia moved to New York from her native Paris at 21, bringing the cadence
very English in her tastes,” she says. Her grandmother would have never used
of her lovely Parisian accent with her. She attended the Institute of Fashion and
Sweet’N Lo, or microwaved tea, and certainly would never have drunk iced tea.
Technology, and opened the trendy Studio 109 in the commercial district of
Patricia, however, believes that to not embrace the new would be “limited.”
St. Marks Place. The designer and two seamstresses specialized in jagged-
“You can grow up with a conservative background and use that to create much
edged custom leather. “I dressed everybody,” she says, “Ashanti, Jennifer Lopez,
more eccentric and diverse things,” she says. “You already have the knowledge so
Lauren Hill.” However, being fashion designer to the stars does not leave a lot of
you can do whatever you want to do with it.” Patricia goes beyond her European
relaxation time. A close friend implored Patricia to relocate to a Southern, and
background in her use of ethnic and tribal blends for medicinal purposes. She
mellow, river city. Seizing the opportunity of an ending lease, and a need for
feels an attachment to the earthy barks, roots, and bushes with which she blends.
change, she acquiesced.
She loves “things with tribal roots because that is where we all come from.”
Richmonders and their relationship with tea led her to believe that a tea shop
Patricia reaches deep inside of herself to evoke the medicinal potential of her
would be perfect for the city. “Richmonders are tea drinkers, they were just drinking
blends. Blending is an extremely “shamanic” process. In order to do so properly,
bad tea,” she says. “Now bring them something that is better and healthier, and
all of the noise of our material world must be ignored—the complete antithesis
they are your customers.” Now, Southerners, do not get upset and quit in the
to fashion, which Patricia found entirely too hectic. At CaryTown Teas, the staff
middle of the third paragraph. She is not calling iced tea, the hallmark Southern
blends upstairs, totally separate from the public, and will not pick up the phone.
beverage, bad tea. Citing our colonial relationship with England, country of
The blender must believe in the abilities of the natural world to heal, and must
the tea drinkers, she declares “the South is tea.” Her healthy modification of
the Southern classic won an award for best iced tea blend on Good Morning
Richmond. Her blend uses Rooibos red South African tea. It has the advantage of
being steeped for a long time to make a strong blend. The teas natural sweetness Take our online poll, “Your Favorite CaryTown Tea” at
is attributed to kiwis, strawberries, and honey bush. No sugar required.! While there, read more about
Patricia learned to appreciate and blend tea from her grandmother, a half CaryTown Teas, Patricia Guillouard, and Mistie
English, half French Louvre curator. As a young girl she girl she practiced tea Roundtree in V’s digital edition.
room etiquette and drank rose and chamomile blends. “My grandmother was


Vmagazine for women
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