Our Story

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The first time I tried Somali Spiced Tea was in December of 2013. I was waiting for take-out from a small Somali restaurant in Toronto, and the staff served me complimentary tea.

At the time, I wasn’t much of a tea drinker. I’d always been a plain, black coffee kind of guy. But on my first sip, I was immediately overwhelmed and thought, “Is tea supposed to taste this good? Am I drinking something spicy? Wait, is this really spicy?” It was love at first sip. The bold, warming and entrancing flavors swept me away.

After that, I found myself thinking about this tea all the time. When could I get back to Toronto next? Are there Somali restaurants in Maryland? How am I going to get another cup? Ultimately, I knew I needed to know how to make it. Through the help of a friend’s mother, I was given a recipe. And after some experimentation, I created my own blend of Somali Spice Tea.

In Somali, the word for mother is “Hooyo,” and I wouldn’t have started exploring tea and its limitless combinations of flavor without my friend’s Hooyo. I also wouldn’t have a passion for cooking if not for my own mother, who constantly encouraged my creativity and desire to be in the kitchen since my childhood.

It’s my hope that you enjoy the recipes I have been inspired to create, and the combinations of flavor I continue to explore.

James Gerst – Owner and founder of Hooyo’s Tea

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