Sign me up! Downside is I don't live anywhere near IL...
That being said, I didn't read anything in your article with which I disagree.
cls46 wrote: think the most important thing is to find employees who are excited about tea and who are friendly.
This is absolutely true, these people will undoubtedly want to learn more and share their experiences with the customer, which (in my service industry experience) near always leads to a better customer understanding of the product and enjoyment of the experience. Most notably for me, has been teaching people about sushi - which can be difficult for some people ("You mean this is raw
?!" "Ew, I won't eat that!" just to name two examples).
As I mentioned in another post, a friend of mine once took me to a quaint little tea shop - the first experience I had with looseleaf tea - where I discovered that there's more than one variety of green tea (via their extensive list of teas - broken down by region, which I really like), among other lessons. I met the owner who was knowledgable and got the sense that he wasn't necessarily in it for the money, but to give everyone (rookies to experts) a unique and inspiring tea experience by using some traditional methods and teaching more of the history as well. The 2nd time I went in, I ordered a Chinese tea that came out with a pot of water, a small teapot, a tall, thin cup, and a small, shallower cup, as well as a small tray of the tea. I was confused at first, but with no hesitation or condescension, he proceeded to explain to me what it was, how to use it, and why he served this particular tea this way. It was a great experience that really made me want to go back - and ask many more questions!