French Cafe Society Arrives in Hamilton
Gertrude Stein's famous Paris salon played a part in the birth of novels by Hemingway and paintings by Picasso. With the start of Jolie Tea's new art and ideas salon, Hamilton is already seeing a bounty of work by local celebrated artists.
Wars aren’t started between sips of tea - poems are. So thought Amy Job, who opened Jolie Tea Co. six months ago in downtown Hamilton.
A shop is for selling products, but in starting her business Job wanted to do something more, something to foster art and ideas.
“I’m an underground Francophile,” said Job, explaining her motivation. “I’ve always loved the French café society and I want to try it here.”
Part of that has been the the creation of “Jolie Tea Company Salon.”
“It’s community outreach," she said, adding that it happens after shop hours. "There’s no charge."
The shop has been "kind of my 20-year dream come to fruition,” Job said.
Indeed the route to achieving it more strongly resembled that of a butterfly than that of a bee.
“I was a biologist,” Job said about her early professionally career. “I did cancer research, clinical work. Now (in Jolie Tea) it’s all come together.”
After a pause to warmly acknowledge her husband’s support and patience, Job elaborated on her path.
“(Then) I tried cooking school. I studied at the Cambridge School of Culinary Art.” This led to catering work, “sales for a while, the business side of food," said Job.
Then, speaking again about the salon, Job continued, “I want to help artists that might not have a venue.”
Case in point is Angela Yarian, who was the featured artist in Jolie Tea’s first salon. Yarian, a Beverly resident, is a recent graduate of Gordon College, where she majored in art.
A recipient of a St. Botolph emerging artist grant in 2010, Yarian is roundly praised by Job and Jolie Tea employee, Kate Rose Strong.
“She’s a friend of all of us,” said Strong. “It was her first solo exhibition out of college; Most of the paintings are still up but a few have been sold.”
The focus of the second salon switched from painting to music as singer/songwriter Courtney Reid performed.
Job’s former art teacher and now close friend, Reid, is this year’s winner of the Folgers Coffee Jingle contest.
“(Job’s idea for the salon) is present-minded and fundamentally fun,” String said about the evening events.
“It’s a really fun, really interesting venture (that) broadens the idea of what tea is for.”
“There’s a lot of raw enthusiasm for it,” she added.
Aside from keeping shop hours every day but Monday, Jolie Tea hosts tea tastings every Saturday. The intention behind these tastings is to introduce attendees to less familiar teas and to introduce them to the deep and varied culture of tea.
“Many people are used to tea bags, loose tea steeped in a pot is a different teaexperience,” Job explained.
In fully embracing her self-chosen role of tea educator, purveyor and cultural concierge Job eagerly seeks to meet the demands of each customer.
“Tea is very personal. People’s tastes (in tea) are closely linked to memory.”
“We’re starting to make individualized tea profiles for customers,” said Job, who explained these profiles as recipes for tea blends based on ten aspects of a person’s preferences in flavors and smells as well as their memory associations.
“Once we’ve determined a profile we’ll keep it on record in the shop to make it easy to order refills.”
That Job’s creativity is being rewarded with a good deal of local enthusiasm comes as no surprise.
Speaking of Hamilton-Wenham’s recent bloom of colorful start-ups, Job said “there’s some new energy here.”
About this column: A look at local people who are doing something good in Hamilton and Wenham.
Related Topics: Courtney Reid and Jolie Tea Co.