Weichao Kong and Tiffany Liu discovered the magic of Gong Fu tea on a family trip back home to Taiwan and China. Inspired by the healing powers of slowing down reflecting with a pot of tea, they began sharing their daily tea-brewing practice with friends back in LA. One of those friends was Taurean Nixon, who was coming off a mentally draining career in the NFL. He quickly fell in love with daily tea sessions as a way to ground and find himself in his next chapter in life. A few years later and .standstill. Tea is proudly a Black & Asian owned company.
We had a chance to digitally connect with Nixon, who shared his incredibly inspiring journey with his personal mental health and tea.
Brewista: In a single sentence, who are you as a human being?
Nixon: I am where culture intersects, community is built, and love is shown!
Brewista: You were an athlete your whole life. Tell us about your journey from the NFL and professional sports to discovering a love of tea.
Nixon: As a child, I always dreamt of being a professional athlete because it looked so cool, and sports created a special bond between my father and me. While playing in the NFL, I didn't know what responsibilities came with the logo. After going through years of personal hardships during my fourth season, I decided to walk away from the NFL due to mental health. I knew that if I felt this way, many of my teammates were probably feeling this way as well.
On my journey toward self-discovery and healing, I found Tiffany and Weichao (founders of . standstill. Tea). They were the ones who introduced me to the stillness of the tea table. It was the very place I learned the art of taking a moment. I even taught myself how to meditate through the practice of brewing tea Gong Fu style. We shared many beautiful moments around the tea table, fostering my love and connection with loose-leaf tea. Today, as part owner of .standstill. Tea, I get to share the very experiences that played a pivotal role in my life, but now, as a teammate with the two people who introduced me to loose-leaf tea.
Brewista: What makes .standstill. Tea different from other tea companies?
Nixon: .standstill. believes in building community through the power of the teas they source directly from biodynamic farms across Asia. Their guiding purpose is to share slow tea culture with people from all walks of life, giving them a reason to take a moment and check-in with themselves and their friends!
Brewista: How has tea impacted your life?
Nixon: Tea has impacted my life in so many beautiful ways. From growing up in Louisiana creating gallons of sweet tea with my grandma to creating tea brewing wellness workshops for corporations like LiveNation. From brewing tea at our HQ for homies to serving and gifting tea at the Bruce Lee Foundation gala. Tea has allowed me to work alongside chefs to create dining experiences, incorporating my love for hospitality and my Southern roots.
Tea has been a beautiful way for me, alongside my partners, to intersect cultures and bring people from all walks of life together. Tea is now part of me; I embody the tea table and use my platform to connect others to this beautiful leaf. If you told me a year and a half ago that tea would have created so many life-changing opportunities for me, I would have told you that you were lying.
Brewista: What does your tea ritual look like?
Nixon: So, I have several different tea rituals, but the one I will share is the one I use when connecting with myself and with others.
It’s a basic GongFu-style tea brewing technique. This style of tea brewing dates back over a thousand years and started in Southeast Asia. A basic setup consists of a teapot, a Gong Dao Bei or “fairness pitcher,” a set of tea cups, and an electric kettle. The ritual goes a little something like this … I always start by taking a moment to set my intentions and to center my awareness so that I am present. Next, I light an incense or a piece of Palo Santo wood to cleanse my space and set the vibes. I then warm the teapot, put loose-leaf tea into the teapot, pour hot water for the first brew, pour the first brew of tea into my fair cup, then serve tea into tea cups, repeat steps 5-7 until tea loses its taste (you be the judge of that). When practiced alone, this ritual is how I start my meditation practice.
Brewista: What advice would you give to those who are just getting started with tea?
Nixon: I advise anyone getting started in tea to try it as an alternative drink to whatever they are used to. Tea is a beverage consumed all over the world in many different ways. There is a form of tea for everyone; it's just about making that connection. Also, you can start by looking towards tea for its healing properties. For example, drinking tea lowers your blood sugar levels, which is helpful for those with diabetes. Lastly, consider consuming tea as an art form, just like people consume wine. Take time to educate yourself on the region, growing conditions, harvest process, tasting notes, and brewing techniques. From there, have fun with the different tea-drinking methods.