Wednesday, March 18, 2015

an interview with allison of sweeteacakes

disclosure: allison provided me with some yummy cake to taste test (that i thoroughly enjoyed every bite of!). all opinions are my own.

a few weeks ago on twitter, i came across a company called sweeteacakes, and i was immediately intrigued. after visiting the website and viewing their adorable products, i knew i wanted to know more! i reached out to allison devane, the woman behind sweeteacakes, to learn more about her business and how she got started.

allison was kind enough to send me some cake to sample. first of all, her packaging is adorable - who can resists the mason jars? but what's inside is even better. the cake is moist, balanced and sweet, and the lemon icing is rich and perfectly complements the cake. warning - it's rich! i split the jar with a friend and we enjoyed it immensely.

i asked allison some questions about her unique business & the inspiration behind it. i love reading her story and drive behind this business - i hope you will too!

tell me about you & the story of sweetea cakes.

My name is Allison DeVane, I was born in Germany & raised around the world (thanks air force, pilot dad!). My mother is Korean my father is African American & all of his side of the family is from North Carolina. I would say that I have a pretty diverse background and have grown up to learn & love all sorts of cultures and  enjoy traveling. My father is a huge coffee fan and as we traveled or had our father/daughter dates we would frequently visit coffee shops to try new espresso, drinks, & desserts. Over the years I became infatuated with coffee, made a barista position my first job, and it became a dream of mine to open a coffee shop.  Recently I decided it was time to make my dreams come true but I didn't want to have just another coffee shop with some pastries. I wanted to have something different. I decided to make tea into gourmet coffee drinks & instead of ordinary pastries do tea infused pastries.

Why tea you ask?  I have grown up with the tea influence considering my mother's oriental background & my father's southern roots, but to tell the truth, I was never a fan.  I felt tea tasted like flavored water in comparison to my robust counterpart, coffee. So then my thought was, why not have tea like coffee? This was a game changer. Now I can enjoy a cup of tea that has similar consistencies to coffee & even have some blends with similar caffeination levels! Not only that, but I can enjoy my tea in gourmet coffee preparations like lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, flat whites, you name it! In correlation to this robust tea, I decided to bring that strong tea flavor to my pastries. The first type/flavor of tea I thought to recreate as a pastry was non other than sweet tea. Aside my feelings towards other teas, I have always loved sweet tea. I think sweet tea embodies that sweet southern charm. Its a refreshing drink, I feel like everyone that drinks it is always smiling, when I see it in a mason jar I just think of happy families having picnics, etc. The essence of sweet tea itself is a home, loving, charming ora that I thought would be perfect to recreate into a pastry - thus the birth of Sweeteacakes.


your cakes are inspired by your experiences in North Carolina - is this the market you're trying to appeal to? what makes sweet tea special to you?

I am not necessarily trying appeal to just the Southern Crowd. I am simply giving the south credentials for the drink I feel they made infamous & contributed to giving the drink such sweet (figuratively & literally) associations. Just reflecting back to the times I had with my family as a kid in NC brings a smile to my face. I feel that my family bonds especially over some good home cooked food. Sweet tea is something that was always effortlessly laced into my life similar to how rice is such a common food I eat from my mother's background. It is one of the diverse components that make me, me! 

what are your favorite memories of the south?

My favorite memories of the south is with my family and close friends. I have the family in North Carolina, at some time some of them were in Alabama, & I have a closer friends in Mississippi. I remember when I was visiting one of my best childhood friends and her telling me how much she loved sweet tea & how it basically runs in her veins. She reminded me of the delicacies of sweet tea and especially since then it has given sweet tea more character to me. Among that and other trips to the south for example Louisiana, all I have to say or share is the exquisite hospitality I experienced. Every place I went I felt like I was treated like family even though the person may not know me. This is the southern charm that I feel is so special & what helps to make sweet tea so sweet.

tell me about the process with your tea.

My tea is a lot different from most. When you have a typical brewed cup of tea you can see right through it and the consistency is similar to water. My tea however isn't transparent when brewed and the consistency is thicker similar to coffee. When you drink a sip of my tea you can tell there is more substance and it is more filling similar to drinking a coffee drink. All of my teas have similar consistencies to coffee and some even have the same caffeination level. Basically it is an extremely concentrated tea with all the flavors and substance extracted from the leaves. In essence this is a healthier alternative to coffee!

what flavors are next?!

I have a bunch of new flavors coming out! As far as an actual sweet tea flavored sweeteacake, I will be having raspberry come out shortly. Additionally, I am expanding the tea infused baked goods selection to macaroons, cakes, & cookies. All to be coming very soon!

check out sweeteacakes here, and give them a follow on twitter!

photos courtesy of allison devane & sweeteacakes.

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