Tahoe inventor designs tea lid

Ava Lavoie demonstrates how to open the cup. | Courtesy Heather Lavoie

It is a rainy day in Tahoe, perfect weather for a warming cup of tea. Heather Lavoie is sitting at a back table in Tahoe House with her hands wrapped around the cup’s soft wool sleeve. There is something special about the lid of this cup that allows her to enjoy her tea — one that is not over- or under-steeped with the tea bag out of the way and not in a watery puddle on the table.

“You gotta have determination and passion to know you’re doing it right. … Sometimes people underestimate me on what I can do and I’ve always stood up to the challenge.”
–Heather Lavoie

Lavoie can pull the tea bag up into the lid when it is done steeping and not have to deal with a limp string and label each time she takes a sip or wonder where to dispose of the used tea bag thanks to her invention – the Havin Tea Set.

WATCH: a video on how the Havin Tea Set works

The journey of how Lavoie came up with the Havin Tea Lid concept started about 10 years ago. She says that after her daughter was born, she needed the soothing, quiet time that tea brings her and unfortunately those moments were getting harder to find because her pottery-shop business and family obligations increasingly took over. She was trying to get out of the house in the morning with a steeping cup of tea, only to find that she had nowhere to put her tea bag, which frustrated her. If she left the tea bag in too long, the tea would get bitter. If not left long enough, it would be watery.

“I knew there had to be a better way,” she says. “I looked at how people generally make tea and realized if there was space in the lid to get the bag up and out, that would be the best solution. It even creates better-tasting tea because when the bag is suspended in the middle the leaves open up giving out the full flavor.”

How the tea sachet fits into the lid. | Courtesy Heather Lavoie

Lavoie also thought about how she could improve the overall tea-drinking experience. “Looking at how you hold it, I wanted it to make sure it was warm in your hand, be something you can cuddle up with.”

Lavoie started playing around with lid designs and figured out a simple, innovative solution. She worked with a local engineer to perfect her concept, became involved with inventor groups and patented her idea. She recently received her first order of Havin Tea Sets to sell through her Web site. She is hoping that her reusable, dishwasher-safe lid sets will gain some traction and eventually be sold in local stores, coffee shops and maybe even through the Home Shopping Network.

Inventing a product and bringing it to market hasn’t been easy, though. “At every stage I change my hat; I’m doing all of the marketing, design, sales. You gotta have determination and passion to know you’re doing it right. It’s good to be an inventor and be able to see the problems, be able to fix them and believe in yourself to stay on course. Sometimes people underestimate me on what I can do and I’ve always stood up to the challenge,” she says.

Heather enjoying a cup of tea at Tahoe House. | Kayla Anderson

According to Lavoie, having a supportive family and other entrepreneurs around her who continuously offer advice and encouragement is helpful. Her 19-year-old daughter Ava has been helping run the business and owns a share in the company.

“It’s amazing where this journey has taken me over the years, it’s been a wonderful process. I just hope people enjoy this as much as I have,” she says.

It definitely garnered some attention in Tahoe House as curious observers asked about the lid and where they could buy it. Havin Tea Sets are primarily sold online. The set includes the lid that has a convenient top hatch for adding milk or honey, a 16-ounce, BPA-free, plastic reusable travel cup and custom felt sleeve. | havintea.com