Hummingbird Tea Room

Nasim Bell does not measure the success of her business, Hummingbird Tea Room and Bakery, solely by its profit margin. For Bell, success is reflected through her own personal growth, her staff's growth and the affinity her customers seem to have with the shop.

"It's not just my growth and the business's growth, it's the staff's growth," Bell said. "I tell them, 'If I grow, then you grow too.'"

Bell works to teach her young staff how to make menu items with fresh ingredients, the importance of running an eco-friendly business and the value of building personal relationships with customers. Bell knows many of her customers by name and has even learned about the highs and lows in their lives over cups of tea.

"I have women come in here who are going through cancer, losing their jobs," she said. "I see their internal strength, and it has amazed me. We think these women have nothing to do, that they are stay-at-home moms and drink coffee. But they are presidents of nonprofit organizations, presidents of the PTO. If we are busy, they will clear the tables for me. The women are my biggest supporters."

Bell opened Hummingbird Tea Room & Bakery a little over two years ago. Since that time, she has seen the business succeed and its customer base grow, while still allowing Bell the opportunity to retain her personal ambition.

"It was important for me to stay true to who I am and what I believe in," she said.

Bell relates tales of growing up in Zambia, where children often go hungry. Seeing people go hungry has led Bell to offer smaller portion sizes, which are less likely to be thrown out.

"So we make sure what we offer here is fantastic, it tastes good and it's the right portion size," she said.

Since the restaurant's opening, Bell has grown the menu to include new sandwiches, more breakfast items, more gluten-free items and vegetarian soups. Hummingbird offers dozens of teas and infusions, from iced teas to black teas to green teas, each with a different characteristic and flavor.

Bell has created a tea menu that draws from cultures around the world.

A few of the teas offered come with such names as Bombay Chai, Kenyan Sunrise and Marrakesh Mint.

"It invokes an image when you have those teas, and when you know what part of the world the teas come from," she said.

Bakery items include lamingtons, which is vanilla cake rolled in chocolate sauce and coconut, English Madeleines, a variety of cakes and homemade scones.

"I've been told our scones are the best this side of the Atlantic," Bell said.

She is looking to grow her business by offering some of her products–including scones and teas–online. Bell also is considering providing healthy meals to small private schools.

"For us, it's all about small," she said.

Hummingbird favorites

Owner Nasim Bell said the following dishes are the most popular options at Hummingbird.

Green baguette – Goat cheese, avocado, tomatoes, basil and pesto served on artisan bread ($8.99)Mediterranean Baguette – Slices of chicken, Irish cheddar cheese, red pepper, hummus and mixed greens served on artisan bread ($9.79)Chicken Waldorf salad – Chicken with golden raisins, walnuts, apples, pears and a curry mayonnaise sauce on a bed of organic spring greens ($10.95)Tea 101

All teas come from the same type of plant, the chamomile. How the plant's leaves are processed and oxidized determine the type and flavor of a tea.

White tea – Comes from the first buds picked off the chamomile plant, and are the least-processed leaves, resulting in the lightest taste of all the teas.Black tea – The strongest flavors of the teas and also contains the most caffeine. Black teas include Kenyan Sunrise and Darjeeling, from the high foothills of India.Oolong tea – Has less caffeine, with a flavor between white and black teas. Oolong tea leaves are often tightly rolled in ginseng root.Green tea – Tea that has gone through minimal oxidation during processing and provides many health benefits.30420 FM 2978

The Woodlands 281-419-8362

Hours: Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.–4 p.m., Closed Sunday