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Nyack Sketch Log: The Bruce Lee of Loose Tea – NyackNewsAndViews

Nov 27th, 2019

by Bill Batson

Preston Powell is a civil rights scion, who has been a DJ, night club owner, artist rep, and sensei. His grandfather was Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the first African American to be elected to Congress in the state of New York. Preston has fused his talents and early experience with tea drinking culture into a successful business and dojo. If you visit the Nyack Farmers Market, look for Teagevity and meet the Bruce Lee of loose tea.

When I was about 19 or 20, I walked into a martial arts dojo on Lexington Ave in New York City and saw a man, who turned out to be the Sensei, holding a cup of tea. The way he held that teacup struck me.It reminded me of my childhood, when women would sit for tea after services at Abyssinian Baptist Church. When I started my martial arts training everything was about holding a cup of tea; your posture, your movement, you had to defend a teacup. Eventually, I was given this teacup. For over twenty years, I have protected this cup. It has been my introduction to Asian and other tea drinking cultures. It is a connection to the fellowship of drinking tea after church.

Family photo courtesy Preston Powell 2014, all rights reserved.

My grandfather was Adam Clayton Powell Jr. He was pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and in 1945, he was the first African American from New York State elected to Congress. My grandmother, Isabel Washington Powell, was a dancer at the Cotton Club when she met and married Adam Clayton Powell. I am in the process of donating some items from my family to The Smithsonian Institute in Washington for their new African American wing. One of the exhibits is going to be about early black residents on Marthas Vineyard. My grandparents summered and owned a cottage there.

My first radio show was on WYBC Black Spectrum at Yale University. I did the over night Saturday Soul and R&B Radio Dance show. This was the early 70s. From there, I DJd at the Snow Chicken in New Haven and would spin basement blue light parties from , Connecticut to New York City. As a mobile DJ, I traveled with an old Crown Reel to Reel and two Technic SL1200 Turntables and a Bozak Mixer. Man those were the days!

WBLS Program Director Frankie Crocker hired me to create Dance Mix shows to be aired on WBLS in New York which aired on weekends. I also did Mix shows for WKTU.

Preston spinning at the legendary Studio 54

This was the early defining period for what we now know as the Disco era. The next step was becoming a club DJ and Billboard Dance reporter and working all the big Clubs in Manhattan: Xenon, Club A, Magique, Leviticus, Pippins, Mellow Mouth in the Hamptons, and regular guest spots and famed Studio 54, the Anvil and Tea dances at the Cock Ring in the Village.

In the early 1980s in the Hamptons, I owned operated and DJd at Bay Street night club in Sag Harbor. There I mixed music during the week and produced major concerts creating The legendary Reggae on the Wharf Concert series and producing major Live concerts featuring artists such as: Bobby Short, Chuck Berry, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Tina Turner, James Brown, Billy Joel, Simply Red, Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff & Steel Pulse to name a few.

As a child, I spent my summers by the waterin Marthas Vineyard. I also spent a lot of time in Sag Harbor. When I came across the Tappan Zee Bridge one day around 1999, and I saw the Village of Nyack and the Hudson River, I instantly knew this would be a home for my family.

It helped that it was only 20 minutes from New York City, where I had a music business. My company, Jazzateria,managed jazz and reggae artists including Reuben Wilson, Bernard Pretty Purdie, Jimmy McGriff, Miri Ben-Ari and Midnite, a reggae band from St. Croix.

Students under Sensei Powells watchful gaze

To-te Ueshiro Karate Club opened in 2006. It is organized as a club more than a business. We dont advertise, we dont have a neon sign. The focus is on training for personal growth, not for competition or trophies. In our Shorin-Ryu tradition, skills are handed down through the family. We try to prepare the father to train the daughter and the grandfather to train with the grandson. Its an activity for the whole family. Our style of Karate was brought to Okinawa, Japan by men who were taught by Shaolin monks in China. They were in Okinawa as traders and taught their trading partners martial arts to protect themselves from the mainland Japanese. My teacup came from Japan.

Powell with Dr. Oz at Nyack Farmers Markrt

I was frustrated with the business of music, and I wanted to create something new and local that my family could be a part of. Tea had been on my mind. I loved the substance of it and the rituals around it. In the dojo, students would ask what to do when they didnt feel well. I had become an elder dispensing wisdom about medicinal properties of different teas and herbs.

Three Nyack artisans, Bill Batson, Lisa Chang and Preston Powell, have came together again to create two more Nyack gift sets.

The Rockland County gift set consists of a NEW Nyack Sketch Log inspired a 15 oz mug by Batson, 1.5 oz bag of loose Organic Assam tea from Powells Teagevity and two mini chocolate covered Oreos and two pieces of almond orange nougat by Changs Nyack Sweets. ($35)

The deluxe set includes a Rockland County mug AND the classic Nyack mug, Assam tea AND a steep and two full size chocolate covered Oreos and 4 pieces of nougat. ($50)

Pre-order before mid-nite on Dec. 2nd for a $10 discount.

Order at

Photo at Hartells by Raymond Wright.

Then one day, when I was driving with my wife and saying how much I loved life, she said the word longevity, and then added the word tea. When I heard Teagevity, that was it. I got the domain name that day. That was January, 2014.

I have 54 teas that I carry at any time. With blends it can be 75 or more.

Our most popular item is Organic Assam, which is also known as Irish Breakfast. And a South African tea called Rooibos, with blue mallow flowers is also very popular.

That would be Pu-erh, from the Yunnan province, China. It has beneficial properties that many in the world have known about forever. Dr Oz talks about it and all the fashionmodels in Europe drink it. The tea breaks down cholesterol. Its good for your blood pressure too. It works as a detoxifier, helping with the liver, because it helps you flush water. And if you are looking to cut weight, this is your tea.

Water :

The water you use is very important.The number one beverage in the world is water. The number two is tea. Since a good tea is rich in anti-oxidants and minerals, the water should be pure as well. If you had a free flowing spring, that would be best. If not, use bottled or filtered water. Try not to use water from the tap.


The temperature depends on the tea; for a green tea, pre-boiling or about 170-175; for black tea, herbal and botanicals bring your water to a 210 212 degree full boil.

Steep time:

You can peruse Teagevitys selection of loose tea and tea gear online at or every Thursday from 8a-2pat the Nyack Farmers Market at the main municipal parking lot until December 19. The winter market starts at the Nyack Center on Thursday, January 2, 2020.

Visit for information about martial arts classes. To-te Ueshiro Karate Club is located at 85 South Broadway, Nyack, NY

An activist, artist and writer, Bill Batson lives in Nyack, NY.Nyack Sketch Log: Bruce Lee of Loose Tea 2018 Bill Batson. Visit billbatsonarts.comto see more.

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Nyack Sketch Log: The Bruce Lee of Loose Tea - NyackNewsAndViews

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