“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.” – William Ewart Gladstone
Tea is gaining a lot of momentum. It might be due to the health and wellness movement in the U.S., and the health benefits recently linked to tea. Or, it may be the fact that Starbucks purchased and began distributing tea in their stores and at retailers. Whatever it is, new tea shops are opening up across the nation, providing an alternative hot beverage over which to connect with friends.
“People fell in love with craft coffee because it was accessible and you can try it from different regions. People dismissed tea because they didn’t know the kinds. It’s been exotic and associated with England and Eastern Asia. Tea can be accessible, it’s not foreign anymore,” said local tea shop co-owner, Lily Duckler of Verdant Tea.
Verdant Tea Bar & Tasting Room, located in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, is a sure sight for the senses. Upon walking in, you are greeted with a large tea tasting table, Asian inspired artwork and floor seating, a gift shop of tea, a large menu of more teas than you ever knew existed, and several customers connecting over conversation and a pot of tea.
The fruition of Verdant Tea came to co-owner David Duckler as he was studying in China as a translator/researcher. While there he ended up falling in love with tea, and ultimately retrieved a research grant to go back to China to collect folk stories about tea. Duckler learned that the Dragonwell region had hundreds of generations of an invented tea style, but the Laoshan region was new territory to explore and innovate in terms of tea.
Duckler and his wife Lily lived in China for one year where they eventually became good friends with the tea farmers and continued to learn more about their tea and farming methods.
“We left all our clothes to just bring back tea. We came back telling stories and doing tastings. We sold all of our tea and realized we might be onto something,” said Lily Duckler.
They opened an online business selling tea exclusively from small family farms of the Laoshan region in China. Then, about six months ago they realized they wanted to share the hospitality of tea with people in the community, so they opened the Verdant Tea Bar & Tasting Room to the public.
Since then, the Verdant Tea Bar & Tasting Room has added weekly events to bring the community together such as tea presentations, guest DJs and live music. They have also begun to partner with other small businesses including Sweet Science Ice Cream and Birchwood Café. They allow these businesses to use their restaurant space to serve up some of their tastiest treats.
“It’s easy to fall in love with tea and there are so many variables to make it a different experience every time; What tea master did it come from? What farm is it from? What kind of flower did it taste like? Who are you drinking it with?” said Lily Duckler.
There is no denying that patrons of Verdant Tea feel the same way. When asked about tea’s appeal over coffee, one customer said, “I like tea because it invites me to stay longer. I can drink six cups compared to coffee.”
This proves that Verdant Tea is staying true to their mission of genuine hospitality with friends and neighbors.
Verdant Tea Bar & Tasting Room is located at 2111 E. Franklin Ave. in Minneapolis. For more information, including hours and a schedule of events, please check out their website, Facebook page and Twitter handle.