Two for tea

Two for tea

Findlay tea shops provide relaxation

Story by Laurie Pressel

 

The bells on the front door jingled, and Beth Druschel, proprietor of the Cracked Pot’s Tea Shop in downtown Findlay, greeted her first customers of the day: three students from the University of Findlay.

The two young women, tea aficionados, sniffed several jars of loose leaf tea sitting on the counter before deciding on their selections. Their male companion hangs back. He’s a tea novice, they explained. In fact, he doesn’t like tea. “He thinks it tastes like hot water,” stated one young woman bluntly.

Druschel smiled knowingly.

“You just haven’t tasted a good cup of tea,” she said.

Several questions and an expert steep later, the young man received a piping cup of tea matched to his tastes — a house specialty called a caramel concoction. He took a few tentative sips, then became a convert. “Mmm, it’s really good!” he exclaimed.

Since opening her tea shop in 2014, Druschel has learned this truth — there’s a tea for every taste. And if you think tea is just for Grandma, think again.

“My customers are men, women, young, old, and they come from different countries and backgrounds,” she said. “I even have two Marines who regularly visit.”

Tea is the second most consumed beverage worldwide, coming in behind water. In the United States, where coffee reigns supreme, tea has grown in popularity in recent years for several reasons: tea has less caffeine than coffee, it offers health benefits like antioxidants, and the variety is unmatched.

There are green teas, white teas, black teas, oolong teas, rooibos teas, and herbal teas — which are called tisanes because they don’t actually contain dried tea leaves. There are teas from China, India, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan and Sri Lanka, to name just a few countries. There are hundreds of tea flavors — mellow fruits like strawberry, peach, apricot and black currant, and rich spices like vanilla and cinnamon. There are iced teas and bubble teas and teas with and without caffeine. And, as if that’s not enough variety, the flavor of every cup of tea can be altered with milk (regular, almond or coconut) to add a silky smoothness to the texture, or with a sweetener like sugar or locally grown honey.

At the Cracked Pot’s Tea Shop, customers can choose from over 50 luxury tea varieties, all sourced from some of the world’s top wholesalers. Because the tea is high grade, each serving can be steeped three times and not lose its flavor, explained Druschel.

While the Cracked Pot’s Tea Shop is a quirky and casual place to enjoy a cup of tea and to purchase tea and tea accessories, the Swan House Tea Room offers its guests the experience of a “proper tea.”

A Victorian home built in 1864, the Swan House Tea Room is a step back in time with three beautiful dining rooms. Guests are encouraged, but not required, to dress up. Many guests choose to play the part, donning gloves and fancy hats adorned with feathers, flowers and lace.

The Swan House carries 20 different teas that change with the seasons. Each table starts with two pots of tea, but guests can sample as many different teas as they choose. The tea is served with homemade scones that can be topped with lemon curd, Devonshire cream or strawberry preserves. Next comes a three-tiered tray filled with sweets and savories like quiche, mini muffins, cream puffs and finger sandwiches. The menu changes monthly.

Because the Swan House is a special and elegant experience — a British tea with an American twist — it’s a popular place for Mother’s Day luncheons, birthday parties and bridal and baby showers.

“Our main goal is to pamper our guests,” says Mikaela Umbs, manager of the Swan House Tea Room. “We want our guests to relax and enjoy being served.”

Indeed, a cup of tea is synonymous with relaxation, said Druschel.

“Tea is about taking time,” she explains. “That is what is wonderful about tea.”

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How to steep a perfect cup of tea

Heat water and pour into a teacup. Steep tea for exactly three minutes. To make a stronger or weaker tea, alter the amount of tea you use, not the time you steep. A rule of thumb is 1 teaspoon of loose-leaf tea for every 6 to 9 ounces of water, and adjust from there.

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The Cracked Pot’s top-selling teas

Organic Long Island Strawberry — green tea with flavors of strawberry and papaya

Scottish Breakfast — unflavored black tea

Organic Wild Blueberry — black tea flavored with blueberry

Lemarché Spice — black tea flavored with cinnamon

Cherry Delight — black tea flavored with cherry and fig

Thai Iced Tea (only available in summer) — a richly sweet and refreshing iced tea

Swan House Tea Room’s most popular teas

Swan House blend — a black tea flavored with cinnamon and vanilla

Almond Cookie — a green tea flavored with almond

Vanilla Chai — a creamy black tea with a texture similar to hot chocolate

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Swan House Tea Room

225 W. Sandusky St., Findlay

Visit www.swanhousetea.com for details. Reservations are encouraged.

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The Cracked Pot’s Tea Shop

221 Broadway St., Findlay

Visit www.thecrackedpotsteashop.com for details.

Salt Magazine