Jessie Dean is on a mission to turn Asheville into a town of craft tea drinkers. The West Asheville mom and lifetime outdoor enthusiast launched Asheville Tea Company in September – craft teas blended with locally sourced ingredients and chock full of Asheville flavor.
“Asheville has such a strong craft beverage and farm-to-table culture, but it has always been hard to find any locally sourced teas on menus or in shops,” said Dean, who has lived in Asheville with her husband Barney Caulfield and their two children Sam and Emma since 2006.
Steeped by her desire to bring “everyday tea culture” to Western North Carolina, Dean, who has a professional background in health and wellness, began her vision for Asheville Tea Company in 2015.
“I have been greatly inspired by our travels in places where tea is part of nearly every occasion, every day,” said Dean, who with husband, a native of England, have traveled extensively throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South America. “Once I began blending my own teas at home, I realized how many amazing and unique ingredients we have right at our doorstep.”
Asheville Tea Company currently sources from about a dozen local and regional farms including Rayburn Farm, Epling Farm, Franny’s Farm, Pangea Plants, ASI Yaupon Tea, Table Rock Tea Company, Hoopers Creek Botanicals, Gentle Harmony Farm, Way of Life Farm and more partnerships are in the works.
“Local business owners and farmers have been so very supportive of this new endeavor and I am so grateful for everyone who has believed in making locally-sourced, locally crafted teas a part of our everyday Asheville life,” said Dean.
Her flagship blends include “Wild Earl,” a classic Earl Grey blended with wild bergamot flower, “Mountain Mint,” a blend of three types of Asheville-grown mint leaves, relaxing and wellness herbal blends, which feature an array of health-conscious locally grown herbs, and a funky seasonal gin and tonic inspired blend, “G & Tea,” made with juniper berries and local lime basil from Rayburn Farms.
The flagship line will also include two Yaupon blends – America’s only native “tea” plant and the only edible caffeinated plant indigenous to the Southeast.
“Yaupon has a storied history, and has been used by Native Americans for thousands of years. It is high in antioxidants and theobromine, which is the same substance in dark chocolate that brings about that euphoric feeling.”
Asheville Tea Company will produce two blends – a traditional Lemon Yaupon tea and Yaupon with local Elderberry.
Fall will bring more flavors as the local ginger and other late summer season herbs and spices are ready for harvest.
“We will also highlight beautiful local Echinacea flower and leaf, chamomile, lavender, anise hyssop and tulsi, and soon we will start to work with local dried fruits and zests for fall blends,” said Dean.
Want to taste “the other craft brew?” Asheville Tea Company blends are currently available every Tuesday in September at the West Asheville Tailgate Market. Dean said she hopes expand soon to other farmers markets and local shops. Like them on facebook.com/AshevilleTeaCo/ to find the latest on where to grab a cuppa.