fee. Customers like the taste better and they like the health benefits, and they are willing to pay just a little bit more for those things.

Melissa said they feel a “good hearted-ness” in the organic community. Marko said, “They have to do so much different practices and so much detailed work for their product. An organic farmer has to do different practices. Because people put so much more time and effort into getting what they want, it’s just going to be a better product.”

Committed to organic

Melissa said selling organic in the tea business is also harder on the retail end, but it is a commitment they have made because of, again, the improved taste and health benefits. “It’s a huge difference, especially with the green tea,” she said.

Melissa picked up some of this knowledge last year when she became a certified tea sommelier by an international tea association. In a day-long class in Chicago, she learned all about tea including the various types and how they are processed. She said the knowledge gained in the class has helped them purchase much better quality teas.

Terra Verde currently has 28 different flavors of tea, including herbals, greens, blacks and blends, but no white or yellow teas unless Melissa hears customer demand for them. “This is the most we’ve had,” she said. “I think we’re going to stay simple.” Having 28 varieties of anything might not sound “simple,” but Melissa explained the combinations of tea flavors are almost limitless.

Terra Verde also offers iced tea, and Melissa said, “Any of our teas can be iced.” Her iced tea is a blend of 10 different tea flavors, and it is clear she is pleased with the rave reviews her iced tea has received. “It’s like a chemistry process—you have to play around,” she said. “The iced tea is my baby.” In the summertime she will make sure an herbal or berry iced tea is on hand.

A process to making cup of tea

There is clearly a process, perhaps even an art to making and enjoying tea. That is why during the first two weekends in May, Melissa will be doing

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regular informational sessions and tea tastings for customers.

As an example of some of what people might learn there, they pointed out that there are several ways to turn a cup of hot water—170 to 180 F—into a good cup of tea. Most people have the tea leaves in a bag which they then steep or dip into the water. Dip it for too short of a time and the full flavor will not come out, but dip it for too long and the flavor could become bitter. Proper steeping times are listed on Terra Verde’s tea packages, and customers are even loaned a little sand timer to use to measure the appropriate steeping time.

Other people use an infuser ball in which the tea leaves are placed into a wire mesh ball and then dipped into the hot water. Terra Verde sells empty bags and infuser balls for people to prepare their own tea at home.

People will put honey, lemon or milk in their tea, depending on the type of tea. Also, people should let their water cool to between 130 and 140 F before drinking their tea in order to get more of the flavor.

All tea comes from the tea plant, but it is where it is grown and how it is processed which make big differences. Terra Verde’s teas come from Japan, India, Africa, Indonesia, China and Taiwan, among other countries.

No matter where it comes from, experts seem to agree on the health benefits of drinking tea. Green tea in particular has been credited with everything from fighting cancer and heart disease to lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and holding off dementia. In addition, tea does have caffeine for those people looking for that boost, but tea releases its caffeine more gradually. Some people who cannot drink coffee because of the effects of the caffeine do just fine with tea, Melissa said.

There is a lot more people can learn about tea by stopping in at Terra Verde during one of the first two weekends in May, or anytime. Melissa said there are a surprising number of tea connoisseurs in the area, adding that she gets excited anytime she gets to meet a new lover of the leaves.