Local Coffee + Tea: Teas that Serve the Local Community
After-dinner tea at an upscale restaurant warrants a quality blend, not a generic imposter. Why follow filet mignon with supermarket Earl Grey when you could have an herb-infused, looseleaf variety?
This has been the opinion of Local Coffee + Tea since 2006, and several area locales have caught on to the company’s model. Posh hot spots, casual coffee houses, cafés, and specialty shops carry some of the 60 available teas on the Local menu.
Partners Michael Duranko and Glynis Chapman are currently broadening their tea wholesale business while operating the Selby House Café at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens daily. Their motto: “Sip Locally. Gift Locally. Celebrate Locally.”
“We have teas that celebrate the local community,” Duranko says. “Now we’re looking for more synergy with local restaurants.” About 15 establishments serve Local products, including Selva, Veg, the Coffee Loft, the Local Bean, the Java Dawg bus, Artisan Cheese Company, Carr’s Corner, Maggie’s Seafood, and the Short Giraffe. Maggie Glucklich, proprietor at Veg, began offering artisan-crafted herbal iced teas from Local during the summer.
“It has been difficult to keep up with the demand. The daily-made Red Berries iced tea (hibiscus, rosehips, elderberries, and black and red currants) and the South African Lemon Sunset Rooibos iced tea (lemongrass, lemon peel, and calendula) are both extremely popular with our customers,” Glucklich says. “As with many of our other products we offer at Veg, we’re very proud to endorse another local business.”
The best-selling Selby Select Rooibos Loose Leaf Tea (for Selby Gardens) has orange peel and dried yogurt pieces. Mote Beach Tea (for Mote Marine Laboratory) contains coconut, apple, hibiscus, rosehips, and pineapple. TEA.WIZ (for G.WIZ) combines mango, pineapple, and citrus.
“Our newest blend is the Siesta Tea, to celebrate Siesta Key,” Duranko says. “We will also be celebrating the Ann Goldstein Children’s Rainforest Garden at Selby Gardens with a new tea.”
But there is more to the concept than just touting Southwest Florida businesses, organizations, and landmarks through signature teas. Local distributors supplying local restaurants with product creates an economically conscious city, and the act of drinking tea itself promotes a sense of community.
Chapman, who hails from Yorkshire, England, selects the teas and offers seminars and tastings at Selby Gardens. Duranko and Chapman bring three teas every week to the Sarasota Farmers’ Market downtown on Saturdays for sampling.
“In England, I lived in a little village on top of a hill and the postman would drive up to the top and come to our house for tea. It was always an open house and everybody was welcome,” Chapman says. “It’s wonderful to share the process of making and enjoying tea with others.”