On Meaning, Mothers and Bottled Iced Tea
Every life has a story. We write our stories every day without even realizing it. This snippet of my life tells the story of why I found it so imperative to get into the bottled iced tea business. I didn’t really set out to get into the beverage business per se, it just seemed to evolve one step at a time. As things often do.
I grew up drinking iced tea. Specifically, my mother’s homebrewed iced tea. She made it for us every day.
My mother passed away many years ago. I’ve found the best way to fill the void of missing a loved one, is to carry out the very things they loved in their lives, within our own. It was my mothers’ love of all things tea, hot or cold, that got me hooked on tea from childhood.
Realizing this is my story, I’ve found a way to honor the good things my mother did for us. I’m not saying tea is my sole life’s purpose, but I am saying this is what it means for me.
And So the Journey Begins
I grabbed a bottle of iced tea while in a convenience store one day and thought it was going to be delicious. The minute I tasted it, I was disappointed. The chemical aftertaste was awful and it tasted nothing like real brewed tea.
I knew I could make a better iced tea. I also knew many people, like myself, wanted a better product, a real brewed tea without artificial chemicals. Why wasn’t anyone doing this?
Most people are not on a mission to make the best bottled iced tea. I got into brewing and bottling tea as a passion project after being suddenly laid off (as in – you don’t need to come in on Monday) from my position as a clinical registered nurse, during the great recession of 2008.
To fill the void, I started tinkering and researching how to bottle fresh brewed iced tea. I knew there was a deluge of bottled iced teas on the market, but there wasn’t even one that I liked. They just didn’t taste like real brewed tea.
So, I set out to make the best bottled iced tea on the market. I figured there must be a way to make the exact same brew you make at home and simply bottle it. Why not?
I soon found out why not. It costs more money to make a commercial product with real food than fake food, a lot more. But I knew, not only from a culinary perspective but from a health perspective, that our bodies deserve and need better than commercially produced artificial food.
The effects of healthy living have been proven. We don’t have to wait for the disease to set in to live healthier lives. If we can make good food as cheap as fake food, if we can live more active lives, and if we can reduce stress, we can help curb disease before it has a chance to strike.” – Escape Fire
And it’s not just food. Your daily beverage of choice has a major impact on overall health too. It’s just as critical as the foods you choose to eat.
From Tea Enthusiast to Professional Tea Maker
After a year of research and development, I created MaryAnna’s Tea, placing my first bottled tea on retail shelves. The more I researched about tea, the more I discovered real tea, and the more I loved it. I started as a tea enthusiast, probably like many of you, drinking supermarket grade tea from tea bags. Oh, what I didn’t know!
What do I mean by “real tea”? Discovering Specialty Tea expanded my love of tea. I had no idea what I was missing until I tried tea in the form of high-grade loose leaf tea. It’s a whole new world of tea!
With this discovery, I started my tea business – a personal venture of sorts where I challenged myself to make the best bottled iced tea on the market.
MaryAnna’s Tea, in my opinion, is the best bottled iced tea I’ve ever had. There is no chemical aftertaste and you get the bonus health benefits of drinking real tea. – Deb Smith, author, The Jersey Shore Cookbook
In 2012 my first flavor, Summer Sweet Tea, came in First Place at the North American Tea Championships. In 2013 & 2014, my Tea & Lemonade came in third place at the North American Tea Championships.
The tea championships are judged by professional tea masters and chefs. Upon entering, I was up against many well known national ready-to-drink tea brands (you know who they are) and my iced tea placed ahead of them!
The Brewing Difference
Most commercially produced bottled teas are made by taking shortcuts to match the flavor of the real tea. This usually includes artificial ingredients that have scientific names no one can pronounce. There is nothing healthy about this process.
To brew real and healthy iced tea, you need to make it with real tea leaves and perhaps a squeeze of fresh lemon or other juice to flavor it a bit, sweetened if you like with a natural sweetener, such as pure cane sugar or honey. This is exactly how I make my bottled iced tea. It’s brewed in small batches to maintain the fresh brewed taste of homemade.
For MaryAnna’s Tea, I use the direct-brew method to naturally infuse my custom blended tea leaves and glass bottle it immediately afterward. This is the least processed method available to bottle tea.
This is important.
Tea contains unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The more a food or beverage is processed the more nutrients are lost. The more processed the tea leaves, the fewer flavonoids it contains.
Potent flavonoids in tea have been shown to fight against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and a variety of other ailments.
The direct brew method helps preserve these antioxidants along with the natural tea flavor and nutrients inherent in freshly brewed tea.
And so I make artisan brewed iced tea. MaryAnna’s Tea is fresh brewed in small batches using only the finest real food ingredients. All my iced teas are 100% natural and made from non-GMO ingredients. It’s a pretty simple formula.
The Cup of Humanity
With the making of my tea business, I’ve continued to explore the related issues of nutrition, spirituality, and health. I’ve learned a great deal from the experience. So I started this blog to share what I’ve learned with you.
Tea is called the cup of humanity, the cup of human enjoyment. We find comfort in its simplicity. This eastern philosophy endorses simplicity as the key to fulfillment. And we can reap the rewards of simplicity even in a cup of tea or glass of iced tea.
But simplicity does not mean the loss of quality, just the opposite. When we practice the art of simplicity, we are focusing on one thing at a time with the utmost attention to all of the wonderful details. It is here in this mindful attention that we find joy.
Our western world can be too complicated at times. Especially our beverage world, as it continues to become saturated with overly complex and artificially created beverages.
I have found that all the complexities of the world do not make us happy – simplicity does. When I think back on my mother and her philosophy of life, she always sought simplicity in everything.
My mother had a great emotional depth. She loved the irony of nature’s simplistic beauty. It gave her peace.
So cheers to you and my moms’ iced tea.
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