› Where: Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary, 1423 Market St.
› Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday
› Prices: $3.50-$8
› Phone: 423-803-2625
Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary owner Hillary Libby wants to fulfill her passion for making people feel better, and she plans to start with a cup of tea.
That's how she gets people into her relaxing shop, located at 1423 Market St.
Once they're in, she tries to learn more about what customers need. She has herbs that claim to help with sleep, memory, energy and tranquility. Her assistant manager, Haley Cordle, will offer advice about treating sinus infections and upper-respiratory problems. They have herbal tea blends like organic catnip, spearmint and lemongrass that ease upset stomachs. And they have tincture boosts that help strengthen immunity and decrease anxiety.
Cordle isn't merely sharing what she read in a book. She started taking herbs to treat herself after traditional medicines fell short. Libby and Cordle have allergy tonics featuring antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties of organic rooibos and yerba mate paired with lemon balm and ginger.
Cordle equates measuring effects of herbs to how people are affected differently by caffeine in a cup of coffee. Some people can feel a difference after one cup. Others must continuously take the herb to allow it to build up in their system before they notice any effect.
Soft music and the sweet smell of cinnamon set the tone for a relaxing break the moment visitors step into Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary.
Red brick walls frame a big, open, seating area. Cozy wood tables for two line one side of the wall. Larger seating spaces line the other, with a large, rustic, wooden table in the middle. Green plants in hanging baskets decorate big picture windows and a wooden bar in the front. Customers order at a counter near the back of the room.
The space also includes a table offering locally crafted, handmade jewelry, scented candles, stones and macrame wall art.
No breakfast or lunch sandwiches come on the four-page menu, just lots of choices of tea — more than 100. Libby occasionally sells vegan pastries from locally owned Cashew restaurant.
Among the 25 herbal teas is one called Herbal Coffee, which mimics coffee in taste and appearance but is caffeine-free. The shop has 15 black teas, 15 green teas, oolong, white teas and chai. There are flowering teas as well as custom blends to meet customers' needs.
All regular teas are $3.50 a cup. Latte add-on is $1. Premium teas cost an additional 50 cents. A personal pot of tea is $6, and a pot to share is $8. A tincture boost is an additional $1, and an adaptogen, herbs that improve response to stress, is an additional 75 cents.
I visited the tea shop three times on the same day after breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I started with my choice for a breakfast tea: a cinnamon-sprinkled froth-topped coconut creme chai ($3.50) with a latte add-on ($1). The menu has no pictures. I ordered it because it sounded good. It turned out to be the shop's most popular tea.
It is creamy coconut and vanilla flavors complemented by cinnamon, cardamom, clove and ginger. Almond milk makes the cream a little lighter than the condensed milk I use in my coffee. It's still good.
My server recommended drinking it with sweetener. She said some customers drink it straight, but a little sugar brings out the coconut and vanilla flavors. Instead of sugar, I got honey. I wanted it to be thicker, but it was still good.
I tried the Minty Memory Zest tea ( $3.50) with a brain tincture ($1) after lunch. It included herbs such as rosemary, ginko and Gotu kola.
Normally I require a Diet Coke and peanuts or popcorn to stay awake after lunch. I didn't need it that day. I also noticed I breathed better, deeper, but that was about it.
Just before going home, I tried a beautiful guava flower flowering tea.
At first it looked like an ashy rock with dried leaves on it, not the picture I imagined when I read flowering tea on the menu.
It was the end of the day, so I was tempted to drink it and go, but I had a few questions about the how Libby and Cordle make the teas. The conversation kept me there a bit longer. They keep tea leaves and herbs in different jars on the wall. Some tea blends come already mixed, others are mixed depending on a customer's request.
They simply pour hot water over flowering teas. Other teas they put in a tea bag after they've blended it according to the customer's order.
Waiting those few minutes longer allowed me to witness the most beautiful tea transformation I've ever seen. The dried flower blooms right in the water. With guava flower, the color changes to a deep red-purple and the leaves move gently. And it smelled amazing.
Both ladies were friendly. The shop got full around lunch, but they served each person in reasonable time, and there were no complaints. I was surprised to see so many people in a shop that sold only tea.
I'm going to take my friends, my aunts and my son. I want everybody close to me to see what I saw and tell me what they think. Paying $6 for tea is a big deal for me, but I really enjoyed the experience, and I want to share it.
I can't do it every day, but I'm going back for payday splurges and celebrations.
Contact Yolanda Putman at email@example.com or 423-757-6431.