This fall, two leaves and a bud tea co. CEO and founder Richard Rosenfeld and his wife found themselves smack in the middle of a big field of peppermint, growing knee-high.
"Our shoes and clothes had a strong pepperminty smell for the next four days," he says.
You see, Richard was visiting the farm in Eastern Washington State that now grows organic peppermint for our tea company. As Richard tells it, his unspoken mission for this company is to produce the world's best tea sachet. And visiting this grower of organic herbs and spices is part of that mission — Richard discovered their superior tasting peppermint earlier this year, and decided they'd be the perfect provider.
"I want peppermint tea to be buttery, not too peppery, smooth as opposed to sharp, still slightly astringent with decent cup color," he says. "Of course I was pleased when I found out this peppermint was American-grown."
Although many of us are familiar with the rainy aspects of Washington, in the western portion of the state like Seattle, the eastern side of the state is hot and dry — one of the driest climate zones in the country, but it's well-irrigated from the Grand Coulee Dam. Herbs and spices grow beautifully there in huge crop circles, and our particular peppermint provider grows about 250 acres of peppermint, or half of a crop circle. In fact, most of the peppermint they grow isn't for tea at all — it's harvested and used as an essential oil, an ingredient in things like shampoo and toothpaste.
The leaves used for our tea are harvested by the growers at the exact peak moment of the oils maturing in the plant (as a summer crop, peppermint only has one harvest per year). They chop the whole plant and leave it lying in the field to dry. Once dried, they collect it and separate the leaves (used in our tea) from the stems (used for someone else's essential oil).
As for being organic, that comes down to lots and lots of weeding by hand, Richard says. "It costs 10 times as much as a non-organic peppermint," he says. "They're removing one weed at a time, as opposed to spraying the field (with pesticide or herbicide) from a plane."
And if you've purchased a box of Organic Peppermint from us lately, maybe you've noticed something else new: the sleeves that our individual sachets come in look a lot different, because those sachets are now packed in Canada in biodegradable sleeves, which is a first for us. Specifically, they're made with NatureFlex film, a clear substance made from renewable resources (wood-pulp from managed plantations, that is).
Making the move to pack this Washington-based peppermint in Canada is also a step we're happy about, as it reduces our carbon footprint that much.
"It's always a goal of mine to pack tea as close to the source as possible," Richard says. "And we're currently working on converting all of our envelopes to being biodegradable."
Have any of you had our new peppermint, which is recognizable because of the new style of the sleeves? Let us know if you taste the difference!