BAR HARBOR — A love of tea has turned into a thriving business for a local couple.
“We’ve always been passionate about teas,” said Stacey Downey who owns Bar Harbor Tea Co. with her husband, James. “We’re loose tea drinkers and that’s what we specialize in here.”
The offerings include white, green, oolong, herbal and black teas.
Natural, safe ingredients are also important.
“You don’t want to have to think about what’s in your tea,” Downey said. “We do our own blending. We use locally grown ingredients whenever we can.”
That means customers will find whole Maine blueberries and cranberries in the fruit teas.
“It adds cost for us, but the resulting cup is much better,” Downey said.
The Downeys focus on obtaining the best ingredients, even if not made in Maine. For example, they use bergamot oil in the Earl Grey blend.
Some of the company’s teas aren’t blended, such as the black or green teas.
“We don’t put it on the shelf until it tastes great,” she said. “We focus on what tea drinkers want.”
Along with tea, the couple can help new and experienced tea drinkers navigate the leaves.
“There’s a myriad of different types of tea,” Downey said. “You should never get bored with it.”
Downey said they will ask customers what they like and about their palate to point them in the right direction.
For coffee drinkers, a strong black tea is suggested such as an Irish Breakfast.
“You’re giving them a little bit of that kick they need,” Downey said.
For a tea drinker who really likes Darjeeling, the couple would suggest a Himalayan tea grown near by with similar characteristics.
Like a true connoisseur, Downey can’t name a favorite type of tea, she loves them all.
“I drink every category,” she said. “I have favorites within each category. I kind of change seasonally.”
Time of day is another consideration.
Downey drinks black tea in the morning, green in the afternoon and a non-caffeinated tea in the evening.
While the store is predicated on loose tea, the couple have added a select variety of bagged teas.
“We really haven’t been able to keep up with the demand on those,” she said.
The shop’s other products are geared toward loose tea. The teapots range from colorful ceramics to cast iron to English china. Many come with built-in brew baskets. There are different types of infusers, including a variety that have little toy ducks and ships that float on top of the tea.
“Tea can be fun,” Downey said. “It doesn’t have to be snobby.”
The tea company’s storefront at 150 Main St. in Bar Harbor will reopen in April. Meanwhile, Bar Harbor Tea Co. teas and accoutrements can be purchased online at www.barharbortea.com.