Tea, the ritual brew, is a welcome break on busy afternoons.
Tony DiMaggio, herb farmer and master tea blender, is keen on bringing locally grown herbal teas to our pots. At his Sacred Blossom Tea farm in Mondovi, Wis., DiMaggio produces beautiful potpourris of dried whole flowers, leaves and bark, for teas that are fragrant, flavorful and astoundingly fresh.
“I plant and grow the herbs together, in ‘polycultures,’ so the roots mingle and enrich the soil without chemicals,” he said. The leaves are harvested and sorted by hand, then each variety is slowly dried and packed. Most commercial teas are processed mechanically before being put into tea bags.
“Our teas are naturally vibrant and have real taste,” he said.
The gregarious 29-year-old brings worldly experience and passion to his profession. After finishing high school in Costa Rica, he graduated from a university in Argentina, then moved to Uruguay to launch a horse tour company.
He’s worked on farms from New Zealand to Minnesota (Natura Farms), and in seeking to understand herb growing, he’s spent several years farming in southern Oregon, the medicinal herb production capital of the world. Last year, he headed back to Wisconsin to be near his family.
“My Amish neighbors have been instrumental in helping me build a solar-powered herb dryer and the custom machines I use to gently process the herbs,” he said.
Sacred Blossom Teas are available in three blends: Angel blend is a soothing, slightly sweet mix of mint, lemon balm, rose petals, fennel and elderberry. Tiger is spicy and lemony, with invigorating local ginseng, ginkgo, safflower, thyme and tulsi. Moon is a bedtime tea, blending chamomile, lavender, sage and anise hyssop.
The 1.2-ounce packages of Sacred Blossom Teas make 17 cups of tea and retail for about $11.
Sacred Blossom is available at Dogwood Coffee shops, the Produce Exchange in Midtown Market, food co-ops in southern Minnesota and in Twin Cities co-ops soon. You can also find the teas online in refillable glass containers. sacredblossomfarm.com