By Sarah Cottrell
Winter in Maine brings to mind many things, among them just how frigidly cold it can get. Thankfully, my cupboard is fully-stocked with lovely teas from around the world, each one making me feel warmed and inspired. There is something magical about a cup of finely brewed tea. And luckily for me, there is one of the best tea shops in all of Maine located about two miles from home, right here in Winterport: Tea Maineia.
One step into this cozy, boutique tea shop right on Route One will make you feel at home. From the rustic artwork to the cozy armchairs, not to mention the incredible array of teas available to sip on the spot or package up and take home, Tea Maineia is a destination for every tea lover in the Pine Tree State.
Tea Maineia is the brainchild of Winterport residents Dan and Debbie Holmes who strive to make Winterport a destination for tea lovers everywhere.
“We pride ourselves in offering personalized customer service, helping customers find the right types of teas and tea products for them to enjoy at home,” said owner Dan Holmes. “We aspire to have every customer leave with information and tools needed to brew and enjoy a perfect cup of tea.”
Being a small business in Maine, the Holmes’ found themselves having to get creative when the pandemic struck and non-essential businesses were forced to close their in-person services.
“During that time we focused on promoting our online presence, curbside orders and doing deliveries in the local area,” Dan Holmes said. “When we were able to open it was with restrictions. The retail portion of our business was open with limited capacity but our tea lounge remained closed. We decided to diversify our product line a bit with some of the fantastic products Maine has to offer — we hoped that would help other small businesses and give customers more reasons to visit our shop.”
Tea Maineia also started doing live Facebook videos every Saturday morning where they focused on tea education and building a community of tea lovers. The Tea Maineia Live sessions have been a hit thanks to the Holmes’ fun and spontaneous styles. While some small businesses, unfortunately, closed during the pandemic, Tea Maineia found a niche following of local tea lovers who helped keep the doors open virtually and physically.
Before the pandemic hit, Tea Maineia offered plenty of fun, in-person opportunities for patrons to learn about and enjoy drinking tea. These included public Tea 101 classes where anyone could learn about the differences between tea varieties and the unique steeping times and preparation methods for making the perfect cup of tea. And while the public Tea 101 class is on pause, the Holmes’ say that they hope to start those back up soon.
“We carry teas that may be familiar and many that are not. We enjoy introducing customers to unique teas from around the world that many have never experienced before,” says Holmes. “Many of the blended teas, we blend ourselves in small batches, and we also carry a large selection of teapots, mugs and accessories as well as many Maine-made, tea-related products.”
For those who want to dabble in the fascinating world of teas, Holmes says to start simple and easy with herbals.
“Herbals are a great place to start as they are not particular to water temperature and steeping time. I enjoy bold, earthy strong black teas such as lapsang souchong, a Chinese black tea that has a unique smoky flavor,” Holmes said. “Debbie prefers a medium-bodied, smooth black tea called Golden Monkey and a mild, slightly sweet green tea called Dragon Well.”
As a local, I have had plenty of opportunities to try out Tea Maineia’s vast selection. One of my favorites is their Carnation Flowering Tea. I place one dried tea ball in a glass pot and steep it in hot water and then watch as a beautiful flower bloom spreads out, creating a lovely, fragrant pot of tea. My kids think drinking flowering tea feels like being in a fairytale, and I have to agree.
But for those who think tea might be too hoity-toity or complicated to try, Tea Maineia is here to calm your fears and serve you a fantastic experience in a cup.
“We are passionate about tea. Our mission since the beginning was to take out the intimidation and remove the preconceived notion that loose leaf tea is difficult and fussy to brew.”
To learn more about what Tea Maineia offers, check out their website www.teamaineia.com or stop by their Main Street shop located in the heart of Winterport.
See this Section as it appeared in print here