Hello, my name is Michael, and I drink copious amounts of fine teas…
I’m not sure if many of you out there can relate, but I never set out to become a loose-leaf tea addict. In fact, just two years ago hot tea really wasn’t my thing. However, after fixing tea for my wife one morning, I was tempted to forgo my usual two cups of joe in exchange for a cup of hot English Breakfast. That indiscretion started me down a path that began with tea bags and now continues with nothing less than the best loose-leaves available on the Knoxville market.
I have my mother-in-law to blame for this. I would have been perfectly content with tea bags had she not tempted me with the rich, full flavors from her loose-leaf stash. If you’ve drunk bagged teas all your life, switching to loose-leaf is like switching from black-and-white to color.
Eventually, sampling teas at my in-laws wasn’t enough. This past November I ventured to her source, Turtlehead’s Tea and Coffee in Farragut, and I haven’t bought bagged teas since.
Enough with the preliminaries. Good tea is for sampling and sharing. So allow me to introduce you to my favorite fresh tea and coffee shop.
Turtlehead’s Tea and Coffee is located in the Food City Shopping Center between Concord and Lovell Roads. Look for the United Community Bank in front to help you locate this otherwise nondescript location.
Upon entering the store, you’ll probably be greeted by Jan. If you express any enthusiasm for finding some good tea or coffee, she’ll be sure to match yours and raise it to the next level.
Turtlehead’s carries a nice selection of organic coffees along with steepware and accessories. However, the real reason why I’m writing can be found in the sixty or so boxes that fill the shelves behind the counter. That’s where you’ll find a tea treasure trove with a range of flavors suitable for the pickiest tea connoisseur to the total tea novice. Jan can even mix a tea that you’ve had elsewhere if you describe it.
Sound tempting? It is. I can’t leave without picking up a couple ounces of one of my favorites:
- Earl Grey Cream – This is one of Jan’s mixes. It falls under the category of “dessert teas,” and it has a hint of vanilla that brings out the smooth bergamot flavoring that is the hallmark of Earl Grey. I enjoy a cup with breakfast or when I’m on the couch reading a good book. This one is great with a little cream and sugar.
- Jasmine Dew – Really smooth with a “just right” flavor. This one always makes for a relaxing mid-afternoon workday break.
- Cinnamon Spice – I generally add a teaspoon of sugar to my tea; however, Turtlehead’s Cinnamon Spice has so much flavor that I prefer not to add anything.
In addition to these, Spicy Vanilla Chai, a recent discovery of mine, is also making its way onto my list. Plus, Turtlehead’s dessert teas are worth another post altogether…there’s Pumpkin Cake, Key Lime Pie and Chocolate Chai, each tasting like their namesake.
But, instead of me telling you about it, I think I’ve given you reason to go check things out for yourself. Meanwhile, it’s time I put some water on the stove.
Got another Knoxville-area source for loose-leaf tea? Please share it in the comments.