Tucson Tea Company: To a T and then some

A cup of Tea makes everything better

Tucson Tea Company has only been in business a little over a year and a half. Since that time, thanks to two passionate people who love tea and use it in their business practice, the company has grown from a small inventory of loose leaf teas to 120 different blends.

They’ve already received a “Best Food Truck”, “Best Farmers’ Market Vendor”, and “Best Tea” nomination from Tucson Weekly. Call it Kismet; call it a simple need for a product, Tucson Tea is changing the tea scene in Tucson.

Tucson Tea Company

Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company

Yvette-Marie Margaillan is a licensed, board-certified Behavioral Therapist who specializes in working with children with autism. Her company is called Autism Pediatrics.

“Tea has always been a part of my home’s culture and my husband’s,” she said.

During the pandemic, she was looking for ways to help her clients develop coping mechanisms. One included breathing exercises. The other included teaching them about the benefits of tea.

“Herbal teas, non-caffeinated things,” said Margaillan.

Tucson Tea Company

Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company

She sourced her teas from a client of her husband, Eddie Diaz, who is a software developer. Diaz had worked with the owner of Thunder Mountain Tea, Susan Nunn, for years.

“So, one day she tells us that the pandemic was too much. She was going to close down her tea company,” said Margaillan. The couple was a little concerned as Nunn’s company, based in Boise, Idaho, was the source of the tea used in therapy. Plus, they loved her teas.

If this were a movie, the next shot would be of Yvette-Marie and Eddie looking at each other with an “aha!” moment look on their faces.

They offered to purchase the remaining stock if Nunn would teach them the ins and outs of purchasing, blending, and the like. The name came from a midnight search on the internet, where Margaillan discovered no one owned the name Tucson Tea. Voila!

Over the next several months, Nunn taught the couple about all aspects of the tea business.

The adventure begins with tea

Tucson Tea specializes in small-batch, loose leaf teas. Why loose leaf? Because to quote their website they “want to bring joy to tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers alike,” and because tea found in most tea bags is usually the “dust” which can be tired and bland.

The list of teas is long and varied: black teas, green teas, chai, herbal teas and tisanes, oolongs, white teas, rooibos, teas blended for making iced tea, and teas that promote health and wellness. Some teas are caffeinated, others are caffeine-free. The most exciting part among each of those options, tea lovers will find a multitude of flavors and blends.

Tucson Tea Company

Rooibos Chai (Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company)

“We are very big advocates of getting specific tea from specific sources,” said Margaillan. “We get our green tea imported from Japan. The white tea, the best in the world, comes from China and so we get it from very specific provinces where it’s ethically grown.”

The black teas come from India specifically from Assam, India. They range from a simple English Breakfast tea to a blended fruitier pomegranate to a delightful dessert tea called S’mores Campfire. Okay, for that last one, it really doesn’t mean you can only drink it after dinner. Have it with your morning bagel.

“And we also get rooibos tea from South Africa and other countries in Africa,” said Margaillan. “It’s not a true tea but Africa has its own way of making tea.”

And that begs the question: How to you make all these different teas?

Tucson Tea Company

Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company

“Whenever people ask me what’s the right way to drink tea, I say ‘There’s really no right way to drink tea, it’s really how you want to,’ but I personally like drinking tea how the country of origin drinks their tea,” she added.

That may take a bit of research because tea drinking in Japan is certainly different from high tea in England, so Margaillan and Diaz hope to include lessons in tea drinking when they open their brick-and-mortar store in the near future.

Discovering what your “cup of tea” is

The Herbal Teas/Tisanes are equally varied. But with these teas, you get gem-colored drinks that dazzle the eyes as much as they do the palate. A prime example is the Purple Berry Dream Tisane. This is what a liquid amethyst would look like.

Tucson Tea Company

Purple Berry Dream (Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company)

The Moroccan Mint Gunpowder Green Tea sparkles like topaz and any tea with the butterfly flower in it are as blue as any sapphire. Hopping online is the best place to see all the options available — seasonal blends pop up as the weather changes. As expected from a talented web developer, the website is gorgeous and educational.

In addition to the ability to shop for your favorites, you’ll find several tea tutorials. Tucson Tea calls them “articles” but each one serves as a lesson in tea, all written in a clear and creative way.

Unwrapping the Mystery of Steeping Loose Leaf Tea” explains the basics of tea making for each type including the fermented pu-erhs (puerhs), which need their own special way of steeping in order to get the best flavors.

Tucson Tea Company

“Unwrapping the Mystery of Steeping Loose Leaf Tea” (Photos courtesy of Tucson) Tea Company

Another lesson pairs their teas with Girl Scout Cookies. Forget all that red wine/white wine nonsense, we’re talking Girl Scout Cookies here.

There is even a short article on the best way to store your teas. With the specially designed UV packaging and proper storage, Tucson Tea says the teas can last up to three years, although I doubt true tea lovers would ever have any of this tasty tea in their house that long.

A few tea-making accessories can be found on the website, too.

Tucson Tea Company

Detox Challenge (Photos courtesy of Tucson Tea Company)

Margaillan brings her training into the Wellness Teas in a relatively new aspect of the business called the Detox Challenge. Two teas are used: the Skinny Cinnamon Roll and the Vanitea. Each was blended with a specific purpose in mind. For a small fee, she’ll work with you to set goals to improve your overall wellness. She calls it a “defog” and hopes to expand the program when the store opens.

Where to buy Tucson Tea

Tucson Teas can be found in many places around town. Their booth can be seen at St. Philip’s Farmers’ Market, Mercado San Agustin Night Market, and Second Saturdays Downtown where you can buy both premade tea drinks and a slew of their packaged products. Rae’s Place, a downtown convenience store carries many of their teas. Reed’s Compounding Pharmacy on Speedway carries the Wellness Teas.

Barrio Charro and The Monica stock several types of tea, as well as special blends that Tucson Tea has made for them.

“Tucson Tea Company represents the values we like to see in the products we sell and support in our family’s business,” said Ray Flores, President of Si Charro! Concepts. “They have a commitment locally beyond just doing retail business, as they are strong members in our community that participate in making things better for everyone in Tucson. Plus, they make an excellent product that is both delicious and of great value.”

At that point, Margaillan serves on the boards of the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona and the El Rio Foundation. Tucson Tea has raised the bar for tea here in Tucson, but Margaillan is not just in the tea business for the tea. She wants her teas to enhance people’s lives, to bring joy, to defog, to slow down, to get the most out of life’s small moments.

“Tea is a great moment for mindfulness because you’re not running around when you’re drinking tea,” said Margaillan. “You brew your tea, let it sit a few minutes, and then you enjoy it.”

For more information about Tucson Tea Company, visit tucsontea.com or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Rita Connelly is the author of "Lost Restaurants of Tucson," "Historic Restaurants of Tucson," and "Arizona Chimichangas" published by The History Press.

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