What’s Brewing: Tea to-go

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Tea is now steeping at the new Spice & Tea Exchange in Lincoln Park.

Owners Dennis and Ashley Thielke opened the shop in mid-October.

“So I walked into the Spice & Tea Exchange in Montana March of 2020. I got off the plane and my daughter said, ‘Dad, there’s a store you have to see,'” Dennis Thielke said. “It took me 20-25 minutes to get through the one section of the store, which is about 25 of our 1,100 SKUs.”

He bought a few things and when he ran out, he looked for a store in Minnesota to replenish his supply. He discovered there wasn’t one, and the Thielkes began the process of opening a franchise.

“The spices are all blended here,” Dennis said. “We have 20 hand-blended artisan sugars. We have 30 smoked salts, and then we have 70 loose-leaf, organic, whole-leaf teas covering the five major categories of tea.”

He steeped a Nutty Chocolate Yerba Mate and a Warm Bread Pudding tea.

“In the bread pudding, it’s black tea, which means that it’s been oxidized. It’s the same leaf as the green teas, but they let it oxidize so that the flavors concentrate in it,” he said. “Fresh-baked aromas of cinnamon, brown sugar, lemon, and vanilla.”

Every tea sold at the Spice & Tea Exchange can also be taken to-go so that people can sample it.

“We encourage everybody to open the jars and give it a smell. So before you invest in your tea, you can smell it and buy a cup for $4 to make sure that you don’t have a $20 bag of tea that sits in the cabinet for a couple years,” Thielke said.

The Spice & Tea Exchange opens at 10 a.m. seven days a week.