Celebrating the Wonders of Tea
By Lisa Gregory
Perhaps the only thing Jolene Macks enjoys as much as having a good cup of tea is talking about having a cup of tea.
“It’s the elixir that relaxes our soul,” she says of her favorite beverage.
And as the CEO and creator of Quite the Stir, Jolene has a lot to say, from tea’s history—“Wars have been fought over tea,”—to the varying types of teas one can choose, to the impact a good cuppa can have on one’s well-being.
As such, she is eager to share her passion and her knowledge with others. “That’s what I love,” she says.
Jolene is doing just that through Quite the Stir, which sells loose leaf tea both online and at venues like The Marketplace at Gettysburg. The business is also introducing pop-up tea bars, similar to coffee shops, for private and corporate events and venues. And plans are underway to move the business into a more permanent brick-and-mortar situation.
Although, Jolene says, she is still content to remain at her current venues, too.
“Working in an environment side by side with fellow vendors and artisans is satisfying,” she says.
Jolene’s passion for tea began early. “I started drinking tea with my grandmother,” she recalls, saying she enjoyed the ritual of tea as well as its exquisite flavor. “I was just captivated by it.” She was so captivated that when she owned a vintage guest house in Gettysburg, she made sure to provide tea parties. A great admirer of the ’30s and ’40s, her tea parties had themes that often revolved around that era. “The gals would come in dressed to the nines,” she says. “They would have the vintage hats, the gloves, the nylons with the seams in the back. The guys would come too. And we would present teas with three-tier trays.”
Jolene would later decide to step away from operating the vintage guest house and focus specifically on tea. Quite the Stir is a tea lover’s land of delights with its teas, spices and tea accessories. “Our tea is artisan tea,” she says. “It is a lot different than supermarket tea.”
Quite the Stir offers black, white, green and oolong teas—and much, much more. Specific tea blends include Peach Pyramid Oolong Tea, a blend of oolong tea, natural peach flavor, apple pieces, marigold flowers and peach pieces, and Cranberry Nut Muffin Green Tea, a blend of green tea with apple pieces, cocoa nibs, cranberries, raspberry leaves, orange, natural cranberry flavor, red cornflowers, pecan flavor and natural vanilla flavor, among countless others.
Jolene’s own favorite is Earl Gray Radiance Tea, a blend of black tea, orange, blue cornflowers, natural vanilla flavor, natural bergamot flavor and natural crème flavor.
Quite the Stir also offers vintage and souvenir teas. The vintage teas have delightful names such as
In the Mood and String of Pearls, again harkening to a bygone era. And the souvenir teas have names like GetTEAsburg for historic Gettysburg and Molly Pitcher for a legendary female hero during the American War of Independence.
Individual taste in tea can be as varied as the person drinking it. “I find that the tastes are different in many locations and even town to town,” Jolene says.
Gettysburg, she’s noticed, prefers herbal tea. But, fun fact, herbal tea is not a “true” tea, she says. Despite its name, herbal tea does not contain the leaves or leaf buds of a tea plant but has still become known as one, and Quite the Stir does offer it.
And as far as the debate on hot or cold tea? Again, a matter of personal preference, but Jolene admits to preferring hot tea herself … with one exception. She gives a nod of approval to her family’s Kentucky roots and their Southern sweet tea.
No matter one’s preferences, Jolene says the real key to tea is its ability to provide solace in today’s chaotic world. It offers an opportunity for reflection while pausing to partake in the joys of the beverage—a tea timeout.
“Take the time and just think about things in life that are uplifting and encouraging. It’s just something we all need to do is take that time,” she says.
And it is a message she wants to take forward. “We want to put a great emphasis on drinking tea,” she says, “and coming together, sharing stories and—after that cup of tea—to feel refreshed and contented, whether you are drinking it alone or with others. “
Spreading the word on tea will also involve Quite the Stir putting on future tea symposiums at varying locations. “We’re going to have tea tasting,” Jolene says.
“We are going to talk about the history of tea. And we’re going to have a food scientist. We also want to include things like yoga; we’re trying to combine the idea of yoga, relaxation, well-being and tea.
“It’s a big, big tea world out there, and, honestly, the horizon is limitless.”
Quite the Stir Tea and Spice Co.
Available at The Marketplace at Gettysburg 2440 Baltimore Pike, Gettysburg