Today Talking Tea is in Middlebury, Vermont, at Stone Leaf Teahouse, a unique tea space in this bucolic town. Joining us is John Wetzel, founder and owner of Stone Leaf.
The town of Middlebury may be best known for being the home of Middlebury College, but since its founding 10 years ago Stone Leaf has also become well-known in and beyond Middlebury for the quality of its teas and for the warmth and tranquility of its teahouse.
We chat with John about Stone Leaf’s origins, how he developed his vision for the space and for the company, and how he drew on both US coffee culture and tea culture in Asia and Europe as influences for his design. The teahouse sits partially underground (it’s built into a slope), and though John half-jokingly calls it a sort of “tea cave”, he also explains how he used this feature as part of his design, to create a space well-suited for the storage, preparation and enjoyment of tea, a space that allows for both focus and connection.
Stone Leaf carries a wide variety of teas, and we chat about one of their newest teas, a hongcha (red tea, known as black tea in the West) from Alishan in Taiwan. Alishan is usually known for its oolongs, and this tea is in fact made from the oolong Jin Xuan cultivar. We talk about the use of this cultivar in making a hongcha, the influence of cultivar and terroir on the tea’s flavor, aroma and appearance, and about emerging trends in making new styles of teas from cultivars and regions traditionally associated with different varieties.
More information about Stone Leaf, including the location of the teahouse, its online store and special event info, is at its website, stoneleaftea.com. You can also find Stone Leaf on Instagram at stoneleafteahouse and on Facebook at Stone Leaf Teahouse.
Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @kensvoiceken.
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The views and opinions expressed by guests on Talking Tea are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Talking Tea or its staff.
This podcast features music from “Japanese Flowers” (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.
Image of interior of Stone Leaf Teahouse, courtesy of Stone Leaf Teahouse.
Header image “Raw Puerh mid 1980 Menghai” by Cosmin Dordea, used under a Creative Commons CC By-SA 2.0 license. Adapted from original.