WHAT’S THE TEA? New Local Biz Creates Organic Teas
after struggling with depression, Brianna Vodvarka found her true joy: growing loose-leaf tea
Menomonie’s Brianna Vodvarka found herself in a dark place in 2017 while struggling with depression. After working on her mental health, Vodvarka embarked on a journey with a new, rather unusual, hobby as a means to form structure and healthy habits in her life: growing tea from the ground up.
What started as a passion for gardening turned into her very own business – Black Kettle Tea Shoppe, a loose-leaf tea and organic product company that she runs solo.
"I've always felt like the black sheep," Vodvarka said. "Feeling like (the) black sheep, and you use a kettle for tea – that's where the (business) name is from."
I've always felt like the black sheep.
Feeling like (the) black sheep, and you use a kettle for tea – that's where the (business) name is from.
Owner of Black tea kettle Shoppe
Black Kettle Tea offers a wide variety of organic, homegrown herb mixtures for all tea lovers to enjoy. Vodvarka said she uses traditional lavender, chamomile, and peppermint flavors, but likes to keep it minimal so the herbs can do their own thing.
“I don’t add flavors,” she said. “I let the herbs do the talking for themselves. I also try to do everything organically and like to know where all the ingredients are coming from.”
Since living in Wisconsin limits the ability to grow all the ingredients needed to make the tea, Vodvarka works with organic growers in Florida to gain access to more produce.
Every month, she comes out with custom blends based on the time of year and rotates out the loose-leaf options to add more variety.
And, perhaps most unique to her business, is the ability to offer custom-made tea. If a customer is looking for a specific blend, no matter how obscure, Vodvarka works to make it happen.
"It's almost like alternative medicine,” she said. “There is something to help everyone.”
In the past, she has made blends to help people with sleeping problems and asthma. But loose-leaf tea is just one of many products made and sold by Black Kettles Tea. Other items for sale include tea-based bath bombs and moon mist sleep mist.
According to Vodvarka, she is working on a new skincare line that will include a face wash and toning spray. However, the new skincare line isn’t the only operation in the works.
"I wanted an old-fashioned tea room,” she confessed. “I want to open a shop that would allow people to create custom blends (themselves).”
Until then, customers can buy Black Kettle Tea Shoppe products online at blackkettleteashoppe.com. Vodvarka also has loose-leaf teas available at the Broom & Crow, the Menomonie Market Food Co-Op, Silver Creek Herbals, and The Local Store.