SUSTAINABLE & QUALI-TEA: Black Kettle Tea Shoppe's Organic Roots
do you know where your fav hot beverage is coming from?
First opening in 2021, Black Kettle Tea Shoppe owner Brianna Vodvarka created the organic loose-leaf tea biz out of a then-new passion: growing her own tea.
A one-woman show, Vodvarka runs Black Kettle all herself, growing much of the product in her own backyard in E.C., including peppermint, lavender, lemon balm, basil, and more. What she doesn’t harvest from her own garden she sources from farmers she personally knows, and even from local farmers markets.
“Wild crafting is also a huge part of what I do,” Vodvarka explained. “A lot of plants we have right in our backyards that so many people use weed killer on or treat as a pest.”
Although she hopes to expand Black Kettle in the future, hiring folks to help with gardening work, harvesting and making the tea is fairly simple she said. After harvesting the plant, she leaves enough to ensure it will still grow, then takes what she picks into her kitchen to let it dry, oven-drying most of it. Then, she mixes specific herbs together to create Black Kettle’s unique blends and hand-packages it ('Resting Witch Face' is a fun blend name that stuck out to me).
“There are obviously a few things I can’t grow in this climate but I source those from farmers I have personally spoken to and have the same vision for sustainability as I do,” she said. “I also get quite a bit from farmers markets in the Eau Claire area and up to the Twin Cities, [and] source seeds from local garden centers like May’s Floral.”
Vodvarka began the tea journey organically, as it was purely a hobby in the beginning. After taking some classes, she began delving into her own research. “Honestly, it’s been a ton of research. Books upon books. I really think it’s important to always be learning even when you’re older.”
Currently, Black Kettle tea and merchandise – all of which are created locally, tops screen-printed at The Sticker Spot in Banbury Place, and beanies created by Pretty Cool Beanies up in Minneapolis – can be found throughout the Valley:
- The Broom & Crow (1726 N Clairemont Ave., Eau Claire)
- The Local Store (205 N Dewey St., Eau Claire, 54701)
- Lunchbox EC (800 Wisconsin St., Suite 210, Eau Claire)
- Curvue Tree Farm (6760 Curvue Road, Eau Claire)
- Menomonie Market Co-op (1117 S Farwell St., Eau Claire)
- Wisconsin Makers Market Store (106 E Grand Ave., Eau Claire)
- Silver Creek Herbals in Turtle Lake (162 13 1/2 14th Ave., Turtle Lake)
- Menomonie farmers markets
Black Kettle will be expanding into more locations throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota, hopefully within the next couple of months, Vodvarka shared.
For now, swing by any of the local spots above to try Black Kettle Tea, sourced and created – literally – from fresh-from-your-backyard ingredients.