The Tea Academy
New teahouse teaches Japanese brewing methods
By Jared Raney
A tea house in St. Germain isn’t only selling hot beverages; they are working to create a culture in Northern Wisconsin.
Shanna and Nori Stein, owners of Green Rich Tea, have been in business for around one year, trading in custom, homemade teas, and also educating the public on the advantages and intricacies of tea-drinking.
“Introducing a new culture, and at the same time sharing an experience with family and friends,” Nori said. “That’s what the basic idea started as.”
Nori was born in Miyazaki, Japan, and from a young age grew up drinking Japanese green tea. Friends of his grew tea plants, and as a youth he spent time in the fields.
In fact, he’s a certified Japanese Green Tea Advisor in Japan, which has no equivalent certification in the US. Green Rich Tea still gets its Japanese Green Tea from Miyazaki, where it is grown organically. Not all of the store’s tea is organic, but Shanna said one of their next steps will be to incorporate all-natural ingredients.
“Now that we’ve been established a little bit longer we’re trying to bring in more organics… We use only natural flavors,” Shanna said. “That’s something that we value.”
The tea-toting pair began their journey in the tea trade after meeting on EHarmony while Nori was living in Canada, and Shanna in Portland, OR.
“He was like, ‘hey, can you make me a cup of tea?’ …He just said ‘no, that’s wrong,’” Shanna said. “So then he made me my first cup of true green tea, and I just thought, this tastes too good, it’s too sweet, too nice for that.”
They said one of their favorite parts of the business is seeing kids or people who have never liked tea come in and have their first experience of properly made tea.
“They could go out and you know, ‘we learned how to brew tea at Green Rich Tea,’ and create their own tea culture,” Nori said.
Tea Academy is the biggest way Nori and Shanna are seeking to spread this knowledge. The Academy is an opportunity for people who are not familiar with tea, or those just looking to discover a new tea, to come in and learn, as well as try out some novel blends.
“If we start to help and educate the people around here on how to [make tea], and they have a really good experience, and they taste something really good, they’re going to come back here, they’re going to tell their friends,” Shanna said.
Originally from Big Bend, Wisconsin, Shanna has family at Big St. Germain Lake, and decided to move back to Wisconsin to be closer to them.
“It was hard, introducing the proper way to drink Japanese Green Tea,” Nori said. “Having a store is like what we dreamed about. We can serve tea in the way that we want… they’re so used to coffee, espresso drinks; they’re kind of new to tea. But they have an experience with tea.”
The Tea Academy is held twice a day, once a month on Tuesdays, at 2 and 7 p.m.. Participants must register in advance, and will receive four one-ounce samples as part of the package, as well as special discounts after the class.
“It’s a lifetime learning process, to get to know all the kinds of tea, because there are so many,” Nori said. “But you know it’s hard to find good quality of teas, so why don’t we start carrying good quality tea.”
For more info or to register, go to greenrichtea.com, or call 715-254-1730.