Everybody: Watch out for the Ducklers, David and Lily and Eva (husband, wife, and 18-year old sister to David). They're like mythical creatures, they're so savvy and smart and overachieving.
David is a fluent speaker of Chinese who received a grant partly funded by the CIA to go to China for research and education and in part to and glean the stories of tea producers -- the myths, traditions, and folklore behind this ancient product.
While there, they worked as professors by day and gathered these stories by evening, and they developed a deep and abiding love of tea and the people who produce it.
When they left, they made a promise to all of their new friends that once back in the U.S. they would share the stories. So being the dutiful professors that they were, they wrote papers and did lectures doing just that.
But the stories didn't really make sense without the tea.
So suddenly, they were in the tea import business and opened Verdant Tea, Cafe and Tasting Room in Seward.
But of course, as with any good overachievers, they didn't stop there.
Next they got teamed up with Nate Uri, a local Kombucha producer who wanted to use their tea in his product. And then that product, Prohibition Kombucha, blew up.
And then, David's 18-year-old sister, Eva got an idea of her own: Her high school senior project wasn't going to be some model volcano with push-button eruption. No sir. She was going to make root beer. Good root beer like the stuff she grew up on but could no longer find. And wouldn't you just know it? This high school project became a successful marketplace product, Treefort Soda, so the Ducklers are now brewing that, too.
So now, in their new digs in Seward's Snelling Distribution Center (think of the industrial area near United Noodles and Coastal Seafood), the Ducklers will be able to brew Prohibition and Treefort on a large scale, as demand for both was outgrowing their capacity to produce while they were in their small retail location at Seward Crossings. The new space will also serve as a tasting room where you can find out all about the tea, but also the stories behind the tea, and taste the tea, no strings attached.
"You'll never get a tea here that doesn't have a story about a particular person," says Lily. "So you'll be able to try, learn, chat, and taste. If you do decide to buy, you know you'll be happy with what you're going to take home."
Both the Kombucha and the soda are available at Verdant on tap, and if you're interested in the products without venturing to the tasting room, both can be purchased at Kowalski's. Verdant's teas are available at Caffetto, the Birchwood, Kopplin's, and other locations throughout the Twin Cities.
The sample room is currently open during limited hours, but should be in full swing by March.
2009 E. 24th St., Mpls. minneapolis.verdanttea.com 612-345-7116