Mrs. Kelly's Tea gives free tasting this weekend

Mrs. Kelly's Tea.jpg
Liz Potasek
Sample 100 different varieties of Mrs. Kelly's custom blended tea this weekend.
Keep that pinkie finger planted firmly on your tea cup. While coffee seems to be getting snobbier by the day in this town, one local tea distributor sets out to prove that tea is not fussy.

Meet Mrs. Kelly, a.k.a. Mindy Kelly, the co-owner and founder of Mrs. Kelly's Tea in Minneapolis. Kelly started making herbal teas about 18 years ago and selling them in farmers' markets, and before she knew it, she had a full-blown business.

Kelly imports the tea leaves and custom blends them with various flavorings to hundreds of flavors of tea. She also mixes up special orders, and can even try to duplicate your favorite tea based on a description of it or a small sample. "We can do whatever you want," Kelly says.

And this weekend at Mrs. Kelly's Tea's warehouse (77 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis) tea drinkers can sample what they want. The warehouse will be open for a free tea tasting from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday with more than 100 hot teas to sample and plenty of other local goodies. The Hot Dish got the scoop on what to expect at the event and some suggestions for what to do with that tea-- other than drink it.

"It's a warehouse, not a tea room," Kelly warns to anyone expecting a formal tea at Mrs. Kelly's annual tea tasting. "Our whole thing is much more laid back."

The event features a buffet with 100 of Mrs. Kelly's most popular loose leaf teas along with tea bags. Guests are supplied with a tasting sheet, and they can select the tea blends they'd like to sample. A lounge area is available for chatting and chilling while the tea steeps. All the teas are available for purchase.

In addition to the tea, expect to find goodies from other local food vendors, including B.T. McElrath, Muddy Paws Cheesecake, Very Prairie and Edna's Caramels. Handmade pottery (perfect for containing your tea) will also be on sale.

The tea tasting is free, but Kelly asks that guests bring a non-perishable food item or a $2 donation for the food shelf.

After all the tea sampling and the sugar rush that follows chocolate, cheesecake, caramels, and other goodies, Kelly says that the mood at the tea tasting gets pretty merry. "People walk out of here quite high," she says.

And once the buzz has worn off and you've loaded up on loose leaf? What then? In addition to drinking tea, Kelly suggests using tea as a substitute for liquid in any recipe. For example, try making rice with jasmine tea as the liquid.

Because tea is high in antioxidents, it can also be good for skin. Most beauty magazine junkies know all about how putting tea bags on your eyes can reduce puffiness, but green tea also makes an excellent toner and adding tea leaves to a hot bath can be good for itchy or dry skin, Kelly says.

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