Brenda Hedrick had allergies more than 25 years ago that only seemed to be relieved by whole-leaf teas.
She’s been on a “tea journey” ever since.
“Green teas and white teas to support the immune system, but also fabulous flavors that people just adore, really just for the fun,” Hedrick said.
Hedrick opened an interior design studio in a Liberty strip mall in 1984, naming it after her great-grandmother, Anna Marie Bohnet. Ten years later she relocated to an historic, two-story Liberty house with her two daughters and operated the interior design studio, as well as a gift store offering loose-leaf teas.
When they relocated a decade later, they added a bed and breakfast and a full-service tea shop, Anna Marie’s Tea Shop.
Now the tea business is growing again. The former bed and breakfast is under contract to a family who plans to make it their home. In mid-April, the tea shop relocated to 7 W. Franklin St., below Hammerhand Coffee but with its own entrance off Franklin. Hedrick now plans to concentrate on the tea business full-time including wholesale accounts.
Shelves are stocked with tea canisters — more than 80 varieties under several categories, including White Tea, Green Tea, Oolang, Premium Black, Rooibus and flavored teas.
The Love Shack is made of black tea with rose petals, white sugar crystals and dried cherries. The Mutan White Peony is a rare white Chinese tea made from peony buds for a sweet flavor and low caffeine. The Lemon Souffle Rooibos is a blend of rooibos, honey bush and lemon bits for a lemon cream taste. Other flavors include Rosebud Black, Masala Chai, Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Pomegranate and Blackberry Mint.
Anne Johnston of Liberty has been a customer for about three years.
“Their teas are really good — rich, deep, really full-flavored,” she said.
Thompson now has a tea kettle that tells her the perfect temperature for hot tea. Her preferred flavor is the caffeinated Love Shack but she also likes the decaffeinated Red Velvet.
“You get so much more flavor, the whole leaf is exposed to the water. Tea bags are so often just a powder or bits of tea,” Hedrick said. “It gives you the bigger bang for the buck.”
The shop also sells accessories: colorful teapots, Amaretto Hail Sugar, Cream Caramel Rock Sugar and granulated honey.
Anna Marie’s Tea Shop has monthly events including the Soul-Sisters of the Heart Tea Time, its annual Mother’s Day tea Saturday (the morning event is sold out but some spaces were still available as of Monday for the afternoon event at 2:30 p.m.).
Other upcoming events include a tea tasting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 27, the Shabby Chick Garden Tea Party (a summertime porch party) on June 16 and 17; and a Father Daughter tea party on June 17. The events are held in a Liberty house (circa 1913).
Hedrick also teaches classes focusing on tea and its health benefits, “We have people from every walk of life, every age.”