Enjoy food, enjoy travel, enjoy life. This is Travel Gluten Free by Elikqitie!
We have an awesome interview with the manager of Townshend's Tea House here in Park City, Utah. I live in park city and I really love tea. I love tea so much, I currently have over 64 different types of tea right now in my pantry. So you can say I'm a little bit of a tea addict. When this new tea house came to park city, I was stoked because they have one of my favorite things in the world, which the only thing better than tea is Bubble tea. I frequent this place.
I am a Townshend's tea addict because I go there and drink bubble tea at least once a week, maybe twice, depending on the week. It was easy to pick my first interview because of course I wanted to interview my favorite place in Park City, which is Townshend's tea house.
Not only is their tea gluten free, they also have a variety of different gluten free baked goods that are super yummy, tasty and not so good for you. But that's not why we eat them! We eat them because they just taste good and the cool thing about Townshend's Teahouse I really love is that it's not the same things. It's not always banana muffins or blueberry muffins, she has a different variety of gluten-free desserts.
I really love coming here and getting desserts to eat, which we'll talk about more in the show. Polly Rhim is manager of Townshend's Tea house. She's originally from Mount Hood, Oregon and she has lived in the Park City area with her husband for 11 years. She is a tea lover and enthusiast and this really shows when you meet her at Townsend's. She loves being outside, hiking, biking, fishing, skiing and playing with her two dogs. My interview with Poly Rhim from Townshend's tea house in Park City, Utah.
This is our first interview on Travel Gluten Free. I first want to give you a little bit of description of Townshend's tea house. Townshend's company began as a college project at the University of Oregon in 2002. Their idea was to bring together a casual college, campus style, coffee house atmosphere with top grade tea. Townshend's teahouse idea has grown to several locations where all are welcome to enjoy their extensive selections of tea. They have over 80 types of tea. The inviting atmosphere, good music and friendly service, make this tea house a gathering place for people of all ages.
I'm really enjoy their tea. When you walk into Townshend's tea house, what I love is that it gives you the feeling of walking into a tea sanctuary where you can find more combinations of tea that you can drink and an atmosphere which feels like tea Nirvana.
A native Oregonian. Polly was an early customer of Townshend's in Oregon. She would stop by to get her fix when visiting family back at home. She approached Townshend's about opening a tea house in Utah. So without further adieu, I would like to introduce Polly. Thanks for coming on my show.
Hi. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Well, I'm excited for you to be my first. How would you describe your tea house to listeners?
We try to be pretty cozy, inviting atmosphere for anyone that is just getting into tea or people that have been into tea for a long time. Like you said, we have almost a hundred different teas. We are all very friendly and excited to help people come in and try teas, come find new favorites and hangout, bring their laptop, bring a book, bring friends, and just have kind of like a fun spot in the community where you can drink tea and hangout.
If somebody is coming in and they are not a big tea drinker like myself and they have not experienced or have exposure to a lot of different types of tea, what do you commonly suggest to people who are not big tea drinkers are of trying it for the first time?
We have this extensive tea book that is 18 pages long, that is obviously super overwhelming for someone if they're new to the tea world. We've chosen a handful of teas out of each section: favorite black teas, favorite green teas, oolongs, some herbals and Rooibos teas to narrow the decision for someone if they're overwhelmed with how many teas we actually do have.
I have your book right here, some of the teas that I see are like Rooibos, mate, Oolong and Chai. You have quite a lot of categories of tea to choose from. If somebody is a big coffee drinker and their friend brings them in, what types of tea would you suggest for somebody that's normally coffee drinker but that's looking to try tea?
We have some really delicious bold black teas, that are really good, just straight tea or a tea latte such as Irish breakfast or an Assam, which is a ground black tea and it's super strong and delicious for those people that are more used to coffee. We have a Lapou Mountain Souchong, which is a roasted black tea and has similar coffee undertones. It's delicious as a tea or a latte and is one of our favorites at the tea house.
I brought my friend who knew coffee and he had a black tea and really enjoyed it. I think people who are normally coffee drinkers get use to tea, once they find a tea that they like. Do you find that they really branch out and try a little bit more?
Once we get them hooked on one tea they decide in their head that tea isn't something that, they just used to drink at their grandma's house. We have so many different teas that are delicious and so there's all kinds of good tea for people that primarily like coffee.
So glad you guys are doing coffee converters. And do you find people who drink coffee are more easily converted with lattes because it's kind of something they're used to or does it not matter if it's a latte or not?
They do enjoy some lattes. If they're kind of more of like a latte drinker in general, but some of our black teas are delicious and if someone just likes black coffee, it's a little more similar just having a straight tea.
Matcha is one of those really high antioxidant teas and I've been drinking tea for quite a long time and I don't know a lot about Matcha. Can you give us some background on Matcha tea?
We are having March Matcha Madness. We have a really high grade Matcha and then another Matcha is a ceremonial grade. Matcha is a ground green tea, so you're actually consuming the entire leaf. You're getting all of the antioxidants, the chlorophyll, the vitamins, straight from the leaf. You're not only steeping it but you are drinking the whole tea leaf. It's delicious. As a traditional tea, we whisk it up and make froth which can sweetened with a little honey or you can create a Matcha latte. We usually suggest doing that with a nondairy option such as coconut milk and it is delicious.
You said ceremonial and high grade: what's the difference between the two?
The ceremonial grade we have is straight from Japan. It comes from a really small farm in Japan. The best that you can find and then the other grade that we have isn't quite as fancy and it doesn't come from a small of a farm. It's a little more mainstream, but they're both delicious and have health benefits.
Talking about small farms, do a lot of your teas come from small farms? How do you pick the types of tea that you serve at your tea house?
The menu is put together by Matt Thomas who put the whole company together for that college project that you read about in the back of the menu. He has traveled and gotten to know tea and find different sources of importing this tea. There's different companies that we work with in the US that source tea from all over the world, including an entire apothecary series that's all herbal blends. They're sourced all over the place.
Speaking of your apothecary blends, I've actually been trying, a couple that I really love. One of them I've tried the healing tea, which I really like and I also have tried throat tender. I had a sore throat a few weeks ago and I really liked that one.I've also tried love it's my favorite mood tonic and I think you highlighted that for Valentine's.
We did, yeah. All during February we had love tea and we called it our love potion number 10 as a latte with a little chocolate shavings on top. Pretty delicious.
The listeners are going to be listening to this in springtime and I know springtime is a good detox time. Are there specific teas that people commonly use for detoxification that you carry?
Yeah, we actually have a tea called detox and it is an herbal blend, kind of like a blood cleanser as well. It's super good. It's a little earthy, but it has all kinds of really great herbs and it's good as like a hot tea if you're trying to get the benefits of a detox, your body seems to soak up the nutrients better if it's a hot tea and people also use it to rejuvenate their liver and skin.
I noticed you have posted an Instagram and it read "Armed with a 20 ounce cold kicker latte with a matcha shot and a quiche boom. So tell us about this post and how did you come up with Matcha Monday?
The drink that you saw in that post is our cold kicker blend, which is also a tonic. It's an herbal blend and we made it as a latte with coconut milk. We added a matcha shot into there. You get a little caffeine and nutrients from the matcha in addition to all of the insane amounts of vitamin C in the cold kicker. People use it as an immune booster and it tastes delicious.
So let's talk about some of your gluten free because when I knew when you first opened, I wasn't sure if you had any gluten free options, but now I know now you have several, which I have tried several of which I really liked. First of all, when did you decide to do some gluten free options and why did you go that route?
I had been trying to find good gluten free options from when we opened. It's kind of a difficult thing to find as you know. Myself, my sister and my mom went gluten free just for different health issues. I personally was trying to figure out how to get rid of headaches and migraines and stomach things. I try my hardest to be as gluten free as possible. But then I also ran into an issue of being allergic to tapioca, which is in a lot of gluten free items. I know there's a huge community out there that is sensitive or has celiac and still on enjoy a good pastry now and then. I was really excited when I found a local baker who bakes really amazing gluten free items.
I noticed that you are also very conscious because you have all of your gluten free items wrapped and on the top shelf and that is great because sometimes I'll go into a bakery and I'll see something gluten free but it's on the bottom shelf underneath something like that is not gluten free and that's really dangerous. I'm really glad that you are really conscious about that.
We try to keep them as separate as possible. We don't have separate kitchens where some places do, but we try to keep them not contaminated.
I've never gotten sick from eating your desserts, they are definitely clean. So what are your more popular gluten free items? What do you find that people really go for when they come here? I know my, one of my favorites is the chicken pesto hand pie that's gluten free, which I just ate before this interview. I love that it's like a quick little dinner or lunch on the go and it tastes great. What are some of the options that your customers really love?
The chicken hand pies, those are super popular. They're delicious. It's really hard to find a gluten free kind of pie crust. It's really exciting when you do find one. Banana bread is extremely popular. I know it's not easy to find good gluten free banana bread that is like not like sawdust in your mouth. So ours is really good. It's moist and delicious.
Nice. And then I know you have muffins and you vary the muffins. The one I had recently it was an almond cranberry muffin that was really good. Are all of your gluten free items from the same baker? Do you get them from different places?
They are all from the same baker, she is based in Kamas. She delivers to us throughout the week. She makes what she has available for fresh ingredients. Sometimes it's fruit and she'll make something delicious like cranberry almond muffins or if there's like local peaches that are ripe, she'll make us peach muffins. All is locally sourced and it's mainly in season. You're getting really fresh ingredients.
Do you train your staff in any gluten free like procedures and besides yourself, do you have other experience or background with people that are gluten free?
In our tea house we try, like I said, to keep everything as separate as possible. We're cutting up banana bread that's gluten free. We use the cutting board and knife before we cut anything that has gluten in it. We try not to cross contaminate anything and we have standards.
One of the things I love to have when I come into your tea house are the choices that you have are much more extravagant than just a cookie. I really appreciate that you offer to people that are gluten free because that makes a big difference in your enjoyment in the experience of a place, especially the snicker doodle muffins.
You're from Oregon and you discovered this tea house in Oregon and wanted to bring it to park city. So did you always want to be an entrepreneur, owning your own restaurant? Did you always want to own a business or was this kind of a more organic transition?
I have had many different kind of barista jobs and I've, I really enjoyed, and I like making people delicious drinks, and getting to know locals and regulars. In the past six and a half years before the tea house, I helped run a ski and snowboard manufacturing facility. I was originally a creative director, but it was a job that kind of morphed into kind of more of a VP position where I was helping kind of run the entire company in different aspects. And I really enjoyed kind of being on my feet and being involved in all the different aspects of the company and you know, not just doing graphics on my computer. And so that company went not for sale a few years ago and I was for new adventures. So I reached out to Townsend's when I was up in Portland and started the conversation of how I can open one in park city.
Townshend's has multiple locations. Besides Portland and park city, what other locations can you find Townshend's teahouse?
There's seven tea houses up in Oregon, primarily in the Portland area, a tea house in Eugene and a tea bar in the student union building and then there is a location that is run like the park city location as a co-ownership in Bozeman, Montana. They were the first out of Oregon location and they had been open for a couple of years when we open to the park city location.
Do you find that some of your same teas that are popular here are also popular in other locations?
It's funny because before I opened out here I had to move out to Portland and train at the different tea houses out there for about six months. So I got to see what was popular out there. And now comparing it with what's popular out here, they do differ. We have a circulatory blend in our apothecary series that is extremely popular in park city. And I honestly can't remember very many times that someone ordered it up in Oregon. So it's just kind of a difference in climate. We have a tea that we make. We call it the park city latte. It's with our golden potion tumeric, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger mix. And we make it as a latte and then we add a macho shot to that. That has grown, extremely popular here in the Portland area they just kind of do it as a street latte and we added the little macho shot twist to that here.
Got into the tea business and you started doing Townshend's. Did you have previous experience in a tea bar or a coffee shop or you said you were a Barista, so you had some
I've been at quite a few different coffee shop and restaurants, but not a specific tea only place.
What surprised you or surprised you most about being in the tea shop business or something you didn't expect when you started having your tea shop?
Finding out how many delicious tease there are. And I feel like we're hardly even scratching the surface. It makes me want to go explore the world and go visit all these farms and check everything out firsthand. That would be amazing.
How many different types of teas do you have here Polly?
It is, I believe over 80. Accounting, all the different apothecary and then our finest list it, it gets up there.
I think I've probably had about 24. I'm trying them all. The ones I've tried, I really enjoyed. Do you see tea in the future, do you see it gaining popularity? Like are you having more locals come in? What is your mix of customers when you have customers?
Well, with the location that I chose I tried to be in more of a space that's easier for locals to get to and from. I really try to cater to the people that actually live here. If visitors in town find us that is awesome. We see a lot of regulars, a lot of people that live here and come everyday, a few times a week and have gotten to know them. I see tea totally gaining popularity in the US and everywhere else in the world tea is extremely popular. And in the US it's slowly coming more and more popular. But I feel like as people become more health conscious, there are so many more benefits to teeth and other beverages, including coffee, that I think it'll just continue to grow.
People obviously come here cause they know it's a tea house, but do you find that when people find out it's gluten free, they bring more friends in? Do you find that you're gluten-free offerings attract more people because they're finding out about it? Or do you find that it's more people coming in for tea and then they find the gluten-free options?
I think it's people looking for tea and getting really excited, finding out that we have gluten free options. And then I think we definitely gained a lot of regulars that have gotten hooked on our tea but also are excited about our gluten free offerings that they just come back for more.
Well I am definitely excited about your free offerings. I come here and get them a lot. I really love your bubble tea and I know bubble tea is just super popular, especially with the um, the twenty-something crowd. Teenagers love bubbles. Can you tell us a little bit about bubble tea and what that is?
So bubble tea was created in Taiwan, so it is a sweet and creamy tea drink, usually cold, shaken with ice. We offer three different tidbits to put in tea. We have a classic Tapioca Pearl that is kind of chewy and softvand a little bit of a maple flavor. Then we have aloe jellies. Last we have fruit jellies which are coconut lychee flavor. They're pretty sweet and really popular with younger kids. This is kind of a fun novel tea delicious treat that people love and get mostly in the afternoon. It's a crazy bubbletea rush!
Both of my daughters love your love your bubble tea as well. And my older daughter and I love the tapioca pearls and Tapioca is definitely something that people either love or they don't like it. It's just like coconut, like people love it or they hate it. And then, my younger daughter loves the fruit jellies. She gets it every time she comes in here is taro with fruit jellies and green TV. It's like that's her, that's her thing.
Polly, how long have you been here in Park City? We opened in June 1st. You have gluten free offerings are really delicious. You have over 80 types of tea that people can get in bubble tea with fruit jellies or aloe so you have lots of different choices for people to come here. You also sell Kombucha brew as well. Is Kombucha tea gluten-free?
Our kind is not made with mushrooms; it is made with all of our different teas. Kombucha is a fermented tea. We ferment for about two weeks, and we distill the alcohol out of it so there's literally trace amounts. Then we bottle it and kegs and small bottles and we have it out here on tap. We have our 10 different flavors. Some rotating seasonal flavors, and we brew it up in Portland and get it shipped down here. It's delicious. We have it by the growler mini growler pint, whatever anyone wants.
And so since it's just regular tea, it is a gluten free gluten free item. Yes. So you've been doing this for almost a year, so what are your future plans for your tea house? Are you looking to change anything, add anything in the next couple months? Are you going to be doing the same path? What is your, what's kind of your feel on where you're taking your business right now?
So we're just trying to continue to grow the tea house we're trying to get more events here and kind of local, you know, use it as a local hub for people that want to have little get togethers or high school study nights. I would like to get some kind of mobile thing going so I could go to events or farmers markets have a small amount of choices: some Kombucha and ice teas if it's in the summer. So that would probably be my next route. And then after that all is well it would be great to look into other locations in Utah.
Thank you for getting the time to interview you today on Travel Gluten Free, I appreciate that. Well thank you for having me. This is definitely one of my, this is my favorite hangout in park city for sure. What is your ask of the audience? Do you have anything you'd like to him to share or to talk about or places that you'd like to find you on social media?
Yeah, so we are on Facebook and Instagram at Townsend's Tea Utah. Spread the word train, new different teas. There's a lot of really great teas out there and awesome Kombucha as well. And bubble tea.
So we will put all of these links Polly was talking about in the show notes. So if you didn't get that down, just check out the show notes and I will have all of these links on there. So Polly, thanks again for coming onto the interview and I hope that your tea house just takes off in the next few months and that your one year anniversary is a whole huge celebration for you.
Well, thank you, Lynn. Thanks for being one of our favorite regulars at the tea house!
I always will be as you have bubble tea and gluten-free stuff to really be here and dragging my dragging my friends and I do have one coffee converter I brought in today. That's awesome. So thanks again, Polly.
Wow. Thank you.
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