by Phyllis Louise Harris
Bill Waddington has opened his latest TeaSource at 561 Prairie Center Drive in Eden Prairie and filled it with some of his 250 teas and tea blends along with everything needed to make and enjoy tea.
While he took over the space of a former coffee house, Waddington does not serve coffee in any of his three stores. Instead he has made a career of searching out quality tea from around the world and selling it through the stores, on his website ant through his new catalog. And it all started as a hobby.
In the 1990s Waddington traveled around the country training storeowners for a major Minnesota grocery chain. An avid tea drinker himself, he used the opportunity to visit Chinatowns in the larger cities and seek out tea merchants. He also wrote to tea growers all over the world and was soon receiving samples of their teas. By 1995 he was operating a mail order business out his home selling a small number of imported teas. In 1997 he opened his first TeaSource store in the Highland area of St. Paul. As the business grew he added teas, created his own blends, and opened a second store in St. Anthony. The Eden Prairie store is his latest addition.
Each store offers tea enthusiasts a wide array of free booklets on brewing tea, selecting tea, understanding tea and serving tea. Waddington also offers classes in Learning more About the World of Tea, Teabasics, Tea & Chocolate, Cooking with Tea, and The Mysterious World of Dark Tea…all taught by specialists in the use of tea. And there is always something new to try.
As Waddington says in his new catalog, “There is a mysterious Chinese tea called Dark Tea that is almost unknown in the West, despite the fact that the Chinese venerate this tea.” For years Dark Tea has been exported to countries west of China but not to those to the east. Waddington “discovered” it on a tea-buying trip to the capital of Hunan Province and felt it needed to be added to his collection.
Visitors to any TeaSource can browse through the many teapots and cups available in the stores, try five different teas on “sample days” for just $3,35 or just sit and sip their favorite tea. Waddington’s website teasource.com is filled with tea information, tea events and products to purchase online. His new catalog, also filled with tea information and products, is available online or by phone 1-877-768-7233. The website and all stores have information on upcoming tea classes. You can also communicate with Waddington through his face book @ TEASOURCE. TeaSource was recently chosen as the tea vendor for Delta Airlines’ new terminal at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport.
For anyone still stuck in the teabag routine, I strongly recommend taking one of the TeaSource classes. They are real eye-openers to the amazing world of tea. Next to water, tea is the largest consumed beverage n the world and offers more than 1000 different teas and a multitude of blends. The next class is Tea Basics at the new Eden Prairie store February 23, 7-9 p.m. and costs $15 per person. Registration is limited so call early, 952-767-3648.
TeaSource stores are open everyday. In the St. Anthony Sopping Center, TeaSource is at 2908 Pentagon Drive NE. Call 612-788-7842 for hours. In the Highland area of St. Paul, TeaSource is at 752 South Cleveland Avenue. Call 651-690-9822. The Eden Prairie TeaSource phone is 952-767-3648.