Tea Time | Food News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Tea Time 

Side Dishes: New shop opens in Middlebury’s Marbleworks

John Wetzel
  • John Wetzel

You may have traveled halfway around the world, but if you pick the wrong day to show up at a Taiwanese tea garden longing for a sip of oolong, you could be out of luck. John Wetzel, owner of Middlebury’s brand-new Stone Leaf Teahouse, learned this lesson the hard way. “You’d go there and it would be, like, ‘They’re roasting; come back in two days,’” he recalls.

But Wetzel stuck around until the leaves were ready, and the brews he sampled inspired him to share the wealth. “Those are the teas I brought back, the ones I watched them roast,” he says.

The 29-year-old’s 2008 travels through Taiwan and Vietnam were not Wetzel’s first encounter with fine tea. In college, a coworker who’d lived in China introduced him to infusions far more fragrant and nuanced than Lipton’s. After moving to Burlington, Wetzel became one of the founding staffers of Dobrá Tea, where he worked for two years.

Eventually, although he loves rich, double-fermented Pu’ers and astringent Japanese greens, Wetzel felt the pull of the outdoors. He left Dobrá to do seasonal stints at Rockville Market Farm and Lincoln Peak Vineyard, supplemented by hours at Daily Chocolate in Vergennes. But Wetzel couldn’t stop pondering the evidence that “there are a lot of people in Addison County who are really into tea.” “Working on farms, you have a lot of time to think. I spent a lot of time with my hands in the dirt thinking about this,” he says. The fruit of his musings was a decision to become self-employed.

In addition to offering loose-leaf tea by the pot or smaller gaiwan, Stone Leaf has a selection of authentic teaware and a variety of chocolates from Daily Chocolate and pastries from TootSweet in Shoreham. A wider supply of edibles and an outdoor tea garden are in the works.

Another planned innovation? In a nod to the far-flung origins of his product and to the local college, Wetzel hopes eventually to print his tea menu in all the tongues taught at Middlebury’s summer language program.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Bio:
Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a... more

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation