STEEPED IN HISTORY
For 33 years, Davidson’s Tea has supported farmers
and created delicious and unusual recipes.
WRITTEN BY JESSICA SANTINA
PHOTO BY JACI GOODMAN
In this cold winter’s day, pour yourself a cozy cup of tea, relax, and settle in for a story on a wonderful local tea purveyor.
In 1976, John and Sharon Davidson created a little tea company in the eastern Sierra. Although just a small operation with only about 10 varieties of tea, Davidson’s Tea developed quite a following with its unusual recipes. As the years went by and their popularity grew, the Davidsons kept adding new varieties to their repertoire. Now, 33 years later, the company sells more than 200 different varieties of organic tea, herbs, and spices, and accessories to individuals and businesses around the country. All their products are USDA-certified organic. Even the tea bags are made from organic-approved, biodegradable paper.
“Tea isn’t like apples or tomatoes. You can’t wash tea leaves to remove chemical residues from pesticides,” says Promilla Mohan, director of purchasing and marketing for Davidson’s Tea, to explain the Davidsons’ important decision to go completely organic about 10 years ago.
In 2007, the Davidsons also formed an alliance with a family-run organic tea farm in India, which has one of the country’s largest and oldest tea gardens.
“They produce some of the most exceptional teas in the world, and, fortunately, Davidson’s gets teas from them within just a few weeks of harvesting, making them very fresh and flavorful,” Mohan says.
While most of the teas come from India through this partnership, domestic products such as chicory, carob, barley, and rose hips are purchased from U.S. farms. The materials, including Rooibos (red tea) from South Africa, rare blends from China, and certain herbs from Egypt (all organic), are sent to Davidson’s processing facility in Sparks. From there the teas are shipped all over the country. But locals appreciate the on-site store where they can buy fresh teas, gifts, and accessories, often at discounted prices.
“Davidson’s also supports fair trade,” Mohan adds. “It helps empower farmers and local tea-growing communities. You can get high quality products and help farmers improve their quality of life.”
Mohan says that at the farm Davidson’s works with, monies have been used to build a school.
India isn’t the only place reaping the rewards of Davidson’s efforts. The company is steeped in the local community, too. For instance, for every sale of its Children’s Tea, a percentage goes to Reno’s CASA program. The company also supports the California-based Organic Center and the Reno-based Friends of Nevada, a local organic-promoting entity co-founded by Sharon Davidson, who along with her husband functions more as a consultant to the company these days.
Mohan says that in addition to its standard varieties, including the beloved Dessert Teas (its most popular line), and mulling spices (the proprietary blend of which is sold to the popular Martinelli’s apple juice and cider company), Davidson’s will soon offer six new varieties of teas made with tulsi. Tulsi, also called Holy Basil, is a sacred Indian herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 5,000 years for its wellness-promoting and immunity-enhancing properties.
This offers just another reason to pour yourself one more cup. Jessica Santina is a freelance writer and editor, a university writing instructor and, on cold winter days, an avid tea drinker.