Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community

Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community
(Left) Loose-leaf Pipe & Leaf Tea. (Right) the Christopher children enjoy hanging out at their parents’ retail shop at Lowe Mill.During the family’s first weekend at the Greene Street Market in May 2013, customers saw their sign for “compost tea” and were instantly turned off. “We had to force free samples on people to get them to try our teas,” Brigette recalls. Once they did, however, they quickly sold out. By their third weekend at the market, they had abandoned compost tea completely and decided to focus on flavored iced teas instead.

In October 2013, they were manning a booth at the Madison Street Festival in downtown Madison, the city adjacent to Huntsville. A long line extended from their booth all day, and when they ran out of tea, customers sat down in the parking lot and waited patiently for them to brew more. They ran out of their distinctive Piper & Leaf mason jars, and Caleb had to go for more. When a local family—mother, father, and kids—volunteered to help put grommets in the lids of the jars, they realized they had achieved their original goal. 

Piper & Leaf: Building a Sense of Community

In 2014, they moved their production facility to a permanent home at Lowe Mill, a privately owned arts center in Huntsville that is home to more than 200 artists and artisans. Here they blend and package teas, and have a retail shop where Piper & Leaf’s 17-plus teas are offered for sale—freshly brewed, hot or over ice, and in 1.2-ounce bags for home brewing. From customer favorite Front Porch Special (a blend of bergamot-infused black teas from Assam and Ceylon, jasmine, cornflowers, and spearmint) to Strawberry Shindig (a tisane of rosehips, hibiscus, strawberries, lemongrass, apple, and mint), Piper & Leaf uses locally grown herbs and fruits as much as possible to make their teas. 

They sell Piper & Leaf at 16 farmers’ markets in Alabama and Tennessee—including Huntsville’s Greene Street Market and Birmingham’s Pepper Place Market—and they recently opened a second retail shop at Strong Station in Madison. The teas are also sold and served at a variety of tea shops and restaurants across the nation. “We didn’t go out seeking their business,” Connor points out. “They found us.”

For a list of retailers around the country who sell Piper & Leaf teas, go to piperandleaf.com. The teas are also available through the website and at various farmers’ markets and special events throughout Alabama and Tennessee. 

From TeaTime July/August 2016

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