TeaHaus Debuts New Tea-Infused Cocktails and Tea For Dummies Book

Since opening almost sixteen years ago in a small storefront with 200 tea tins, Ann Arbor’s TeaHaus has blossomed into one of the best places to enjoy quality tea and connect with other people. 

TeaHaus recently went through a massive renovation to transform their business and add a bar with delicious and unique tea-infused cocktails. 

The owner and tea sommelier, Lisa McDonald, also recently published “Tea For Dummies”–a wonderful addition to the “Dummies” collection. Through all these changes, TeaHaus has remained committed to its goal of being a casual and welcoming tea store where folk are encouraged to disconnect in order to reconnect. 

The tea-infused cocktails are delicious; I attended TeaHaus’s reopening celebration and sampled most of them. I was blown away by the spiciness of the locally–sourced ginger syrup. 

“I’ve been working with amazing bartenders for years, coming up with ways to incorporate tea into their drink menus–my first cocktail creation on a menu in Ann Arbor was over fifteen years ago,” McDonald said. “I work with several bartenders, in Ann Arbor and also throughout the United States, helping them find the perfect tea for their creation.”

Phil Attee from Mammoth Distilling works with McDonald to make new cocktails–McDonald said she is lucky he is as “nerdy” about his craft of distilling as she is with tea, and their strengths play off each other well.

The lapsang old fashioned and tea-infused gin and tonic are permanent TeaHaus drinks, but for special spring drinks McDonald said, “We went old school, clarifying milk and making shrubs!”

McDonald’s new book, “Tea for Dummies,” almost had a disastrous start–when she received the initial email from an acquisition editor at Wiley Publishing, she thought it was spam and deleted it. After receiving another email, she began questioning if it was spam, did some digging, and discovered the publishing company truly wanted her to write this book. 

McDonald set about writing the book with co-author Jill Rheimheimer, who writes the tea blog for TeaHaus and is an “incredible researcher and writer.”

“The process was a bit frustrating and very fast,” McDonald said. “The publisher had a very strict format and very old software–we had to produce formatted chapters quickly. Jill and I wrote parts on our own, then always came together to mash it up and smooth it out.”

The store has kept McDonald so busy that she hasn’t delved much into book promotions, but he said she is hopeful to do tea tasting classes and book signings soon! 

“Jill and I both love the educational aspect of tea, and enjoy doing tastings for both large and small groups,” McDonald said “Within the tea industry there are so many books, but this is one of the first mainstream tell-it-all-books.”

The content of the book is science-heavy, but with a light presentation. McDonald said she loves that there are multiple contributors to the book like Phil Attee (who wrote a chapter on tea and cocktails) and Natalie Marble (who contributed tea-infused recipes for the “cooking with tea” chapter).

McDonald notes the transition from having a full kitchen at TeaHaus to offering fewer meal items has been tough on a few regulars, but the overall reception has been fantastic. 

“I was a bit concerned with our decision to go electronic free and not offer WiFi,” McDonald said. “But seeing people draw, do puzzles, play games, and talk to each other has made it all worth it.”

Ann Arbor is often touted as a place that has a vibrant local business community, and TeaHaus’s new space is another beautiful addition to that community. 

“Buying ‘Tea for Dummies’ from us and not from Amazon, or getting a cup of tea from us and not from a big chain, is what makes us thrive,” McDonald said. “We are very lucky to be in an area that supports small businesses, and we hope people continue to do so!”

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