Hale Tea Company, a local purveyor of imported gourmet teas, can trace its roots all the way back to 1872, when it once stood as a tiny teashop on Drury Lane in London, England.
Now, 140 years later, it's come a long way - both literally and metaphorically.
Owned and operated by Richmond Hill resident Lisa Brown and her family, the company provides specialty teas to businesses and tearooms across the United States and Canada.
Brown, who was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, purchased the company in 2003 from Clive Hale, the grandson of the company's original founder who had been operating the business in Savannah.
Brown first became interested in the tea industry when her parents, Richard and Thelma Considine, decided to move to Richmond Hill.
"My parents wanted to come to the United States, and my mom loves tea, so we started looking into the tea industry to find something for them to do here," said Brown. "In my research, I came across an English gentleman named Clive Hale who owned Hale Tea. He gave me a lot of advice, and we talked about the tea business. Eventually he told me he was looking to retire in a year, and I convinced him to sell early to me. "
Brown and her parents have since expanded the home-based business to include 65 blends of whole-leaf tea grown around the world and a line of specialty products, including tea-based cocktail mixes and accessories for brewing.
"We've been lucky," said Brown. "In these tough economic times, the specialty tea market has continued to grow, and we've benefited from that."
Brown, who also owns a consulting firm, said Hale Tea Company enjoys a diverse client base, selling tea on both the local and national levels.
"We sell a lot of our products to tea rooms around the country, but we also do a lot of local business. We sell our Savannah souvenir tea boxes at the Mercer-Williams House, the Owens-Thomas House and a number of other shops in downtown Savannah, and they do quite well."
Hale Tea Company is also one of the primary tea providers for the Tea Room on Broughton Street in Savannah and Zunzi's Takeout & Catering, a South African restaurant in Savannah.
Brown said her passion for tea stems from the beverage's versatility.
"You can incorporate tea into your life in so many ways. It's fun, it's tastes good, and you can do so much with it - I even cook with it. I'm happy to share recipes or host tea parties with anyone who's interested in learning more about it," she said. "I really love tea, and I also want people to understand and enjoy the health benefits."
Brown's personal favorite tea is a rooibos blend called Rising Sun.
"I drink it iced all day, and I just love it," she said. "Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, has many antioxidants and is low in tannins, so I enjoy that it tastes good and is good for me."
The Rising Sun blend and all of the company's other teas are available on its website, www.haletea.com, or by phone at 727-3993.