WEST FARGO - For Jerry Hintz, tea is not only his livelihood, it's his lifestyle.
The owner of Steep Me a Cup of Tea, which opened last month at 3139 Bluestem Drive in West Fargo, says he began making significant lifestyle changes years ago. One of those changes involved studying the restorative properties of tea, which convinced him to open the first store in Bismarck with his wife, Terisina, in 2008.
Hintz, who blends the teas himself, says he attended classes in several different states to learn as much as he could about tea and the tradition of it. Other brands of tea are also available for purchase.
"We're really here for the education of tea," Hintz says. "We blend teas that are tasty and still offer wellness properties. We can make any tea hot or cold in store, but what we really want is for people to be drinking our tea in their homes, at work and at school."
Many people shy away from tea because of the process of steeping, but Hintz compares making a cup of tea to taking a bath, whereas making coffee is like taking a shower.
"That's why we don't have a clock in either of our stores - we don't want people to stress about time when they come in," Hintz says.
Steep Me a Cup of Tea also doesn't have a drive-thru window for the same reason. But people are welcome to call ahead to ensure their cup of tea is steeped before they arrive.
"You lose the educational opportunity with a drive-thru," Hintz says.
With approximately 200 different teas to choose from, the opportunity to learn about something new is ever present. Some products are designed specifically for women, like the Hitch blend, Hintz says. It contains herbs to improve physical recovery and sexual health, as well as reduce anxiety and inflammation.
Swamp is designed for men, with herbs to improve blood flow and heart health. It contains crushed Trinidad scorpion pepper, the hottest pepper in the world.
"It has some heat in it, but it's killing cholesterol with it," Hintz says.
While experimenting with different blends of teas, Hintz considers it complete when at least 60 percent of customers have positive results.
A cup of tea ranges from $4 to $9, while a 4-ounce canister runs anywhere from $14.95 to $61.95. The cost varies based on the herbs used, Hintz says. Steep Me teas can also be purchased in canisters smaller than 4 ounces.
Teas made in the store are only sweetened if the customer requests it, and a variety of dairy and non-dairy sweeteners are available.
Part of the educational component rests on Steep Me staff members, Hintz says, who have to ask customers questions to learn about their wellness goals or any health issues they would like to remedy.
"We start from there and make recommendations," he says. "We can't cure cancer or heal a broken bone, but we have teas that can help with pain management, take the edge off a sprain, help you fall asleep, or help you get up in the morning. We have something for everybody if they're willing to try it."
What: Steep Me a Cup of Tea
Where: 3139 Bluestem Drive Suite 100, West Fargo
Hours: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, closed Sundays
Contact: (701) 412-2929
Living the lifestyle
Health and wellness is the backbone of Steep Me a Cup of Tea, so Hintz says he and his wife are working with local organizations to promote a healthy lifestyle. He is talking with the owner of Fargo Running Company to possibly offer a host site for the company's regularly scheduled runs.
Once staffing and training is settled at the store, Hintz says he would like to host a fundraiser in conjunction with a grand opening to benefit a local nonprofit. He's also talking with Beans Coffee Bar about hosting events together, thanks to their close proximity on Veterans Boulevard.
"Fargo holds a lot of promise for us," Hintz says. "This community is a big supporter of fitness and wellness."