Feast Magazine: Drink To Your Health with St. Louis-based Avocado Leaf Tea
If you’ve never heard of avocado leaf tea, you’re not alone. St. Louis natives Sharon Colona and Scott Wibbenmeyer only learned about avocado leaf tea, which has been used medicinally for thousands of years, when they bought a second home in Temecula, California, located in a flourishing valley between Los Angeles and San Diego.
In addition to a stunning view, the land had an avocado grove. Once the couple decided that they were, in fact, ready to become avocado farmers, Colona threw herself into the passion project, researching avocados and reading every study she could find about the health benefits of the little-known leaves. Containing calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc, avocado leaves are also an excellent source of fiber, terpenes, serotonin and antioxidants such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
When Colona tried avocado leaf tea for the first time, she jokes that she expected it to taste horrible considering how healthy it is; instead, she found the tea to be smooth and rustic. Now, every cup takes her back to her family’s avocado grove and the fresh scent of the verdant trees.
For months, Colona and Wibbenmeyer worked with tea masters and testing facilities to ensure that the process they used to pick, store and mill the avocado leaves maintained their medicinal integrity. Finally, they were ready to share their avocado leaf tea with the world.
Avocado Leaf Tea launched its line of teas at the World Tea Conference + Expo. “I didn’t know what I was getting into,” says Colona. “Everyone was giving out samples. Other tables had tea warmers that kept the tea at the perfect temperature, clear teapots, beautiful displays; we had a black coffee pot and a white tablecloth. We looked like a disaster. I thought, ‘Oh no, we’re going to come in last – if there is something worse than last, we’re going to get that.’ But we won the People’s Choice Award. It was like getting an Emmy.”
After that, the accolades kept coming. In 2019, Avocado Leaf Tea won bronze at the Global Tea Championship, propelling the business toward more success. Soon, the company also received mentions in trade publications and The New York Times.
Avocado Leaf Tea’s products are available in approximately 80 stores nationwide, including Straub’s Markets in St. Louis, as well as online. The herbal tea comes in five varieties: natural, lemon, peach, chamomile and black tea. The natural avocado leaf tea has a delicate flavor with earthy notes and a warm reddish color.
Overnight success has made it challenging to keep every flavor in stock, but if your favorite isn’t available, just check back later.
Everything at Avocado Leaf Tea is intentional – even the packaging. The tea sachets that hold the handpicked leaves are shaped like a pyramid, allowing more room for the tea leaves to expand and release more flavor; plus, you can use each sachet twice and still achieve a full-flavored cup. Containing no plastics or microplastics, the sachets are biodegradable for natural decomposition in 30 days, and all of the containers are recyclable. In the future, the company also plans to launch a line of loose-leaf teas.
From knowing nothing about tea – and barely ever drinking it – to owning a burgeoning herbal tea company, Colona and Wibbenmeyer have been on quite the journey in the last few years. The venture has been a labor of love for the husband-and-wife team, and they just hope you take to the tea as much as they have.
“It’s really good tea,” says Colona. “Whenever I take a sip, I think, ‘This is a great cup of tea.’ I know, everybody thinks their baby is beautiful, [but] the recognition at the World Tea Expo really boosted our confidence.”
Avocado Leaf Tea is based in St. Louis, and the leaves for its avocado leaf tea are harvested in California. Pick up the tea at Straub’s Markets in St. Louis or order it online.