There’s nothing more soothing than a cup of tea.
The myriad of health benefits from the antioxidant-rich beverage have been recognized for centuries. Hudson Valley tea drinkers flock to local tearooms pour delicious mood-boosting and health-supporting teas. For afternoon teatime, non-traditionalists may opt for green matcha lattes, CBD-infused chamomile, or artisanal boba.
Ricci Tea, a Rockland County startup, sources loose-leaf from tea plantations all over the globe. Alexa Ricci, owner and founder, brings the flavors of India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Brazil, and Japan to the Hudson Valley.
Ricci—a Hudson Valley native—meticulously selects ethically grown, organically compliant, and all-natural teas from her Nyack office. The wide scope of countries allows Ricci Tea to highlight unique herbs, flowers, and other ingredients that can support personal health.
“We use different wellness blends to promote arthritis relief, support immune system, and more. In Belly Becalm and Digestive Blue, digestion-aiding ingredients include peppermint, ginger, gentian root, fennel, and burdock root,” Ricci explains. “Many of these herbs have been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times.”
Customers can search teas by wellness effect. Anything from sleep and memory to energy and focus has its own dedicated Ricci Tea blend. In the arthritis blend, Head to Toes, turmeric and dandelion leaves help to relieve joint pain and reduce inflammation. Many of the teas also feature adaptogens—herbal superfoods. Holy basil, goji berries, and rosehips round out a few of the natural body-stabilizing ingredients.
A renewed focus on self-care inspired Ricci Tea. Ricci decided she was going to start her own business when she lost her job. Her role as a corporate business travel sales manager for a renowned hospitality company was rendered obsolete during the height of COVID-19 travel restrictions. These challenges caused a spike in stress levels and anxiety.
“I felt that my health was compromised,” Ricci says. She was always a tea drinker, but, when faced with a public health crisis, she dove deeper into the world of wellness teas. “This led me to find the highest quality teas from harvests all around the world. When you drink tea with certain herbs, there can be immense calming qualities. I wanted to share my self-care routine and help others improve their psychological and physical well-being.”
To make Ricci Tea a reality, she had to wear every hat imaginable. Website designer, revenue manager, social media strategist, inventory manager—the list is endless. It was a challenge, but, with the help of her husband, Marco, Alexa Ricci brought her own business to life.
“I became more well-rounded as an individual, and I’ve really learned what works and what doesn’t work,” she explains.
Ricci Tea doesn’t have a storefront yet—Ricci does have an office in town—but it doesn’t need one. Ricci Tea ships all of its products directly to Hudson Valley homes, as well as to residences nationwide. A virtual-only model forced Ricci to make the website as informative and user-friendly as possible, catering to work-from-home lifestyles.
For each tea, Ricci Tea includes flavor notes, ingredients and their origins, caffeine levels, proper brewing temperatures, and more. Part of Ricci’s passion includes educating people on anything from the best diffusers to proper steep times for loose-leaf teas.
Her YouTube channel—tagline “Steep into Tranquility”—serves as tea-drinking 101. In her “How To” series, Ricci explains how to make cold brew, the best matcha tips, and more.
“I experimented with steeping different teas at different times to provide the best results for customers. For example, it is a general guideline that black, rooibos, and chai teas steep four to five minutes. Delicate teas, like white, green, and oolong, only steep for two to three minutes,” Ricci says.
A novice tea drinker may wonder, “Why choose loose leaf?” In the loose-leaf tea format, tea leaves expand and unfold, extending the most complex flavors and nutrients into water. A cup of loose-leaf tea often showcases nuanced notes better than one made from a tightly packed tea bag.
More flavorful, more nutritious, more customizable—the benefits are certainly alluring. Loose leaf tea drinkers often adopt the practice as a hobby and a calming ritual, akin to vinyl record collectors and yoga experts. The act of brewing tea serves as light meditation, and can provide a much-needed respite from daily stressors.
Thus, Ricci envisions a pay-it-forward experience. That’s why Ricci Tea developed a line of gift boxes for tea drinkers to share daily moments of tranquility with their friends and family. “Get Well,” “Housewarming,” and “Work From Home” are just a few of the themed collections. Ricci curates the assortments herself.
For instance, “Housewarming” provides a balanced variety of teas, perfect for beginners. During the summer months, the “Refreshing” gift box features fruit-forward teas like strawberry-kiwi and peach-apricot. Taster boxes also introduce loose-leaf newbies to entire categories, like oolong, rooibos, and more.
Above all, Ricci wants tea to improve others’ lives the way it improved hers.
“People can explore different categories of tea types that they may have never tried before, as they expand their palates,” Ricci says. “I wanted to include different functionality teas in our collections….All teas are high in antioxidants, which is a great reason why everyone should drink it.”