What’s the secret to living longer?
Preston Powell, the founder of Rockland County’s Teagevity, has the answer and it’s not money, but a quaint bundle of herbs and spices.
In other words, tea.
A beverage that’s been around for thousands of years, tea makes its local mark in the lower Hudson Valley with Powell leading the charge. As the name of his company suggests, Teagevity believes that tea is the key to longevity and a contented life overall.
Powell takes pride in his humble tea business; however, his past was not quite as calming as the herbs found in his blends.
After growing up on Long Island, Powell spent his early career in the music industry. He began as a DJ, playing shows in New York City, and eventually owned his very own night club in Sag Harbor. It was a fast lifestyle hosting parties and booking notable artists like Madonna, Billy Joel, and popular reggae bands. Marketing, loud music, and bright lights were the formula for a great time at first, but the lifestyle eventually wore him down. So, he began to look for a new home to settle down and relax, with a hot cup of tea in hand.
In 2000, Powell moved his family to Rockland County to de-stress. Finding peace in martial arts, he decided to open a non-for-profit dojo. He trained, taught, and started to investigate the medicinal effects of different herbs while creating his own tea blends for his students. They enjoyed the blends so much that they suggested he start selling them. Powell shrugged the recommendation off at first, but, after discussion with his wife and family, he realized how tea could be his next endeavor.
“One day my wife and I were discussing life longevity and when she said ‘longevity,’ I said, ‘that’s it, Teagevity,’” Powell recalls.
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In December 2010, he and his family launched Teagevity in the Hudson Valley. Having witnessed the stresses of managing a night club, Powell decided that his business would not have a set location, but would be a moving kiosk, or a “teaosk” as Powell terms it. Teagevity’s first set-up was a simple table on Nyack’s Main Street in front of his friend Meg’s eyeglass shop. He sold tea for a dollar a cup throughout the snowy Hudson Valley winter. Now, the company has branched out and found a comfortable home at farmers’ markets in Irvington, Nyack, Pleasantville, and Ramsey, New Jersey.
Preparing for farmers’ markets is a lot of work, but Powell loves the routine. A normal day involves arriving at his commercial kitchen by 2 a.m. to begin brewing his twelve varieties of tea. He then has to transport the teas to the farmers’ market while making sure they maintain their proper temperatures throughout the day. Teagevity has amassed a great following at farmers’ markets and continues to grow at its new, dedicated location.
In the lower-Valley, Teagevity is the first business to set up a stand on the Rockland side of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. It sells hot and cold tea blended onsite for visitors traversing the walking and biking path that connects to Westchester County. One of its most popular teas is the Turmeric Thai, which combines turmeric, black pepper, anise, and black tea for a refreshing hot or cold drink. For anyone under the weather, the hot green tea with lemongrass is the way to go.
“People come off walking that bridge and they’re so happy and then they see us, blowing in the wind, like an oasis,” Powell explains.
With COVID-19 disrupting local businesses, Powell was fearful of the future for his small tea company. However, his family persevered and continued to sell. The Pleasantville Farmers’ Market, one of the locations at which Powell sells, remained open during the pandemic, and Teagevity lovers continued to flock the teaosk. Powell and his family also set up an online store, along with local delivery, for those looking to buy two-ounce bags of tea. In all, he says the feedback and support have been incredible.
“My wife and kids would sit down and pack these boxes and it would look like Hanukkah or Christmas. You would get everything hand wrapped with little ribbons and a thank you note,” says Powell.
For now, he plans to continue to sell his tea online, although he also hopes to launch a historical site in the future. His grandfather, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., was the first black congressman from New York. Clayton Powell, Jr. had a cottage in Martha’s Vineyard, which Preston now owns. Eventually, he would like to open it for visits, much like at the Mount Gulian Historic Site in Beacon, to allow locals to absorb the history of the space and the antiques and, of course, have a cup of tea on the porch after the tour.