Tea by Light of Day
By Megan Westers

Walk in the door of the Light of Day Organics tea shop, and the first thing you’ll notice is the smell. Rose, lavender, lemon and other fragrances make the first step in the door a sensory one. They emanate from whatever tea is being packaged and subtly scent a guests’ first impression.

“We always have soothing and calming music on. We want the experience of coming into our shop to be as fully sensory as possible,” said Angela Macke, owner of Light of Day Organics. Macke is putting Michigan on the tea map with her Traverse City-based tea farm and shop.

The world collectively drinks about six billion cups of tea per day, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Much of world’s tea is grown in tropical and subtropical environments, in regions of Kenya, Sri Lanka and China, among others, but tea farms are increasingly appearing on U.S. soils. Seventeen states now support one or more, according to World of Tea (worldoftea.org), a leading online blog on the subject. In Michigan, there is only one.

 

Macke’s involvement with tea began in 1993 during her last year of nursing school. She was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and wasn’t happy with the results of using prescribed medications. She decided to take control of her health using a more natural approach.

“I moved to Maui to study alternative medicine,” said Macke, a native of Whitehall. “Instead of medicine being created in a lab to represent a plant, we worked with plants that actually work in nature.”

In 2002, she circled back to working with plants and began growing and making tea as a hobby, gifting tea to family and friends during the holidays. But when she decided to donate some tea to a conference she was attending, a restauranteur approached her about purchasing her tea for her new business.

“I agreed to take on this one account,” Macke said. A business was born. It soon grew to supplying food co-ops, farmers markets and others. Light of Day Organics now offers more than 60 tea varieties, about 60 percent of which are grown and processed on-site. Her offerings range from classic green, black and white teas, to more unique, specialty teas like Matcha, Oolong and Pu-erh.
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