The history of Craft Tea

Musical instruments collected from around the world.

Musical instruments collected from around the world.

TL;DR: I traveled, collected tea, then invited friends over for tea blends paired with vinyl.
— Mike the Tea Guy
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I used to travel the world, but now i’m an herbal tea alchemist...

I was a long haired, big bearded security guard working at a music venue when a dream job opened up for a giant corporation. The work itself wasn’t anything to brag about, but it sent you EVERYWHERE. It was too good of an opportunity to let pass, so I buzzed my hair, shaved my Cast Away beard, and joined the machine.

Before my first trip, my co-workers advised me to collect something on my trips. Some collect magnets; others shot glasses. I collected musical instruments. Only problem? I never learned to play a guitar, so how was I expected to pluck a Turkish baglama?? I decided to experiment with kava-kava - a Polynesian muscle relaxer nicknamed “the root of happiness.” It was recommended to me at a place called Smile Herb Shop.

The kava didn’t teach me any chords, but it sure did put me in a world where they didn’t matter. It was primitive, raw, and real. When it came to music, kava eliminated the middle man between my brain and fingers and let me access cosmic-like areas of my mind never explored. It also heightened my sense of hearing, so regardless of what I was playing, I was having a blast hearing it!

Kava must be a gateway herb, because I headed back to Smile for more. They gave me holy basil, skullcap, & passionflower - herbs that would become staples for blends in the years to come.

The effects were there, but the taste was rough. My mad scientist method wasn’t helping. Sprinkling herbs of all kinds into a large pot of boiling water with no rhyme or reason typically yielded brutal results. “It needs honey” was never said… It ALWAYS needed honey.

Halfway through the year, I found myself at an herb shop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The clerk recommended something more than qualified to join my team of “feel good herbs.” This led to my new travel collection: herbs & tea.

First Craft Tea order; November 2014

First Craft Tea order; November 2014

The next few months brought me to India and China, where I bought darjeeling and blooming jasmine teas. It wasn’t like the tea back home… This tasted great. Here I was jamming to herbs that tasted like a tree with teeth, when this whole time I could’ve been treating my taste buds!

Years went by and I kept collecting: rooibos in Jo’burg, Moroccan mint in Casablanca, Turkish tea in Istanbul, and yerba mate in Argentina. They all had unique tastes and made me feel good.

Years of travel started to take their toll though... I had friends living ten miles away that I’d only see twice a year. When it came time to our semi-annual hangout we’d go to a bar which made communication difficult - how do you catch up when you’re shouting at each other over bar noise?

So, I began inviting friends over for an alternative hangout… I’d put on a warm record and brew a blend from my latest travels. It made for an enriching experience – tea is an excellent way to bond with a friend!

My time as a globetrotter was coming to an end. I took a nasty fall in the Philippines which resulted in a superficial clot in my leg. I can’t think of a scarier pair of words to a frequent flyer than “blood clot.”

My traveling days were over, but I still had a world of inspiration and didn’t want to waste that energy in another cubicle. I wanted to use it to create something that helped people relax and have a good time, but still be healthy and hip. Something warm and friendly. I wanted to… Craft Tea.

Mike the Tea Guy at the DC Record Fair hosted at Penn Social. January 2017

Mike the Tea Guy at the DC Record Fair hosted at Penn Social. January 2017


Years later, and I’m still here blending and packaging everything by hand. Things look a bit slicker than before, and the passion keeps burning. I’ve got a line-up of classics and can’t quit crafting special new ones. I love coming up with new blends based on the things I love – whether that be a musician, a movie, or a cute animal. Plus, it’s a good excuse to add another record to the arsenal…

My friends – specifically Billi, Other O’Brien, and Alyssa – have been a tremendous help and the reason the packaging comes out so well. I’ve even made new friends – musicians and business owners - because of the tea, which I suppose accomplishes the initial mission: bring people together with vinyl and tea.

I love what I do and I invite you to share in the experience. Pick up a couple teas, call up some friends, grab some records, and let the good times roll!

Mike the Tea Guy at Mt Airy Village Fair; September 2018

Mike the Tea Guy at Mt Airy Village Fair; September 2018