Stonington tea company goes to the Emmys

Posted Aug. 30, 2013, at 1:23 p.m.
Last modified Aug. 30, 2013, at 1:50 p.m.

STONINGTON, Maine — When TV’s biggest stars walk the red carpet at the Emmys next month, a taste of Maine will be part of the glamorous swag bags nominees take home.

This week, teas from Stonington’s Tempest in a Teapot were selected to be included as parting gifts at the 65th award ceremony that will be televised on CBS Sept. 22.

The owners of the small startup were shocked when they got the news.

“I thought it was a hoax,” said Jennifer Larrabee, who launched the loose-leaf tea company with friend Sarah Burrin a year and a half ago.

Their blends of traditional teas with local herbs such as rugosa rose hips, which they grow on Deer Isle and procure from farmers, caught the attention of Tinseltown. Tempest in a Teapot makes over 13 blends from Earl Grey to peony tea with blueberry, sweet mango and lime.

Local sourcing and vintage labeling — photos of Victorian-era woman in flirty poses — elevated Tempest in a Teapot over thousands of nationwide products, the owners said.

“We are a very small company owned by two stay-at-home moms. For us to be asked to do this is an incredible opportunity for us and our community,” said Larrabee. “We are ecstatic.”

Being part of celebrity gifts at award ceremonies is not new for Maine companies says Tammy Knight, program manager for MaineMade.com.The website that features 1,700 state-made products is a clearinghouse for local goods and where the “Tea Ladies” were discovered.

“This is great for Maine Made. This shows members of the program that people from away are looking at the site. It helps,” said Knight.

Next week the women are throwing a pack party to allow neighbors to get in on the festivities. Friends will help them assemble 80 gift boxes made up of two teas.

“Everyone wants to touch the tea that celebrities will touch,” said Larrabee.

They are keeping the exact teas they will be sending under wraps for now. But on the night of the awards ceremony, a line of Emmy teas will be launched at The Factory Tavern in Stonington, where Tempest is throwing a party.

For a startup funded by two mothers on $500 and a prayer, the recent development is edifying.

“It really solidifies our decision to jump in the waters and go for it. It means we will have a level of exposure that we would have not have normally,” said Larrabee, 35.

In the year and a half Tempest has been open, “we’ve grown astronomically,” she said.

Should the Stonnington tea make it on primetime?

“We will be dancing in our living room,” Larrabee said.

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