Doehrn Tea Company: Brewing the Perfect Cup

By Amelia Blades Steward

If you are looking for the makings of a perfect cup of tea this summer, visit The Doehrn Tea Company in Oxford. This new Maryland cottage food business venture opened by Monika Mraz focuses on creating a tea-loving community that enjoys delicious high-quality loose-leaf teas and tisanes (herbal teas).

Monika Mraz, owner of The Doehrn Tea Company in Oxford, stands in front of her large display of loose-leaf teas.

Monika’s mother is of German heritage, so every afternoon around 3 to 4 p.m. while the family lived in England, her mother would have a neighbor come over for tea and cake, or coffee and cake. Her German grandmother did the same thing.

“I’m realizing this ritual was built-in without me consciously knowing it. It wasn’t until my parents lived in Prague when I was in college, that I became acquainted with loose-leaf teas.  When we visited my mom’s friend Doris in Salzburg, Austria, we always frequented a tea shop that sold loose-leaf tea. It was fascinating how she sold the tea loose from ancient wooden drawers and put it in a brown paper bag for me. That planted the seed for me,” Monika shares.

Monika earned her MBA at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where she also did thorough research about “afternoon tea” in some of the best tea rooms on the British Isles. She also learned a thing or two about business along the way. Throughout her career, she has also worked as a fundraiser for international non-profit organizations, taking her to far-reaching locales where she always seeks out the local tea culture.

Her website, www.doehrntea.com, shares many facts about tea, including that tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water. The site shares that tea is a simple preparation of pouring hot water over cured leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. The first recording of tea described it as a medicinal beverage in China in the 3rd century AD. Merchants helped its popularity to spread quickly across continents. In the early 19th century, Great Britain popularized the concept of afternoon tea, a break from one’s routine in which tea is served alongside sandwiches and baked goods such as scones.

Monika’s tea shop garden.

According to the website, the flavor of tea varies by where the tea leaves are harvested and how they are grown and processed. Black tea is the most popular worldwide, followed by green, oolong, and white tea. Black tea is known for its robust and bold flavors, often featuring a full-bodied taste with notes that can range from malty and fruity to floral and smoky, depending on the specific type and origin of the tea. Green tea is popular worldwide and has a long history, particularly in East Asian countries like China, Japan, and Korea, and is known for its numerous health benefits. White tea has a subtle and delicate flavor profile, often described as floral, sweet, and slightly grassy. Oolong tea is a type of traditional Chinese tea that occupies a unique place between green tea and black tea.

According to Monika, herbal teas are not made from the Camellia plant but from dried herbs, spices, flowers, fruit, seeds, roots, or leaves of other plants; they do not typically contain caffeine as do traditional teas. The quality of tea can vary greatly depending on factors such as the tea leaves’ origin, processing techniques, and storage conditions.

“I’ve always wanted to open a good quality loose tea shop. When I would come down to Oxford to visit my parents for the 10 years when I was in New York, I realized if I didn’t bring my own tea, there was no good, loose-leaf tea shop anywhere on the Eastern Shore,” she recalls.

In 2023, Monika and her mother decided to renovate a room on the side of their home, which had previously been her father’s workshop, and create a tea shop. The shop’s William Morris wallpaper, Turkish rugs, tea canisters, and antique cups and saucers on display speak to the origins of tea and create a cozy welcoming atmosphere to explore the many loose-tea blends that the shop offers.

The tea shop features a collection of antique teacups and saucers on display.

“All our teas are loose-leaf which means you will need a filter, strainer, or infuser to enjoy a cup or pot of our tea. We bet you have one in a bottom drawer your grandmother gave you, but you never knew what to do with it. Many of our teas are also organic or organic-compliant whenever possible,” adds Monika.

All the teas on display in the shop just scream to be brewed with names like almond shortbread, carrot cake (one of my personal favorites), cranberry turmeric, elderflower melon, ginger pear, and golden monkey. There are also more traditional blends like Earl Grey and English Breakfast.

Monika’s favorite tea at the moment is her fruit bowl tea because it’s light, especially for the summer. This tea features passion fruit and dried papayas in its blend.

“Tea blenders start with black, green, or white tea as the base and then add flavor elements like lavender, mint, chamomile, jasmine, bergamot oil, vanilla, ginger, and citrus peel – to name a few of the more traditional. All tea is from the same plant. It’s where it’s grown, when it’s picked, how it’s picked, and how it’s processed that gives the tea its variation of flavors,” she explains.

“I like loose-leaf teas because you can control it. I brew tea at 195 degrees and steep it for three minutes for the perfect cup of tea,” Monika shares. People then add sugar, honey, milk, and lemon depending on their personal preferences.

Monika named the business The Doehrn Tea Company after her German heritage, paying special homage to her German Oma. She purchases her tea from a German distributor that’s been around since the 1800s. The Doehrn Tea Company sells its teas at craft shows, Christmas markets, and farmers’ markets in Easton and Centreville.

Two-ounce bags of loose teas range in price from $10 to $20 a bag. The online shop also offers a tea gift box for $40, which includes three one-ounce teas, a filter, a short canister, a tea scoop, two cookies, and two Doehrn Tea coasters. Boxes can also be customized with such additions as your choice of tea, a mug, a 16-ounce teapot, and a tea towel.

“I love how young my clients are at the farmers’ markets. This age group is very well-traveled and appreciates my logo and brand, which has ties to Europe. I think that draws them in or appeals to them because this generation is about new experiences and loose tea can provide that,” she adds.

Monika enjoys the shop’s location in Oxford because it is the destination for many to come and explore the town. She adds, “I also love that in 1784, Robert Morris from Oxford, financed the first ship, the Empress of China, to bring tea back to America from China, bypassing the British tea companies completely. That’s a neat connection to our area.”

Shoppers can purchase Doehrn Teas online at https://www.doehrntea.com, at a pop-up shop, or by calling 202-320-1110 or emailing Monika to arrange an appointment at DoehrnTea@gmail.com. The shop is located at 106 Jacks Point Road in Oxford, and is open on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The entrance is around the back of the house.

Did you know . . . “Orange Pekoe” tea was named after the Dutch Royal family – the House of Orange – because it was the best quality of tea imported reserved for the Royal family.

 

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