Strolling the Old Mesilla Plaza and meandering through the shops and boutiques is one of my favorite ways to spend a weekend. Over my 20 plus years living on the outskirts of Mesilla, I’ve experienced the excitement when new offerings open, and the disappointment when others shut their doors for good. So you can imagine my delight when, while standing out front of the San Albino Church, a new, brightly colored turquoise sign caught my eye.
I made a bee-line down the side street, eager to see what words were spelled out on the sign: Old Barrel Tea & Spice Co. The shop offered an enticing respite from the weather outside and a fragrant blend of herbs and spices filled the air. Friendly faces behind the counter, Raquel and Allison, asked if I’d like to sample the teas. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
First, Raquel gave me a chilled raspberry green tea, that had a divine berry smell and re-freshing taste . Next, I sampled a chilled blend of peppermint and lemongrass. They explained that this particular tea blend is beneficial for boosting my immune system as it’s anti-microbial as well as an anti-inflamatory. It was also great for releasing stress and regulating blood pressure. In fact, she directed me to a chart on their wall which spells out the wide range of ailments and health issues in which tea has been proven to be beneficial. (Considering that people have been sipping tea for its medicinal properties for almost 4,000 years, there’s got to be something to it.)
Since my tea experience thus far was pretty much limited to microwaving a mug of water and dunking in a bag, Raquel also filled me in on just how to brew the perfect cup or pot of tea. In addition to a variety of housewares and home items, OBTC naturally offers a full line of tea-related products, from whimsical infusers and mugs, to colorful tea pots in a variety of shapes and styles. Also available for purchase and sample are area-sourced honeys; I never knew there were so many varieties!
More intrigued than ever, I took advantage of Allison and Raquel’s friendly and open demeanors to discover a little more about Old Barrel Tea & Spice Company. Come to find out, OBTC is co-owned by the proprietors of another of my favorite nearby haunts, NM Vintage Wine & Cigars.
Husband and wife team Marshall McGinley and Morgan Switzer-McGinley took over the wine shop right across from the Fountain Theater in early 2016. They quickly revamped the space, expanded the wine and cigar menu, and added a diverse range of New Mexico-made beers.
Ready to branch out even further this year, Morgan connected with mother and daughter Dana and Bailey Hoffman, the founders of the original OBTC. Since opening up shop in Ruidoso in 2015, the Hoffman’s have since joined forces with Bailey’s sisters-in law to open two more OBTCs in Old Town Albuquerque and Cloudcroft. The fourth store, in Mesilla, is now the southern-most boutique in our state.
When other customers started trickling in, Raquel offered them tea and honey samples while I took the opportunity to peruse the store. As someone who is always on the lookout for new gift ideas, I was pleasantly surprised at all the possibilities. Long story short, I left with two canisters of tea in my shopping bag, along with a few other fun finds—a Bloody Mary mix spice mix, an herbal tea-infused bath sachet, and a piece of framed wall art for my kitchen that says it all perfectly: You, Me, and a Cuppa Tea.
WHAT’S AILING YOU?
One Cup of Tea, Coming Up!
If You’ve Got: Pain
Sip On: Rooibos. This naturally caffeine-free root is used medicinally all over Africa for natural pain relief and insomnia. Also helps with allergies, asthma, headaches, stomach cramps, and eczema.
If You’ve Got: Digestion Problems
Sip On: Pu-erh. This probiotic rich tea has a bold, musky flavor. It’s great for digestion, and also enhances mental alertness and circulation.
If You’ve Got: High Blood Pressure
Sip On: White Tea. The highest in antioxidants, this light, clean tea is also good for your skin, teeth, and gums. But you really can’t go wrong, most teas offer benefits for people suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
If You’ve Got: A Cold
Sip On: Green Tea. A longtime favorite for weight loss and diabetes, Green Tea is also antiviral and antibacterial. It’s also said to help with conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Stop in for a free tasting of teas and honeys:
2319 Calle de Santiago – Mesilla
Discover the sister locations:
2402 Sudderth Drive – Ruidoso
2041 South Plaza NW – Albuquerque
505 Burro Street, Suite 101 – Cloudcroft