A new and sip-worthy vendor at Taste of Weaver’s this year on Saturday, June 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. is Pure Wild Tea based outside of Bernville at the northernwestern edge of Berks County. They will be providing free samples of their tea at the event!
Sherry Fuhrmann, owner of Pure Wild Tea, manages the business and several farm fields with collaborative efforts from about 30 family members and friends.
Weaver’s Orchard began selling her mint tea last summer—the market stocks her apple mint, chocolate mint, lemon balm and also unsweetened apple mint as well as unsweetened chocolate mint teas.
Sherry opened the business in 2013 but had the idea for it brewing well before. In fact, she’d always wanted to start a business with her mother who passed away in 1999.
Sipping tea in the summer is an endearing part of Sherry remembering her mother, who worked full-time and also farmed, just like Sherry’s father.
Customers express that same nostalgia once they try her mint tea, which carries them back to moments with their grandmothers, when days and life were simpler.
Steeped like tea leaves, mint tea is made from the leaves of mint plants Sherry grows across 16 acres—the majority is apple mint, but that’s just the name, which is said to come from the leaves smelling like apples when you stomp them down or crush them.
But thankfully, the chocolate mint does taste a bit like chocolate, deliciously so.
Apple mint is in the spearmint family, and chocolate mint is in the peppermint family.
“Pure Wild Tea is made using three simple ingredients—water, mint leaves and sugar to sweeten,” Sherry says. “The unsweetened teas are made with water and mint only.” Having only three ingredients is important because it highlights the fact it is made using natural ingredients free of synthetic chemicals.
Free of preservatives, too, “the shelf-life on the sweetened mint tea is 8 months, and the shelf life on the unsweetened mint tea is 4 months,” Sherry adds.
She also grows strawberry mint, and is test-growing future flavors like licorice mint and banana mint.
“We have been vacuum-sealing and freezing mint for the last three years so our customers can have our teas throughout the winter,” Sherry says. “In January, we built a greenhouse and planted apple mint inside it so that we can have fresh mint during the winter. We will continue to vacuum-seal mint to make sure we can meet customer demand.”
In the past year, several local school districts began carrying her new and customized mint tea to work within the requirements of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service.
Now, school districts in Hamburg, Tulpehocken, Boyertown, and Conrad Weiser are carrying Barely Sweet Mint Tea prepared by Sherry’s family.
And it may be somewhat hard to believe, but Sherry is also a fourth grade teacher at Tilden Elementary Center in Hamburg, on top of running her mint tea business and taking care of her family.
“I was raised by parents who worked continuously, wearing many hats,” she reflects. “I am a product of my parents. I had been teaching for 10 years before I started to put my plan into action to start Pure Wild Tea.”
And her job as a teacher is a benefit to the business, even though it means she works all day and night sometimes throughout part of the year.
“The beauty of my business is that when I have my summers off, I can concentrate on growing Pure Wild Tea, and then in the winter, the business is slower, and I am then back to school,” she says. “Having my summers off was a great start to starting my business.”
It began with Sherry and her children planting 1,200 flats of mint one summer.
And with the three-dozen or so loved ones who are a part of supporting this family-run business, the payback is in being there for each other when help is needed in digging for and installing pipes to hook up to town sewer, adding shingles on a roof, butchering (steers, pigs, chickens, etc.), baling hay, putting motors in vehicles, welding, helping to move out of old homes and into new ones, cutting trees to build a log house, cementing stone around a house and more.
“I have had help with plowing, field-discing, planting, harvesting, spring cleaning the fields, processing for large events and helping at events like festivals,” Sherry says.
Sherry sees strong parallels between Weaver’s Orchard and her own family, too.
“I am the oldest of four children, and we worked together as a family to complete all farm chores,” she adds. “We were never afraid of work, and when you live on a farm and plant crops, there is always something to do.”
She also appreciates the traditions and lessons she took away from growing up on a farm, including canning and butchering.
“I am sure the Weavers were raised similar to me,” she Sherry says. “Their beautiful orchards and many acres all require a love for the outdoors, plants, hard work and traditions they have learned from their parents, too. There is a special satisfaction when you can see the bounty created by using your hands and hours of hard work.”
In addition to sampling her mint teas at Taste of Weaver’s, Sherry has another fun aspect for customers this Saturday.
“I will also be conducting a survey to see weather banana mint or licorice mint will be my next Pure Wild Tea beverage,” she says.