Mashell Brown spends her summers serving samples of tea and medicinal knowledge at the Chillicothe Farmers Market with the help of her husband, Dan. The couple makes the hour-long drive each week from Gallipolis, where Dan grew up. There, he owns a Nationwide Insurance office filled with the warm aroma of black teas mingled with brighter floral and fruity blends that are bagged and labeled on a high wooden table every Sunday.
The couple is in its third year of running A Pup and a Cup Tea Company, and already has enough regular customers to stay busy between October and May. During the winter months, the farmers market booths go into storage, and A Pup and a Cup must find sales elsewhere.
Shops in both Gallipolis and Chillicothe feature A Pup and a Cup teas throughout the year, but Mashell also receives orders by phone and through the business’s Facebook page, where customers can make online purchases through the Square platform.
Repeat orders are common for the Browns, but they also receive special requests for teas they don’t already have in stock.
New and regular requests often come in the form of health questions, Mashell says, and she has customers who go a step further than simply drinking the nutrients. Becky Pasquale, the director of the Our House Museum in Gallipolis, follows historical recipes, but steeps tea purchased from the Browns into the amount of water each recipe recommends.
“During the holiday time, [customers] are more apt to buy the soap because of the tea,” she says. “I don’t know why, but maybe it’s because of the holiday smell. It smells like home.”
Mashell’s friend who was battling cancer sought medical advice to revitalize her body. Her doctor advised her that she “needs good things going into her body along with the chemo drugs,” Mashell says. She started using matcha powder in a recipe for icing, which she puts on her bran muffins.
The powder, made from baby tea leaves grown only in the shade, contains 137 percent more antioxidants than regular green tea and doesn’t react with the chemotherapy drugs. Her cancer is now in remission, and the matcha icing helps support her immune system.
Research and Revitalize
Other tea blends require more research from Mashell. Her customers trust her advice on the medicinal value, not just the flavor profiles of the teas. One customer brings her prescriptions to the farmers’ market so Mashell can match them with information from the tea books she takes with her every week.
Beyond carrying tea books, Mashell regularly consults medicinal websites she trusts before advising customers because some tea and medicine combinations can be unhealthy and, in some situations, dangerous.
She has only encountered one potential customer who criticized her for wanting to confirm her knowledge, but most of A Pup and a Cup’s customers commend her commitment to improving her medicinal knowledge and helping others develop their health and understanding as well.