By Paula Weinman
Taylor alum Teresa Peterson ('05) had intended to become a teacher. As an elementary education major, Teresa enjoyed helping people learn, and she was eager to start teaching after graduation.
A couple months after her graduation, she and her husband Daniel decided to move to the Dominican Republic so Teresa could do just that. Little did she know that five and a half years later, she and Daniel would be returning to Upland: not to teach, but to start a local agricultural business called Creator's Glory Herbs.
In the Dominican Republic, Teresa developed an interest in herbal remedies and salves. After her oldest son Jeremiah, 5, was born, she began researching the medicinal properties of various herbs. As an avid tea-drinker, this piqued her interest in herbal tea-blending.
After her oldest son Jeremiah, 5, was born, Teresa began researching the medicinal properties of various herbs. As an avid tea-drinker, this piqued her interest in herbal tea-blending.
When she and Daniel returned to Indiana in 2010, Victory Acres offered Teresa the opportunity to join its Growing Growers' program. The program sponsored new agricultural businesses and allowed Teresa to incorporate her casual interest into a business of her own.
Although Creator's Glory Herbs is a team effort between Teresa and Daniel, the responsibility for creating new teas falls to Teresa.
The blending process is not as straightforward as it may sound. Inspiration for new teas can spring from anywhere, but finding the right flavor requires research, time and lots of hot water.
Sometimes-as in the case of Teresa's fall spice blend-it also requires scouring through a cookbook.
"I kept thinking, 'What is fall spice?'" Teresa said. "I had to look at an apple pie recipe and a pumpkin pie recipe to figure it out. "
Teresa's fall spice blend contains all the flavors familiar to pumpkin and apple pie enthusiasts: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves.
Once Teresa finds the right ingredients, she works on balancing the proportions of each flavor in the blends. She spends hours mixing and measuring dried herbs into different blends. She then brews samples of each blend, searching for just the right flavor. It's a challenge that takes over the kitchen.
"Usually when I'm trying a new tea, I have lots of little Tupperwares with different trial (brews) sitting all around the house," Teresa said, laughing. "I make the teas to my taste, and I typically go for the stronger flavors."
Occasionally, one blend inspires another. After finishing her fall spice, Teresa decided to create a tea she calls Apple Pie Spice Tea. This was a particularly challenging case.
Many large tea companies use artificial or laboratory flavoring to give their fruit teas distinctive fruity flavors, but Teresa is committed to using just plants. This meant she needed to create an Apple Pie Spice tea-without using apples.
The answer to Teresa's problem wasn't in a cookbook. This time, she relied on her herbal knowledge to maintain the integrity of her ingredients and the quality of her flavors.
"I needed to give it the fruitiness of apple pie," Teresa said. "And I thought of rosehip. It's in the same family as the apple, and it gave the tea that fruity flavor."
One of Teresa's favorite teas is her Red Ginger Dusk tea, which features strong, spicy flavors like cinnamon and ginger. This time, her inspiration came from bold flavors of the Dominican Republic.
"It's a very robust tea," Teresa said. "It's very similar to a tea served in the Dominican Republic, except they serve it very sweet."
Teresa makes sweetened blends using Stevia, a natural low-calorie sweetener that is sugar-free. Stevia is available in most supermarkets as a bleached white powder, but Teresa uses whole leaves from her own Stevia plant.
Teresa has started selling her teas online, but the majority of sales come from farmers' markets. According to Teresa and Daniel, Creator's Glory Herbs relies heavily on word-of-mouth recommendations.
For Teresa, still an education major at heart, her time at farmers' markets selling teas and salves has become an opportunity to teach her customers about herbal remedies and the health benefits herbs have to offer.
"I really want to present people with a more holistic view of healing," she said. "For so long people believed that the use of natural (remedies) went against Christianity, but now I think people are starting to realize that, 'Wait, God is the one who made this.'"
Teresa offers her online customers the opportunity to learn about these natural resources. Each tea she offers online comes with a description of flavors, potential health benefits and specific brewing instructions.
Some teas also come with a suggested alternate use. For example, Teresa's Garden Daydreams blend can be used to create a relaxing herbal bath, a natural baby wipes spray or a sweet milk and honey drink for children.
Teresa enjoys seeing reluctant tea-drinkers stretch their limits because of her sweetened teas. Among those reluctant tea drinkers are a number of kids whose parents couldn't be more thrilled to discover a sugar-free treat for their children.
Even Teresa's kids are learning.
"They can walk outside and identify pretty much any edible herb out there," Daniel said. "They'll even say things like, 'Ooh, can I have some basil?'"
Creator's Glory Herbs has given Teresa the opportunity to teach and expand her horizons.
"I've been sharing my passions with people and seeing them getting excited about it," she said. "Even when someone tells me that they've enjoyed the lip balm or one of my teas, it strikes me . . . wow, this is really blessing someone."
Teresa is teaching people through her business-no classroom involved.