Spilling the tea: Your guide to buying and drinking tea in Ames


Mikayla Alt

A selection of teas and tea equipment at Little Woods: Teas and Herbs.

Tea has been a staple in the lives of human beings for thousands of years. The aromatic beverage has been the cause of multiple wars throughout the years.

Many people purchase their tea globally — in search of the perfect one. Here in Ames, there are multiple shops that hold hundreds of different types of teas for its residents to try to discover why tea is the top consumed drink in the world outside of water.

Here are a couple of places where we found the tea in Ames.

Little Woods: Herbs and Teas and The Mucky Duck Pub both hold a large variety of teas. Both of these family-owned businesses import tea as well as buy domestically.

There are two types of main teas available at both shops: black tea and green tea. The difference between the two is how they are oxidized.

Green tea leaves will be heated as soon as they are picked to keep their color and flavor. Black tea leaves will be left to oxidize until they turn brown or black before being heated.

Green tea is a lighter, more delicate flavor, while black teas hold bolder and richer flavors.

The Mucky Duck Pub is a British restaurant that caters to everyone. The owner, Marcus Johnson, keeps many different unique teas in stock.

“We’re more about the flavor,” Johnson said. “We don’t really care about the health benefits, although there are health benefits.”

Johnson imports most of his teas, including a wide variety of black or green teas that can be herbal or fruit teas. Johnson’s most recent acquisition is matcha tea.

The Mucky Duck Pub has 45 unique teas to try.

A few teas sold in The Mucky Duck Pub cater to many different cultural crowds. Johnson’s favorite is drinking tea with a yerba mate.

A yerba mate is a South American mate cup that allows for a group of people to pass around the mate to drink tea communally.

“[People] wouldn’t think of coming to a British place to get [yerba mate],” Johnson said. “But we have it because I love yerba mate.”

Little Woods aims to offer customized quantities of herbs for unique blends of tea.

“We consider ourselves a tea and spice apothecary,” Kristin Roach, the owner, said. “We make all of our own blends.”

Little Woods has over 100 hand-crafted blends and over 450 bulk ingredients that they make the blends with.

“We are pretty low traffic,” Roach said. “I find it allows us to give, most of the times, very exceptional customer service and a very good personalized experience.”

Both of the stores suggest that customers mix teas to create their own unique flavors.

“A lot of people like blends [of tea], but they have no idea that we can do that,” Christi Page, the assistant bar manager of The Mucky Duck Pub, said.

Page suggests that people try an almond and blueberry mix to create a blueberry muffin flavor.

Johnson prefers the Irish breakfast tea but really enjoys yerba mate as well.

The Mucky Duck Pub will serve their tea in cups or by the pot. They have served up to 25 or more pots of tea on weekend days.

Little Woods will make any of their teas to go but also sells tea infusers, teapots and various other tea utensils within their shop.

Little Woods features botanical blends in a fusion of herbalism, culinary artisanship and Asian tea traditions.

The shop sells all of the 450 different types of herbs and spices mixed into the blends available on their menu.

One of Roach’s favorite tea blends is the fireside black tea.

“[Fireside black tea] is inspired by the idea of a toasted marshmallow flavor,” Roach said.

Little Woods hosted their first ‘solstice spirit free speakeasy event’ during the summer solstice. They hosted a party where they had a large mocktail menu and made tiramisu with tea and chai spices.

Little Woods: Herbs and Spices is located at 136 Main St, and The Mucky Duck Pub is located at 3100 S. Duff Ave.