Tea and Trumpets
On a recent sunny Saturday, I visit Mark Bowden, owner and creator of Tea and Trumpets Tea Company, at the Santa Rosa Community Farmers’ Market location on Farmers Lane. I ask if he ever gets tired of the furtive half glances from people who awkwardly pass his stall for another. “Nah,” he says, “totally used to it. You get to know who your people are.” On cue, two school-age boys walk up to Bowden’s stall with purpose—one in a full ninja suit that makes his mask look cool. “Are these your people?” I ask jokingly. Without hesitation he goes, “Yes. Yes they are,” and then proceeds to serve up two iced almond rooibos teas for his loyal customers.
“I really liked coffee, but it just didn’t like me back,” Bowden jokes, remembering his return to tea in his 20s. Bowden’s relationship with tea started young, having afternoon tea with his mom as a kid. Her stories of British “tea and crumpets” became “tea and trumpets” in his little kid mind—and thus, the name was born. After a four-year stint in the pharmaceutical industry out of college, Bowden was keen to combine his passion for quality tea with his experience in medical research.
I sought Bowden out specifically because of his organic herbal selection of loose leaf teas—which produce less waste and allow you to customize both the strength and blend you make at home. Some people are wooed by the convenience of the tea bag, but his selection of custom infusers may convert you: from small strainers to over-the-cup (which are clean and easy to use with a handy lid for better steeping) to the remarkable double-walled glass bottle/infuser for tea on-the-go or overnight cold-steeped tea.
“Turmeric Spice has been a huge seller since the pandemic hit. I can hardly keep it in stock,” says Bowden. I can see why. This tea is packed with a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory herbs, including ginger, turmeric, licorice and lemongrass, which are believed to reduce stress, boost the immune system and soothe digestion. The sweet, soothing licorice is also great on a sore throat. I like it iced with a shot of lemon.
At night, I’ve been enjoying the 3 Dreams Tea, a lovely aromatic blend of chamomile, valerian and lavender. It calms my body from the first whiff. Bowden selects and blends all his own teas, and for this one, he took his time researching herbs that had been medically proven to aid sleep. He laughingly told me, “I found out hops is good for sleep too, but it just tasted like warm beer!” I can attest that I have a much easier time falling back to sleep with a cup of it in my system at night.
Bowden’s evening go-to is the ginger lemon fusion with tulsi. If you haven’t gotten on the tulsi train yet, I highly recommend this adaptogenic herb, called Holy Basil in India, because of its use in religious ceremonies and traditional medicine. A common ingredient in Ayurvedic practice, it’s also beloved as an essential oil and a household plant. Tulsi has a beautiful flowery fragrance and a nice mellow flavor, and goes well with a spoonful of Golden Milk (a dry blend of turmeric and other spices considered helpful for reducing both inflammation and stress). This is a cup of calm after a long day—or an incredibly long year.
“You don’t need to be an expert to find a tea that is right for you,” Bowden explains.” Just start smelling some tea and asking questions.” Members of his Tea Club receive three different teas, customizable to their tastes, each month. His blends of Camellia sinensis (black and green teas) cover a flavorful gamut of aromas and styles—from fruity fusions like Hawaiian Breeze, to the ancient, smoky Lapsang Souchong that originated in the Qing dynasty.
Tea has become my healthy way to cope with whatever life brings, and this past year I’ve bought it, brewed it, and sent it to more friends and family than I can count. Tea and Trumpets is a perfect discovery: doing good for the planet, our nervous systems, and our local ninjas. Like Bowden’s Farmers’ Market sign says: “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy tea, and that’s kind of the same thing.”