Vitality flows through the land at Zack Woods Herb Farm, a 30-acre property Jeff Carpenter and his wife Melanie started in 1999. You experience it when you taste the plants grown there. Descended from generations of Vermont dairy farmers, Carpenter carries himself with the serene focus that comes from country living. He knows his herbs.
Carpenter has dedicated his career to the cultivation and propagation of beneficial herbs, through his work as a farmer, consultant, educator and researcher. He apprenticed under “The Godmother of American Herbalism” Rosemary Gladstar and co-owned Sage Mountain Herb Products.
In March 2011 he traveled to Africa to consult the non-profit organization WAYLA (Women and Youth Leadership Alliance) on selecting the site for a commercial herb farm in Liberia. This project assists women and girls in recovery from the Liberian civil war that ended in 2003. Carpenter recently entered into partnership to host the International Herb Symposium. Next year Zack Woods herb farm will be featured in a full-length documentary released by Tea Dragon Films. His passion for the green world is evident in all that he does as he spends his days working in the fields and in the community.
Tea Magazine visited Zack Woods to learn more about growing and creating great herbal teas.
TEA: What are some up-and-coming herbs that have good potential as teas, or in tea blends?
Carpenter: Tulsi, (Ocimum sanctum) or holy basil is one of the most popular up-and-coming herbs that we are growing more of and hearing great feedback, especially from those who are new to Tulsi. Tulsi is a classic adaptogen which means it helps the body adapt to physiological and psychological stress. It is also an incredible immune enhancing herb and best of all, it is incredibly tasty.
As someone that has done a fair amount of content on tea, I have a lot of mixed thoughts on the way information is passed. With tea reviews or discussing a specific tea I have struggled with the question: how to talk about an individual tea or tea in general in an interesting or useful way.. Whether you like or dislike TeaDB episodes largely depends on whether you enjoy watching two particular people drink and binter. This is fine enough and it is certainly fun for Denny & I to create, but I’ll also agree with the sentiment that it’s not necessarily the most substantive way to review a tea in depth. There’s some signal but there’s also a lot of noise. Writing about a specific tea also isn’t easy and I think is actually very difficult to execute in a way that is actually consistently interesting or useful for people. Most people just want to know if you liked or didn’t like a specific tea. Making something that piques interest beyond that is a challenge and even if you don’t like them a place like Mei Leaf has succeeded in creating content that really does engage their viewers. You also have to consider that the majority of people have not had the tea or are even unfamiliar with the basic taste profile (i.e. Denny & I describing a traditionally stored pu’erh, when the audience has never had one).. Here are some phrases I dislike and hear frequently enough that I find them unhelpful and sometimes even counter-productive.
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On a business trip recently, I went with my colleagues to a fantastic little coffee shop in Silicon Valley called Chromatic Coffee. My colleagues were very excited about the way they grind, brew, and pour the coffee. It turns out there is a lot more to coffee than I ever knew. For … Continue reading