At Dragon Well Tea Shop in North Adams, named for owner Will Schmitt’s favorite green tea variety, you’ll find handmade jasmine pearls, loose herbal blends with notes of black pepper, and other varieties ranging from spicy to sweet to classic.
Not ready to go out just yet? No worries: Schmitt and his teas will come to you, by bicycle, vehicle, or the good old U.S. Postal Service.
A transplant from Iowa who discovered North Adams through a stint as a FreshGrass Festival volunteer, Schmitt’s tea shop recently celebrated six months in business. To combat pandemic restrictions, he’s generated buzz over Instagram, set up an online ordering system, and made in-person, free deliveries throughout the Northern Berkshires.
“I feel super blessed — and relieved as well,” Schmitt said about passing the six-month mark. “I’m glad I landed in a small town that’s kind of isolated, where people care about each other, and where we have the tourism we do.”
Schmitt has worked in finance, as a wilderness school instructor, and as a touring musician. When he was researching North Adams, “I saw there was no tea shop,” he said, “and it had been in my heart to open a tea shop for a while.”
His love of tea started early.
“It first blew my mind when I was like 6 years old,” he said, remembering drinking jasmine tea from a steel teapot at a restaurant on a family outing. “I think it was the most wonderful thing I had tasted up to that point.”
Working in finance, his office was right around the corner from a tea shop, giving him an excuse to explore all kinds of tea blends and their origins and creating an afternoon tea ritual for his coworkers. Whatever was going on that day, their afternoon tea was a moment to step back and hold a warm beverage — “the little things that make life more comfortable,” Schmitt said. “It’s one of those primal things.”
Dragon Well sources teas from three small purveyors, and offers more than 30 varieties online and in the Eagle Street shop. If you can’t make it during standard hours, Schmitt opens the shop by appointment for those who want to have a more intimate tea shop experience.
Schmitt sells loose teas in individual tea bags, in a sampler size that allows for 3 to 5 cups, or by the ounce, all packaged fresh to order. Customers can also try teas in-house, with space for customers (COVID-19 restrictions are currently capping occupancy to six people) to sit and enjoy a warm cup of something minty, floral, fruity or herbal.
In the future, Schmitt is hoping to get Dragon Well teas into local mom-and-pop shops, and is likely to expand the shop’s hours. He has connected with other local businesses, hosting pop-up tea sampler nights at North Adams downtown spots like the Plant Connector, a new plant shop on Eagle Street.
“I’m glad to be a part of the small business community here,” he said. “I wanted to see what I could do in a town that’s smaller, but has a lot going for it.”