We had the unique opportunity to catch up with Caleb Christopher, Owner of Piper & Leaf, yesterday in preparation for carrying their delicious teas, bringing a taste of North Alabama to Unclaimed Baggage. We are so incredibly excited to start serving Piper & Leaf at our Spring Fling event Friday and Saturday, and for many days to come.
I hope you are as excited about this as we are. Here's what Caleb has to say about it:
UBC: What created this passion for tea?
P&L: It was kind of accidental. I’ve always loved coffee and also anything beverage wise that tastes good. So, I started getting into tea’s after a trip to Boston and got obsessed with some tea houses up there. There is a lot of high quality tea up there and it just blew my mind that that flavor doesn’t come through. We do sweet tea pretty good down here compared to the rest of the nation but we don’t use high quality teas to make it. And I just remember, we kind of thought about that while we were up there we thought “we can make this good for the south”. The idea sat in back of our heads for a little while and then my brother in law, Connor, really wanted to be a part of the local farmer’s markets helping build the community in the south. We all got together and started going to farmer’s markets doing compost which kind of flopped, and we had some teas.
UBC: Wait, compost, like trash?
P&L: Yes, like trash compost.
UBC: How does that relate to teas?
P&L: It doesn’t, not at all (we both laugh). We were like, “we need a product to sell at the farmer's market” and I had a ton of compost so I said “we can sell compost”. Connor’s only request is that we sell it in mason jars. That went for the teas as well. So we did both, we had compost and tea in mason jars, then we combined the two and marketed it as “compost tea” then we had drinkable tea. It confused everyone. So about three weeks in we got rid of compost and focused on tea and we’ve taken off since then.
UBC: As a photographer I see that you guys use local photographer Ashley Vaughn for your photo work. She’s phenomenal! I love that you use local talent such as hers.
P&L: She does style sheets for us several times a year. We just did a Spring shoot with her a few days ago.
UBC: Awesome, I can’t wait to check it out.
UBC: We have been searching to bring in more locally crafted beverages, like teas and coffees, to our Cups Café. When you heard about Unclaimed Baggage coming to you guys to bring you into our store what were your initial thoughts? Have you had much experience with Unclaimed Baggage before?
P&L: Actually I was here the beginning of last year walking around with my wife shopping and I saw your café and I thought “they need our teas there, that would be awesome”. Normally the barista isn’t really the person to talk to about that so we continued shopping. I mean, Unclaimed Baggage, it’s a big deal. I heard a few weeks ago about you requesting our teas and got really excited! I can just see the potential.
UBC: Having Piper & Leaf at UBC is absolutely amazing. When I found out we were going to carry you in house I personally got REALLY excited. You have such a classic, handmade feel, mixed with amazing teas with flavors that are so new to the Southeast. What I’m trying to say is that, you did it. Good job! (we both laugh and shake hands)
P&L: Thank you! And it is awesome. We love it. You guys attract so many people in from around the nation so I do think we are a really good pairing. It’s a good way to taste North Alabama. We get products from this area and farms all around and so your guests are literally getting the flavor of North Alabama with Piper & Leaf, and that’s cool! Unclaimed Baggage is all about the flavor of the south through the experience you provide here. I’m excited.
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Photos and interview by Matt Pittman, Content Marketing Manager