Farm-Fresh Teas and A Food Gal Giveaway

Take a sip of the unusual teas by Grey Dog Tea.

Stinging nettles, sweet peppers and heirloom chiles — in tea?

You bet.

Last year, Baia Nicchia, the 9 1/2-acre farm in Sunol known for its impeccable tomatoes, started selling unique blends of teas, made from its organic herbs, fruits and vegetables that have been dried.

The teas proved so popular that farm owner Fred Hempel has now launched his own tea company, Grey Dog Tea, named for his pet Greyhound.

The teas are available in loose-leaf or bag form. The blends include ones with caffeine, as well as ones without. The actual tea leaves used come from San Francisco’s Five Mountains, which specializes in heirloom organic teas.

The four beguiling blends include:ย  “Dragon Mint Tea Blend” (heirloom teas, mints, chile pepper flakes and herbs), “Chile Mint Herb Tea” (heirloom chile pepper flakes, mints and herbs), “Citrus Stinger Herb Tea” (yuzu leaf, lemon grass, stinging nettles, sweet peppers, chile peppers, Persian spearmint, nasturtiums and citrus peel), and “Citrus Morning Blend” (heirloom oolong teas, herbs, stinging nettles, sweet peppers, yuzu leaf, heirloom chile peppers and citrus peel).

The signature "Chile Mint Tea.''

All of the blends have a purity of flavor to them, as if you were drinking something straight from the garden. The chiles in the blends won’t make you break into a sweat. They’re quite subtle, lending fruitiness and a delicate warmth.

I’m especially partial to the “Dragon Mint Tea Blend” because of how the gentle tannin of the tea leaves is lifted by the profusion of mint.

The teas sell for $9.99 to $16.99.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win a tin of Grey Dog Tea’s signature “Chile Mint Herb Tea,” plus a refill. You get your choice of loose-leaf or bags, too.

Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST Dec. 22. Winner will be announced Dec. 24.

How to win?

You’ve already read that Grey Dog Tea is named for a beloved family pooch. Just tell me a memorable story about your pet. Best answer wins the tea.

Here’s my own reply to that question:

“When I was a tot, my parents never let us have a cat or a dog. But we did have fish. OK, fish may not be quite as warm and fuzzy. But they can provide hours of entertainment. Surprisingly so. My older brother had two big orange goldfish in a huge aquarium. I named one, Fred, and the other, Cleo. I have no idea why. They just seemed to go together that way. I remember sitting on the floor, staring at the aquarium, for time on end. I’d watch Cleo swim back and froth, with Fred following her the whole way. When I’d pour a pinch of fish food into the aquarium, they’d dash this way and that way to gobble up the tiny flakes of nourishment. Of course, goldfish don’t live nearly as long as cats or dogs. And when the day came that one died — and the other followed suit not that long afterward — my brother knew just by looking at my mopey face that there was no way he was flushing either of them down the toilet. So, he grabbed a shovel and dug a tiny grave for each one in our hilly, rocky backyard while I fetched crayons and a scrap of wood to create a tombstone that I varnished to protect from the elements. We said a little prayer and laid each fish to rest. I don’t know if that marker is still there in my parents’ backyard. But I do know, Fred and Cleo are not forgotten.”

More: Farmer Fred Hempel Creates A New Tomato

Print This Post


  • In my family we have one tabby cat. His name is Tiger and he is very smart. For example he will put his paw on the dish that I use for his wet food to avoid it slipping away. Tiger is always blessing us with his hunted critters.
    He will lay down at command and he will let us know that we haven’t petted him enough. Tiger uses his paws as if he has thumbs. And, when Tiger is happy then he bounces like a bunny across our living room.

  • I love Five Mountain teas. They’re really quality stuff, but their selection is limited if you want creative blends. They’re bit of a purist. So interesting to see this farm mixing it up for them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I’ve always wanted to try Five Mountains and I love seeing exotic twists to conventional blends. Good to know the chiles won’t burn the palate.

  • My story is about a greyhound. She was adopted by my husband and I. Her name? The Girl. She was the best dog! I know what your thinking, “thats what everyone says” But she was! My dad had a minor stroke and as part of his rehab he walked. Well The Girl kept Grampa company during the week while we worked and she also kept him on his schedule. His walking schedule that is! She would come into his office and stand there an stare at him. Always around 11:30am. If he was up and about she would nudge him in the behind to remind him it was that time. When we lost her to cancer it broke not only our hearts but my dads as well. He lost his day time compainion and walker. Funny my dad never liked any of our pets through out our years, but her he LOVED. She was so gentle with him never pulling. It’s been two years now that she’s been gone. But not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. She really was the best dog!

  • my story is also about a fish! when we were little, i couldn’t bear the thought of flushing our dead pets down the toilet, so i had my mom freeze them in a little baggie full of water! jump to one christmas vacation when i was home from college and cleaning out the freezer, you’ll never guess what i found…yep, one of my fishies was still there. the moral of this story: clean your freezer regularly! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • My parents got a beagle dog for their first wedding anniversary, before i was born He howeled and howeled and would take my parents slippers and eat anything and everything he found. I was born and love that dog so so so much but always heard my parents scold his bad behavior.
    My first words were “bad dog”!!

  • We had a wonderful golden retriever named Abby. She was so sweet and well-tempered. She’d even let us dress her up! One day my two siblings and I were in our backyard, sledding. (We have a big hill–along with a small woods–that separates our yard from a small highway.) All of a sudden, Abby ran up the hill and sat in one of our sleds. My brother jumped in and they slid down the hill together. My mom was outside and snapped a picture of it. It was so fun and random that she decided to sled with us. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You have a very sweet brother. We’ve have lots of pets over the years, but one of the sweetest moments was when my husband found a poor starving, 6 month old kitten in the woods. It had obviously been there for quite a while because it was really skinny. My husband put the kitten in a big box and dropped it off at the house before going back to work. I spent the next 4 hours in the backyard with this sweet, starving little kitty. First I fed it and gave it some water. He finally let me pet him, then before you knew it, he was on my lap, upside down getting a belly rub. Over the next 12 years, that sweet cat got lots and lots of belly rubs and gave us even more happiness.
    Hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *