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Infusing Powerful Flavor and Health Benefits in Your Daily Cup of Tea

By Kelly Church

There's a growing tea-loving community and the last few years have shown chain tea retailers popping up on the Internet and in malls, but downtown St. Petersburg, FL has one very unique tea company motivated by one man's desire for a healthy, strong tea. Infused Tea Company is based out of Florida, but retails online to anywhere in the country, bringing an alternative beverage to cups everywhere.

"I started Infused Tea looking for a better healthier drink than your traditional day-to-day offerings like soda and coffee," Raymond Ritola, store owner, says. "The beverage industry is a massive market that encompasses some of your basic very familiar beverages (water, milk, soda, coffee, tea, beer and alcohol) to some very unique, rare and upcoming drinks (kombucha, kava, kratom). While you can find a bottle of tea at any convenience store alongside soda, juices and water; high quality, flavorful and full-bodied teas are sparser."

As Ritola stresses, there are many types of drinks, and the list doesn't get any smaller when you start to add in specific types of tea. He opened Infused Tea to provide another option for teas that stemmed from his desire to have a strong tea flavor, potent ingredients for health benefits and a sugar-free option that does not come with pre-bottled teas. At Infused Tea, Ritola retails loose leaf tea.

"The joke about bagged tea used to be that after all of your loose leaf premium tea was harvested and bagged, all the remnants and dust that was left over was what was swept up and stuffed into little disposable bags," Ritola says. "Loose leaf tea provided me an option that ha the bold flavors and variety that I was used to but it was without the unnecessary added sugar and dyes."

At Infused Tea, Ritola sells traditional types of tea and his own unique blends. One Infused Tea original blend is the LVP, a lavender vanilla rooibos blended with peppermint. Ritola says it's becoming one of the store's most popular flavors due to the "transforming flavors." It starts with lavender, transitions to vanilla and hits you with cooling peppermint at the end. Another popular flavor is the Paper Airplanes Fruit Blend, a combination of elderberry, hibiscus, apple, currant, blackberry, strawberry and raspberry.

Ritola isn't shy about the benefits of drinking loose leaf tea, either. However, he says the benefits don't come from drinking an occasional cup; they come from drinking tea routinely. Some of these benefits include weight loss, blood pressure regulation, anti-inflammatory responses, better joint health, and relief from stomachaches, allergies and sore throats. It's all about the type of tea you drink and how regularly you drink it.

"Like any changes to a diet, it takes time," Ritola says. "Your body needs a consistent supply of tea to reap the benefits from it."

Infused Tea is available at the downtown St. Petersburg store and online at the company website. In addition to selling loose leaf tea, Ritola sells all the accessories a tea-drinker would need.

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