A few weeks ago, I called Antonios and Chappelle Sparages who are the creators of Olympus Greek Mountain Teas. The Food Science & Technology Extension Department began working with Olympus Greek Mountain Teas a year and a half ago, and I wanted to get some more information on their inspiration for their products and what helped them get to the point they are at today.
The Sparages’ currently live in Atlanta, Georgia with their three daughters, but Antonios is originally from Greece. He grew up drinking a tea made from the Sideritis plant that has been consumed by the Greeks since ancient times. The tea is unique for many reasons. Most teas are made from brewing the leaves of a plant, but this tea is made from brewing the entire plant. Long ago, Sideritis was believed to have natural healing properties, and because of this, the tradition of drinking it was passed down from generation to generation. Ceremony surrounds the entire process of creating the tea in Greek Culture; the plant, which grows in the mountains near Sparta, is harvested each year and left to dry for four weeks. After the drying process, all parts of this flowering plant are brewed to make this tea that gives off a distinct aroma. I could sense how passionate Antonios is about this tea when he was talking about its origins. “It takes me back home every time we brew the tea. The smell takes me back,” and there was silence after that. That quote really stuck with me. Everyone has that food or beverage that they can consume that brings back a flood of memories. There’s something to be said about a food or beverage that can do that to you. All the memories Antonios has surrounding the tea have been added on to since he brought it into their house in Atlanta.
Although Sideritis has traditional roots (literally), the history of Olympus Greek Mountain Teas is a bit more modern. Antonios was storing the dried plant in their kitchen pantry for his own use, but he came home one summer to the scent of it brewing. His daughters had found it and decided to make it their own way by adding fruit. He told them what they were doing was not traditional, but was pleasantly surprised by how it tasted. The Sparages’ began making the tea that way and serving it to guests. The rave reviews began to pour in. Antonios and Chappelle had always thought about opening a restaurant or food truck, but after receiving so much enthusiasm on their tea, they placed their creative energies on developing a Greek beverage for the American lifestyle. Eventually, the food truck and restaurant ideas became distant memories as their beverage grew in popularity.
From the very early stages, their daughters played important roles in their business model, and they continue to assist their parents in decisions regarding Olympus Greek Mountain Teas daily. I’ve seen Chappelle and their eldest daughter in the Food Science & Technology Extension Department numerous times working on paperwork or stopping by to ask Dr. Mohan (Extension Food Science Specialist) questions in person.
Antonios and Chappelle recently entered their Blueberry Citrus Tea into the Flavor of Georgia competition, and much to their surprise (but no one else’s), they took first prize in the beverage portion. As Olympus Greek Mountain Teas continues to climb to success, the Sparages family will be the first to tell you they would not be where they are today if it weren’t for the creative ideas and support of each member of their family. You can find their vast array of teas at local farmer’s markets and Farmview, a market with locally sourced foods that is located in Madison, Georgia.