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St. Vincent College-based gallery serves tea and history

| Thursday, March 27, 2014, 8:55 p.m.
Frederick Findley of Greensburg and his mother, Veronica Findley of North Huntingdon, pour a passion for tea into FineLine Teas.
Frederick Findley of Greensburg and his mother, Veronica Findley of North Huntingdon, pour a passion for tea into FineLine Teas.

Fred Findley savored a cup of tea last Mother's Day that would change everything.

“I do weddings for a living,” said Findley of FineLine Weddings in Greensburg. “We do 150 weddings a year and I had this calm, relaxed experience and fell in love with teas.”

The date was apropos.

Findley and his mother, tea aficionado Veronica Findley of North Huntingdon, decided to go to Kentucky and back before launching FineLine Teas online in January.

They will be featured in an evening of tea tasting and tea history to be served from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 10 in the Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at St. Vincent College in Unity. The gallery exhibits historical coverlets, circa 1830-1860.

Dr. Karen Kehoe, associate professor of history, will speak about the importance of tea to the United States.

“We thought it was a good opportunity to get people to come and enjoy the gallery, learn a little history and enjoy social time as well,” said gallery curator Lauren Churilla.

She expects to welcome 50 to 60 guests to the event, which is free.

FineLine Teas sells its own brand of teas, as well as other company's brands. Its stated mission is to bring together the best-tasting teas and the highest quality accessories in an environment that is inclusive and speaks to the average tea drinker.

Findley, a St. Vincent alumni, currently enjoys Rooibis teas, an African tea sometimes called bush tea.

He said his selection all depends on the day and his mood.

On the FineLine Teas website, viewers have the opportunity to watch videos about different teas and how to drink them. A recent webcast featured “Irish Tea Traditions.”

The Findleys did a lot of work before embarking on the tea venture.

They registered for a master class under tea expert Bruce Richardson at the Elmwood Inn in Lexington, Ky.

“I realized what I thought I knew wasn't quite enough,” said Veronica Findley. “We kind of enhanced our knowledge in Kentucky and as we get more people interested in tea, we plan to take it to the next level.”

Fred Findley envisions eventually opening the first tea bar in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

The primary lesson he learned in Kentucky is that there is a youth movement — people ages 18-35 — who are really getting into tea.

Veronica Findley, who has always enjoyed visiting tea houses with a Victorian flavor, said she always wanted to retire and open up a tea house.

She learned that Pu-erh Tea is a perfect bridge for coffee drinkers to try tea.

It is made from leaves and stems of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same that is used for making green, oolong and black teas, according to WebMD. The different teas are made by using different processes

Although personally not a fan of Rooibos Tea, Veronica Findley has learned to appreciate many kinds of teas because there are so many out there.

It's not uncommon for the Findleys to go through 30 different teas on a Sunday and only like one of them.

“Everyone likes different things for their palate,” she said. “We're still working through it and building our inventory.”

For someone who might not care for tea, Veronica Findley suggests trying a different one.

“It all depends on the right water, temperature, and how long you steep it for,” she said, “It might be not that you don't like tea, but that you're not brewing it properly.”

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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