Chilly fall weather has finally descended on the Midwest, which can only mean one thing: It’s time to curl up with a book and a steamy mug of tea. Fleur de B, the newest project from Christina Shellhart of Half Crocked Chef, pairs expertly curated teas with local honey in a series of small gift baskets that are sure to warm the weary bones of Springfield, Missouri, residents.
Since launching Half Crocked Chef, a honey and spice company, five years ago, Shellhart – formerly Christina Hesse – has kept a close eye on food trends. This year, she noticed that consumers were looking for more than just a product: They were looking for an experience. That led her on a journey to find the perfect nonperishable to pair with her signature honey blends. With cooler weather and the holiday season on the way, honey and tea pairings seemed like a natural fit.
Shellhart, who worked in California’s restaurant scene for 20 years, cites her own journey with tea as another major inspiration for the project. “I love coffee and tea, but when I turned 40, the tannins in regular tea became too much for me,” she says. That’s when Shellhart discovered tea made from yaupon, a type of evergreen holly bush that grows mainly in the southeastern United States. “The tannins and the caffeine levels are different in yaupon, which makes it great for people with sensitive stomachs,” Shellhart says.
Fleur de B currently offers seven tea flights, all of which are paired with Shellhart's signature honey blends. Options include a Missouri Maple Syrup Honey accompanied by a dark roast yaupon, and the Cinn-Full cinnamon honey blend accompanied by a yaupon chai tea. Shellhart is a card-carrying member of the Missouri Beekeepers Association, which allows her to work with more than 25 honey providers within 40 miles of the Springfield area. She also occasionally treks to the City Market in Kansas City; on those occasions, she works with beekeepers from around the Kansas City area, ensuring her products are always hyper-local.
Shellhart works with several different tea providers for the five yaupon teas on the menu. She buys the yaupon in bulk, which allows her to add local herbs and other ingredients for her house blends. She’s also created signature flights using products from Springfield-based operations Phoenix Tea Co. and Lavender Falls Farm.
Eventually, Shellhart hopes to offer Fleur de B products online for nationwide shipping. For now, the flights are available at Shellhart's booths at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks and the Greater Springfield Farmers Market, both of which are located in Springfield.
Half Crocked Chef, Springfield, Missouri, 417.522.6933, halfcrockedchef.com