Sunyatta Amen has given herself some playful titles. Relying on the day, she’s the tea-E-O or head witch-in-charge at Calabash Tea and Tonic. However her mission behind the DC-based firm is severe: to return trendy individuals to indigenous methods of therapeutic and decolonize the way in which individuals take into consideration their drinks.
As a fifth-generation grasp herbalist, Amen opened Calabash in 2015 to impart data she realized by way of her Syrian-Jamaican and Cuban roots. Initially from New York, Amen grew up behind the counter of her dad’s Harlem shops, Pyramid Tea and Natural, only a few doorways down from the Apollo Theater. A baby of two islands, Manhattan and Jamaica, she was raised vegan after which returned to that life-style later in life.
“My path to being an herbalist and healer usually has all the pieces to do with my preliminary reluctance as an adolescent to study these issues,” she says. “Now I see it and we’ve created a whole enterprise out of it.”
Calabash sells teas, spices, tonics, and lightweight vegan meals and (relying on COVID protocols) hosts occasions like artwork exhibits and tarot card readings. By way of her enterprise, Amen is aiming to flip the script of crunchy hippie well being meals shops and, as a substitute, middle the wealthy historical past of veganism and therapeutic again onto Black and brown communities.
After opening a second Calabash location in Brookland on Juneteenth this yr, additionally the anniversary of the flagship store, Amen is effectively on her method to cementing that legacy by way of her work of decolonizing individuals’s tongues, utilizing foods and drinks recipes handed down by way of earlier generations.
“Let’s flip the script on our language from ‘That’s so spicy or whoa! That’s so bitter!’ into ‘It is a new however ancestravel for me,” she says. “Tastes like I would like that therapeutic in my life.”
In her latest enterprise, Amen partnered with TRYB, a Black-owned beverage retailer, to bottle seven of her greater than 100 teas in an effort to make them extra accessible to most people. Flavors embrace Harriet’s Gun Lemonade, which accommodates gunpowder inexperienced tea for vitality, pepper seeds for blood circulation, and Jamaican ginger and spices to wake you up.
“This energizes you to maneuver ahead and by no means backward, the way in which Harriet Tubman was in a position to lead many to freedom,” she explains.
As well as, there’s Panther Par-Tea with Assam black tea impressed by the Black Panther Get together, Jamaican Ginger Sorrel with detoxifying hibiscus, Triple Goddess Lemonade with South African bush tea to struggle irritation, Love Potion #10 Chai that’s her grandmother’s recipe, and My Final Good Nerve with lavender and passionflower to ease anxiousness.
“Virtually everybody has frazzled nerves, anxiousness, typically despair, as a result of the highs are highs and the lows are low,” Amen says. “The primary factor individuals are available in for? Nervous system and sleep. These two are very associated and are reverse sides of the identical coin.”
Some easy ideas she offers out to clients embrace recommending much less caffeine through the starting a part of the day so it’s simpler to wind down through the latter a part of the day.
“My job, which TRYB makes simpler, is to take therapeutic, to take wellness out of Birkenstocks and put it in stilettos,” she says. “It’s received to be attractive. And our bottle service must be one thing that individuals are ingesting, remembering their humanity and their connection to the earth and vegetation and nature, in the midst of a concrete jungle.”
In an effort to unfold Calabash’s message of pure therapeutic and wellness, Amen hopes to broaden her enterprise with a franchise mannequin. She says confidently, “If McDonald’s and Starbucks might be all over the place, so can we.”