• Our Story •
It begins in 1994 when I took a maternity leave from teaching hospital nursing at a small college in the Mojave desert of California. When I wasn't feeding or playing with Jack, I used all this newfound free time to finally explore a deep curiosity for botany I had harbored for a long time. The more books I read and classes I took, the more convinced I became of the very real possibilities herbal health has to offer us.
I soon found myself in a medicinal herb class taught by renowned herbalist Karen Sherwood (who was also an instructor at Tom Brown’s Wilderness and Survival School, another amazing institution my husband and I learned much from). In Karen’s class, a book called Calling of an Angel by Dr. Gary Glum was passed around.
It was about essiac.
Needless to say, the book struck a chord in me. After obtaining a copy of my own,with the original recipe attached, I tore through it and began to research the tea further.
Life continued as normal. My son began to walk, my husband's work intensified, and I returned to teaching. But essiac was always on my mind. Simply researching it was no longer enough. I began sourcing the organic herbs described in Caisse's original recipe in hopes of one day brewing it myself for friends and family.
Well, they say everything happens for a reason! Not long after I began collecting herbs, a good friend of mine expressed an interest in taking the tea, but she couldn’t afford the blend being sold in our town's only natural food store. This synchronicity was the only impetus I needed.
Herbs collected, I followed Caisse's original recipe to brew what would become A Nurse's Tea's essiac on a tiny gas stove in our back-canyon house with Jack watching from his high chair. A potent, earthy smell permeated the entire kitchen, with a sharp taste to match. I simply loved it.
Once brewed, I bottled the tea in some old glass bottles and drove them across town to my friend. She began to take the tea twice each day, and loved it as well.
With one happy client under my belt and a fresh sense of purpose, I began to study essiac in earnest. Its history, its composition, the most effective way of brewing it, how to bottle it preservative free... I attended herbal seminars and called both Dr. Gary Glum ("Calling of an Angel") and Sheila Snow, the author of Essence of Essiac, to learn even more about the tea.
One night over dinner, my husband and I were chatting about essiac and its properties when we realized something: We knew we had a good recipe and a good tea... so why not bring it to more people? My passion for tea had expanded far beyond just essiac-- the house was filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful blends from around the world. And Tehachapi (Teh•HAH•chuh•pee) was a small town that could do with some more worldly spice.
Within a few months, we had bought an old run-down building on the East side of town. I can still remember my husband dressed up like the Michelin man as he power-washed every inch, the smell of wood as we paneled the walls together from a clunky scissor lift, and sitting with friends in the back as the sun went down over the high desert mountains, watching Jack play with his big Legos...
It took some doing, but we finally had a licensed commercial kitchen and retail space to work with. Tehachapi Tea Co. & Nature Bookstore was alive! Soon we were selling everything from yixing tea pots to fine herbal tea blends. Most importantly, we had a large gas stove with which to brew essiac in earnest.
Business began to soar. We were selling essiac and other teas left and right. We even opened a tea room and cafe in the back where we could serve all manner of delicious food: pine nut quiches, turkey sandwiches with jam, cream of crab soup from my roots in Maryland, and a carrot cake people drove miles for.
Throughout this whirlwind, we kept our essiac's freshness, quality, and faith to Rene Caisse’s original formula as our top priority. The brewing process we perfected during this time is still the one we use today (with sheep sorrel roots added in light of recently published findings).
But soon it was time to leave Tehachapi. Jack was growing fast, his father had a job offer for a new project in Houston, and I really missed being around the water. The desert is a strange place for an East Coast couple to wind up, especially after living for years on a sailboat.
So we moved to Texas and started saying 'y'all' instead of 'you guys.' (Side note: Texas has some of the nicest people in America). Jack got into a good school system, my husband's project ramped up to the extreme, and I leased our old building to a world-class Native American chef who began Red House BBQ (an amazing restaurant that draws people from all over the world to this day).
After a brief moving lull, we launched full bore into setting up shop in Texas. We built another licensed commercial kitchen, had friends and family draw all over its walls, and started to brew again. It was sad to say goodbye to Tehachapi, but the extra time and energy allowed me to refocus on essiac, help Jack with his homework, and nurse the geriatric ward at a nearby hospital.
That brings us to our latest journey: A Nurse's Tea. If you've been with us a while, you know we've gone by A Nurse's Herbal Tea for our essiac up to this point. Well, we've rebranded! After Jack graduated art college a few years ago, he moved to work at a studio in Los Angeles. He loved his work but not the crowded city, and since his art can easily be done remotely, he moved back to Texas to freelance and help us with the business, family style.
This reunion made us realize we want to be more to our customers, to our friends. We want to bring essiac to more people who could benefit from it, and we want to do it with the honesty, class, and love they deserve. We want to grow together and use our platform as a lightning rod for healthy herbal lifestyles. We may be small, but we know that if we push hard, we can make a difference.
So whether you've been with us since the beginning or have just joined in, we want to thank you so much for being here with us. Together, we can spread essiac and herbal health to every corner of America, and even the world. We ask that you think of us when talking to friends who could benefit from our tea, or when visiting your favorite natural food store.
But above all, we ask that you take care of yourself. Respect yourself. Tea is only one component of a life lived in light. We are social creatures of the outdoors-- each and every one of us needs to walk and play and love.
So thank you again for reading our story. I encourage you to check out the rest of our website and not to hesitate if you have any questions about our tea, our business, or even if you just need someone to talk to. We live for this work and believe deeply in it. We want you to believe too.
Chris Corpening, RN
Owner & Operator of A Nurse's Tea