Ann Arbor tea experts pen ‘Tea for Dummies’ book

Owner and employee of TeaHaus in Kerrytown join forces to write national guide

A hot cup of tea and a tea cocktail at TeaHaus. (TeaHaus)

ANN ARBOR – When Lisa McDonald received an email in early 2022 from Wiley publishing, she thought it must have been a scam and placed it into her junk mail.

But when the emails continued to come, she realized they were not only legitimate, but also presented an intriguing opportunity.

The owner of TeaHaus and her longtime media specialist Jill Rheinheimer were asked by the major publisher to write a book on tea for its famed “For Dummies” series.

“They had researched us between our website and Jill’s blog,” said McDonald. “They had only asked us to do it.”

Surprising? No. McDonald is the only European Union-trained and certified tea sommelier in the United States. She began her career working with German companies, which have the strictest quality control on tea. Her knowledge of tea is extensive and she has worked in the industry for more than two decades.

The "Tea for Dummies" front and back covers. (Wiley Publishing | Courtesy: TeaHaus)

Rheinheimer has been working for TeaHaus for eight years leading its marketing efforts and writing the shop’s blog and newsletter.

McDonald said her expertise combined with Rheinheimer’s research, writing and design skills made them the perfect team to write “Tea for Dummies.”

Aside from a specific format from Wiley publishing, they said they were given free rein on everything else when writing the book. The book starts with basic information like how to brew your tea, how to taste your tea, how to enhance your experience and different types of teaware to the science behind caffeine, tea producing culture in various countries and more.

McDonald also shares how to cook with tea since she has extensive experience from her Eat More Tea storefront, making macarons, gelato and other items from scratch with tea as a central ingredient.

Tea tasting at TeaHaus in Ann Arbor. (TeaHaus)

“It’s for someone who doesn’t really know about tea but wants to maximize their experience,” said Rheinheimer.

They shared that their best writing days, ironically, were spent on McDonald’s deck in the summer sipping cappuccinos that her husband made for them.

“It was fun to do a collaboration like this,” said Rheinheimer.

“People have been encouraging us for years to write a book,” said McDonald. “But I think that it never would have actually happened. I don’t know if the ‘dummies’ series would have been my first choice in writing a book but at the same time … it set the parameters and motivated us because then we didn’t have to worry about self-publishing or anything like that.”

“Tea for Dummies” will be on sale on March 8 in bookstores. It is available for pre-order now on TeaHaus’ website, Borders, Target and Amazon.

Watch: TeaHaus Ann Arbor on Live in the D

TeaHaus recently reopened its doors to the community after closing its tea room in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly three years, it continued serving customers online or via a walk-up window at its Kerrytown shop.

Since then, TeaHaus has taken over the corner space at 4th Ave. and Ann St. and features tables, a couch next to a fireplace and a bar. Fun fact: TeaHaus now has a liquor license and serves tea-infused cocktails.

“We went with a no laptop, no Wi-Fi policy,” said McDonald of the reopening. “I’ll be here at 9 p.m. and kids that used to have their noise cancelling headphones on and laptops are learning how to knit or are reading a book.”

TeaHaus is located at 204 N. 4th Ave.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.