Oh man. Sweet tea. It is the nectar of the gods.
Now think sweet tea infused with light flavors of peach, or maybe raspberry, or even green tea with sweet mango and passion fruit.
It’s a hard choice, isn’t it? That was the problem facing me when I stopped at Chugg’s Tea & Water Co. in Hallsville. I drive through Hallsville pretty regularly and found myself intrigued by the small metal building along U.S. 80.
Just tea and water? I had trouble imagining the concept. Turns out, it’s a pretty stinkin’ good idea.
Tyler Graber, a Marshall firefighter, and his wife, Kayla Graber, a nurse in Christus Good Shepherd’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, opened Chugg’s in January 2017. (His parents, Jeff and Barbara Graber, are partners as well.)
He and his wife were considering doing something else in addition to their regular jobs and decided they wanted to own a business.
“There’s a bunch of stores like this in Amarillo where I’m from,” Tyler Graber said.
The business model seemed like a good idea — “Who doesn’t like sweet tea?” he said.
Their sweet tea — and their unsweet tea — start off with water that the business purifies in-house using reverse osmosis, Tyler Graber said.
“We strip everything out of it, where it’s just hydrogen and oxygen,” he said.
The water also is for sale, and Graber said Chugg’s has started a water delivery service for businesses in Hallsville.
The store doesn’t use syrups to flavor its teas. The flavors are infused during brewing, Tyler Graber said, and pure cane sugar is used in the sweet teas.
“It’s as healthy as you can get it. It’s still sweet tea, but it’s healthy,” he said.
Nineteen sweet and unsweet teas, from plain to coconut and rasberry flavors, along with lemonade were on tap the day I visited. Small sample cups are available to try before you buy. I liked them all, but a choice had to be made. I bought a cup of iced sweet peach tea for myself.
My husband, who wasn’t with me, asked me to brig him a cup of blueberry. I loved mine. He was less enthusiastic about his, but he didn’t have the luxury of sampling before he selected a flavor.
“Some people love some and hate others. That’s why we have so many flavors,” Tyler Graber said, and added that coconut is one of the most popular flavors.
Sodas also are available at the store. Hot tea and hot cocoa — his grandmother’s recipe — join the menu during the winter.
The Grabers started their business in Hallsville because that’s where they found an affordable building, one they could buy.
“It was kind of a new concept, to this area at least,” Tyler Graber said, and they knew it would take several years to firmly establish the business. Already, in their second year of business, they’re starting to see growth and people tell them how much they like their tea.
An expansion into Longview could be on the menu in the next couple of years.
I’ll be waiting, cup in hand.