Herbal tea makers reap nature’s bounty
When the Maskal family founded Bermuda Herbal Tea Products, it wasn’t for the money, it was for the good of humanity.
They claim their juices and teas are the natural way to lower high blood pressure, prevent cancer and cleanse the organs, among other things.
“What drives us is when people call and say the rash that they had is gone and they think it was whatever drink we gave them,” said Kinfa Maskal, 35. “One person called my father and said he had a bump on his mouth. The doctor was giving him medicine to take. He called my father and said, he didn’t think it was the tablets that cured it, he thought it was our juice. He just wanted to call and thank us.”
Kinfa, his father Haile and mother, Rhonda Maskal, started the business out of their West Side, Sandys home in April 2015. They now sell over 20 blends of juices and teas all over the island.
Haile, 65, first became interested in herbology at 17, when a friend gave him tea made by spice berries.
“He said drink this,” Haile said. Haile was entranced at his first sip. Seeing his interest, his mother gave him a book about the medicinal benefits of different plants.
At 18, he started a small business selling herbal teas, but stopped after a few years when he became more involved with making a living.
He said our ancestors used many of these drinks and teas for centuries because they couldn’t afford or access more mainstream medicine.
“Herbs and fruits are the original medicine,” he said.
Now he feels people are forgetting traditional remedies due to modernisation.
When his son Kinfa was growing up, there was always something boiling away on the stove, lemon grass or dandelion tea.
“I was pretty much born into it,” Kinfa said. “Whatever was there, I’d drink it.”
He said in today’s world people don’t have the time to make their own pot of herbal tea, which works in his company’s favour.
Many of their ingredients come from their own back garden, but some have to be sourced wholesale or from local parks.
“If you are trying to grow ginger, it takes six months before you start to produce anything,” Kinfa said.
For products such as prickly pear, for their purple cactus juice, the Maskals have to go to battle.
Prickly pear is thorny and often grows on steep, sandy slopes.
“A couple of times I have slipped but caught myself,” Kinfa said. “That would be a dangerous thing to be falling down on top of.”
The final product is a reddish juice, that has a slightly bitter taste.
“People have to understand that the natural way is not always going to be the sweet way,” he said.
The juice is claimed to stop the onset of prostate cancer and help with obesity, among other things.
Some things like catnip, are small and hard to find.
“It’s good for people who have trouble sleeping,” Kinfa said.
Not all of their products are bitter. Some, such as kiwi and pineapple juice, are naturally sweet, or have added sugar, to cater to different tastes.
In addition to Bermuda Herbal Tea Products, Haile also runs Construction Management Service.
Kinfa said the most difficult thing about the business has been getting the word out there.
“It can be expensive to run a business like this,” he said. “Now it is hard to even have water in your house. It only rains so much and your tank only fills up so much. It is a task within itself to keep the thing going.”
But he said it has been a good journey.
The Maskals carefully research their products and include benefits and recommended dosages on the label. They warn that drinks with ginger root can be dangerous for pregnant women. Their products are all licensed by the Bermuda health department.
The drinks wholesale for $6, and retail for between $6.50 and $7. They are available in gas stations all over the island, the Pie Factory at 6 Parliament Street in Hamilton, Strykz Bowling Alley in St David’s, Rock-On Health Store at 67 Front Street, and many other locations.
• For more information call 735-2799, 734-0022 or 703-1729
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