REAL TEA FOR A SUMMER DAY
A lifelong tea lover, Mary Ann Rollano always had a fresh pitcher of iced tea in her fridge, but it took a layoff from her job as a registered nurse for her to turn it into a business.
“I drink iced tea all the time and could never find a good bottled one,” she says. “I often thought, ‘I make a better-tasting tea than this!’” As a challenge to herself, Rollano began working with the Rutgers Food Innovation Center five years ago to try to bring her tea to the masses. Rollano was committed to producing an all-natural product, using real tea leaves, lightly sweetened with lemon juice and pure cane sugar. She soon discovered that many bottlers refused to brew tea leaves (which result in a waste product) and most wanted to substitute lemon juice concentrates for real lemon juice.
It took some time, but Rollano finally found the right fit (the bottler donates the discarded tea leaves to a pig farmer), and the hard work has paid off. Her bottled iced tea was awarded first place in the 2012 North American Tea Championship for best flavored black tea. Rollano, who interacts with her customers at tastings in various food stores across the state, says, “Many are surprised to learn what real brewed iced tea tastes like.”
Rollano also pays homage to her Jersey Shore home; her labels showcase a perfect summer day at the beach, complete with surfer girls and an old-fashioned woody wagon. MaryAnna’s, though named for its creator, is a family affair. Those girls on the label just so happen to be her daughters, and her husband makes the deliveries— in that woody.
MaryAnna’s teas are sold directly through the company’s website and in specialty stores and markets throughout New Jersey.