.Food & Drink: Key to tea

Key Tea blends locally grown herbs for good health

By Tanya Henry

“Unlocking plant love” reads the tagline of Cristian Ellauri’s Key Tea operation. I say operation because Ellauri’s offerings include more than simply selling tea. An impressive custom-made mobile cart, and specially blended decoctions, shrubs and tonics prepared with locally grown herbs are all on this farmers’ market vendor’s menu.

Hailing most recently from Oahu, where he completed a master’s degree in theater, the Washington, D.C.-born actor is now onto his third career. “I realized that all of my acting performances included themes about the earth and sustainability, but I really didn’t know that much about it,” Ellauri says.

More than a year ago, Ellauri, who lives in Lagunitas, completed his custom Tea Kart that allows him to set up shop at farmers’ markets and private events. The uber-efficient design transforms from a rectangle shape (that attaches to a bicycle) into a three-section counter with two sinks, countertop space and a propane burner. The roomy counters are ideal for displaying the line of teas attractively packaged in glass Mason jars with labels sporting a large skeleton key.

“I’m learning to listen to the plants,” explains Ellauri. He purchases nettles, dandelion and roots from local farms to create concoctions designed to help tea drinkers with things like calming nerves, sleeping and digestion.

“Da bomb chai” is a favorite blend, and isn’t cloyingly sweet like so many others. A “drop-in” (nerve tonic) is offered chilled or warm and is designed to calm the nerves. A slightly tangy “iced hibiscus kefir” is prepared with marshmallow root, yaupon leaf and honey cubes.

Though Ellauri hasn’t quit his day jobs—he’s a massage therapist and gardening teacher—his blends are available at many local shops and farmers’ markets. One day, he hopes to unite all of his interests and have a space where folks can perform, create art and, of course, drink tea.

For more information, visit keyteacart.com.

Pacific Sun
The Pacific Sun publishes every Wednesday, delivering 21,000 copies to 520 locations throughout Marin County.


  1. We are all on a journey together. This one of plants, bringing them into our homes to make the medicine of our lives. Learning more each day. Thank you so much.

  2. Hey, great to see you in the Pacific Sun! I’ve seen your posts on the SGV community list and now my curiosity about who you are has been quenched. I totally admire what you are doing and the spirit with which you are doing it.

    Rock on!


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