Handcrafted ginger elixirs in translucent shades of amber and red are bottled and lined up, artfully lit on the shelf behind the counter at ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixirs & Tea Haus in Rosendale. Before last April, the immune-system-boosting concoctions made from all organic ingredients were mainly available at farmer’s markets and festivals. But now that Corinna and Jason Geib have moved their ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixir business into a brick-and-mortar location at 446 Main Street, their growing cadre of customers have a regular place to replenish their supply.
The comfortable space with its wood-beamed ceiling has seating at a handful of tables and a few stools at the counter, where the elixirs can be sampled straight or added to hot and cold teas and drinks, consumed there or purchased to-go. In warm weather there is outdoor seating. Twice a month, on the first and third Wednesdays, an open mic night is hosted from 7-10 p.m. (Even during the reduced winter hours of the shop.)
The ImmuneSchein Tea Haus offers more than 60 varieties of loose-leaf tea along with a selection of teapots and tea wares; Japanese cast-iron teapots and colorful Moroccan tea glasses are all part of the mix. But as part of the local handcrafted economy, the Geibs make a point of supporting their fellow artisans, too, setting aside the front room to feature locally produced handmade products that complement the teas and elixirs: goat’s milk soaps and healing salves, baked goods, beeswax candles, gift cards and the like.
Supporting the local community in general is important to the couple. All of the cups and dining ware used in the Tea Haus is compostable and they compost all of their waste from the elixir production. Through weekly pickups from New Paltz’s Community Compost Company, they’ve contributed more than 3,500 pounds of compost so far to local farms, Corinna says. And the tips in the jar on the counter all go to local families in need.
Pure and simple
The idea for ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixirs came from the nature-based traditions Corinna grew up with in the southwestern part of Germany, near the Black Forest. Her grandfather was an herbalist who traveled the world in the ‘60s and ‘70s in search of new ideas, she says. “He always came back with all this knowledge and excitement about things he wanted to try. I remember as a kid, we always did different tinctures and syrups when we had a cold. He was known in the neighborhood as the person who, if you need anything or you want to grow something exotic, go see him.” Her grandfather was not a farmer, she adds, but he had a lot of land where he grew vegetables and herbs. “And he’s a mushroom expert, too; he can go up into the woods with a basket for hours!”
Corinna moved to the U.S. in 2009. She met Jason prior to that when traveling here on business for a company she worked for in Germany. Her background includes owning her own food shop and some work in nutrition. Jason has an MBA that he’s applied to various business ventures over the years and he still works as a business coach for other companies.
The couple began making ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixirs in another location a few years ago. The Tea Haus came into the picture in a bit of serendipity; in securing a large-enough commercial kitchen in which to grow the elixir business, it turned out the space in Rosendale — a former restaurant — had room to establish a tea shop as well. “And I was dreaming about having a tea store since I was very young,” Corinna says.
The ginger elixir the Geibs call their “classic” version is made with just three ingredients: organic ginger root, organic lemon juice and local wildflower honey. The product is made by brewing the ingredients together in small batches; it’s about a 12-hour process from start to finish, and they typically produce 180 bottles a day. The elixirs are made entirely of whole foods and nothing artificial is added. “The fascinating thing is that we make it with just three ingredients,” says Corinna. “And that’s it. No water, nothing else. It’s just pure ingredients. That’s what makes it so potent.”
Ginger root is a natural anti-inflammatory that counteracts motion sickness and nausea. It mitigates the effects of arthritis, aids in digestion and lowers cholesterol. Local wildflower honey combats allergies and colds while offering antioxidants, and organic lemon juice provides vitamins B and C, phosphorus and antioxidants among its wealth of beneficial properties.
The other varieties of ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixir all start with the formula of the classic, then each gets its own additional ingredient with specific health-promoting properties. Ceylon cinnamon regulates blood sugar and boosts brain function, organic turmeric root eases irritable bowel syndrome and provides digestive support, hibiscus has high levels of antioxidants and helps with detoxing the liver and green tea increases fat burning and cardiovascular health. There are also a few seasonally made elixirs including a locally grown garlic version offered in the fall.
The product is sold in 8.5 ounce bottles or a sample pack of two-ounce bottles that includes one classic and one each of the four main flavors. If consumed straight out of the bottle, the recommended amount to ingest is half an ounce to an ounce. The product is not a “concentrate” per se; it’s strictly a matter of preference as to whether a person wants to mix it with other liquids or take it straight. The taste of it undiluted is intense, with each component in the blend making itself known. And while the point is to support one’s health, there’s nothing medicinal in the taste of these elixirs. These aren’t the kind of health supplement that you gulp down as fast as you can to avoid the taste — (I’m lookin’ at you, fish oil) — many of her regular customers tell her, Corinna says, that they love the taste of the elixirs so much they’d want them even if there weren’t any health benefits.
A few drops can be added to salad dressings, marinades, stir-fries or yogurt. Jason says his favorite use of the elixirs is to mix a few drops into wasabi and enjoy it with sushi. If made into a beverage — mixed with hot or cold water, seltzer, tea or even cocktails — the recommended ratio is 1:6, one ounce of elixir to six ounces of mixer.
Many of the couple’s customers have suggested they should consider making a line of ginger sodas or other such products that contain the elixirs, but the flexibility of the product is part of its appeal, they say. “We’d rather that people tailor the elixir to their own taste preferences,” Jason says. “We decided to sell it this way because we didn’t want to limit it.”
Perhaps the best indicator of the product’s efficacy is that Corinna’s grandfather, the lifelong advocate for nature-based remedies, asked her for the recipe so that he can make it for himself and her grandmother. “They’re in their late 80s and still in awesome shape!” she says. “He’s super excited about the business; I’m actually about to ship a whole package of elixirs to him.”
ImmuneSchein Ginger Elixirs & Tea Haus takes orders by mail or e-mail for shipping and the products are carried by many Hudson Valley retailers; the list is on their website. Located at 446 Main Street in Rosendale, winter hours, January through March, are Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available at (828) 319-1844 or visit www.immune-schein.com.