Oh sweet, sweet summer. If you’re anything like us, you spend all year looking forward to summer and all summer completely wearing yourself out trying to enjoy every minute of it. Long afternoons on the beach, happy hour sunsets, poolbar hopping, warm evenings on the front porch…it really doesn’t get much better than summer on the Eastern Shore. Which is why when we heard the news that our friends at Backshore were bottling ‘summer in a jar’ to ‘quench your thirst and feed your soul,’ we had to check it out. Hoop Tea, touted as tasting as ‘free spirited and fun loving as our town,’ has been popping up in most of our favorite watering holes over the past few weeks, including OC Wasabi, Fish Tales, Harborside, and Pickles. We went straight to the source for the inside scoop, sitting down with Backshore Brewing Company owner Danny Robinson this week to learn more about Hoop Tea.
In typical OC summer style, we met Robinson on the boardwalk, holding our meeting on the seawall against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Yeah, life is tough here in OCMD. But I digress…back to the Hoop Tea. Hoop Tea is handcrafted right here in Ocean City at Backshore (9th St. & the Boardwalk). The composition is simple, and decidedly so, comprised of purified water, tea leaves, organic cane sugar, fruit, herbs and 4% alcohol. “Eventually our goal is to have a 100 percent organic process, and we’ll get there,” said Robinson, explaining that they are currently using as many organic ingredients as possible to craft a quality product. The result is a refreshing blast of flavor that seems to magically embody everything we love about summer…so much so that the malt beverage is selling out quickly at area bars.
Despite the initial surge in popularity, Robinson aims to keep Hoop Tea on a relatively small scale for the time being, selling the varieties of tea at Backshore and in a few area bars (Mother’s Cantina, Captains Galley II, Pit n Pub, Oasis, and Riptide Poolbar, to name a few). Currently, Hoop Tea is distributed to area bars in two flavors: White Mango and Sweet Lemon. On site at Backshore, Hoop Tea is available to drink at the bar, but also to take home in growlers. There are also more flavors available at Backshore, with flavor combinations constantly on rotation. For example, last week Red, White & Blue was on tap – a refreshing mix of white tea leaves, rooibos, hibiscus, raspberries and blueberries. This week, look for a mixture of pomegranate and cherry with green tea. “The sky is the limit when it comes to variations of tea,” Robinson pointed out.
The idea was born nearly two years ago when Robinson and the Backshore crew started brainstorming ideas for a refreshing alternative to beer. Noticing the popularity of malt beverages like Twisted Tea and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, they started testing recipes for their own malt beverage, but with a overarching goal of utilizing fewer ingredients. “People want something other than beer and liquor and tea is just perfect for this area,” he said, adding “the handcrafted, small batch movement is permeating every demographic in the country. Everybody is starting to look at ingredients and at what goes into their bodies.”
With summer on the horizon, Hoop Tea is primed for a busy summer in Ocean City, but the focus will continue to be on the customer. “It’s about making a good product and keeping people happy, one person at a time,” said Robinson.
For more on Hoop Tea, including where you can find it, follow them on Facebook and Instagram, or stop in Backshore during your next trip to the Boardwalk. Cheers!