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Midwest Teas is another student entrepreneurial project

Barry McNamara
Will Terrill (left) and Connor Shields
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Earlier this week, Monmouth College’s Midwest Teas project officially launched when the product went on sale at Olivia’s restaurant in downtown Monmouth.
Funded by the Wells Foundation, the “science-business” proposal was written by senior Connor Shields of Naperville and junior Will Terrill of Sandwich, who wanted to provide quality tea to the local area. With a grant of $1,250, the students established a relationship with Silk Road Teas to provide wholesale/bulk quantities of quality tea. They then designed labels and packaging and worked with owner Rae Connolly at Olivia’s to get their product on the shelves.
Currently, their product has two varieties: Lapsang Souchong, a Chinese black tea cured
with the smoke of pine needles, and Keemun, a smooth Chinese black tea with subtle fruity notes. Terrill said he and Shields hope to have at least two more available soon. 
“I don’t think we started the project because we had trouble finding good tea,” he said. “It was more that we were interested in tea and wanted to know more. It became a passion of ours. This project has definitely taught us a great deal about tea.”
Shields and Terrill were also instrumental in arranging for tea guru David Lee Hoffman to visit campus at the end of this month. Hoffman will be the featured guest at events on three consecutive days, all of which are free and open to the public.
On Feb. 25 at 8 p.m., a documentary about his tea importing adventures in Asia, “All In This Tea,” will be shown at Dahl Chapel. Hoffman will give a public presentation on Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m. at Dahl Chapel, where he will speak about his different business ventures and experiences running two tea companies. On Feb. 27 at 4 p.m., he will attend a tea sampling in the Whiteman-McMillan Highlander Room in Stockdale Center.
“Two other science students – Pat Corrigan and Alex Peacock – are interested in evaluating tea from a health perspective,” said assistant professor chemistry Brad Sturgeon, who helped oversee the project. “That part of the project is in its infancy.”
Sturgeon has also overseen the work that students have contributed in the past few years to producing, marketing and selling Scots Roast coffee.