During a hiking trip on the Inca Trail back in 2012, Parma native Ryan Florio and his two friends came upon a local drink he knew he wanted to bring back to Northeast Ohio.
"Our Sherpa guide made us this ancient Incan tea," says Florio. "I fell in love with it."
Once back in Cleveland, Florio scoured the web for the recipe and quickly found one little secret to the delicious nectar was a single unique ingredient — purple corn, which Peruvians consider a super food recommended to fight against a host of medical maladies. He stumbled on an expert on purple corn, an associate professor at Ohio State and, in his words "decided to cash in my 401k, quit my job, and begin the journey of starting a tea company."
Combining cinnamon, cloves, apples, pineapples, hibiscus, elderberries and currants, Florio recreated the tea he drank daily on his hike and called it, Peruvian Spice Berry. He's since added other flavors and is aiming for 12 in total.
"I am pro Cleveland and purchase as many ingredients as I can from the West Side Market," says Florio.
Florio's production facility is just off East 25th Street and Superior Ave. in Cleveland, and all his packaging is designed and produced here in Cleveland.
Unlike so many start-up food and beverage concepts that dream of an eventual store front, Florio's vision for Inca Tea is strictly retail and wholesale. "I want to focus on getting my tea into as many places nationwide as possible." So far that includes six states and 100 stores in just a few months. Locally, you can find it at Heinens, Miles Market, Giant Eagle, Mustard Seed, Nature's Bin and Constantino's.