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Taste – Holiday 2020



By Griffin Nelson | Photos By Evermore Photo Co.

Tea and running her own business are two things that Precious Jones has been passionate about her whole life. “I am a born entrepreneur. I was that kid in elementary school selling m&ms and pencils,” she says and by the time she had her own children she was using her own tea blends to entice them away from unhealthy sugary drinks and improve their health overall. “I have this huge curiosity for herbalism - how [it was] used through history, especially through Aftircan American slave medicine.” Her entrepreneurial spirit and love of herbs and tea fell naturally in together and merged with the creation of MEplusTEA in 2017 when she officially started her business. She’d been selling at farmers’ markets and eventually expanded into popups and through her website.

There’s a powerful human element behind this tea. Each blend is named with thought and care and never until after the blend has been perfected so that Jones can christen it based on how that specific tea made her feel and how she wants others to feel when drinking it. “That’s the great thing about tea,” she says, “How you feel depends on what cup of tea you drink.” Her first ever blend was titled Happy To Be Me - a wonderful blend of tea and positivity. To say that each tea is handcrafted with love would be an understatement. Everything from Mint To Be with its rich peppermint flavor to more herbal blends like Sleep Potion have been carefully crafted with a purpose in mind like soothing or relaxation or pain relief.

With the holidays coming up Jones has created the ultimate selection of gift boxes for every tea-lover. The Personalized Tea Experience allows the customer to pick out their own selection of teas to customize their box and has an option to send a gift message to the recipient. There’s even a special Holiday Gift Set with seasonal tea blends like Spicy Orange Chai, Ginger Bread, and Winter Bliss. To make for a complete experience you can also find any brewing accessories you could possibly need from full-sized tea pots to single cup infusers. Jones is passionate about giving back to her community as well. CommuniTEA Houses can be purchased for yourself or as a gift and include ready-to-brew Peace and Love tea bags and honey sticks, with 50% of the profits going to local social-justice organizations like the Athens Anti-discrimination Movement and Justice Warrior. As the weather cools down and the stress of the holidays approaches, what better way to relax than by supporting a local business with a passion for healthy living and giving back, giving you the opportunity to unwind with your own cup of tea, lovingly handcrafted right here in Athens.



A lot of things have changed for a lot of people this year and holiday meals are inevitably going to look a little different in 2020. Whether it’s Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Dinner, or any of the numerous meals inbetween during this crazy, hectic time, it’s always such a relief to know that you don’t have to do it all yourself.  Lindsey’s Culinary Market is part of the established culture in Athens. Though they’ve been serving the community for over a decade inside the restaraunt itself, they’ve been able to continue supporting their customers by providing more Home Replacement Meals options this season.

Of course you can pick up a meal from their cooler any day of the week or even order something special in advance. Owner and head chef Lindsey Payne, an Athens native and talented chef, loves to be creative and is an expert at finding delicious ways to incorporate produce and meat from local farms all over the Athens area. Whether it’s one of their many delicious salads or a giant brisket, “we try to incoprorate local stuff when we can get it,” Lindsey says. Using local ingredients means that they often rotate, allowing her to get creative throughout the year using what’s in season for the weekly specials that go along with their staple lunch menu.

Whether you just need some chicken salad for a light meal or appetizer for a party or need side dishes and desserts to feed a crowd during your holiday gettogether, Lindsey’s has got you covered. You can always stop by and grab a meal to go out of the cooler, call ahead for more specifics on what’s available, or if you can order in advance they can make you pretty much anything you might need. From a casserole to Thanksgiving pie, soup to warm you up during those chilly nights or a big birthday cake for a party, Lindsey’s Culinary Kitchen makes it easier to enjoy this holiday season with loved ones without the stress of having to cook it all yourself. While we focus on shopping, final exams, work, and many of the other daily time-grabs that this time of year often brings, Lindsey continues to passionately serve our community during this season by taking the burden of holiday cooking off our plates.



I’m not sure if there’s anything more classically Southern than pimento cheese. For Deana Tanner Bibb, a native Georgian, though she had eaten it growing up much like we all have, she had never made it herself. The turning point was in the early 90’s when she moved into a new home and a friendly neighbor brought some over as a sweet housewarming gift. It was some of the best pimento cheese she had ever tasted and as that new friend was willing to give her the recipe, Deana quickly became an expert on the subject, tweaking a few things to make it her own. She herself became known for her pimento cheese amongst her friends and family and by 2014 she was seriously considering starting a business.

Before she’d even officially cut the ribbon on her new business Deana entered her pimento cheese in the Flavor of Georgia contest in 2015 - and won! The winning apperativo that wowed the judges was a combination of Proper Pepper Get Back Jack Pimento Cheese on a thin ginger snap wafer. The combination of heat from the ginger cookie and light jalapenjo from the cheese balanced perfectly, taking a traditional Southern staple and giving it a modern twist of flavor. I’ve tried it personally and highly recommend it - it practically addictive! This Jack and Ginger pairing is of course availble on the Proper Pepper website, which launched, along with the business, shortly after the contest wrapped.

As Proper Pepper has grown they’ve gone on to win an American Cheese Society Award (2019) and have expanded their offerings. There is, of course, both the Classic Pimento Cheese as well as the slightly spicy Get Back Jack, but they’ve also added cheese spreaders, crackers, gorgeous aprons, and earlier this year even launched their own Raspberry Pepper Preserves that marries perfectly with the crowd-pleasing pimento cheese. Keep a lookout on their Instagram and website to see any new holiday offerings as well!

Pimento cheese really is the perfect thing to have on hand during this time of year. It’s easy to pair with crackers for a snack when short on time. It’s a select appetizer to share with friends who stop by or as the centerpiece of a cheese board during a holiday party. Try Proper Pepper Pimento Cheese in grits or on a burger and you’ll never go back. There’s a whole list of ideas on their website to help you think outside the box wtih mouth-watering, award-winning, small batch, hand-scooped Proper Pepper pimento cheese. Find it nearby at places like the Farm View Market in Madison, The Striplings in Bogart, the Madison Produce Company, and in various shops around Athens.