A Taste of Chocolate: Calabash Tea & Tonic

theGrio’s “A Taste of Chocolate” series continues with an herbalist bringing indigenous healing practices to northeast D.C.

“I found that when I went to medical school, they were just teaching us interventions…and not preventive ways to make stuff happen,” says Dr. Sunyatta Amen, owner of Calabash Tea & Tonic.

Unsatisfied with that approach to medicine, Amen decided to lean into her family’s five generations of herbalism and indigenous healing practices. 

“The most I ever learned was from my great-grandmother, who is Cuban and Jamaican, and she was the village healer,” she says.

Today, she uses the knowledge from her multicultural family to run Calabash Tea & Tonic, a staple in the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C.

Amen and her eclectic tea house are featured in the third episode of theGrio’s “A Taste of Chocolate” series. 

“We’re here as the midwife of healing,” she says.

In the episode, Amen shares how she’s helping “decolonize” our tastebuds, how her family influenced her commitment to helping people heal, and how she makes her popular Love Potion # 10 chai tea, which is based on her grandmother’s recipe.

“It’s Love Potion number 10 because number 9 wasn’t good enough for you,” Amen jokes in the episode.

Calabash Tea & Tonic is featured in theGrio’s “A Taste of Chocolate” series hosted by Shernay Williams, which takes us on a road trip to visit some of the most intriguing Black food and drink entrepreneurs in the Washington, D.C., area, historically known as “Chocolate City.” Each episode profiles a business owner’s entrepreneurial journey and takes viewers into the kitchen to taste their signature dishes. 


TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. TheGrio’s Black Podcast Network is free too. Download theGrio mobile apps today! Listen to ‘Writing Black‘ with Maiysha Kai.

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