Sweet Poppa’s Serves Up Southern Sweet Tea with a Hint of History
Photos by Ashlee Glen
For the average Lynchburg Community Market visitor, Sweet Poppa’s Sweet Tea may seem to be just another local business (with some of the best sweet tea you’ll ever taste). For co-owner Ericka Ennis-Harris, however, it holds additional significance: furthering her father’s legacy.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Ennis-Harris held a strong bond with her father, David Ennis. As she reflects on her childhood, one fond memory she has is her father’s incredible sweet tea (a recipe that Ennis kept tightly guarded). “‘If I tell you [the recipe], I’ve got to kill you,’” Ennis-Harris said her father would jokingly tell her when she was younger.
Ennis-Harris did not learn the recipe herself until later in life from her stepmother after her father’s death. Since then, Ennis-Harris has perfected the recipe by adding fruit flavors to the original concoction. These flavors include peach, lemon (sweet or unsweet), raspberry, cherry, and mango—all of which are deliciously sweet, with a bright, fruity finish.
Prior to opening Sweet Poppa’s Sweet Tea, Ennis-Harris was hired as the director of security for River Ridge Mall. After an unforeseen disability, Ennis-Harris found herself in need of a new career. The solution arose when her children suggested she sell her sweet tea.
Harkening back to her father as inspiration for Sweet Poppa’s, Ennis-Harris takes a family-oriented approach in running the business. Ennis-Harris’ sister, Mariann Clark, co-owns Sweet Poppa’s, and her children work for the business.
While Ennis-Harris recognizes the importance of fiscal responsibility in maintaining a thriving company, she also acknowledges that money is not the sole purpose of her business. She emphasizes serving others and demonstrates this by donating any leftover tea to the Salvation Army.
“I still feel that community is important, and that God leads me to give back to those who need it,” Ennis-Harris said. “So, that’s why I donate to the Salvation Army. Every week, they expect it.”
In order to broaden her clientele, Ennis-Harris offers shipping options for those in Lynchburg as well as out-of-state. As an added incentive to purchase her products, Ennis-Harris often pays for overnight shipping out of pocket.
At a Glance:
Sweet Poppa’s Sweet Tea
Customers can find Sweet Poppa’s by visiting their booth at the Lynchburg Community Market, or they can contact Ennis-Harris via email: email@example.com
and phone: (434) 329-2812.