Experience Sarasota: Sarasota Tea Company, The Tea House
I approached the Tea House, not quite sure what to expect... I am a Brit, so tea is in my nature but this place certainly took me by surprise and far exceeded my expectations. This is not the kind of teahouse that your granny would go to and sip a cup of earl gray, this place is COOL- uber cool!
It is almost November, the weather is gorgeous, that happy sunny ball of yellow sunshine is high in the sky, the blue waters are shimmering, how can Sarasota get any better you may be wondering?
Well it just did, I was just introduced to a brilliant new addition to our beautiful town. Sarasota Tea Company just opened their first Teahouse; it opened just three weeks ago in Gillespie Village shops.
I approached the Tea House, not quite sure what to expect... I am a Brit so tea is in my nature but this place certainly took me by surprise and far exceeded my expectations. This is not the kind of teahouse that your granny would go to and sip a cup of earl gray, this place is COOL- uber cool!
I first approached the outdoor seating area, quaint would be my word of choice for this little garden. Round tables with ample seating, colorful bushes of flowers a gazebo with twinkle lights and climbing flowers a white picket fence surrounding and a whole vibe of happiness.
I entered the tea house through the back door, an eclectic mix of furnishings swooned my eyes: velvet vintage armchairs, black chandeliers, suspended bird cages, Asian teapots, a tree limb, glass tabletops framing antique ceiling panels, handcrafted wooden bar stools, a cozy fireplace, shelves of tea, delicious treats behind glass counters and the list could go on and on. This place is unique and has bundles of charm. There are small rooms peeling off from the main shop floor each has it’s individual style of décor- one of which includes a traditional floor style seating area. If you need to get some work done, want a cool place to hang out, want to drink tea, want a space for an event or party, a cute date night, then the Teahouse can accommodate you.
I met with Tony and Jill the owners and operators of the Teahouse.
“The idea of opening up a teahouse has been Jill’s dream, and I wanted to support her in that… we have always been big tea fans.” said Tony.
I asked Tony where the vision had come from for the amazing interior of the store, he explained Jill and his love of traveling. "Wherever we go we always stop and find teahouses." said Tony "Our teahouse combines all of our favorite elements that we've found in our travels." That coupled with their own imaginative ideas has created a wonderful and inspiring space.
“Almost every metropolitan city has a teahouse.” said Tony. "Jill and I felt that there was a need for one here in Sarasota too."
All of their teas are ethically sourced, including a lot of organic and fair trade certified. Rows of shiny canisters full of tea: darjeerling wonder tea, zinger, orchid vanilla, cinnamon orange spice, Bombay chai, ginger peach and smokey rum… these are just a few flavors that caught my attention. The Teahouse has over 130 different types of tea from all over the world. Tony made me a pot of Ginseng oolong, it was delicious! The Teahouse has a snazzy collection of teacups and tea-ware which they use to serve tea in and they also have a array of items for purchase. As I sipped on my tea Tony gave me a little tea education-
Did you know that… A lot of times when tea is in a bag it is often tea dust and bits of leaves, this impairs the flavor and of course the taste of the tea. When you use whole tea leaves to brew tea you get a much higher quality of tea, you can also re-steep the tea another three to four times. Tony told me that at tea competitions they never offer the first cup of tea brewed, when the tea is re-steeped the leaves open more and release a richer flavor making the third or fourth cup the best tasting.
You can get a pot of tea at the Teahouse for $5.89 with free refills… now that is a lot of tea! And with free wifi in the house or some good company you could really be rather comfortable for a while! If you're not yet a tea lover (I use the word "yet" because I think you might convert after visiting the Teahouse) then you can order a cup of coffee and fill up on light bites which are locally sourced such as baked good and quiches.
The Teahouse is open until 10pm Saturday through Wednesday and 11pm Thursday and Friday night. They have open mic night every Tuesday and Poetry reading every other Thursday - Tony said that these evenings have been a huge success so far thanks to Kenra Whyte who organizes the events. You can follow the Teahouse on facebook and keep up to date with events going on - Tony and Jill are open for suggestions on more events so if you have any great ideas let them know. Tea classes will be coming soon to the Teahouse, so keep an eye out for updates on that!
The Tea House
1869 Fruitville Rd in Gillespie Village
Sarasota, Fl 34236