It’s no secret that coffee tends to hog the caffeinated spotlight from time to time. But we’re here for you, tea lovers. We’d like to widen that spotlight and shift our attention over to a hot (or iced) cup of tea. Here’s a small guide to just a few local specialty tea shops to help you get started on your next leafy quest.
English Cottage Tea
855 Arlington St. NE, Grand Rapids
englishcottagetea.com, (616) 970-3852
Don’t just have a cup of tea — make it a party and invite your friends, because tea is better shared. Cynthia Wedge, owner of English Cottage Tea, can help host your next tea-filled get together.
“I took a course in starting a tea business and became a certified Tea Specialist,” Wedge said. “I wanted to sell quality loose-leaf tea free from harmful chemicals; share the health benefits of drinking tea; and provide a place of respite for people to come for afternoon tea.”
At the moment, the cottage offers more than 35 varieties of teas to choose from, including white, green, oolong, black and herbal tisanes. All of the teas are either certified USDA Organic or imported from Germany, guaranteeing you’ll only be enjoying the purest tea available.
“Since I discovered there was no place in Southwestern Michigan to go for an afternoon tea party, we looked into the possibility of offering tea parties by appointment,” Wedge said.
Once the tea has been picked out, the party can begin. The parlor is available for tea tasting parties by reservation.
“Tea parties consist of scones, small tea sandwiches, sweets and bottomless cups of tea,” Wedge said. “They are served on tiered trays, fine china and silver. They are a time of relaxation and conversation with friends and family.”
Imperial Tea Garden
imperialteagarden.com, (616) 826-9591
Imperial Tea Garden caters to the true tea connoisseur. The Grand Rapids-based online retailer has been serious about its cup of tea since beginning 13 years ago.
“Imperial Tea Garden was formed purely from my personal love of tea,“ said owner Roman Bohatch. “I have always preferred tea instead of coffee and really like discovering single-estate teas from around the world as opposed to blends.”
The store currently offers 80 different varieties of tea from China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Africa. The wide selection includes green, black, white, oolong and herbal teas personally selected by Imperial Tea Garden.
“We try to keep something for everyone and in all price ranges, including some rarer high-end white teas,” Bohatch said. “We also have custom blends like our trademarked Sleep Tight Herbal Tea, which is a mint-based caffeine-free herbal tea with soothing herbs such as chamomile, valerian root, lemongrass and others that promote sound sleep.”
Although the business is online only, you won’t have to wait long for your tea to arrive (within three business days).
“Our customers know they are getting a great product at a very competitive price,” said Bohatch. “The vision is to open a tea and scone retail outlet, as the transformation of our city has made it one of the best places to live.”
143 Diamond Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
globalinfusion.net, (616) 776-9720
Since opening in 2004, Global Infusion has become known for its commitment to ethical business and Fair Trade products. The shop houses an eclectic collection of fair-trade handcrafted gifts, decor, coffee, chocolate and bulk loose-leaf teas.
Global Infusion’s immense tea wall will place a tea lover in paradise. With more than 100 different organically grown and fairtrade teas to choose from, there’s sure to be a cup of tea for everyone.
The shop encourages the purchase of loose-leaf teas, with the belief it creates the best tasting and freshest tea you will ever sip out of your cup. Pre-packaged teas make it difficult to measure up to the high-quality tea leaves you get from loose-leaf products. And since loose-leaf tea can be re-steeped multiple times, a cozy cup of tea can be enjoyed more than once with the same leaves.
962 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids
kavakasagr.com, (616) 649-0177
Discover “the root of happiness” at Kava Kasa. The shop serves up quite the unique beverage and is the only kava bar here in West Michigan.
As you sip from your “shell,” the wave of serenity and calm is almost instant. Kava is a root that comes from the South Pacific and is known for its health benefits: reduced stress, nervous system support, anxiety relief, mental focus and muscle recovery.
The drink is consumed cold and in the form of kava milk, a mixture of water and dried, ground kava root. Not only is kava healthy, it’s a safe alternative to alcohol and can give the drinker some of the same relaxing and sedative effects. Kava Kasa uses only the highest quality Kava from the island of Vanuatu.
If you’re looking for an experience (and maybe some peace of mind) grab a cup of earthy kava and enjoy the true island experience.