By LINGYUE ZHENG
Located across from an Armani and right next to a GNC, Tea & Poets offers a family-friendly community where even five-year-old kindergarten kids could stay and have fun without their parents’ worrying about certain language or inappropriate content.
Tea & Poets, a tea house amid a street of fashion shops and flowing crowds with full hands of shopping bags, is located quietly at a corner of the Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami.
Seen afar, people can see the classic and italic “Tea & Poets” put up upon the entrance and it circles out a serene sanctuary for people who would like to enjoy some leisure time chatting and sipping tea.
Upon stepping into the store, one will be always greeted with warm “hey how’s it going?” as if you are of their long-lost old friends coming back to visit.
“We try to re-define how we connect to each other. At Tea & Poets, we are endeavor to create a community where people are encouraged to show their intellectual talents and embrace some virtue in humanity,” said Joaquin Ortiz, one of three founders of Tea & Poets, who stood behind a counter upon which displayed more than 20 square jars of various teas, a tray of cookies and another tray of cranberry cake.
“Also, it is about the expression of arts and lifestyle.”
Joaquin Ortiz, with help from his friends Francisco Musalem and Henrik Telle, founded Tea & Poets in last July. Since then, the newly established store appeals to people in the neighborhood including some artistic companies and many UM students.
The interior of Tea & Poets is interestingly divided into several sections: a stage in the middle of the area, surrounded by couches and rows of tables. Ortiz cautiously adjusted the distance between the tables so customers would easily communicate with other people while not fear for sacrificing their privacy.
Some girls sit in the far-end of the store and converses joyfully, a couple share a cranberry and work on their laptops, other people come in and wonder around.
Fourteen dispersed sections, including fashion clothing, hats, sunglasses and other items, occupy the periphery area and helps create a leisure atmosphere and provide an opportunity for customers to hang around.
Across from the central stage lies the busy counter, behind which staffs are preparing tea or other non-alcohol drinks for customers.
Overhead lies a row of blackboards showcasing the menus and upcoming performances, nonetheless, a wooden case on the counter inside which are arrays of tea always eye-catchy.
Sri Lanka Elephant, Tulsi Ginger, Turkish Bazaar and various other jars of tea invite people to smell and find one best suits their mood. Staffs will be tea guru and guide you through the indecisiveness of which tea is the one you would enjoy today. Each type of tea originated from various regions including India, Africa, Pakistan, Thailand, and is collected by Ortiz during his trips, thereby those jars of tea bids with memories of different places and triggers stories about which Ortiz could tell you.
Rubios Red comes from Africa, for example, and one of its major ingredients is barks of tree. It tastes subtle and can effectively soothe people’s anxiety. Japanese Genmaicha contains brown rice and bamboo. The combination endows the tea a peculiar taste of popcorn. This one is great for your digestive system.
“Ingredients matter,” according to Ortiz. “Sometimes people overlook the ingredients in tea and think they are not important. It is not. Many elements in a tea contributes to its flavor and effects.”
Small elements matter — this idea is not exclusive to tea, but also applies to the performance taking place at Tea & Poets every Wednesday Open-Mic night.
Diverse artistic expressions not exclusive to poetry equally have opportunities to perform on stage.
It varies from jaw harp, saxophone, piano, violin to magic, yoyo, comedies and chess.
Last November, Tea & Poets invited The UM Astonishing Idiots of Miami Theatre Company to perform and Tea & Poets managers were happy that UM acoustic cabaret performed recently.
“I recite one of my poem and feels that my idea and feelings are well received and understood by people,” said Stephanie Kuchenbaur, who gets on stage to present her poem. “It is great to know people who cares for poetry, as well as other artistic performance.”
Other than Open-mic Wednesday night, Tea & Poets also holds Paint Night every Thursday to inspire participants to resort to innovative materials or methods to express their feelings more creatively.
“I am always here if I have time,” said Darien Edwards, a frequent customer who will begin service in the U.S. Army in June. He enjoys sitting on the couch and listening to the music.
“It fantasizes me that Tea & Poets is such a diverse community and at the same time people are friendly and interesting. You try the worldwide collection of tea and talk to people come from different backgrounds but share the same passion for arts.”
People do not have to be poets to write a poem and present it. People do not have to hold expertise in tea to explore the subtlety among tea. People come here with ears for music, eyes for arts and most importantly, hearts for community, and that makes Tea & Poets.
Where to Go
Tea & Poets is located at the Shops at Sunset Place, 5701 Sunset Dr., #126, South Miami, Fla., 33143. For more information such as hours of operation, go to http://www.teaandpoets.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/TeaAndPoets/.