TeBella Tea Company has recently signed a lease to open a specialty tea retail shop and full tea bar at 1445 Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete. The space is currently home to ARTicles Art Gallery and Custom Framing, which will be moving to 1234 MLK Jr Street North in Historic Uptown around mid-April. Jessica Dwyer of Klace & Company represented TeBella and Jake Wollman of KW Commercial represented the landlord in the deal.
Abigail StClair, the owner of TeBella, opened the first location on Davis Islands back in 2010. Since then, TeBella has expanded into Sarasota’s University Town Center, Tampa’s Oxford Exchange, and St. Pete’s Station House. However, the Station House location will close once the new location opens in the EDGE District.
The new 1,200 square foot shop will sell and serve an impressive selection of over 100 orthodox-grade teas. An array of options will be offered within each of the popular tea varieties, such as white, green, black, oolong, pu-erh, rooibos, mate, and herbal. Expect to see classics like Darjeeling, Sencha Hiki, and Matcha, along with creative blends like Carrot Cake, Florida Orange Blossom, and Blackberry Royale.
Not only will TeBella’s tea bar serve all 100+ teas either iced or hot, but specialty beverages will also be available. Look for drinks such as the London Fog, which consists of Earl Grey tea steeped in milk with vanilla and sugar, or the Salted Caramel Latte, a combination of caramel black tea, sea salt, caramel sauce, sugar, and a milky froth on top.
Pricing starts at $3.75 for a standard cup of tea with an added charge for milk, whipped cream, or lemonade. The specialty beverages cost between $4.50 to $5.50 per cup.
One of the things StClair is most excited about is the ability to host events in St. Pete. “This will be a little bit of a larger space for us,” said StClair. “And we did that because I’d like to do some tasting classes, tea blending classes, tea and cheese pairings, and tea and chocolate pairings.”
TeBella’s EDGE District location will have a little bit of indoor seating, probably at the windows, as well as some outdoor seating.
The retail portion of the shop will carry various vessels in which to steep your tea, such as simple and quick over-the-cup infusers and more traditional teapots for when you want to enjoy the art and ritual of tea. They’ll also carry devices designed specifically for cold infusion, which has been a popular trend lately.
Many people are familiar with the nuances of wine, beer, and cheese through education provided by wine sommeliers, beer cicerones, and certified cheese professionals (Yes, it’s a thing!), but some are surprised to find out that tea is also very nuanced. And what truly sets TeBella apart from its competitors is the education they provide to customers on the ritual or art of tea.
Over the years, StClair has realized that her customers really want to know about what it is their drinking, where it came from, and why it tastes the way that it does.
“Although it’s just one leaf, the processing method can determine so many different flavor profiles,” said StClair. “And there are so many variations that can be achieved at the garden level to create such a different end product.”
Owning a business wasn’t always the plan for StClair. She spent her first year out of college working with large animals in captivity, like beluga whales and seals. She loved it, but it made her realize that’s not what she wanted to do long-term.
“It had never occurred to me to own my own business before,” said StClair. “But it did occur to me to start creating my own opportunities at a time when there just weren’t a lot of opportunities for recent college graduates.”
Tea had always been a passion and something she started to ritualize as a way to relax. Simply enjoying the tea wasn’t enough though; StClair wanted to learn everything she could about it. One fateful day, she stumbled upon Teavana’s SEC filing and noticed that the company’s two Tampa locations were two of the top ten highest grossing. And that’s when the lightbulb went off in her head. “There’s got to be room in the market for a small local competitor,” she thought.
“We opened in a difficult time and ended up doing really well,” recalls StClair. “We grew from one store to two pretty quickly and along the way we developed a wholesale program as well.” Today, TeBella’s wholesale program boasts 150 to 200 cafes, restaurants, and retail shops.
Looking to the future, StClair hopes to expand beyond Tampa Bay and possibly even Florida. “Our next location will hopefully be a second one in Sarasota, and then maybe Winter Park,” said StClair. “And then eventually, we are interested in moving up the east coast a little bit. We are definitely interested in growing outside of Florida at some point.”
The EDGE District should prove to be a great location for TeBella. Last year, three apartment communities opened up within a few blocks of TeBella’s new location. Vantage , Artistry , and 1701 Central combine for a total of 700 rental units.
This summer, the old St Petersburg Police station, which is located on the 1300 block of Central Avenue, is slated to be demolished to make way for Orange Station at the EDGE , a mixed-use project expected to bring 100,000 square feet of office space, 86 residential units, and over 20,000 square feet of retail to the neighborhood. There are also several other residential projects coming soon to the EDGE District, which will add 500+ units over the next few years.
TeBella’s St. Pete location is still in the design phase, but an expected opening date is set for October 1st at 1445 Central Avenue in the EDGE District. In the meantime, be sure to check out TeBella’s website or visit them in-person at Oxford Exchange, Davis Islands, and Sarasota. You can also follow them on Instagram and Facebook .
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