Teas on the Wall at TeaHereNow
Working in Downtown Oakland over the past few years,
I’ve seen more and more “gourmet” food businesses open in the neighborhood. There used to be the outpost of Bakesale Betty. But that has since closed. Luckily, several artisanal food shops have popped up in the past few years – Donut Savant, Bittersweet and now, TeaHereNow.
Being only two blocks from my work, my co-workers quickly became regulars of TeaHereNow. With my first visit, I discovered why owner Andréa Tyler talks tea the way a Kermit Lynch talks wine. She’s warm, knowledgeable and irrepressible with her love for tea and people. I had to ask her a few questions about the genesis of TeaHereNow and where it’s going.
Q: What does TeaHereNow have to offer? Obviously tea, but there's a clear point of view on how we take in tea that comes across as you connect with customers.
A: Warmth, community and a place for one to catch their breath amidst the hustle and bustle of our urban setting. Tea is a ritual that naturally requires a pause for preparation and enjoyment. This seems to also let neighbors meet, hurried folks to find calm for a moment, and a deeper appreciation of an ancient tradition in a modern context and setting.
Q: How did you get into tea?
A: I happened upon a very small and homey tea shop in a cottage in Cheddar, England, while I was on a trip their with my high school. I had come from an upbringing very far from the simple, calm and warm ritual that I enjoyed having a cup of tea that day. The proprietress had a tiny space, but she filled it with great warmth. I was forever impressed and inspired. I continued my tea education from that day forward and am still enjoying my "teasearch" and sharing tea and all it embodies.
Q: Why Downtown Oakland? Traditionally places like yours would open in Rockridge or Piedmont.
A: It really is just the vibe of the place. Working and living in or near Downtown Oakland has allowed me to witness the growth and potential of the heart of this gem of a city. I desire to be a part of its newest rising. I saw a need for a quality cup of tea and a space offering calm. So I mustered up a little bit of gumption to give a go at trying to add value in my own little way.
People do often think of having tea on a lazy afternoon (in a picturesque place with finger foods). But I think that the essence of that ritual is greatly needed in the hurried pace of daily life - even if only taken in the few minutes one can eek out of a busy day to "grab a cup of tea." It is so wonderful to see neighbors dash in from of the street, stop for a moment and leave just a little brighter and lighter to carry on for the rest of their day.
Q: You're expanding by leaps and bounds. What's next for TeaHereNow?
A: Given the size of our 250-square-foot tiny shop, expansion means something a little different in the near term. I can only hope the future brings more new neighbors taking time to enjoy and learn more about tea while taking a moment to catch their breath. Inviting in other members of the community and wanting to share their passion for tea and food by way of guest pop-ups, is something I'm excited about. Who knows, maybe even taking tea to the people by way of little tea pop-ups, traveling tea cart, or the like. More calm and caring for the people of Oakland by way of tea - that's top priority for me!