From Rising Star to the Root Cafe, it’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of good local java in Cleveland—but what about the other hot drink? In recent years, tea enthusiasts have been gaining ground, shifting the focus to providing quality loose teas, herbal tisanes, and specialty blends in a non-formal setting. The traditions of British high tea have gone by the wayside and here are three cafes helping to lead the charge.
The Tea Lab
The latest cafe creation from the man who brought us Civilization and the City Roast stall at West Side Market, Bob Holcepl’s Tea Lab now boasts two locations, both with a decidedly different vibe from his other java joints. The sleek interior and stainless steel canisters bring to mind precision, fine-tuning, and a scientific approach to flavors, blends, and brewing. According to Holcepl, the goal was to “strip away the cliches of tea retail; not do the ‘Victorian English’ or ‘mysterious East’ thing that so many people latch on to.”
Within the Apple-esque setting, there’s a tea for every set of taste buds, along with accouterments necessary for creating the perfect cup. Infusers, tea balls, one-use bags, and pots are available for expanding your gear. 530 Euclid Ave. Ste. 17 in downtown Cleveland // 14534 Detroit Ave. in Lakewood.
Cleveland Tea Revival
Up the street in blooming Hingetown, Cleveland Tea Revival provides a hip atmosphere for sipping on some genmai matcha and vegan pound cake. Though there’s plenty to nibble on, or “nosh” as it’s known there, the focus is on tea—the sensory experience of smelling, brewing, and enjoying a pot. Co-owners Amber Pompeii and husband Mike George, along with the staff at CTR, find fun in experimenting with and naming new blends. One of our favorites, Shark Week, is a customer-named blend of rose hips, raspberry leaf, and a few other items designed to combat cramps.
Inspired by the commensal quality of sharing tea, Pompeii and George were determined to create an environment that encouraged customers to sip and linger. Though space is limited, the window and hall seating is intimate and welcoming, and during warmer months, cafe tables sprinkled down the corner of 29th and Church provide the perfect oasis for basking in the summer sun. 1434 W. 29th ST. in Ohio City.
Vintage Tea and Coffee
The newest cafe to arrive on the scene, Vintage Tea and Coffee pairs a slick, minimalist interior with plenty of counter space, a broad menu featuring Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese teas, and a small array of edibles provided by the Cleveland Bagel Company. Most notably, Vintage is one of the few options for boba fans in Cleveland—a.k.a. Taiwanese bubble tea, so named for the tapioca balls added to milky or fruity teas. Owner Jeff Hu says that despite the coffee drinks on the menu, the main focus of the shop is on the tea. With the goal of providing an authentic tea experience that emphasizes the rich history of East Asian teas, Hu imports his selections directly from their regions of origin. 1816 E. 12th Street in downtown Cleveland.