Lexington, KY – The Jefferson Street corridor is quietly developing into an interesting collection of food and beverage options. One of the more unique recent openings is Cuppa: A Tea CafÈ (www.cuppateacafÈ.com), located at 591 West Short St., at the old Isle Of You location on the Jefferson Street corner.
Cuppa is owned by Lisa Sampson and her husband, Will. Their daughter, Ty, is also involved in the business. Lisa, an established local author with 28 books published, has always wanted to own a small business. One day a friend of hers told her about a tea shop in Taiwan where customers could order a cup of tea and actually pick out the cup they would drink it from. That idea was intriguing to her and inspired her to open up a tea cafÈ that was unlike traditional tea rooms. Instead of a coffee cafÈ that also served tea, she decided to turn that concept upside down and open a tea cafÈ that also served coffee.
She also wanted to further develop the “tea culture” in Lexington. The cafÈ offers more than 60 kinds of tea. For many, tea consumption is more about the experience than simply consuming a beverage.
This delightful little cafÈ is inviting but not pretentious and attracts a “societal melting pot” of customers, including students, artists, professionals, young mothers wanting a break from the day and many others. Currently about 70 percent of the customers are female. There is a large side room where small meetings can be held, and there are cupboards with an array of tea cups customers can choose from, or they can get the product to go.
Free WiFi Internet access is also available.
Whether you are an avid tea lover or just an occasional tea drinker, this is a place to visit. Cuppa has a tea to suit the taste of anyone or any occasion. The menu lists the teas and explains each one, including some history of certain varieties.
There are two white teas and four white tea fusions; five types of green tea and four green tea fusions; two oolong teas and an additional two oolong fusions; and eight types of black tea, from English Breakfast tea to Organic Golden Monkey.
Five Black tea fusion options include passionfruit jasmine and masala chai. Two pu-erh types are on the menu, as well as six tinsanes/fusions, like Italian Blood orange and ginger ginseng.
There are botanicals and some popular dessert blends, such as banana dulce, chocolate monkey and vanilla berry truffle. Sampson is extremely knowledgeable about her products, and customer should feel free to ask about the different teas.
A fun way to expand your knowledge and experience with tea is to join their Cuppa Club, which encourages customers to try every tea on the menu. Those who succeed in tasting every variety will have their names placed on the wall and be further rewarded with a free afternoon tea for two.
Cuppa also sells loose tea by the ounce. In addition to tea, the cafÈ also offers coffee, juice and hot chocolate. For those who are hungry, the menu also includes scones (plain, currant, specialty, and dessert), sandwiches served with fruit and some baked items.
Cuppa is capitalizing on a confluence of several developments. The big one, from Cuppa’s standpoint, is how the tea industry in the United States has been experiencing dramatic change and growth within its industry. According to the Tea Association of the United States (www.teausa.com), wholesale sales within the industry has nearly quadrupled since 1970, and tea is now a nearly $7 billion dollar industry.
And that shouldn’t be surprising. After water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. It is an ancient beverage with much history, romance and mystique. The recent growth in the tea industry has been due to several factors, including product segmentation, variety, availability and convenience. To gain some understanding of this, all you have to do is go to a grocery store or convenience store and look at how much shelf space is being taken by tea products.
Additionally, an underlying driver of tea consumption is the emerging knowledge and/or beliefs about potential health benefits derived from its consumption. Tea includes naturally occurring flavonoids among its ingredients, which are compounds believed to have antioxidant properties. Some of the areas where tea consumption may provide health benefits include increased cardiovascular health, cancer risk reduction, enhancing immune functions, enhancing oral health, battling obesity, reducing the risk of kidney stones and reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Cuppa: A Tea CafÈ is another locally owned business that I recommend trying. It is one more nice addition to the options on Jefferson Street, including Stella’s, Wine + Market, Grey Goose Bar and the Green Lantern.