The Rise of Tea in Savannah

With the new wave popularity of teas on the rise, places that cater to this trend have started popping up throughout the US, and savannah is not an exception.

Now, tea has always been a common standard of southern hospitality. You just have to go and watch any generic representation of a southern home on TV or a movie to know that they will offer you iced tea even before you come into their homes. But, even if it is a blatant stereotype, it is true that any establishment that wishes to sell food will offer sweet or unsweetened tea as part of their drinks menu. But, like in the movies, many consider this a drink only “old folks” can honestly enjoy.

How It Started

It is no surprise to anyone that a trend of healthier living has taken the nation by storm. This includes exercising and living a greener life, but also consuming healthier foods for our bodies to feel their best. Queue the fact that tea is great for releasing toxins and relieving stress, and everyone wants in on it. So now a younger demographic has put their attention on teas and where they come from and how they are made and how they can be used. And this new focus on tea has changed the industry drastically.

As Nigel Melican, Managing Director of Teacraft Ltd & Executive Director of Nothing But Tea Ltd, describes it in Tony Gebely’s “Tea Tastes in 2017: A Forecast” published by worldoftea.org, tea production in eastern countries couldn’t keep up with the demands on green tea alone, which meant countries like Colombia, Australia and even the state of Hawaii started their own quality green tea productions. Even still, smaller tea gardens have popped up in the United States, growing organically and selling to local shops.

How It Has Manifested in Savannah

Here in Savannah, this new trend has only recently become more popular. Places like The Savannah Tea Room and The Collins Quarter offer an array of teas to suit any palate. And even places like The Spice & Tea Exchange store have a place in Savannah, to introduce new ways of incorporating teas into our lives.

This nation-wide chain opened in Savannah a little under a year ago, and has never gained more costumers as time goes by. When asked about how they tailored their store to fit the people from Savannah, Sandy Finkle and her husband tell me proudly that the products are the same in most chains, but everything in the middle of the store and the way they sell the products is their doing. “I don’t want our customers to feel like they have to buy a specific amount of product, so however much they want, that’s how much we will sell them”, tells me Andy while he weighs some herbal tea for a customer. Everything in the store, from teas, to spices, to herbs, and even flavored sugars, can be bought by however much the customer needs. You can see the Finkles weighing and bagging the products as per the customers needs.

And Sandy has even made it easy for new customers and old to try out recipes for their products without having to buy a lot of stuff that might not be used again. “I make the recipes and print them, and people can just buy the little package with everything they need to try the recipes once. If it works for them they can come back for more. If not, it’s fine, and they don’t end up with a ton of extra product that they can’t use”, says Sandy. She has everything from cookies to chilies, and even a few recipes for tea cocktails. This last one I tried myself, and I can say that champagne and tea have never tasted this good.

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Shots from “The Spice & Tea Exchange” store in Broughton St.