Dani Noto, originally from Michigan but now living in Waxhaw, was heartbroken when she received a call from her favorite tea shop in Michigan saying that the owner was thinking of retiring. Noto was a loyal customer who had continued to buy her tea by mail order after she had moved, so the owner contacted her to find out if she wanted to stock up before the shop closed. After careful consideration, Noto made an offer to buy the entire store. She was able to acquire the in stock teas, the current customers, who continue to order their tea by mail, as well as the vendors that the previous owner had cultivated and worked with. Noto dealt exclusively with the busy mail order tea business until last year when she started thinking about opening a store locally. Jane Hunt, co-owner of Eight Legs Gallery, was already friends with Noto when they started chatting about the Uptown Tea Shop renting a room. The dream became a reality last October when Uptown Tea Shop officially opened inside of the Gallery.
Now stocked with over 127 variety of teas, Uptown Tea Shop sells loose leaf teas and accessories, Tea 2 Go, and Sweet Tea Floats, which are available on Friday and Saturday and are made out of Italian Ice and iced tea in seasonal berry flavors. The Tea 2 Go allows you to choose a 16 oz serving of any tea in the shop for $2.25 plus tax. As for the loose leaf teas, Noto knows them all and can help you pick one that will become your new favorite. Black, oolong, green, white, herbal, decaf, and rooibos teas are all available in the shop. Her decaf teas are made using a chemical free CO2 process and the rest have natural varying levels of caffeine. Noto explains, “Tea has many health properties and benefits. And while I would never claim it can “cure” anything, there are so many studies out there that show how beneficial drinking tea is for you. It has way less caffeine than coffee, and some teas have no caffeine at all. All teas can give you a big boost of antioxidants, but green, white and rooibos knock it out of the ball park in that area. Some teas can also help lower blood sugar, decrease inflammation, and fight cancer. The health benefits are awesome. The best part is that tea is all natural and tastes great!”
But Uptown Tea Shop isn’t just a place to purchase tea, Noto is working to create more. “My goal is to make tea fun and accessible. I want to create a “Tea Community”. Most people think loose leaf tea is hard to work with and takes lots of time to prepare. Absolutely not so. They also have the misconception that you have to always make a pot of tea when you use loose leaf tea. Again, not so. More people make it by the cup or mug than by the pot. The ritual of making a pot of tea can be calming, soothing, and relaxing, and I think it’s something that people should try at least once, but if that’s not your idea of fun, it’s more than acceptable to make it by the cup. Again, the goal is to make tea fun and if making a pot of tea is what you like, then go for it, but if you’re more comfortable making it in a china cup or mug then you absolutely should.”
Teas are for sale by the ounce from $3.80 to $4.25 and usually contain 10-12 teaspoons per ounce (or 10-12 8oz servings). Most of the teas are able to brew a second time within the same day. “It’s a double bang for your buck! My teas have so much flavor, you can get two steeping’s out of them.” Noto has created her own proprietary house blends that she is extremely proud of. Favorites include: Decaf Lemon Supreme, Decaf Raspberry Royale, Peppermint Twist, Chocolate Covered Strawberry, and Lavender Lace. She also features specific blends for the fall and holidays. Her Green Tea Cinnamon Twist is currently featured at Emmett’s Social Table.
Uptown Tea Shop will also be hosting events throughout the summer. On June 14th from 6:30 to 8:30, Uptown Tea Shop and Art Box Studio are co-hosting an adult paint class. You will be able to choose between two mugs or a tea jar to decorate. Pre-registration is required by calling Uptown Tea Shop or online at www.artboxceramics.com. You will also receive a 16 oz serving of any tea in the shop, chocolate covered strawberries, scones, and more. Mother/Daughter Teas and custom events are available with notice.
Uptown Tea Shop – Inside Eight Legs Gallery – 310 East South Main St., Waxhaw, NC 28173; 734-777-4870; www.uptownteashop.com; Store Hours: Tues-Thur 11:00-5:00, Fri 11:30-7:00, Sat 10-5:30, Closed Sunday and Monday.