In the heart of South Miami is a local tea shop that’s changing the way people think about the community—and drink tea.
Tea & Poets, located at 5701 Sunset Dr., is a communal space with a unique blend of curated tea, local shopping and live performances. Though the hours vary, the space is open seven days a week any time from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.
They house a vast collection of harvested teas and signature blends from all across the world (India, Russia, China, France, Japan and Africa, to name a few), each with their own distinct flavor. Every cup is unique—as the baristas customize and mix each tea based on the needs of the customer. Anything from a cold to a hangover can be remedied with a serving of one of their fresh brews.
Besides tea, the space also offers handmade jewelry, hats, furniture, soap and eyewear, all sold exclusively by local vendors.
Susan Hunter, 61, of Fossil Lamps makes oil candles, electric lamps and furniture made of fossilized coral from the Florida Keys.
“The coral [is] at least 120,000 years old,” Hunter said. “It was part of a living reef at one time, and now it’s full of fossils, shells and all sorts of interesting things. We’re the only ones using it in this purpose.”
When it comes to vendors, Tea & Poets co-founder Francisco Musalem, 32, makes sure the products appeal to all ages.
“Currently there are 12 different local artists and vendors here,” Musalem said. “They’re allocated so that different generations can shop in here…It’s not just for one demographic in here.”
The shop also hosts a variety of events, ranging from charity yoga classes, painting sessions and board game nights.
The main event, however, is their open-mic night, which takes place every Wednesday at 7 p.m. Poets, comedians, singers, musicians and more are encouraged to climb up on stage and express themselves freely. The only requirement Tea & Poets co-founder Joaquin Ortiz, 34, has is that performers keep it “kid friendly.”
Originally the owner of a clothing company called Provider, Ortiz came up with the concept for Tea & Poets with friends Musalem and Henrik Telle, 31, out of the desire to “[change] the way people shop and interact,” and to “revolutionize the way people view tea.”
“Tea has just been a part of our lives for so many years and it was just a matter of time before we kind of pieced all the things that we loved to do together,” Ortiz said. “Imagine…opening up a place on all the stuff we love to do. We love to shop, we love poetry, we love fashion and we wanted to create a communal space where people could enjoy each other’s company. We just made all of that under one roof.”
Despite being in business for a mere six weeks, Tea & Poets has already established strong ties with the community.
“I think one of the keys to our success, is that on a subconscious, level people wanted this,” Ortiz said. “They just didn’t know how to verbalize [that] they wanted it.”
Musalem echoed that sentiment.
“To be able to socially interact with the owners, for us to bounce ideas off of each other, that’s something you can’t do at Starbucks,” Musalem said. “This is not a corporate venue. We’re all about supporting local artists, local vendors, local foods, everything is about community [from] our events, our clothing, our arts and crafts, you guys…that’s what it’s about.”
For more information about events at Tea & Poets, call (786) 216-7201 or follow @teaandpoets and @teaandpoetsopenmicnights on Instagram.