If you haven’t heard this tea, you might want to take a load off and stay a while, because this TEA we keep you coming back for more!
Teatopia is not your ordinary middle-aged bohemian white lady kind of tea shop. It’s cozy and hip and in the heart beat of South St. Louis. Teatopia is one of the newest additions to the ever booming Cherokee neighborhood, owner Reginald Quarles for some doesn’t look like your typical tea room owner, but don’t let that fool you, Reginald knows his teas and he is serving cup after cup of pure wholesome goodness.
Delux Magazine: Why did you decide to start your tea shop?
Reginald Quarles: There are a few different reasons as to why I started a tea room. One of the reasons was because tea has this calming and relaxing component to it. For me, when it making tea it serves as a min meditation. One of my favorite authors is Thich Nhat Hanh. He always writes about being mindful/ being fully in the moment. While making tea, that helps to me reach my meditative state and it is a constant reminder to always be present. I have even been able to work in these Zen moments while make food and smoothies for customers. It started with tea but I am learning to transfer these methods into other aspects of my life. Another reason is because I am vegan and I truly believe that the earth provides everything that we need without the need for food from animals, or medications.
Delux Magazine: How did tea become your life’s pursuit?
Reginald Quarles: It kind of just happened. There was no certain event that lead to it. Prior to tea, I was in the mental health field, and I wanted to be a component to help make lives better. I just realized throughout time that there is more than one way to help improve the lives of everyone. The tagline at teatopia is “Brewing better lives one leaf at a time”. I created this mission statement because I believe that we encounter so much negativity, I wanted to create a place that everyone felt safe, at peace, and better about themselves. I want people to see that there are positive interactions in this world and that there are people in the world that truly care for the wellbeing of one another.
DM: What were some of the pitfalls you experienced when starting Teatopia, how did you overcome them?
RQ: The hardest thing that I have had to deal with to date was finding the location. I probably looked at about 30 different places before I found 2619 ½ Cherokee Street. I went to Cherokee street for a poetry show one night and it felt as it was the place to be. After I seen that storefront available that night I immediately called to secure it.
DM: Being the ‘tea expert’ that you are what makes Teatopia stand out from other tea rooms in our area?
RQ: I would go as far as saying I am expert. I am always learning something new. Teatopia is different because it is not the traditional tea room. There is no Victorian décor, or an Asian influenced décor. It is just a peaceful space and males everyone feel welcomed. I think some of those traditional tea room set ups make people feel uneasy or not welcome. One of my main goals was to make everyone feel at home.
DM: How did making tea become your form of meditation?
RQ: Has it helped you better connect with yourself and others, if so why and how? I think all of us get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life that we forget to relax, reflect, and just be. By that I mean there is so much going on we forget that we are amazing and capable human beings and we lose sight of the fact that we are ALIVE; we should live.
DM: Why open a Teatopia in the Cherokee neighborhood?
RQ: Other than the fact that I just connected with the neighborhood when I went there for a poetry night, Cherokee is a traditional street for nontraditional stores and shops; it seemed like it was the perfect place for Teatopia to be. I love the community.
DM: Considering that St. Louis has a very small population of tea shops
and even smaller circle in Black owned tea shops, please explain what that
experience has been like?
RQ: It has been a blast. As I stated before, Cherokee is a great place for nontraditional things. It is where I am supposed to be. Everyone is extremely supportive and grateful for teatopia being there; I am more grateful the community accepting teatopia.
DM: What’s in the future for Teatopia?
RQ: To get better every day and to keep putting smiles on every person’s face. Our website ( www.teatopiastl.com) has recently been completed so I plan to ship peace (tea) from teatopia to the home of everyone across United States.
Folks if you haven’t let Reginald fix you a cup of hot or iced tea, take from someone with personal experience go get some, head on over to 2619 ½ Cherokee St.
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