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TeBella Tea Company opens new shop in the Edge District

Veronica Brezina

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The TeBella Tea Company's new location in the Edge District. Photo: Veronica Brezina

Shelves stacked with metal bins containing over 100 different types of loose-leaf tea can be found inside the new TeBella Tea Company shop. 

TeBella, known for the diverse tea flavors it brews, has relocated its café from the Station House co-working space in St. Pete to a 1,200-square-foot shop at 1445 Central Ave.

Inside TeBella’s 1,200-square-foot space in the Edge District.  

Owner Abigail StClair ended the five-year lease at Station House and worked with Jessica Dwyer at the Dalton Wade Real Estate Group to find the space. She signed the lease for the new Central Avenue location last April, but the buildout of the space, permits and other needs led to its opening one year later.

TeBella’s first location opened on Davis Islands in 2010. Over the years, the tea company has expanded into Sarasota’s University Town Center and Tampa’s Oxford Exchange.

“We were never really meant to be a café. We went into the café space with Oxford Exchange and again with Station House. It works in Oxford Exchange because of the sheer volume, but retail is really the space we want to be in,” StClair said. “I knew I wanted to be on Central. I love that this building is so old and the light that comes through these thick windows.” 

TeBella is primarily a retail business, selling everything from kettles to cups and products from local Tampa Bay businesses.  

She explained the shop is very similar to the Davis Islands store, and has a beverage bar serving hot or iced drinks, and prominently sells loose-leaf tea as well as chocolates, homemade biscotti and tea accessories. 

Chocolates from TeBella.  

The storefront, formerly the home of the Articles art gallery, neighbors Classic Tattoos and the meat-and-cheese deli Brooklyn South. 

The shop has a horizontal shape, which StClair took advantage of by building her “tea wall,” displaying all the tea leaves. She also kept the original wood floors. 

TeBella has dozens of different flavored tea leaves.  

 StClair said she’s always had a love for tea and the craft behind it. After seeing the emergence of large retailer Teavana, which introduced consumers in the U.S. market to loose-leaf tea, StClair decided to turn her passion into a business. 

“Teavana was wildly profitable, and I thought there had to be room for a local competitor in the Tampa Bay area and decided to go for it,” StClair said, noting how Teavana was later acquired by Starbucks in 2012 and dissolved into its brand. 

“Our concept is similar- loose tea with a real focus on quality. Going forward, I think this [the emphasis on retail] will continue to grow. We’ll probably get away from the café style,” she said. 

StClair said she tries to sell products from local companies such as soap and honey. 

Jars of honey from Tampa-based Queen and Colony Bee Company.  

Today, she said there are some issues surrounding the import and export of tea due to the supply chain and the pandemic, as large amounts of tea are sourced from India and China. The shelf life of tea is typically 12 to 18 months, but StClair said the teas she has are usually sold out by then. 

The popular teas at TeBella include the blueberry-lavender tea and fruity flavors like mango, white coconut oolong and the almond shortbread black tea, which StClair said they had to start making in-house due to the supply chain disruptions. 

TeBella is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

The store will have a total of five employees. TeBella has roughly 40 employees companywide. 

Across from the new TeBella site will be The EDGE Eatery, a concept featuring three food concepts at 1572 Central Ave., formerly a Pinot’s Palette location, on the ground floor of the Fusion 1560 apartments. 

The former space of Pinto’s Palette, 1572 Central, which will now house three restaurants.  

 Shiso Dumplings, The Cuban, and Carne D’Vino Gourmet Pizza and Deli will all be located in the space. 

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