Tavalon Tea to Open New Upper West Side Shop


Tavalon Tea exists to challenge American’s tea stereotypes and will soon unveil its latest vision of the future of tea retail in the heart of New York City.

Co-founders John-Paul Lee and Chris Cason are opening a new retail venture at Trump Place at 120 Riverside Blvd. (corner of 66th and Riverside Blvd.) next month and like their well-regarded flagship this venue is sure to sparkle.

Located on the upper west side, the Blu Cafe by Tavalon Tea will appeal to an upscale crowd, says Lee. The neighborhood is home to trendsetters, tastemakers and people who understand the great value of tea, he says.

Since 2006 Lee and sommelier Cason have created imaginative premium loose leaf blends, tea cocktails and tea-based drinks with the fluidity and precision of musicians.  The original Tavalon Tea Bar off Union Square West at 14th Street featured pulsating video screens and a DJ. The menu was inspired by music.

Music is accessible, universal and nurtures the spirit, says Lee.  Original blends are known as mixes. Tea classics like Earl Grey are “remixes”  with orthodox teas the “uncut”  version from origin.

Premium tea is a healthy, dynamic product appreciated by all walks of life, says Lee who gladly offers iced and fruit teas to please the crowd but savors the exotic, premium offerings. His favorite tea is Lapsang Souchong. Tavalon Teas are widely available through distributor UNFI and foodservice companies such as Aramark. As a wholesaler, Tavalon supplies tea to many of Manhattan’s top hotels, restaurants and bars. The latter have adopted many of Tavalon’s clever tea-infused pastries, tea-sangrias and marTEAni recipes.

Trump Place will seat about 20 to 25 customers at tables and a tea bar in 900 sq. ft. of retail space. The venue will serve morning pastries, snacks, sandwiches and dessert. Hours will be 6:30 a.m. to catch the commuters and breakfast will include gourmet/exotic coffee and a selection of strong black wake-me-up tea blends. The store features hot and cold dishes and treats like tea-infused frozen yogurt, green tea cupcakes, matcha cookies and chocolate chai flavored brownies. Cason has a preference for Fair Trade and organic offerings.

The shop will be open till 10 p.m. nights and weekends. The location does not have a liquor permit so Lee says the bar will make do with mock-tails based on his tea cocktail recipes.

Tavalon currently operates a kiosk in the JP Morgan Chase headquarters building and Tavalon teas are served in over 1300 locations worldwide including Bloomingdale’s, Fairway, Hess, Balducci’s, Setai Hotel, ABC/Disney, Grand Hyatt, Goldman Sachs, Victoria’s Secret and Price Waterhouse Coopers. The firm is located in Wood Ridge, N.J. with offices in Seoul, South Korea. Tea jars are sold online and can be found in specialty grocers, department stores and cafes. To learn more visit www.tavalon.com

Dan Bolton

About Dan Bolton

Dan Bolton edits STiR Tea & Coffee Industry International. He was formerly editor and publisher of World Tea News and former editor and publisher of Tea Magazine and former editor-in-chief of Specialty Coffee Retailer. He is a beverage retail consultant and frequent speaker at industry seminars and conferences. His work has appeared in many beverage publications. He was a newspaper reporter and editor for 20 years prior to his career in magazines. Dan is the founding editor of Natural Food magazine and has led six publishing ventures since 1995. He lives in Winnipeg, Canada.