Santa Fe is known for its art galleries, turquoise jewelry and New Mexican cuisine. But tea? Not so much. The Teahouse, nestled in a charming century-old adobe building about one mile southeast of the historic Santa Fe Plaza, aims to change that. The 1,400 square-foot tea retailer and full-service restaurant is nestled among more than 100 art galleries on the city’s historic Canyon Road. “It’s a fantastic location with a beautiful outdoor space people can enjoy when the weather is nice,” said owner Richard Friedman.
The Teahouse has been housed in the same location for 20 years and Friedman has owned it for the last five. Upon becoming owner, he expanded the tea selection and offered a wider selection of food, such as desserts and Mediterranean-influenced food. Friedman’s mission is to introduce Santa Fe to tea culture and educate locals and tourists about tea through hosted tea tastings and in-store sampling. “We’re one of the few places in the world that doesn’t have a tea culture; we’re more of a coffee culture and I just think tea is so interesting because there are so many iterations of it,” said Friedman, who is fascinated by the many varieties of tea and its history. “It’s almost like introducing a new product, even though it has been around for millennia.”
The Teahouse menu offers more 150 teas and herbal tisanes, most of which are organic and sourced globally. “I spend a lot of time looking for the best quality tea I can find,” said Friedman, whose teas range from rare oolongs and pu-erhs to classics, such as Earl Grey and English Breakfast. He also sells a variety of chai blends and tea lattes, such as the Bazaar Fog, which combines figs, dates, sesame black tea and vanilla.
And while Friedman considers his teahouse a unique offering among Santa Fe’s many restaurants, he also knows how to make his eclectic clientele feel welcome and relaxed, even if they aren’t all tea connoisseurs. “I think we reflect the community of Santa Fe in terms of being an informal atmosphere that reflects our sense of place here,” said Friedman. “It’s a gathering place for the community.”