By Anna Lothson
There are tea people and there are coffee people; there are times for tea and times for coffee. Tracy Boone, a former Oak Park resident, has noticed a distinct difference between the two. As a result, she'll be bringing a new tea shop to town in February, to share what she loves most about the loose leaf beverage: relaxation.
"It's a different culture. The starting of tea was built around socialization. You sit down. It's calm. And you relax for 15 or 20 minutes and take a break," she said. "With coffee, people are constantly working. With tea, actually [they] just drink tea."
She plans to move into a vacant spot at 1046 Pleasant Street sometime in February to share her knowledge of tea through the shop, Serenitea. The shop will offer baked goods, tea parties and even offer traditional afternoon tea.
"It's just a place to relax. It allows you to sit down and take a few minutes," Boone said. "Tea is just very relaxing."
Afternoon tea times, which will be available by reservation, will involve a multi-course spread with finger sandwiches, pastries or cookies and tea tastings. Customers will be able to learn about the tea as they taste.
But taste is just part of the experience. As Boone has learned, opening a tea shop takes more than just a desire to run a business. She had to spend much time studying tea, going to the world tea export and getting certified in different aspects of the drink. It was visiting the East Coast, she said, where tea is a bigger commodity than in the Midwest, where she learned more about the industry.
"It's really difficult to explain — it's almost like a feeling," Boone said. "Everyone wants to talk and talk about tea."
She hopes soon that tea will be the talk of Oak Park.