Providence, Rhode Island is a place that I know well. So unlike some of the other places I have been writing about, my tea explorations here go beyond stopping at a place just once. I will share just two of several good tea spots that I have become very fond of over the years. These two places have some significant differences, but complement each other quite nicely as tea experiences.
Our first stop in Providence is Tealuxe, located on Thayer Street in the middle of Brown University’s campus. The company clearly has a thing for Ivy League colleges because their only other location is in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tealuxe is set up as a tea bar, where over 100 teas are neatly stored in little bins that pull out from the wall like drawers. Teas are priced according to their rarity, not type, so it is usually possible to find a type of tea you want for the price you want. It is also set up as a café, so staying to enjoy a cup of tea is a popular option (the bar-style stools facing the windows are a lovely spot to act the flâneur). They also sell their teas loose in tins, and if you need to pick up another teapot or some tea accessories, they have a decent selection of tea wares.
One of my favourite things about Tealuxe is that they always have several “teas of the day,” with different selections for hot and iced. These teas are on tap that day, and if you have a mug-to-stay of one these teas, it comes with a free refill. Although I sometimes go in desiring a particular tea (usually their delicious Royal Coconut, a pouchong), I will more often choose a tea on tap—who says no to a free cup of tea?!
Our second stop, Tea in Sahara, differs from Tealuxe in one important way: instead of offering a wide selection of teas, it offers only one—traditionally prepared Moroccan mint tea. For those who have not encountered it before, Moroccan mint tea is green gunpowder tea blended with mint, and is quite sweet due to the addition of a good amount of sugar. It is served in the uniquely shaped, silver-plated Moroccan teapots and then poured into glassware. As Tea in Sahara also serves food, you can enjoy Moroccan-style appetizers or a panini with your tea as you enjoy the beautifully crafted Moroccan interior.
Despite its differences from Tealuxe, what Tea in Sahara does share with the busy tea bar is a welcoming atmosphere of comfort and relaxation. They are both places that invite you to stay. Interestingly, as Tealuxe uses glass mugs, they also have their choice of glassware in common. But this is merely a superficial (albeit pleasing) detail; it is the essential quality of a welcoming atmosphere that makes them both an ideal spot to enjoy a cup glass of tea.
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