Lemon City Tea Co. Packs Miami Flavor Into Each Cup

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Lemon City Tea Co. is bringing high-quality, ethically sourced teas to Miami restaurants and local tea lovers. Its teas are inspired by the "crazy, complex, diverse, and exciting" city that is Miami, with Latin American, Caribbean, and South Floridian flavors in mind.

Each tea has a creative name, story, and playlist, like the El Mango Next Door ($12 for four-ounce loose-leaf) -- a tea inspired by the mango envy that Miamians know well. It's made of organic black tea, organic tulsi, and natural flavors that work together to re-create that feeling of waiting for your neighbor's mango to plump and plop onto your side of the fence. Recommended listening includes tracks from Celia Cruz and locals like Spam Allstars and Suenalo. Additional flavors are Granada Green, San-té-ria, Don Grey, Porteños en Paraiso, After Party, Calma-té, Limonada, and Oolong Old Fashioned.

In addition to creating unique, Miami-inspired blends, Lemon City Tea is unique in its methodology. The company is teaching locals and the restaurants it works with about cold-brewing, a technique used to brew both tea and coffee that slowly steeps the drink for many hours. The flavor profile is lighter and sweeter than iced tea made the traditional way (bringing the tea to a boil and then pouring over ice), which tends to highlight the stronger elements of the tea.

To make a refreshing and tasty cold-brew, simply dump a third to a half cup of loose-leaf into a gallon of water and wait eight to ten hours. The tea will self-steep over time, but it's not an exact science. If you leave the tea for ten and a half hours, you'll be fine. In the morning, simply strain the tea to get the leaves out, and -- mira pa' eso -- you've got cold-brewed iced tea! This technique is especially beneficial for restaurants that need to make large quantities of tea in advance.

There comes a time, though, when traditional hot-brewing is best: the cocktail hour.

"You need a bigger flavor to stand up to the alcohol," advises Lemon City cofounder and senior vice president Lauren Fernandez, who regularly works with restaurants to create signature tea-based cocktails. The company's tea-inspired cocktails can be found at Lou's Beer Garden, Blackbrick, and NIU Kitchen. There's also a guide on Lemon City's website for crafting cocktails such as the Oolong Old Fashioned and San-té-ria Spritzer, which is perfectly spiced for the holidays.

"We are so passionate about this project because, historically, cafés served as powerful community third places -- where for a single penny, people could have access to not only tea and coffee but also a wealth of information provided by fellow patrons, newspapers, bulletins, debates, and speakers," says cofounder and president Natalia Napoleon de Bens, who started Lemon City Tea less than a year ago with three other first-generation American women: Fernandez, Gail Hamilton, and Melisa Chamorro. "We want to continue to intelligently develop Miami into a city to be reckoned with and know that the establishment of strong third places is key."

In addition to developing strong third places, Lemon City created the Communiversity of Miami, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to identifying and funding innovative opportunities and ideas that seek to create third places. A portion of each retail sale of the teas is allocated to Communiversity to fuel its mission.

The Lemon City crew is also the official tea sponsor for Scope during Miami Art Week, so be on the lookout for tea samples in swag bags. They will also work with Lou's Beer Garden for the Select Art Fair. You will likely find the Lemon City Tea girls curating six nights of Art Week music for free every night beginning at 7 at the North Beach Bandshell.

Lemon City Tea blends are now available for purchase on the company's website and cost $10.99 to $12. You can also stop by spots like Andiamo, O Cinema, R House, Taurus, Oak Tavern, and Tongue & Cheek to steep, chat, and connect.

Follow Jen Mangham on Twitter @JenMangham and on Instagram @JenM305.

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