Due to Miami's collective obsession with the almighty coffee machine, tea kettles are usually banished to the back burner.
But tea culture is gaining ground, and Coral Gables' Small Tea shows that Miamians are looking for more than cafecitos and coladas.
The charming eatery recently opened at 205 Aragon Ave., steps from Miracle Mile and in the midst of the city's rapidly expanding restaurant scene. Tea lover Daniel Benoudiz decided to open the spot as an ode to his favorite beverage.
"All my life I've been to many tea places around the world, and I never found a place where I could feel comfortable," he says. "All the places I've been were either too pinkies-up -- British, high-tea-oriented -- or too hippie, and I didn't fit in any of those.
"I saw an opportunity. I love tea, but I didn't find a place where I could go every day, feel comfortable, and have a perfect cup of tea."
Originally from Venezuela, his family has a vacation home in Coral Gables. After much research, he decided it was the ideal location.
"Coral Gables is such a beautiful city. I love it. I think it's the most beautiful city in South Florida."
Softly lit, with low stools and tables, live plants, and an ornate, burlap-adorned ceiling, Small Tea is a modern twist on a tea house.
Upon entering, you're met with rows of glass canisters, all containing tea leaves. A wildly friendly staffer will offer you a written guide; then you can sniff your way through the 84 options. Teas are divided into types: ayurvedic (best for well-being, health, and longevity), black, chai, green, herbal, mate, oolong, and white. Each is given a designation and name, like "W08: White Peony."
The selections are diverse -- from ayurvedic Innerstea (a blend of Hawthorn leaves, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger) and oolong South Meets East (a blend of peach, apple, and apricot) to herbal Ginger & Mary Ann (a blend of apple, rosehip peel, hibiscus, lemon myrtle, strawberry, and ginger).
Notably, the teas aren't brewed via traditional tea bag or individual infusers. Instead, they use Steampunk machines: supermod brewers that allow baristas to control temperature, time, and agitation and then pour the tea through a tap.
For proper brewing, different types of teas are optimal at different temperatures, so this allows for total control. A small tea goes for $3, and a large costs $4.
In addition to teas, there's also a menu of pastries, bagels, salads, wraps, and other dishes, including several vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options (marked on the menu). There's a dip trio with eggplant caponata, hummus, and tzatziki ($7.50); a quinoa salad with edamame ($6.50); and even a Brie and green apple salad ($11). The chocolate fudge brownie (vegan) is reportedly awesome.
Small Tea, located at 205 Aragon Ave. in Coral Gables, is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Call 786-401-7189 or visit facebook.com/smallteaco.
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