Flip Through

Friday, August 02, 2013

Tramping Tampa: Six Years of Tea

The place is called Kaleisia--none of us know how to pronounce it yet--and I'm afraid that there'll only be coffee and black tea, that I'll have to shuffle to make some excuse to my new friends, but once inside I see rows of herbal blends and fruit tisanes. Once seated and laughing over steaming cups, an older woman comes up and tells us how pretty we are. Gabby, with her long black curls and big eyes, is "exotic," Shauna is "like a Victorian doll" in her lace dress and creamy headband, and I, apparently, look like I should be in Channelside--a part of the city I know nothing about. Nevertheless, the odd compliment combines with collegiate chatter and aromatic tea to create my first real sensation of being out in the world.


My sister thinks it would be fun to bike into Ybor and so we set off, and by the time we cruise up Rep de Cuba we're sweating. Thankfully a cool new coffeeshop has opened recently at a squat brick building called the Bunker and now we have a reason to give it a test-drive. The homemade hummus is good, the iced hibiscus tea even better, and we feel unbearably hip, sitting on the back patio with an issue of Creative Loafing.


Record Store Day happily coincides with the opening of the better-faster-stronger-more-caffeinated version of Mojo Books and Music, and I am lost in the shop, strolling expansive stacks with an iced citron green tea in hand. It's everything I ever wanted from a used bookstore: vinyl and irrelevant hardbacks and good tea and staff just unfriendly enough to be cool and just pretentious enough to play Rumours on the turntable (but skip the best tracks).


It's late morning on a Sunday, humid as balls and bright. I am on an errand to pick up a friend from across the bay, a vastly hungover friend who requests a sharp cup of something-or-other, and so we jaunt down Beach Drive to a place I've seen but never had a chance to visit. It's there that we discover the miracles of Dr. Feelgood, Hooker Tea Company's famous detox tea, and gigantic muffins, and cush places to sprawl in the dusty sunlight and gossip lazily as the vagaries of the previous night seep away.


When Anna texts to see if I want to go study at Sacred Grounds it finally sinks in that I've never been there, despite living ten minutes away from it for the past five years. Out we roll, because it's 10:30 on a Tuesday and Kaleisia is closed and neither of us can bear to be in the library any longer. And if we study less than we lounge, if we find reasons to get refills and snoop around the shop and study the pizza options for longer than necessary, well, that's grad school.


Donna Banta said...

Tea manages to make everything better. Going for a chai at the Ferry Building today for our monthly exmormon meet up.

Diana said...

The variety and number of tea houses are the things I miss most about Tampa. Cleveland doesn't seem to like tea as much.

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