Saturday, March 2, 2024

Tea’s Me Cafe, coming to a store near you!

Tea’s Me Cafe is now selling a line of bottled teas in grocery stores around Indiana.

The local tea cafe, owned by WNBA Hall of Famer and Olympic medalist Tamika Catchings, announced the launch of its new bottled teas in retail stores, such as Kroger, Fresh Thyme, Meijer and Market District, earlier this year. Although the cafe has sold bottled teas in-house at its three locations since 2019, this launch aims to increase access to healthier drink options on the go, Catchings said.

“Something we’re really excited about, I think, is just being able to take the Tea’s Me brand and bottle it up,” Catchings said. “It’s interesting now how many people are like, ‘Oh, we don’t like tea’ [and] have tried it and actually have enjoyed it.”

The bottled teas will include five of Tea’s Me Cafe’s most popular teas: Kenya, which is a traditional black tea, Tropical Cyclone and Summer blush, both green tea blends, and herbal blends Keywine and Pomegranate Blueberry.

Each tea is brewed from Tea’s Me Cafe’s loose-leaf tea, which Catchings said does not include any syrups or artificial flavorings. Each blend is semi-sweetened with agave and only about 50 calories. 

However, the bottled teas also feature a small amount of preservatives, as Catchings said the original shelf life of their teas was limited to just under a week. The new bottles should last about a year and are “a great way to start” before branching out to include other flavors, Catchings said.

“We’ve been blessed because even with our bottled teas before at Butler Brew and of course our three locations, we started thinking about, ‘We’re going to be bottling teas anyway in-house,’” Catchings said.

Initially, Catchings said she hoped to make Tea’s Me Cafe the “Starbucks of tea,” and since tea was something she grew up loving, expanding the reach of the shop across the city has been a no-brainer. Since she acquired the shop in 2017, Catchings opened a second location at Tarkington Park in 2021 and a third at Ivy Tech in January 2023. The bottled teas, however, have been in the works since 2019, she said.

For Tea’s Me, 2023 was a bit of an exploratory year, Catchings said. In addition to having bottled teas in 16 different retail stores across Indiana, Tea’s Me Cafe branched out into catering events and launched the first cohort of a leadership program.

“I love serving,” Catchings said. “So, being able to have the foundation where we serve from that aspect, and pulling it into the tea shop, and being able to hire young people, this being their first job — all that goes into what-building; that’s what makes it satisfying.”

Teryna Owens, who has been working at Tea’s Me for two years, said she enjoys the way her job allows other workers and herself to really be in the community. Everyone who works there is or knows someone who is part of outreach in the area, she said.

Having spent time working at Tea’s Me Cafe, Owens said she has gained both work and life skills, such as learning about healthier alternatives to coffee or soda, as well as strengthening her communication and outreach skills.

“Definitely, with learning about tea, I’ve learned a lot more about what I put in my body and different things like that; being healthy, and how to educate the younger people around me, and how to be healthy,” Owens said. “I’m not drinking as much pop anymore, which is better. As far as, like, outer skills, my communication and, like, being out there, I’m no longer shy; I can introduce myself and tell people about my business and what I do.”

Going forward, Tea’s Me Cafe is working toward opening a fourth location in the Indianapolis area as well as selling its bottled teas at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in 2024. For more information about Tea’s Me Cafe’s upcoming events or campaigns, visit teasmeindy.com or Facebook, Instagram and X @teasmeindy. 

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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