I wouldn't say it's a problem. Coffee will always be in the forefront versus tea. We are so fast paced. We're required to constantly be in motion. Coffee is that tool that helps a lot of people do that. If I want that extra push, I prefer a yerba mate, because it's a little more forgiving to the body.

Five years ago, if you'd told most people you were opening a tea house this large in Harbor East, they would have laughed at you.

I would have laughed at me. When we decided on this location, I was very nervous for that reason. How could the Fells Point location translate into someplace this large? This is almost three times bigger. Luckily we brought our original customers over and then made new friends.

What do you think of Baltimore's music scene?

Since I'm not able to go out and listen to music, I bring music to me. There's a lot of great talent out there. … Nelly's Echo plays here a lot. He was just on "The Voice." You see these performers come in here, and you say, "They're going to make it big."

Where did you come up with the idea for Teavolve?

Del and I were at a bed and breakfast in central New Jersey, and we were looking at different coffee shops. At the time I had a business plan for a coffee house just sitting on the shelf. I was joking in this one particular shop about opening a coffee shop. This town was called Englishtown. The shop owner overheard me, and said, "Everybody has a coffee house. Why don't you do a tea house?"

When I think of tea house, I think Victorian doilies, formal tea sets, old ladies. That just stuck in my mind. I thought I'd do a contemporary or urban tea house. I started doing research. At that time there were maybe a handful of urban tea houses in the country — mostly on the West Coast. Not a lot. I had enough information to get the mind going, and create our own brand.

Have you ever sent that Englishtown woman a royalty check?

I can't find her. [Laughs] I would love to speak with her. Maybe we'll have a chance to go up to Englishtown soon. That would be great.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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