Tea Talk: The Hudson Valley's Choice
By Sarah Lynch
“I drink tea like people drink coffee.”
Liz Merry is an avid tea drinker, and, as a Tea Talk sales associate for almost five years, she has had access to an extensive array.
Nestled in the nearby Poughkeepsie Plaza, this quaint tea house opened on December 6, 2012 and offers over 300 kinds of tea, according to Tea Talk owner and founder Jenna McCarthy.
“It was my mom’s dream to open a tea shop,” McCarthy said. After her mother’s passing, McCarthy fulfilled her mother’s unresolved wish.
“I’ve been drinking tea since I was two. I grew up with it,” explained McCarthy. “It’s in my blood. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday or in the morning, afternoon or night. There’s always tea.”
While tea was a staple of McCarthy’s upbringing, Merry’s exposure to tea was limited.
“When I started here I really only drank black tea out of a bag just because that’s what I grew up with in my house,” said Merry. “But then coming here and finding out and learning about how many different varieties of tea there are and how expansive it is is really interesting.”
With a small staff and a single location, Tea Talk is what Merry describes as a “mom-and-pop,” and since its inception it has garnered some loyal customers, including students. McCarthy projects that Tea Talk attracts students from Marist, New Paltz, local high schools, and more. Busy adults, especially women, will stop in to enjoy a peaceful moment amongst their various chores, McCarthy adds.
In five years of business, Tea Talk has grown in prominence; according to Merry, actress Lena Dunham even visited Tea Talk while filming in New Paltz and purchased some matcha and tea wares. Tea Talk enjoys a steady stream of regulars who come in for a daily or weekly dose of their favorite teas, some of which are in high demand.
“We have a tea called Tropical Green which is a flavored green tea. That one we usually sell out of pretty quickly,” said Merry, but one of the biggest draws of the store is its bubble tea specialty menus. With avant-garde flavors like Banana Bread and Cinnamon Roll, Tea Talk’s bubble teas have particularly allured customers.
“I think since we’ve had those, that’s been what the majority of our sales have come from,” Merry explained.
Along with their popular flavors, Tea Talk also sells some more rare teas that are beloved in China, such as Pu Erh tea. The store also carries a cake of Pu Erh that costs about $150.
While in store Tea Talk offers these unique teas and much more, the store will also bring a sampling of their flavors to some events in the Hudson Valley community. As said by Merry, Tea Talk has been a vendor at the Culinary Institute of America and at Vassar College, namely at NonCon, the college’s annual Comic-Con-like convention. McCarthy said she would be interested in collaborating with Marist in the future.
Natalie Ford '21 of Mississippi believes Marist students would love Tea Talk.
“It was a wonderful little magical place and I am going to visit it whenever I have a moment,” shares Ford. “With all of their flavors, there is truly something for everyone.”
As for further expansions, McCarthy said she is looking to open more stores, possibly in New Paltz or a more residential area.
“We have customers coming in...from 40 minutes away,” explains McCarthy. “We would love to open up locations that are closer to them.”
No plans are set in stone, but McCarthy and her staff continue to dedicate themselves to providing a place for people to gather and enjoy a cup of tea.
In the words of McCarthy, “It is a very peaceful way to enjoy life.”