Tea is fucking awesome. I love tea. And this is coming from a dude who enjoys beverages. Though it may not be well represented in this blog, I could be called a ‘soda fiend’. I love all different types of sodas, and I love trying new types. I was pretty much raised on the stuff. Instead of milk, my baby bottles were filled with Coke. I enjoy the fact that drinks can become more than just a thirst quencher; a hot chocolate in the winter is not just a means of staying hydrated. And tea is the queen of the beverages. I say this because, honestly, what is more elegant than a drink coming from the leaves of a plant? From berries, or from a flower? It’s nature at its best, and its simplest, and it is beautiful.
And this is exactly what Kaleisia Tea Lounge delivers. This is a place that recognizes that beauty, and shares it with the world. Kaleisia is on Fletcher Avenue, next to the Wooden Nickel(!) and the Brass Mug, unlikely neighbors for such a sweet and pure shop. God bless you, Tampa! It’s a quaint little place, with a bit of seating outside, below their large building-side mural. The inside is comfortable and relaxed, with art adorning the walls, cushy sofas to sit on, a shelf full of board games, and a bit of music playing to add to the atmosphere. Suffice it to say, it is a nice place to hang out. The staff is very friendly, and always willing to put up with our joking and light conversation.
The main attraction here is the tea, which is completely on display for the customers on the wall opposite the counter where you order. The wall of tea has an overwhelming amount of loose-leaf tea containers sitting on it, all with color-coded labels to let you know not only what type of tea it is at a glance, but also listing each specific ingredient inside, and organized into broad categories like sweet, flowers, herbs and spices, etc. It is extremely approachable, for everyone from a tea newb to a tea fanatic.
So you stare at the wall for a few minutes until the shock wears off, then grab a container, open it up, and sniff. Sniff it. Yeah. then put it back, grab another one, and sniff it. Sniff it good. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Until you’ve found what you’re looking for! And you’ll know.
Their huge selection is great; they have everything from light fruity teas to strong rooty teas, with temporary seasonal selections as well. I believe a lot of the tea is kind of a rotating stock; it seems like each time I go I find something new. But you’ll definitely always find something you’re interested in.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot – they have boba. Yeah. Boba. As I mentioned/raved about in my review of Got Tea?, boba is sweetened tapioca balls thrown into a drink. And they are awesome. So in addition to having an incredible loose-leaf tea brewed just for you, ordered at your level of sweetness, iced or hot, you can have little chewy balls of awesome in it.
Also, they have an entire selection of vegan friendly food items, and some pastries as well. I always go just for the tea, but if you’re in the mood for a bite to eat, they have a whole snack menu of options to choose from. The selection seems to change quite often. Pictured above is a brownie cookie, which is somehow a cookie on the outside, but a brownie on the inside! WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE?!?!
It was delicious.
So my friend and I ordered a couple drinks, and sat down and chatted for a while. I choose a black currant black tea, sweet (I always get sweet…). It had a nice full black tea flavor, perfectly accented by very noticeable notes of fruity currant. And they always sweeten it just right. The boba was a little overcooked for my tastes, but that is not always an issue here. I do have to say that this is not my favorite place to get boba, but it is the best tea I’ve had in the area. They have an obvious respect for tea and tea culture, and you can taste it.
Okay, this review has spun out of control; it’s way longer than it needs to be. All I’m going to say is that you should go to Kaleisia. It’s a great hangout, a chill environment, and run by good people. OH AND THEY DO LIVE MUSIC! They have events! OH GOD A WHOLE EVENT CALENDAR!!!!! They have workshops! Host private parties! Free tea! Free boba!! HAPPY HOUR! This is clearly much more than just a tea shop, but at its heart, that is all it tries to be.