Aromas of sweet summer berry and peppermint chamomile float through the air.
It’s around noon at the newest addition to the Denton tea scene, Amitea. Living up to its name, Amitea promises an atmosphere that nourishes friendship over a cup of tea.
It started when owner Stacie Cates was tired of traveling all the way to Dallas to get quality loose-leaf tea, so she decided to open up her own tea shop.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own business, and tea became my passion about 10 years ago and so I opened my own tea shop,” Cates said. “And I wanted to provide the people of Denton with a close and accessible place to get good, high-quality, loose-leaf tea.”
However, opening her own tea shop was not an easy task. She wanted to make sure she served high-quality tea, which required a strenuous research process.
“I researched the different types of tea and actually ordered tea from all over the world to find out where the best tea is,” Cates said. “And I decided on very tasty, high quality tea from the U.K.”
One of the most important factors in owning a business is to have a name that will stick in people’s minds.
“Amitea is actually a play on words,” Cates said. “Amity means friendship; this is a place to nourish friendship over tea.”
Cates said she hopes Amitea will become a gem to the Denton community. The interior of the tea shop at 708 N. Locust St. in Denton is decorated with art strictly from Denton-area artists. Cates even decided to display artwork from Denton High School’s students.
“I display only artwork from Denton-area residents in order to promote their careers as artists,” Cates said. “They ask me to display their artwork, and I happily agree. It gets their name out there and makes our store look beautiful.”
The most prevalent decoration in the store is hard to miss. The entire floor is made up of hundreds of completed puzzles ranging from SpongeBob SquarePants to a puzzle of New York City.
“We had parties at our house and a lot of the kids from DHS would come to help put these puzzles together into the wee hours of the night,” Cates said. “We’d have puzzles all over the furniture and the floor, and I’d tell them ‘Y’all can’t go to sleep until you finish that puzzle.’”
Some of the same students who helped Cates with the puzzle-floor decided to help her decorate the store and, because they loved the whole experience so much, they ended up working for her as well.
“I’ve known Mrs. Cates for quite a while and knew that she was very sincere in wanting to open up Amitea, not just as a business but as a place where people can meet and have a good time,” said junior Mango Qualls. “And actually, Mrs. Cates told us she would love to have us work with her, but she couldn’t pay us. I was fine with volunteering for her, though, because I really just wanted to see Amitea succeed.”
Cates even employs two of her children, junior Alex Cates and sophomore Will Cates.
“It’s a comfortable work situation because, obviously, we know each other so well,” Alex Cates said. “It depends on how busy we are and who I’m working with, but usually I feel at home.”
Amitea officially opened on July 28 and has been serving up its signature “Teaccino” and more than 65 varieties of different teas since. Even though Amitea is only a few months old, many of its customers have come back, according to Cates.
TAYLOR BROWN is a senior at Denton High School and a participant in the Denton Record-Chronicle’s “Speak Out Loud” writing program for student journalists.