In a culture where people eat and drink practically on the run, making and drinking tea is a way to slow down, say the owners of a unique shop on the shores of Lake Cable.
Terry Gabet and Kurt Gibbons are co-owners of the Ohio Tea Company at 5569 Fulton Drive NW.
Ohio Tea, which opened five years ago, offers teas and tea accessories from around the world.
It was a natural fit for Gabet, a retired accountant who worked in a peanut shop in downtown Akron while studying at the University of Akron.
“You’d see 12,000 people walking up and down Main Street,” he said. “I got promoted to the Akron Zoo concession stand. I enjoy people.”
He also enjoyed tea.
“When we went on vacation, my kids got so tired of being dragged into coffee shops, tea shops and candy shops,” Gabet said, laughing.
Following his retirement, Gabet visited his daughter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her place of employment just happened to be next door to the retailer from where he ordered his tea. “When I retired, I was going to open something,” he said. “I called the owner and asked him if he wanted to go into business.”
David Edwards, the owner of New Mexico Tea, is the third partner of the Ohio Tea Company.
Gibbins said he became interested in teas as a teenager while dating Gabet’s daughter, Heather, whom he eventually married.
“I’d go over to Terry’s house and drink teas from all over,” Gibbins said. “It was a really fun and bonding experience.”
The Ohio Tea Company offers more than 400 types of tea from all over the world.
“Tea is a very individual thing. Everyone’s taste is a little different,” Gabet said. “I like strong Indian teas. Kurt likes Chinese teas. We generally buy flavored teas from the big importers, because they have to follow FDA requirements. We buy our pure teas directly from overseas suppliers. We wanted to bring to the public good teas that are reasonably priced.”
Gabet said Hot Spiced Cinnamon is a consistently popular seller, as are Berry Sangria and Peach Apricot.
“We take our time and order samples,” Gibbins said. “Tea is very unique. It changes by elevation, region, by water; all the environmental impacts have a big impact on the outcome.”
Gabet said tea also has numerous health benefits.
“It contains a high amount of antioxidants, which repairs the body,” he said. “Green teas are good for the organs. Black teas are good for the circulatory system, and it has half the caffeine of a cup of coffee.”
Gibbins said he sometimes adds medicinal herbs to his tea, such as lavender.
“I blend all kinds of things,” he said.
The Ohio Tea Company also features accessories, everything from the traditional Chinese and Japanese tea sets, to “Western” cups and mugs made by local artists. They design their own labels for their containers, some of which have become as popular as the teas.
“Cast iron teapots are a bestseller,” Gibbons said.
“We try to get as much local as we can,” Gabet added. “We also have a great honey section.”
During the holidays, teas such as Noel Christmas, Winter Wonderland, Pumpkin Spice, Roasted Chestnut and chai teas make for popular gifts, he said.
The shop also offers seasonal teas and rare teas such as Hoshun Yellow Buds tea from China.
“One reason it’s so rare is the way it’s processed,” Gibbons explained. “It’s expensive because of the labor put into it.”
With the onset of the pandemic, the shop saw its online business grow. They reopened the physical store in mid-June. The shop also sells to local restaurants and other retailers.
“We have wonderful customers and employees,” Gabet said. “I always know when it’s exam week. College kids love their tea because caffeine absorbs much slower than coffee.”