Small Business Spotlight: Wichita tea bar offers cozy respite, up to 50 kinds of tea

08/20/2014 2:31 PM

08/20/2014 5:32 PM

After five years on the East Coast, Dawn Flippin was looking for a way to return to Wichita and do something she loves.

Specifically, she wanted to “drink warm beverages and read books and talk to my friends all day.”

Flippin opened T – a tea bar a month ago with that goal in mind. It’s in the Green Elephant Village west of Central and Hillside.

“It’s just a place about slowing down,” she said. “I love coffee, but coffee is often about speeding up. Tea is about slowing down.”

Flippin grew up in Wichita and was a banker before deciding to become a Presbyterian minister. She earned a divinity degree from Dubuque University in Iowa, then spent five years with a church in the Princeton, N.J., area.

“I’m still often in pulpits on Sunday morning,” she said. “There’s always a pastor on vacation somewhere.”

The tea bar serves three iced teas – black, green and herbal – with different flavors featured each week. There are 40 to 50 hot teas available – from oolong and mates to herbal and white – with what Flippin called “a variety of spice and caffeine levels.”

The tea is served in hand-thrown mugs made by local potter Ally Schmidt. The tea bar also sells croissants made by Crust and Crumb, a Newton bakery.

Housed in a 1920s cottage, the tea bar has about 2,000 square feet spread among half a dozen rooms on two levels.

“It’s off the beaten path, but that’s what makes it cozy,” Flippin said.

She said she spent a couple of months working on the interior, refinishing the hardwood and having local designer Luke Bott come up with a logo that covers the main wall. The space is furnished with sofas, chairs and low tables.

Two college students and a high school student work in the shop. Flippin said several book clubs are meeting there. “If community groups want a place to meet, we’re happy to reserve a room for them.”

She’s trying to make the tea bar a recognized part of the neighborhood, dropping off free pastries at the Ronald McDonald House, the Wesley Medical Center emergency room and a local fire station.

“We just like making our little corner of the world a kinder, happier place.”

Now you know

T – a tea bar

Address: 509 N. Lorraine

Phone: 316-260-1550

Owner: Dawn Flippin

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