small bite

Local Tea Company

By Marcy Chapman / Photography By Jenny Acheson | April 03, 2017
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Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a fragrant cuppa. And of course, “tea time” can be any time you are in the mood: a wakeup call in the morning, a pick-me-up in the afternoon, or a soothing nightcap.

Michael Duranko, founder and owner of Sarasota’s Local Tea Company, who left the island of Manhattan for the island of Siesta Key, has been creating locally inspired teas in Sarasota since 2007. With more than 80 loose-leaf teas available to enjoy, their selection could rival any fine wine list.

Sharing the company’s motto “Sip Locally,” Michael explains, “Our locally inspired loose-leaf teas were created to celebrate Sarasota. From Rooibos and Green and White to Oolong teas, our brilliant blends are stirred with the essence of our remarkable local treasures, among them Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Ringling, Spanish Point, Mote Marine, and Van Wezel.”

And who wouldn’t be tempted to try a “spot” of Organic Strawberry Smile, or Big Top, or Sparkling Pineapple tea.

“Making tea, the second-most-consumed beverage worldwide after water, is both an art and a science,” Michael says. As tea leaves do not grow locally, Local Tea Company employs fine importers to create these inimitable blends to their specifications.

Since 2007, home base for the company has been Selby Gardens. They offer many blends to celebrate the diverse sites at Selby: The Goldstein Rainforest, the forest floor and the canopy all have provided inspiration.

Their most popular tea, Selby Select Rooibos, is blended to honor the Gardens’ acclaimed orchid collection. This memorable mix evokes hints of vanilla, which is obtained from certain types of orchid. The infused creaminess of this unique Selby blend (hint of a Creamsicle) results from orange peel sprayed with vanilla yogurt and then dried.

The character of historic Spanish Point—a locale evocative of Sarasota’s early settlers, the citrus industry, and Bertha Palmer—was inspiration for the popular Pioneer Tea. Often served at tea parties, this blend is flavored with grapefruit and eucalyptus.

Local Tea Company, dedicated to supporting our community, works together with more than 60 serving partners to create appealing, healthy beverages.

Choosing from this distinctive menu, many discerning diners find a spot of tea the perfect finishing touch that tops off an evening of fine dining.

Sarasota visitors often take these teas home, a flavorsome means to revisit their memories of our town and its local treasures.

Why not just enjoy this historic habit and have a cuppa?

Whether you like it with sugar, lemon, cream, or plain, there is a certain aura about tea, a contemplative beverage. First the water must boil. Then leaves can begin to steep. The aroma wafts through the air as the tea begins to release its flavors and a comfortable, wonderful companion awaits your enjoyment.

Owner Michael Duranko
Article from Edible Sarasota at
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