Tea Time

It’s a Coffee-Driven Culture – Except Where They Drink Tea on Aragon

By Julienne Gage

April 2018

Between the natural-yet- modern décor and the Euro-styled customers – students decked out in H&M and men in suits sporting mod shoes with bright red soles – a visit to Small Tea on Aragon Avenue can quickly transport you from the South Florida tropics to some cool, cozy place in Scandinavia.  

A read through Small Tea’s online “treatise,” which encourages consumers to break the “big coffee” business habit, suggests that’s just the tone founder Daniel Charles Joseph Benoudiz was trying to set. 

“We think coffee could really use a cup of tea right about now. And so could you. Along with an elegant, humble place to sit and simply enjoy said tea,” it reads.

Small Tea can quickly transport you from South Florida to Scandinavia

Benoudiz believes people are ready to sacrifice fast-paced coffee convenience for a calmer, more soothing light fare and beverage experience. 

“I actually lived in Coral Gables for many years, so I knew the area, the people, what it needed,” he says. “Better tea, better food, better service, better ambience – it pays off.” 

Indeed, Small Tea pours out its good vibes to a regularly full house. While the treatise also invites its customers to be “gloriously unproductive,” something about the shop’s beautiful form and functionality, as well as the invigorating taste of multilayered tea and a crisp-crusted sandwich, makes you want to delve into deep thoughts with your business associates – or break out your laptop to write them.

“We think coffee could really use a cup of tea right about now. And so could you…”

Benoudiz found himself doing lots of that as he traveled up the Eastern Seaboard and to the Pacific Northwest in search of tea makers, interior designers, and other ambience curators to help him create his aesthetic blend.

In addition to an installation of tea crates that helps soften the acoustics, Small Tea’s walls are lined with about 80 copper tea canisters stamped with letters and numbers like C03 and A05. Small Tea’s “Big Menu,” translates these oblique codes, and with them, a tea for every mood – Vanilla Meet Cinnamon, Blossom Buddy, or Apple Falls anyone? Our choice in this cozy bistro: the blooms-of-amaranth-and-nasturtium-infused Aha! Moment.

Small Tea encourages consumers to break the “big coffee” business habit