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Favourable welcome for new tea shop in park

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Kelsea Williams of new tea shop, NovelTea, in Queen Elizabeth Park (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Kelsea Williams of new tea shop, NovelTea in Queen Elizabeth Park (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Queen Elizabeth Park in Hamilton is Bermuda’s newest tea stop.

Kelsea Williams opened the NovelTea shop this month after five years running it as an online enterprise. Customers can now buy a cup of their favourite hot or iced tea or super food latte, or purchase bagged loose leaf tea blends or tea accessories.

“The City of Hamilton had five different locations available around town,” Ms Williams said. “When we saw the request for proposals, we fell in love with this spot. The park is beautiful. There is a fountain. It is very serene here. We thought we have to do this.”

Contractor Darius Tucker started building a wooden shed for NovelTea in January, but because of the lockdown in April, the shop was not ready until the end of May.

“When everything was closed for lockdown it gave us a little bit of time to step back and work on this and get all of our ducks in a row,” Ms Williams said.

Ms Williams said it was a risk opening the shop during Covid-19.

“It is a risk, but one I am willing to take,” she said.

With many people still working from home, and tourism numbers still low, foot traffic has been slow. Ms Williams is confident things will pick up as Bermuda gets back to normal and tourists return.

She became interested in tea while a student at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.

“I was looking for something that tasted good but did not have as much sugar,” she said. “I stumbled upon loose leaf tea.”

She had a great time exploring different tea options in Canada at stores such as David’s Tea. After graduation, she was disappointed when she could not find her favourite teas in Bermuda.

“I was working as a web developer at the time, but always knew I wanted to start my own business,” she said. “I decided to give it a shot. I would see if other people were as interested and as in love with tea as I was.”

She now sells 60 different teas and blends online. Half of her stock is available in the store.

“We switch out the blends we offer in the store regularly so that people can give different ones a try,” she said.

With so many people nesting at home right now, she has seen an increase in interest in the online store since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Her iced teas and super food lattes have proven particularly popular at the store, and she will be introducing new flavours throughout the summer.

“We have six different super food tea latte powders,” she said. “Each one has a different super food such as beet root, matcha, or turmeric. Those you can dissolve in milk or water, but you can also cook with them or throw them in your smoothie. It allows you to get all the nutrients and antioxidants that the super foods provide.”

The feedback, so far, has been good.

“We have had people say it is really cute,” Ms Williams said. “They love the space. They love the fact they can sit off in the park with some tea. We are also planning on doing some events as well. This will help to get the word out.”

Now, the plan is for growth.

“We will be continuing to grow the business,” she said. “We will be listening to the community and seeing what we can add in the future. There is only up from here.”

One of her challenges has been time. She works full-time at the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, so has hired staff to man the shop while she is at work.

“I am there first thing in the morning to open, and at night to close,” she said. “I also work the shop myself on the weekends.”

It has been hard for her to put herself into the limelight.

“I am more of an introverted person,” she said. “I like to stay behind the scenes and behind the cameras. This is a lot more forward facing than I am usually comfortable with.”

The NovelTea shop will be open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 3pm. The online store will continue to operate.

For more information see noveltea.co, call 704-1093 or e-mail info@noveltea.co.

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Published July 12, 2021 at 3:16 pm (Updated July 13, 2021 at 8:02 am)

Favourable welcome for new tea shop in park

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