Raising the Roof

In Eat, June 2016 by Paige Luck

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What do you do when you can’t sleep? Ryan Hinson, co-owner of Tin Roof Teas, looked to the calming effects of a good cup of tea. A native of North Carolina, Ryan moved to downtown Raleigh in 1999. He and his brother, Richard, who handles the administrative side of the business, decided to open a specialty teashop. Hard work and grassroots efforts have paid off.

“I remember pushing a wooden cart around, within a half-mile radius, begging banks and stores to allow me to show up early with two thermoses full of tea for folks to try,” says Hinson.

Today, he showcases his collection of teas at a shop in Cameron Village, a warmly inviting space with dark wooden cubbies and filled galvanized bins of loose tea. Tea cups displayed in the front window, ranging from Japanese to English styles, welcome visitors and beckon them inside to taste different varieties in the cozy space.

Part of the store’s success is attributed to listening to customers and increasing product diversity. Initially, the store carried a selection of teas from a German manufacturer, but Hinson wanted to expand the selection, customizing it to Raleigh’s citizens. Developing relationships with a broad variety of purveyors has increased the depth of selection, including many classic and aromatic teas.

“The quality you can’t beat,” says Hinson. “All the teas are tested for pesticides, residual metals, and most are certified organic.”

The tea selection is based on some of his favorite classic teas mixed with customer requests, and you won’t find the custom curated teas anywhere else in the Triangle.

“All of our contracts stipulate that [tea manufacturers] cannot sell our teas in a 30-mile radius,” he adds.

Community interest in local honey has also lead Tin Roof Teas to expand the retail space and create a honey bar with samples. It’s also recently focused on developing online sales and branding their products.  Look for a new logo and custom tea canisters soon.

The store has been so well received that Tin Roof Teas is raising the roof.  A tin roof on the storefront will be installed in the fall creating an outdoor seating area.

Cantaloupe Mint Sweet Tea and The Gentleman's Sweet Tea

Cantaloupe Mint Sweet Tea and The Gentleman’s Sweet Tea

Tea on the Rocks

Hot weather pairs perfectly with a glass of refreshing iced tea. For every day, try the cantaloupe mint tea, and save the Gentleman’s Tea for an occasion.

Cantaloupe Mint Sweet Tea

Servings 4 large glasses

2 tbs loose white tea leaves

32 oz. cold water

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

¼ cup whole fresh mint leaves

2 cups cubed cantaloupe

Add tea to cold water.  Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Strain out tea leaves from water. In a microwavable bowl, mix sugar and water. Microwave on high for two minutes. Add mint leaves. Allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove leaves. Place cantaloupe in a blender. Blend for one minute until smooth. Pour the fruit into a strainer over a bowl. Allow to drain until the liquid is almost done dripping. Fill an ice cube tray with the cantaloupe juice and freeze.

In a 22 oz glass, place 1 cup of ice cubes, two cantaloupe cubes, 8 oz. of white tea, and 1 to 2 tbs mint syrup in the glass. Mix well. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.

Try: Tin Roof Tea’s China Fancy White Peony tea, a mild floral variety.

The Gentleman’s Sweet Tea

Servings 4 cocktails

4 tbs loose black tea leaves

16 oz cold water

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

1 orange, peel removed and juiced

8 oz whiskey

Rizzo bitters, made by Crude Bitters & Sodas

Add tea to cold water. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours. Strain out tea leaves from water. In a microwavable bowl, mix sugar, water and orange peel. When removing the peel, avoid the white pith. Use only the orange peel. Microwave on high for two minutes.  Place in the refrigerator.

For each glass, fill an old fashioned glass with ice. Mix together 4 oz. tea, 3 tbs orange syrup, 1 tbs orange juice, 2 oz whiskey and 4 to 6 drops of Rizzo. Mix and pour over ice. Serve with a sliver of the orange peel from the sugar syrup.

Try: Tin Roof Tea’s Kenya Milima GFOP black tea which has earthy and spiced notes.  Rizzo is available at Crude Bitters & Sodas, Whole Foods Raleigh and Cary.

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