For tea lovers, the giraffe motif entrance to Serengeti is akin to the pearly gates of heaven. Once inside there are floor to ceiling teas, impeccably packaged in canisters bearing the likeness of a mysterious African beauty from days past. From Lavender Rooibos Mint to Ashanti Gold Black, the choices are almost overwhelming. If not for a well-trained and enthusiastic staff, one might find it impossible to navigate the great wall of deliciousness and hone in on a personal favorite!
All personally designed by the owner and artist extraordinaire, Caranda, teas & herbs are farmed locally or imported from his farm in Kenya, blended and packaged to perfection in the company’s Bronx warehouse, and transported to the Harlem boutique with feverish frequency. Each visit to Serengeti is a sensory adventure, for which you must – breathe in, breathe out – give yourself a little time. Caranda learned at the foot of his grandmother, who had four tea shops in Liberia, his homeland. In her tradition, while your order is brewing to perfection, you may be regaled with tea and herb tastings, all which come with their own enchanting tales. He prides himself on this artistry, which also means using only the finest and purest ingredients – tracing each leaf back to its origins and the fingertips that cultivated it. Caranda demands even the same from his pastry vendors, and discovered that only Baltazar was willing to guarantee the consistent use of pure, high-quality ingredients in the pastries it delivers each morning.
Since opening its doors, almost exactly three months ago, Serengeti has rolled out new products regularly – not only tea varieties, but coffees and cocoas as well, condiments such as Hibiscus Flower Pink Peppercorn Sea Salt and Apricot & Rosemary Preserves, and unique serving accessories to make your tea-toting experience complete. This holiday season, beautifully wrapped gift sets magically appear on the shelves, and seem to just as magically disappear. (Note: Things don’t collect dust here.) This is all testimony to Caranda’s marvelous aesthetic, and the voracious market he’s awakened here in Harlem.
Certainly a jewel in our neighborhood, and a rarity even in this great international city, it seemed Serengeti would draw visitors from miles around. Sure, it could and likely still will, but it won’t have to…at least not for long. The reception has been such that the company is already working toward spreading the love in three additional neighborhoods – eying locations in Tribeca, Williamsburg and the Lower East Side! This slice of heaven in Harlem is here to stay, but gearing up to make a whole new set of friends. Get ready NYC, here comes Serengeti – straight from Harlem, via Africa, with love!
Serengeti Teas & Spices, 2292 Frederick Douglass Blvd @ 123rd Street, New York, NY 10027 | www.serengetiteasandspices.com
- Morningsider is pleased to continue our guest blogger features with Omo Misha who writes about the Uptown Arts, Culture and Entertainment experience! Misha is a visual artist, curator and arts administrator, currently serving as Program Director for The LeRoy Neiman Art Center. She is the author of “Manifesting Things”, editor of the anthology “9/11: Voices from the Outsider Media” and a contributing writer to Of Note Magazine, which features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. You can follow Omo Misha directly at www.OmoMisha.com and on Facebook.