As someone who considers herself down-to-earth and adventurous I was overjoyed to try this adorable little tea shop that has such great character. As soon as I walked in the welcoming, glass, front door, my senses went crazy — not only because of the delicious aroma of sweet cinnamon and irresistible mint radiating from the delectable tea, but also due to the quiet, calming music, the international art that diffused vibrant colors and the overall coziness of the entire room.

It didn’t take long for the welcoming owner, Aaram Millones, to come over and proudly tell me a little about the café. The idea came from a small tea shop in Washington, D.C., and he created his own rendition in downtown Harrisonburg in 2007. Originally, he didn’t intend for it to have an international flair, but he couldn’t resist the temptation and decided to try it out. The striking art that covered the majority of the walls consisted of colorful tapestries and remarkable images that all conveyed the international theme. These decorations made me feel like I was in a completely different country, engulfed by an entirely new culture. 

The global vibes and vibrant decorations aren’t the only element I love about the Earth and Tea Café. The welcoming atmosphere really made me feel at home. Not only were there around 10 JMU students relaxing in the plush, cushioned chairs, but Millones checked on them constantly, talking to all of them as if they were good friends. 

While I was relaxing and enjoying my chai tea, one family came in dead set on getting coffee. Sitting rather close to the counter, I overheard Millones sending them to a different coffee shop around the corner. It seemed as if he sent away good business in order to keep his customers happy. He reminded the family that they’re always welcome at his café, but coffee isn’t his forte and he doesn’t want to disappoint them.

This idea of good customer service and honest compassion is the main reason I love the Earth and Tea Café. It’s not every day that you find such an authentic company with high regard for its customers.

The massive menu seemed a little intimidating at first but it didn’t take me long to figure out how to navigate it. The first half of the menu was a list of around 50 exotic teas from all around the world,  but the majority come from China and India. The tea menu is broken up into categories consisting of: green, green and black mix, black, white, oolong, herbal, rooibos and fruit blend. The teas are divided up by different flavors and are described by their taste. One tea, the “Decaf Organic Japan Sencha,” is described as a green tea with a large leaf and a pleasant, slightly brisk taste, typical of the fall harvest.

The last section of the menu went over the food options, from the open face pear sandwich to the nutella french toast. They all looked mouth-watering, but the main focus of the café was on its impressive tea collection.

After much contemplation, I finally decided to try the “Masala Chai” from India. This type of chai is high in caffeine and typically served with milk and sugar. The exotic smell of intense warm and spicy cinnamon overwhelmed my senses. It was delicious, to say the least. I ordered a large pot of this tea, which was about six cups, for only $5. The delicious taste was irresistible; the tea went quickly.

Even if you’re not sold on the whole tea idea, I definitely recommend trying this café out. The Earth and Tea Café far exceeded my expectations; I’m ecstatic to go back to my new favorite lunch spot and try all the other delicious options.

Contact Natalie Lavery at laveryna@dukes.jmu.edu.