TeaLee’s in Denver
Story time 😃 [120 second read]
When I visited Denver a few weeks ago, I intentionally searched for Black businesses to support.
I ran across a tea house in the Five Points neighborhood; one of Denver’s oldest and most diverse neighborhoods. It’s located at 611 22nd Street.
Upon entering the small tea shop we were greeted by the owner Risë Jones. She was a beautiful, petite and gracious Black women.
There was music playing, black art adorned the walls along with books, jewelry and of course tea.
I’m not a huge tea fan but I was eager to try something different. I’m all about creating memories and experiences.
Because Denver is 5,280 feet above sea level, you may feel a bit of sickness while you’re there as you’re adjusting to the altitude.
Anyway, edibles and altitude may not go together very well but again, it’s all about the experience.
After ordering the Hibiscus tea and picking out a few tea cakes to accompany the tea, I couldn’t help but watch Risë as she gracefully prepared our drinks and placed the tea cakes on a small plate. She said we couldn’t eat them from the wrapper. They needed to be on a plate😂.
The tea house is very small. It can accommodate about 8 guests at one time. There were two other guests inside when we arrived but they left shortly afterwards.
A few locals stopped in to get their daily fixes and again I watched Rïse gracefully take care of each guest.
The edibles have kicked in.
The music is soothing.
Time is standing still.
We’re in Denver drinking tea and eating tea cakes in a Black owned establishment!
Eventually Risë had served all of the guests then made her way back to our table. We asked her to take a seat and she does.
The conversation started by her asking where we were from and what brought us to Denver.
We continued to chat with Risë about a plethora of things. The edibles are clearly in full effect at this point. We chatted about art, books, travel, food and other Black owned spots to patronize in Denver. She told us about her downstairs which is a bookstore as well as a community space where she hosts gatherings and small events.
As she’s schooling us on the Denver happenings which isn’t much due to Covid, a couple walks in and takes a seat at the larger table next to us. We could tell that she was extremely familiar with the two. Risë told them that we were looking for a Black food business to dine at and also mentioned to us that this couple had a food business that closed down due to Covid. We know this story all too well.
The three of them collectively researched places we could eat while on their phones and having chitchat. Their conversation was priceless as they mentioned the places we wanted to avoid if we didn’t want to get shot in the back😂😂. That’s real🤷🏾♀️.
Risë came back to our table and asked us if we had heard the song ‘My Imagination’ by Bill Withers. We said no. Guess what, she played it.
We could hear the melody but the lyrics weren’t very clear. If you listen to this song, you’ll understand the gem that she dropped on us that will forever be embedded in our souls.
Oh but the tea.
The Hibiscus tea was a bright cranberry complexion. It was vibrant and bold tasting. It made me so happy. In that moment, I was utterly satiated.
I’m in Denver drinking tea and eating tea cakes in a Black owned establishment in the middle of a pandemic!
Oh but the real tea is Risë.
Being the inquisitive person that I am, I did some research and found out that her and her husband opened TeaLee’s together a few years ago. Seven years prior to opening TeaLee’s, Risë was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Fortunately, she beat it — and after she recovered, her husband asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Her reply: “I want a tea house.”
Her husband passed away late 2020.
If you don’t know someone’s story was a story, this is the story!
I miss Risë and I think of her often. I can’t wait to see her again at 611 22nd Street.
1 medium butternut squash peeled and seeded. Lawd this part was work!
Cut into 1 inch pieces
Vegan Chickenless Seasoning Salt ( Trader Joe’s). Figure out how much.
Black pepper. The ancestors will tell you how much.
Heat EVOO in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add the squash, Vegan Chickenless Seasoning Salt and black pepper to the pot and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, 22 – 25 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, make you an adult beverage and heat oven to 375°F. Toss the reserved seeds with some EVOO, some of the Trader Joe’s Chickenless Seasoning and some salt and black pepper and roast until golden brown and crispy, 10 minutes.
Using a blender, working in batches purée the soup. Sprinkle with the toasted seeds, cilantro and swirl in the coconut milk.
Someone from the Black Travel Movement asked for suggestions on things to do in Mpls outside of Mall of America.
Here’s what I posted: July 9, 2019
⭐The reggae festival in Duluth is next weekend.
⭐The Endless Bridge.
⭐Mpls Farmers Market
⭐Mill City Farmers Market
⭐Walk the Stone Arch Bridge
⭐Minnehaha Falls and eat at Sea Salt while you’re there.
⭐Ride the Ferris Wheel at Betty Danger’s.
⭐Check out Lake Nokomis, rent bikes etc
⭐Try vegan soul food at Trio Plant Based
⭐Have a Wonderous Punch or Zombie at The Red Dragon
⭐Crave Rooftop downtown
⭐Seven Rooftop downtown
⭐Breakfast Bar (hookah and cigars on patio)
⭐GoldRoom for dinner and Friday night Happy Hour
⭐Must see the Famous Cherry and The Spoon at The Sculpture Garden
⭐Check our Bunkers or Dakota for live music
⭐Wanna see a stage play or concert, check out The Guthrie, State Theater, Orpheum or Penumbra Theater
⭐ Paisley Park Tour if you’re a Prince Fan
⭐Stop by First Ave, take a photo by Prince Star
⭐Sommerfest at Orchestra Hall
⭐ Electric Fetus for all things music and cool
⭐ Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) 15 works inspired by the fatal shooting of Philando Castile … Now through July 29
⭐ Centennial Lakes in Edina for paddle boating, mini golf and ice skating in winter
⭐ Science Museum of MN for exhibits and films
The restaurant has a full patio and open window view to the amazingly beautiful and famous Sculpture Garden
I opted for the fried cauliflower $6 and the Zombie Cocktail $6
Let’s chat about the Zombie Cocktail which is normally $12 …
It is loaded with Puerto Rican rum, Jamaican rum and 151 rum. You will only need one and you better drink responsibly. Have a prearranged designated driver because you’ll definitely want to partake in a second one.
Looks are definitely deceiving because this plant based burger from @jselbys tastes way better than it looks. Sorry that I couldn’t capture the cheese that was oozing out 😛😛 ➡️J. LucyThis is their take on the Minneapolis classic Juicy Lucy. A house-made Beyond Burger blend filled with molten melty cheeze and topped with tomato, lettuce, onion & mayo on a whole grain bun.
A must try for meat eaters #meatlessmonday #plantbased
#jselbys #stpauleats #minneapolisentreepreneur #getinmybelly