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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.