Photo Credit: DuRaun Epps, https://www.eppsgraphics.com
Cuples Tea House: The HBCU Grads Redefining How People Enjoy Healthy Beverages
Cuples Tea House is a small minority/woman-owned business in Baltimore, Maryland providing premium loose-leaf tea, tea accessories, and tea education. Founders Lynnette and Eric Dodson are both life-long Baltimore residents and graduates of the city’s prestigious HBCU, Morgan State University.
They started Cuples Tea in 2015, and opened their brick and mortar store in November 2021, both with the mission of inspiring healthier communities by connecting people to premium loose-leaf tea that is both great tasting and healthy.
“While researching ideas to create residual income for our family, we started educating ourselves on the many aspects of the tea industry,” said Lynnette and Eric. “In our tea education journey, we realized that we wanted to combine our passion and love for tea with our customers through what we call The Urban Tea Experience. So, our mission, in part, was to create a place where we connect to people over tea.”
Lynnette and Eric decided that with their platform, they wanted to curate a space to empower other small business owners to grow their operations, to ignite creativity, and to begin to have authentic conversations over a book signing or artist exhibit. They decided that tea would be the catalyst for having these important lifestyle events.
“Cuples Tea House is designed with a tea bar (for our tea tastings) relaxed comfortable urban inspired atmosphere, green wall, and retail boutique. We combine culture, music, art and tea education in this socially connected backdrop…and tea is the vehicle that makes it all possible.”
“People come in for the delicious, healthy beverage we call tea, and they leave with their spirits elevated, nourished, and re-energized. In addition to our online shop of over 50 premium loose-leaf teas, Cuples Tea hopes that by introducing people to alternatives to sugary drinks–which contribute to the unhealthy lifestyles of people in urban communities— that we can begin to redefine how people enjoy healthy beverages.”
For Lynnette and Eric, it’s not about being another tea house. The duo envisioned Cuples Tea House as a lifestyle destination, and together they have curated their store to be a community driven space that showcases Black-owned businesses, makers, artists and writers/journalists, all while achieving their goal of inspiring healthier communities by educating people about the many medicinal benefits of drinking tea.
Currently, trending customer favorites at Cuples Tea include their heavenly Maharaja Chai Oolong tea. A cinnamon lover’s dream, the smooth flavor of the oolong tea combined with Cuples’ chai spice blend of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, chicory, and cocoa nibs creates a savory and spicy cup. A little splash of oat milk is added to accent the spicy-sweet richness.
The brand plans to be a part of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore’s urban revitalization by hosting social and community events and to be a place where small women/Black-owned businesses can thrive while building community. This will be through community talks, artist showcases, and strategic gatherings where small businesses can share essential resources and network.
“Tea helps us to slow down. We have to wait for the water to boil, wait to steep the tea, wait for it to cool. This intentional slow down is the impetus by which we can organically and creatively thrive.”