A Sip Of Sweet Success
Tea lounge establishing downtown roots
Halesite’s Nicole Basso, the owner of Sip Tea Lounge in Huntington village, emerged as a tea drinker in a coffee-lover’s household.
Raised in an Italian household, her grandfather drank “pots and pots” of percolator coffee every day. The whole family routinely drank coffee and espresso every night.
Everyone, that is, except for her grandmother. She had a nightly cup of Tetley, Lipton or Red Rose tea. Initially, Basso wasn’t a big fan.
“She would have her late-night tea,” Basso said. “Most times, I would be like, ‘No, I really don’t want any of that.’ She would ask me every night…. I had tea as a kid and with her, but it wasn’t a passion at that point.”
That would change in college. Initially her tea drinking was out of necessity during all-nighters, and it opened the door to what would become her livelihood.
“Sometimes I would have coffee, but I drank a lot more tea,” she said. “It kind of grew from there.”
Basso opened Sip in January with hopes of bringing the tea lounges she experienced while living in and around San Francisco back home to Huntington. Here, many customers buy a pot of tea and sit and sip either at the counter or at tables in the cozy storefront, much of it dressed in reclaimed materials.
“There are tea lounges everywhere in San Francisco,” she said. “It’s just relaxing. Sometimes it’s not even about the tea… Sometimes it’s just about taking a break and slowing down.”
Basso had the benefit of opening a business with some name recognition in the tea market. Through her company The Tea Plant, she has been selling online and at local farmers markets since 2009. Her local clientele helped her determine there was a market for a tea lounge.
“A lot of our business originally came from our existing customer base and people who knew us in the community,” she said of her initial shop visitors.
At Sip, she offers a variety of teas, many hailing from China, Japan, India and Sri Lanka, as well as herbal tea blends. Basso noted she has a particular fondness for Japanese teas. She also sells a variety of tea accessories, including infusers, pots, loose teas, mugs and bowls, along with cookies, pastries, tea sandwiches and other munchies. Basso noted the shop is becoming known for its weekly pies, and she’s working hard to keep up with demand.
“It’s been going really well – slowly and steadily getting more customers and people telling other people,” she said.
Sip Tea Lounge is located at 286C New York Ave. in Huntington. Call 631-683-5777 or visit siptealoungeny.com.