If you’re looking for a unique tea house that captures the spirit of its neighborhood, look no further than the just-opened TeaLee's Tea House & Bookstore at 611 22nd Street in Denver’s Five Points neighborhood. Located in the newly refurbished 105-year-old Melbourne building, TeaLee’s provides a traditional tea experience in a modern, Afrocentric milieu, with art, books and jewelry that reflect the owners’ and the neighborhood’s rich African-American culture.
Risë Jones and her husband, Louis Freeman, opened TeaLee’s after five years of planning, hard work and even a GoFundMe campaign. Seven years before the doors opened and the first pot of tea was brewed, Jones had embarked on a tougher journey: She was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia. Fortunately, she beat it — and after she recovered, Freeman asked her what she wanted to do with her life. Her reply: “I want a tea house.”
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“Being ill gives you clarity about being purposeful and following through,” says Jones. During the five year interim between creating the business plan and opening the tea house's doors, she visited many tea shops in New York City, Maryland and Denver. She wanted TeaLee’s to be a little different, a space that reflected and engaged the Five Points community. The name TeaLee’s takes its inspiration from Jones's grandmother, Evelyn Jones, whose nickname was Tee-Lee. Tee-Lee’s home was always a place of good food, good drink, good conversation and wisdom, according to her granddaughter. TeaLee’s has captured that welcoming vibe.
In addition to tea, TeaLee’s offers coffee, beer and tea-infused spirits. Soup, sandwiches, salads and pastries are made by chef Olu Augustine. TeaLee’s also offers afternoon tea with tea sandwiches, pastries and a bottomless pot of tea for $19.95, and high tea, which includes another course — quiche — for $24.95.
TeaLee’s is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Call 303-593-2013 to make a reservation for afternoon and high tea, and visit the tea shop's website for more information.