What made me decide to open a tearoom? I was born and raised in New Port Richey and I’ve always had this vision of what an adorable and cool town it could be. Think of those fun Hallmark movies that are set in a small town with cute shops and cute events. I’ve always felt that New Port Richey had such a charming vibe like those movies and I wanted to help create that culture in our town. I actually decided to open a tearoom when my husband, Bryan, was traveling to a jobsite in Tampa. He drove by and saw this cute gift shop with a tearoom and called me to tell me I should do that in downtown New Port Richey. At the time I was a little skeptical because I didn’t like tea, and I had no experience with tea service. After a visit to that Tampa tearoom, I knew something like that would do really well in our town. I started researching everything I could about Afternoon Tea service, and tea in general. What I found out was that a tearoom was exactly what our town needed. Guests travel for tea and tea can help bring tourism. We see it daily, guests visiting us from other counties and other parts of Florida. Ultimately, The White Heron did and continues to do exactly what I wanted for my town, bring people in so they can see how lovely it is, and they want to come back.
Where do we source our teas? Tea is grown all over the world, including here in the United States. Most of our tea is still sourced from countries such as India and Kenya (for black teas), China (for white teas) and Japan (for green teas). We are starting to work with other growers around the world and especially like teas from a family run estate in Thailand. We hope to bring their teas to our tearoom soon. Our herbals are sourced from all over the world, and our Rooibos (caffeine free) herbal tea is received from South Africa, the only place in the world that it grows.
What makes teatime a special event? Teatime is a time for guests to come together and enjoy a meal and tea without outside distractions, truly spending time with each other. Tea has always been a way for people to come together in a respectable atmosphere. If you look at how many meetings and negotiations take place over tea, it’s truly amazing. Tea unites people together in a calm and non-threatening environment. There’s something special about someone steeping tea and pouring it for another person. It eludes to the fact that one person is taking care of another. By enjoying tea time, we are all taking care of each other by taking time with each other. That is the most special part about teatime, the togetherness.
Tell us about the Hacienda Tea: The Hacienda Hibiscus tea was developed because of my desire to share all that is beautiful about New Port Richey. We picked several important features about New Port Richey and developed them into teas for guests to enjoy at home and for visitors to take with them to remember their trip to our beautiful town. The Hacienda Hotel was one of the jewels that we wanted to feature in the collection. Developing a tea for any purpose is difficult, but when you have something so iconic as The Hacienda Hotel, it has to be something really special. I knew that, no matter what, the tea had to pour to a pretty pink color to pay homage to the color of the hotel. This was non-negotiable. The only way to ensure that we could get the tea to this color was to find a tea that is light, and an herb that would help with the pink. By combining a lightly floral white tea with the robust hibiscus herbal, we were able to get the color of the tea to a pretty pink hue. Then, we had to think, what would we expect if we were enjoying some time at the Hacienda. I can just imagine rocking in the rocking chair on the back patio of the hotel, overlooking Sims Park, and sipping something cool and refreshing on a warm summer day. A lot of people like lemonade in the summertime, as a way to refresh. That’s when we decided to put lemon pieces in with the white tea and hibiscus. It turned out perfectly with the pink color and light lemon hibiscus flavor. To this day, when I enjoy The Hacienda Hotel Hibiscus White Tea, I just imagine myself on that back patio, overlooking Sims Park, and I just smile.
The total tea collection features: The Hacienda Hotel, Sims Park, Downtown New Port Richey, and the Richey Suncoast Theatre.
What do you love about New Port Richey: Having been born and raised in New Port Richey, but fortunate enough to travel and do lots of things out of New Port Richey, this place has always been my home. It’s where my family lives, where my husband and I bought a house and live, and where I have started our businesses. When we opened The White Heron over seven years ago, the town was much different than it is today. There were a lot of vacant store fronts, downtown had very little traffic, and it definitely wasn’t the first, second, or third place you thought to come to for shopping or an evening out. In fact, when I told people I was opening a tearoom, I received a lot of comments asking why I would put anything in New Port Richey, and that a tearoom surely wouldn’t make it. But I love my town and I have had faith in it since I was a child, so I had to try.
Today, I love the community that has been built. From the cool and unique businesses, the breweries and restaurants, and our beautiful hotel, New Port Richey has really turned a corner by everyone working together. Residents come down and support the businesses, people from outside of our town come down to check it out and are always so surprised at the transformation, and the businesses work so hard to continue to create this beautiful environment so that we all can thrive. In the beginning, when I first opened The White Heron, there weren’t many businesses, and today it’s bustling. I love that we all have been able to work together to make this town something that we can all be proud of. That is the true meaning of community, and New Port Richey’s community is strong.
The White Heron Tea & Gifts is open from 11 am to 4 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. Our tea times are 12 pm and 2 pm Wednesday through Saturday (reservations required and can be made by calling the tearoom).
6228 Grand Boulevard, New Port Richey, Florida 34652, United States
- The White Heron Tea Room The White Heron Tea Room
- Kelly M. Hackman, Owner Kelly M. Hackman, Owner
- Hacienda Hotel Tea Hacienda Hotel Tea
- Hacienda Hotel Tea Hacienda Hotel Tea