S cents of cardamom, rosemary and cinnamon wafting through the walkways at Downtown at the Gardens will lure you to The Spice and Tea Exchange. It’s a shop that can turn any family dinner or cup of tea into something more exciting. After working in management for a supermarket chain for 30 years, proprietor John Gekas decided to open his own specialty storefront. You’ll find him and his wife, Esperanza, happily assisting customers and leading them through their flavor-filled world.
Inside, rows and rows of translucent jars filled with assortments of custom blends, teas and spices are on display. If you’re feeling tempted to open a jar, have at it. John and Esperanza support the full experience. They might lead you to sample their new coconut oolong tea, one of the most flavorful teas offered—and one of John’s favorites—to kick-start your browsing.
“It’s a great sensory experience,” John says of his shop. “You can come in, open the jars and smell. If you’d like to taste something, we have samples.” Their selection includes more than 60 loose teas, 90 specialty blends and plenty more sugars, salts and peppers. “It’s really a nice experience compared to going to a spice aisle in a grocery store,” he says.
Shop custom blends made in-house that are great additions to oil for bread dipping or recipes for creating dynamic meals every day of the week. There are flavors such as Chesapeake Bay, Tuscany and Jamaican Jerk. Shoppers can buy by weight, shovel spices into tiny packets or bring in a container from home to fill.
A best-selling tea is the Blueberry Black, but other favorites include herbals (like ginger turmeric), blacks, greens, whites and decafs. If you don’t consider yourself a “tea drinker,” you might change your mind after trying recipes like the White Tropical Twist Cocktail, mixing the store’s White Tropical Tea with pineapple juice and vodka. John encourages incorporating the teas in desserts and cocktails.
GIFTS AND GADGETS
In addition to browsing teas and spices, shop trendy kitchen and cooking gadgets ideal for the holidays. The Himalayan salt cooking blocks are a customer favorite. There are even mortars and pestles to use to crush herbs or make dips.
The Spice and Tea Exchange, 11701 Lake Victoria Gardens Ave., Ste. 7111, Palm Beach Gardens / 561.328.7219 spiceandtea.com/palm-beach-gardens