In this update, Elle checks in with co-owners Jamila McGill and Alfonso “Ali” Wright to find out how the tearoom is adapting during the coronavirus outbreak.
“Of course, our traffic is much different. We were becoming a bustling center of the community,” Wright said. “But right now, it’s really just a grab-and-go.”
While Brooklyn Tea remains open seven days a week, it’s now doing much of its sales online. Despite social distancing measures, Wright and McGill continue to feel supported.
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“I underestimated our importance to the community,” Wright said. “They’ve really gone out of their way to make sure we exist.”
“One of our customers was bringing homemade lunch for us, just so we didn’t have to spend extra dollars on lunch. So we’re still feeling that love in many ways,” McGill said.
She explained that conversations with customers about tea and its benefits have moved from in-person to Instagram direct message.
“We’ve been leaning a lot on the online community,” McGill added.
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For McGill and Wright, tea can be a powerful tool during this extraordinary time of hardship. Not only are many teas believed to boost immunity, but also, tea preparation itself can be a meditative exercise. McGill says that aromas of sage, lavender, and peppermint can soothe the spirit.
“It really helps to calm you so you can get through that Zoom call without fussing at people,” she said. “And if you’re really feeling experimental, I love to turn the leaves into a body scrub or add it to my bath water, especially the cherry rose tea.”
She believes that tea can be part of a broader practice of self-compassion.
“Remind yourself that you’re special, you’re important. This is a hard time, and you get to have different feelings,” she said. “You want to make sure you’re being gracious to yourself.”
524 Nostrand Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11216
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