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My Personal Apothecary

The magic that is Happy Earth Tea


If you were to walk into 696 South Avenue on any given week, chances are pretty good that

you’d probably bump into me there. Happy Earth Tea has been a staple for me since I moved to the South Wedge neighborhood of Rochester back in 2018. In fact, I’m sitting at their tea bar enjoying a hot cup of tea as I write this very post.


To be clear, this isn’t an ad. I wasn’t asked to write this, and I’m certainly not getting paid for it. This place isn’t just special to Rochester and the South Wedge, it’s very special to me. And it has been a very special space for my writing, and I’ll tell you why.


The Wuliangshan Moonlight white tea from China, easily my favorite tea here!


First, A Little History


Happy Earth Tea started as a booth at a local farmer’s market selling organic teas from around the world back in 2010. The owner, Niraj, is from the Darjeeling region of India, and was a journalist covering the tea industry there. When he moved to the U.S., he made use of his connections to ultimately launch a tea bar that would be named as one of CNN Travel’s 11 best tea houses in the world.


Now, I didn’t know any of this at the time. But I stumbled into Happy Earth Tea while exploring my neighborhood when I first moved here, and the rest is history. I’ve always enjoyed tea, but they’ve turned me into something of a connesieur in these short four years. But it was never about the tea. The atmosphere here, and the people… one of the few places in Rochester where you can just talk to interesting strangers about interesting things. And Niraj and his wife Mary are the nicest people, which is true of all the company they keep too. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything but pleasant interactions with every person who steps into this bar.


How many pages have been written here?


Hot tea. Calming music. A quiet space. The perfect place to get some writing done, no? So it goes without saying, I’ve spent no small amount of time clacking on my keyboard here. The Happy Earth team has always been very supportive of me, and it goes beyond just providing me a peaceful and productive place to write.


Happy Earth Tea also connected me with my editor, another tea fiend who might as well be a wall decoration here. He probably owns enough of their tea to open a franchise himself! We’d meet here weekly to discuss my rough draft and edits, and now those meetings have transformed into a weekly tradition that often doesn’t even involve writing at all. The circle is pretty large now, and on any given afternoon, we can fill the entire tea bar with all of us who can count on seeing each other every week.


Then when my book was published, Happy Earth Tea hosted my launch party! We created a special menu where we had characters from the book recommend certain teas, I did a reading and then they also introduced me to a bookstore in the neighborhood that now carries my book. Which, while I’m recommending South Wedge businesses, you should absolutely check out Hipocampo Children’s Books, a very cute local bookstore.


The collab menu from my book launch at Happy Earth, Nov 2021


The Apothecary and Tea


Tea leaves, herbs and hot water: a pretty basic potion, right? The connection is almost poetic, and there’s a reason Wisteria Amberfinch is such a big fan of tea. Of course, thanks to Happy Earth, now I am too. But again, I can’t stress enough that I’m thankful for a lot more than their hot beverages.


As I said, nothing about this post has been sponsored. But if you ever find yourself in the South Wedge, do yourself a favor and stop in at 696 South Avenue. I can promise you’ll find a lot more than phenomenal tea. There’s a certain magic here, and I don’t know if I’d enjoy Rochester nearly as much if it ever went away. And if you stop in for a visit, who knows? Maybe I’ll bump into you there ~


Until next time. Thanks for reading!


Happy Earth Tea, on the corner of South Ave and Gregory St



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