Garden: The Montana Ave. restaurant is finally open after a very long wait. Courtesy images

Two years after signing a lease, Mayra Vazquez is ecstatic that at long last she is welcoming residents into the Buena Vida Tea Bar & Garden, or what she calls her “little urban oasis.”

The tea bar is located at 726 Montana Ave in the former location of the Language of Flowers. Vazquez, who was always a fan of the flower shop, chose to keep its garden and elevate the space into a zen like patio hideaway designed for enjoying the perfect cup of tea.

“My mantra is there is a time for any tea and a tea for every time,” said Vazquez. “Sometimes in a day I try like six different varieties.”

True to her word, Vazquez has stocked Buena Vida with a wide range of loose leaf teas sourced from several different continents and also plans to offer a variety of sweet and savory locally baked goods and tea sandwiches. Customers are invited in to enjoy a relaxing or invigorating hot or iced tea, take their cup to go, or purchase loose leaf tea to prepare at home.

The teas are sourced in partnership with a tea expert from Sri Lanka who formerly managed his own tea plantation.

“He’s providing me with tea from all over the world: amazing black tea from India, China, Japan, herbal teas from Africa, yerba mate from Brazil and South America and we are so thrilled to share this with the community,” said Vazquez.

While Vasquez always had a love for hosting and entertaining with food and drink, her specific passion for tea developed later in life and had the opportunity to bloom into an all consuming fascination during pandemic. In the course of establishing the store, Vazquez spent lots of time educating herself on the world of tea, which she says is as complex in flavor and geographic range as that of wine.

In the new year Vazquez plans on hosting a series of “tea talks” featuring different experts who will give educational talks on the many different benefits of drinking tea. These include, but are not limited to boosting energy, aiding digestion, releasing stress, relieving headaches, treating colds and regulating blood sugar.

She hopes that the calm space provided by the tea bar and garden will inspire residents to dive into the world of tea themselves. For tea enthusiasts, she recommends joining the Buena Vida Tea Club, which provides curated monthly tea boxes featuring a range of black, green, or blended teas.

For those who are new to tea, Vazquez said they can’t go wrong by sampling a Darjeeling tea, which is considered the champagne of tea. For those looking for something more adventurous, she is a big fan of the Persian delight blend, which has a base of black organic tea mixed with rose petals, cardamom and saffron.

The tea bar and garden has been in the works since late 2019 when Vazquez first acquired the space. In the interim she has dealt with a whole string of pandemic related challenges and permitting woes, but feels that at last the space is everything she dreamed of.

“We strive for the perfect cup of tea and we don’t worry about the rules,” said Vazquez, adding that Buena Vida will be devoid of any stuffiness or pinkies up attitude towards drinking tea. “We just want to welcome the community to come and enjoy a cup of tea and take a break in our little urban oasis.”