942 Summit — Artisanal Blend of Tea, Gluten-Free Snacks & Bath Products
Update Dec. 12: Do You Tea? will be closing their tea bar on December 20.
Considering that tea is the second-most consumed beverage on the planet, one would think it’s as easy to find as running water. Until recently, though, the Jersey City Heights lacked a proper tea shop. Do You Tea, one of three businesses within the 942 Summit collective, opened on November 9, 2014, serving hand-blended teas to customers who want to thaw out from the cold.
Kelley Scruby, owner of Do You Tea, first started blending her teas in Hoboken, where she has lived for four years with her husband. There, she met Niambi Cacchioli, who was making her own soaps and bath products and then selling them at DIY events around town. Cacchioli started hosting soap socials, where attendees could come to an event and make their own soap. Scruby partnered with Cacchioli to serve her teas at these socials, so that she could receive feedback on her blends.
Soon, Scruby began selling her tea blends at markets, mostly in Downtown Jersey City. Her business demanded the use of a commercial kitchen space, and she started looking around the area for a location. With Hoboken’s real estate market being too expensive, she took the advice of a friend and real estate agent to look in the Jersey City Heights.
“It was just a matter of finding a space for the kitchen requirements I needed, with a sink, and maybe a storefront. Those things together were hard to find without really expensive rent or being a tiny hole in the wall,” said Scruby.
Together with Cacchioli, who had been working out of a Hoboken commercial space prone to flooding, they scouted for a space and found the vacant location on Summit Ave., which looked large and inviting and had a commercial kitchen.
“We were actually looking off of Kennedy and walking back down Zabriskie when we stumbled upon the corner of Summit and Zabriskie where we saw a big empty storefront. So we thought we would check it out,” said Scruby. “We didn’t know what the foot traffic would be like. But we thought, if we’re sharing the space and doing online sales, then it will be worth it. We weren’t necessarily banking on the foot traffic.”
Scruby met Stephanie Wong at Jersey City’s 6th Borough Market, where Wong was selling gluten-free snacks, and she asked if she’d be interested in subleasing some of the space from her and Cacchioli. Wong is founder of WHOS (an acronym for Wong’s House of Snacks), a dedicated gluten-free bakery. Soon, the three businesses were up and running under the same roof.
“Since we’ve been open, the foot traffic has definitely been there. While we’re not exactly on Central Ave., we’re not far from it. People have stumbled in walking home from Central or from word of mouth and social media,” said Scruby.
What customers will find when they enter 942 Summit is a sense of calm. Scruby swears that children behave better in the space, as a result of the lavender scent that permeates the room. In addition, customers will find a variety of items to discover and enjoy. Bloombury Sq. sells soaps, cleansers, lotions, lip balms, and gift sets, all handmade from natural ingredients. WHOS sells gluten-free foods (many of which are also vegan) like granola, trail mix, cupcakes, cookies, and other snacks. Local, non-GMO, and organic ingredients are listed for the customers to see. Finally, Scruby sells her unique tea blends like Backyard Bliss (oolong, jasmine blossoms, orange peel, and spearmint) and Raspberry Rejuvenation (white tea leaves, raspberries, rose buds, hibiscus, and pomegranate seeds). Teas can be ordered iced or hot and can be sweetened with raw sugar or local honey from a local Jersey City resident with a beehive on her roof.
Scruby has been interested in tea from a young age, when she played with tea sets as a little girl. She and her husband even had a tea-party-themed wedding. When she lived in Florida, Scruby worked for a large tea company, where she learned about the different varieties of tea and their health benefits.
“I’m interested in the benefits. For example, I know oolong is good for digestion, and papaya is good for it too. So I’ll put those two ingredients together and maybe add cinnamon,” said Scruby.
When she first founded Do You Tea, Scruby met a young man at a tea expo whose family owns a tea farm in the Indian Himalayas. “He was interested in the Jersey City location, and he said he would love to have his family’s teas there. He started supplying me with good-quality teas. I started putting different ingredients together to make my blends: dried berries, dried spices, herbs,” she said. All of her blends are made in house. Scruby can even make a custom blend for a customer who is looking for something extra special to their taste.
So far, the partnership among the three businesses has been fruitful. Customers are attracted to the large space, comfortable seating, and the free WiFi, which is difficult to find elsewhere in the neighborhood. The three owners have also been able to cross promote. WHOS is listed on the “Find Me Gluten Free” app, which lists locations of businesses that offer gluten-free items, and this app has attracted many new customers, who will also usually enjoy a cup of tea with their snack. Wong is expanding her food offerings to savory dishes and heartier menu items. Recently, she served soups, which were a big hit.
In addition, the three young women are dedicated to supporting and being involved with the local community. Most recently, Jersey City Writers hosted their holiday party at 942 Summit, and the business owners hosted a jazz night right before Christmas. Every Friday night is “Bright-Your-Own-Game” night, which invites customers to bring board games and play with their friends. The three women are hoping that more community members will approach them with ideas; a regular poetry and music night are in the works.
On Sunday, Feb. 15 at 6:15 pm, Do You Tea and WHOS will be hosting a Tea Chocolate Affair at 942 Summit Ave. For $25, an attendee will receive five tea and chocolate pairings.
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WHOS Gluten Free & Tea Blends photos courtesy William F. Spencer; all other photos courtesy Michael Marmora