Michael Duranko may own a quaint tea shop at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, but that doesn’t stop customers from inquiring about poison dart frogs.
“This was once an educational building that was home to poison dart frogs,” said Duranko, owner of The Carriage House Tea Room and Local Coffee and Tea. “The frogs lingered long after they should have, but in the end, the tea won.”
The Carriage House grew out of an idea that Duranko and fellow tea enthusiast, Glynis Chapman, had for sampling tea. The emphasis is on giving customers more of a tea education, by exposing the various flavors, origin, steeping process and health benefits to anyone who walks through the door.
“Visitors love it,” said Chapman, who writes a blog about everything tea for Local Coffee and Tea. “They can walk in and get free samples and great gifts. We also offer tea appreciation parties.”
The shop offers 45 loose-leaf teas, five of which were created exclusively for Sarasota-based organizations.
“We just launched a lavender tea for the Sara Desoto Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution,” Duranko said. “We’re launching a citrus tea for Historic Spanish Point in about a month. It will have grapefruit and tangerine as the center.”
The Carriage House also operates the Selby House Café at the Mansion. The café offers a variety of food and beverage options, including sandwiches, wraps, salads, soups, snacks and desserts, as well as locally roasted coffee and espresso drinks, tea and other beverages.
“This is good karma for me, at my age,” Chapman said. “It’s just very peaceful and beautiful here, and it’s a wonderful combination — tea and gardens.”
Contact Loren Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carriage House Tea Room at Marie Botanical Selby Gardens
Address: 811 South Palm Ave.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Closed Christmas.
What makes this business unique: “We have some really good, unique and interesting teas — you can take a little bit of Sarasota home,” said Michael Duranko.