2017-12-01 / Spotlight News

BusinessBEAT: Variety adds to life at The Spice & Tea Exchange

By D.K. Christi


Kathleen McGowan, proprietor of The Spice & Tea Exchange in Naples, where custom spice blends are the specialty. Kathleen McGowan, proprietor of The Spice & Tea Exchange in Naples, where custom spice blends are the specialty. Tea time is more than an afternoon break since the October grand opening of The Spice & Tea Exchange, around the corner at 800 5th Avenue South, Suite 102 in Naples. The serving cart outside the small shop’s door invites passersby to sample a tea of the day, chosen by Kathleen McGowan, proprietor.

During the recent grand opening weekend, the street in front of the door was blocked to traffic and The Naples Players KidzAct performed. McGowan’s grandchildren were in the performance, she said, adding that “The grand opening was a great success.”

Inside, the customer is greeted with the aroma of 140 spices, 85 exclusive hand-mixed blends, more than 30 exotic teas, sugars, salts and peppers, gourmet gifts and accessories artfully displayed in packets and apothecary jars.

Packaged by the ounce, packets are labeled with the unique names on the front and recipes on the back. They make lovely souvenirs, such as the packet labeled with the shop’s name plus “Winter Granola Herbal Tea” on the front, with the ingredients and a recipe for perfect tea on the back.

“Tea, time and temperature are the three T’s for perfect tea,” said McGowan. “Steep one tablespoon in 8 ounces of water at 212 degrees for five minutes for the perfect cup of Winter Granola Herbal Tea.”

Several of the tea choices are limited editions. Spices sold by the ounce create little risk in trying something new in such a small quantity. Spices include recipes for their use. A customer favorite spice blend is Florida Sunshine, which includes significant citrus zest.

After McGowan retired from teaching in Oklahoma, she searched for a business to start with her daughter Kayle Allen. The Spice and Tea Exchange franchise opportunity in Naples yielded a new start in Florida.

“What I enjoy most about owning this business is the customers,” said McGowan. “This is my social life.”

A customer who is a member of the Daughters of the America Revolution bought some Bohea Black Tea, which according to legend is similar to tea dumped overboard at the Boston Tea Party. The dark tea leaves have an earthy aroma reminiscent of an old ship.

A chef-to-table series provides customers with a fun and easy way to cook at home. Each kit includes a recipe card and the amount of spices and seasonings needed. Six categories include: main dish, slow cooker, side dish, appetizer, dessert and beverage. Recipe examples include Tuscan baked cheese dip, bacon blue mac and cheese, miso-ginger teriyaki glazed salmon and a Polynesian Bloody Mary.

Products are also available by order on the internet at spiceandtea.com/naples. For more information, call (239) 776-7730.

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