It took just one taste and within a week of opening, The Spice & Tea Exchange was already out of Mango Tango Tea.
The downtown Fairhope shop had prepared the popular drink so customers could sample one of the hundreds of spice combinations staff prepares each day by hand.
With just one sip, one customer was hooked.
“I want a big bag, all of it,” she said.
The quality products, and the deliciousness of it all, is part of what drew owners Rachael and Eric Knoll to the nationwide company.
“They very intentionally invest in high quality product. They inspect every farm personally that they purchase from,” Rachael said of the parent company.
The Spice & Tea Exchange was founded in 2008 by a pair of single moms in St. Augustine, Fla. The Knolls, who love to explore new flavors, were drawn to the company’s openness. The company invited them to speak to as many franchise owners as possible before embarking on their own spice and tea adventure.
Now, Rachael and the couple’s 15-year-old son Jack can be found behind the counter brewing, mixing and helping customers find their perfect blends. The shop features 140 spices, including 85 custom hand-mixed blends, more than 40 exotic teas, exclusive seasonings, salts and naturally-flavored sugars.
When the shop opened in November the Knoll’s were finding a niche among the downtown shoppers and then Coronavirus closed the nation.
The shop was able to remain open on a limited basis and found that customers came seeking calming teas. Rachael offered chamomile and lemongrass to help ease their anxieties.
Now as summer approaches customers peruse the aisles of old-world apothecary jars to explore spices for grilling and crafting flavored ice teas.
For those not sure where to begin, Rachael offers a thorough and fun crash course in spices blending.
“We try to make it really easy,” she said. “We love to have people take their time and ask questions. We really enjoy that.”