When fire erupted in Northport’s Gunther's Tap Room in May 2017, it gutted that bar, but also swallowed the livelihood of neighboring Clipper Ship Tea Company.
Owner Melissa Wawrzonek had plowed her life savings into the business, which she had opened seven years prior. She lost everything inside the shop, including hundreds of teas, and was told it would take months to reopen. Wawrzonek was resilient: By summer’s end, she was again selling her tea inside a Northport art gallery. And about a year later, she’s taken over a former flower shop on Main Street in Huntington for the Clipper Ship’s next incarnation.
For tea lovers, it’s an oasis — clad in nautical whites and blues, with pressed tin ceilings and towering shelves filled with hundreds of teas, plus a few counters for sipping brewed-to-order hot tea, batched iced teas or matcha lattes. A back door leads to an outdoor patio that Wawrzonek plans to cover come colder weather.
Wawrzonek is a bustling presence in the store, speaking fluidly about the details of teas such as ceremonial-grade matcha tea (which she uses for the matcha lattes) and Oriental Beauty oolong. “It grows north of Taipei,” Wawrzonek said, almost absent-mindedly, and explains how insects that feed on the tea leaves start the oxidation process. (She’s traveled to many of the regions where she sources her teas).
About half of Clipper Ship’s 200-plus teas are straight, single-origin teas, and the other half are flavored or blended — some for sleep and relaxation, others for detoxification and digestion. A few teas are mimics of longtime Teavana flavors that disappeared when that chain was bought and closed by Starbucks.
A daily handful of brewed iced teas ($3.25 to $4.75) are anything but rote: On a recent day, there were eight, including a lemon-infused rooibos and an “Arnold Palmer” — black tea from Kenya with lemon and sugar.
Come colder weather, though, the matcha lattes ($5 to $6) are where it’s at: The storm latte, made with dark chocolate and steamed milk, was like an extra-frothy hot cocoa with a bright, watercress-like edge.
Clipper Ship Tea Company is at 297 Main St., Huntington; 631-651-2764, clippershipteaco.com