By Gaby Salazar | Copy Editor
Locals can now enjoy 22 flavors of freshly brewed tea at HTeaO, a new iced tea store that just celebrated their first month on South Seventh Street and Cleveland Avenue.
The location was quickly packed with tea-loving customers after a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Locals may remember the building was formerly occupied by Tea2Go, which filed for bankruptcy back in March.
HTeaO is based out of Amarillo where Austin and Lizzy Sharp opened their first location. The franchise is continuing to expand to various other locations around Texas such as Georgetown and Lubbock. The growing tea market here in Texas was enough to convince the Sharp family to expand to Waco and start their own iced tea business
HTeaO features a tea bar with 22 different flavors of unsweet and sweet tea available for sampling.
HTeaO also carries Yeti water bottles and coolers, a variety of healthy snacks and other tea-brewing products. The store’s flavors of tea are brewed with double-passed reverse osmosis water, which is also available for purchase by the gallon.
According to HTeaO’s website, the store’s goal is to “provide ultra-premium tea, water, and related products that give people safe and healthy food choices in a fun and clean environment.”
Raul Gonzales, a team leader at the store, shared what he thinks is one of the biggest challenges about the industry.
“I think for the most part [iced tea] is more of a seasonal thing, but being in Waco where its warmer makes it easier for business,” Gonzales said. “Overall, the tea industry thrives better in southern regions.”
The expanding iced tea market is one of the reasons why HTeaO has decided to open another location here in Waco, just blocks away from campus.
HTeaO has appeared on Inc. magazine’s list of the top 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the country.
HTeaO is no stranger to how its predecessors Tea2Go and Nobilitea do business, but Gonzales says that HTeaO is different.
“At Tea2Go, people would come in and order their tea and hang out, kind of like a Starbucks while their tea was being brewed,” says Gonzales.
When one walks in, HTeaO is similar to a corner store, where customers can quickly get what they need, fill up on tea and continue their day.
“At HTeaO, you come in and our tea is already brewed and ready to go,” says Gonzales.
Customers can quickly get their tea through the drive-thru window and not have to wait for their tea to finish brewing.
“Our blends are harvested by hand twice a year and each flavor contains carefully selected ingredients custom blended in the USA,” according to their website.
Gonzales says that all their tea bags and flavors are produced in Amarillo. Customers can enjoy half-off teas during Happy Hour from 2 to 4 p.m. every day.
“We will be attending the Food and Wine Festival at H-E-B this Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m.,” Gonzales said. “There, we will be handing out free samples of our best-selling tea”.