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In a time when Americans are gravitating toward healthier eating habits and discovering the joys of cooking meals at home, a niche market made up of consumers seeking both familiar and exotic additions to the pantry is moving into the mainstream. As our relationship with food is changing, so too are our shopping habits. When we don’t buy online, we seek memorable and interactive shopping experiences. We go into a store for more than just a product; we also seek a sense of community. The Spice and Tea Exchange, recognizing this, offers a unique shopping event for the health-conscious consumer.
About the Spice and Tea Exchange
The Spice and Tea Exchange is a nationwide retail franchise specializing in culinary herbs and spices, teas, and kitchen accessories.
The company started doing business in 2005 at their flagship store in St. Augustine, Florida, under the name Old Spice Traders. They cultivated a loyal customer base as the economic recession in the ensuing years inspired an increasing number of people to prepare meals at home rather than dining out, and were soon ready to expand. In 2008, they opened their first franchise, in Madeira Beach, Florida.
A Growing Business
Consumer habits of home cooking outlasted the recession, and people continue to seek ways to incorporate healthy eating habits into their lives. This, coupled with a rising demand for healthy caffeinated drink alternatives to coffee, provided an ideal climate for the business to continue to grow.
It has now been ten years since The Spice and Tea Exchange began franchising in 2008, and, benefiting from a surging global tea market and the continuing popularity of cooking at home, the company has since opened more than sixty locations in twenty-six states, with more on the way. In 2018, the brand was recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine with a spot on its Franchise 500 list for the fourth year in a row, and the number six spot on the magazine’s Top 200 Restaurant Franchises, under their “Retail Food” section.
Also this year, the company announced plans to enter into nine new markets. If there is not currently a shop in your city, there is likely to be one soon.
Under the leadership of its owner, Colleen Messner, the company quickly achieved rapid growth. Messner has gained attention for her part in a nationwide trend of successful female business ownership, with CEO Amy Freeman and COO Penny Rehling rounding out a successful female leadership team. Under their watch, the company’s growth has continued to gain steam, and shows no signs of slowing down.
A Rustic Experience
The Spice and Tea Exchange offers an atmospheric shopping experience in their retail locations, where shoppers are invited to peruse through crates and wooden shelves while taking in the aroma of a variety of spices in a rustic setting reminiscent of an eighteenth century trading post. As visitors explore culinary offerings from around the world, they are encouraged to interact with staff, who are always happy to share tips and recipes when they are not grinding spices or assembling mixes.
Further pushing forward the reinvention of the shopping experience as a social activity rather than simply a transactional one, some locations now boast interactive tea bars, where perhaps visitors could swap recipes with each other as well as staff while sipping a cup of freshly brewed tea. Brews on offer include Blood Orange Smoothie, Ginger Turmeric, Coconut Oolong, Emperor’s Chai and Black Chocolate.
Take-home meal kits are also on offer, allowing busy parents, young professionals, and patrons from all walks of life have the option to select a set of conveniently pre-selected spices and an accompanying recipe to cook with their own fresh ingredients at their leisure.
Products and Locations
The Pice and Tea Exchange offers a wide variety of spices, rubs, teas, kitchen accessories, gifts, and take home meal kits at any of their sixty-two locations in twenty-four states across the country.
What You’ll Find
Here are some samples of the many spices, teas, and gift options that are stocked in retail locations and online:
Spices, Rubs, and More
The Spice and Tea Exchange offers a wide variety of flavors to add to any dish.
- Over 140 different spices, including whole or crushed, powders, herbs, dried berries, and aromatic seeds
- Thirty-one varieties of salt and salt mixes
- Twenty-four different types of sugar and naturally flavored sugar mixes
- Eight exotic strains of rice
- Additional ingredients such as olive oil and vanilla extract
- 114 of their own curated seasonings, blends, and rubs
As the company’s name would suggest, the tea selection is every bit as extensive as the spice offerings. In addition to classic black, green, and white varieties, they have over 60 others on offer, including:
- An assortment of twenty-four herbal teas
- Regional favorites such as Oolong, Matcha, and Pu’erh
- Decaf blends
- An assortment of flavor-infused blends
Once an enterprising chef has collected all the right spices for the perfect chai latte or massaman curry and is ready to get to work in the kitchen, The Spice and Tea Exchange has an arsenal of gadgets on offer to help bring the ingredients together. Casual and professional cooks alike will find plenty to work with on a list of over 120 products that includes jars, timers, mortars and pestles, infusers, pepper mills, bowls, tableware, and more.
In addition to the culinary offerings, a line of artisan scented soy candles with names like “Florida Sunshine,” “White Cypress Sands,” and “Iron Goddess of Mercy” will keep the aromas alive long after the meal is done.
Gift giving is made easy as an assortment of kitchen items are bundled with hand-picked spice mixes into gift boxes and gift crates. The “BeaTEAful Escape Deluxe Crate,” for example, includes an artisan tea cup, infuser, five types of tea, naturally flavored sugar, and tea mints. More creative options include the “Doggie Delicacy Gourmet Sampler,” which bundles all the right spices with a bone cookie cutter and a recipe card to make special dog treats.
Chef to Table
In 2018, the company partnered with Danielle McNerney, champion of the reality show Chopped Junior, to launch its Chef to Table recipe kits. Stay at home chefs can select a kit for meals such as Bacon Blue Mac & Cheese, Coconut Thai Chicken, and Maple Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin. Each kit includes a complete seasoning mix and a recipe for reference, making it easy to prepare a fresh meal without the need to grind and mix the spices ahead of time.
Where You’ll Find It
The Spice and Tea Exchange has locations across the United States, and offers products for purchase online.
The first store opened in St. Augustine, Florida, in 2005. Since the company began franchising in 2008, they have opened sixty-two stores in twenty-six states in all regions of the country, having maintained a large presence in their home state while opening new stores as far away as Alaska. Shops are likely to be found in tourist towns or nestled away in areas of large cities that have a tourist presence, but the company has plans to open franchises in more conventional market areas of large cities, such as shopping malls, in the near future.
You can see a list of their current brick and mortar locations, and their locations on a map, at https://www.spiceandtea.com/store-locations.
While browsing the tea and spice racks may be a unique and worthwhile experience, customers are not required to visit a brick and mortar store to stock up on spices or tea. For those who prefer to do their shopping from home, a large selection of spices, teas, accessories, and gifts are available for purchase at their online store. The website also links to an exhaustive list of recipes and the company’s latest blog posts. You can browse their selections at:
The Spice and Tea Exchange Headquarters Information
The Spice and Tea Exchange has its corporate headquarters in its home state of Florida at:
- 2708 Alt. 19 N, Suite 601Palm Harbor, FL 34683
Their distribution center is also located in Florida, at:
Orders & Shipping
- 210 Marshall CircleSt. Augustine, FL 32086
Their distribution center can be reached by calling their office at:
- (904) 429-7548
The company maintains an up to date social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, Pinterest, and Google+. For links to their online accounts or for more information, visit
Serving the Community
Since opening in 2005 with the goal of creating a one-of-a-kind retail shopping experience, The Spice and Tea Exchange has been providing a sense of community and a unique shopping experience in their stores, which can now be found in 62 locations and counting. They carry a large assortment of gourmet spices and teas from around the world, curated spice mixes, recipe kits, kitchen accessories, and gifts. To find out more, please visit their website at https://www.spiceandtea.com.