Hankering for a break from the wine circuit? Check out Plain T, a wholesale-and slowly emerging retail-tea purveyor on Powell Avenue in Southampton. Housed in a renovated ice factory, Plain T offers a welcome respite from the sweltering heat: soothing burnedout senses with a calm, white-washed chilly interior, tasteful rustic wood furnishings, dangling glass mobiles filled with tea leaves, and boldly vibrant abstract art. At first glance, this is perhaps the chicest tea spot around. Near the entrance, observe the row of pointe shoes and vintage tennis racquets hanging on the exposed brick wall-
Tathiana Teixeira was a professional ballet dancer; Plain T coowner, Tathiana’s husband, Alex, played pro tennis. The Teixeiras (shown above) seem to be part of a new wave of food and drink entrepreneurs settling the Hamptons, intent upon successfully launching their businesses with a young and stylishly modern flair.
This Brazilian-born power couple markets their carefully chosen whole leaf teas to a select group of hotels, restaurants and spas. On the Island, look for Plain T at the Maidstone Hotel’s high-tea service in East Hampton or at restaurants Sant Ambroeus, Plaza Café, Silvers and Red Bar Brasserie in Southampton. In the city, find them at the Regency’s “power breakfast” on Park, at the Nespresso on Madison, and the Aroma Espresso Bar in SoHo.
Adapting to the wine culture of the area, Plain T offers primers on tea and tea tastings by appointment, with a summer Saturday series that is open to the public. Called the “T Loft,” wine aficionados and soon-to-be tea followers are seated at a tea bar of sorts where they can drink house-made iced tea ($16/1L) from wine glasses or become schooled in the finer points of tea production, selection and drinking. The Teixeiras use oenological lingo to describe the taste of the tea: “full-bodied,” “robust,” “round.” Spike the experience by ordering the T martini or T champagne. Mellow out with the Teixeira’s summer picks: the Japanese sencha ($6/oz.), a mild-tasting green tea; or the South African Rooibos Maracuja ($2.50/oz.), a passion fruit-flavored brew. Or sample their favorites: the Jasmine Phoenix Pearl ($6/oz.) or the Formosa Dung Ti ($4.50/oz.).
All of the teas can be ordered online and are handpacked and shipped in white packaging with Plain T’s signature orangestripe logo. As it strategically gathers a Pied Piper-like following of gourmet tea loyalists, Plain T seems destined to make its own unique mark.
Plain T, plain-t.com, 87 Powell Avenue, Southampton, 212.758.2413, by appointment only.