When you walk into Earth and Tea Café in downtown Harrisonburg, you are immediately greeted with the aromas of spiced tea, delicious food, and a warm feeling brought about by the vibrant colors of the international décor. Aaram Millones, the owner of Earth and Tea Café, has a passion for tea and for being a small business owner in an ever-growing area.
Aaram moved to the United States from Peru 17 years ago with his family in search of more opportunities. Earth and Tea Café has been a part of downtown Harrisonburg for the past five years. Aaram worked in real estate for some time and wanted to do something with the money that he had saved. He had plans to travel and move to another country before he visited some tea shops and thought that it was a great concept and an even better business idea for Harrisonburg.
When asked about his future plans, Aaram responded with, “I always have the hope that I can grow more as a business owner and grow the shop and improve. I get excited when downtown also grows with other new businesses coming here. I like the feeling of being a part of something – in this case, being a part of downtown Harrisonburg as a business owner and also as a person who lives and hangs out downtown.”
The tea menu is extensive, with 40 teas from around the world. Aaram purchases the tea from a supplier in Germany, who sources blended varieties from China, Taiwan, Nepal, India, and North and South Africa. The tea selections have been rotated three times since Earth and Tea Café opened as a way to give customers new selections to enjoy. One of the most popular teas, the Masala Chai, is blended right in the café with spices and tea purchased by Aaram from a local shop. For $3, you can get a small pot of delicious tea, which usually serves 2 people, and for $5, you can get a large pot, which usually serves 4 people.
Earth and Tea Café also has delicious soups, salads, wraps, tapas, sandwiches, and desserts offered daily. The menu has changed at least six times and is in the process of being revised again in order to offer new dishes while keeping customer favorites, such as the pear sandwich with gorgonzola and prosciutto, the portobello mushroom sandwich with cheddar cheese, mango salad, zebra cake, and a creamy caramel coffee cake.
Aaram’s love for downtown Harrisonburg is truly contagious. “For all the people who want to experience Harrisonburg, they definitely should try to come downtown. There are different menus that offer teas and beers from around the world, a lot of local musicians, and restaurants with local food. I feel like we are all a part of a big family downtown and we share the same concept of making every person feel welcome and a part of this community. We’re not a big chain; we’re business owners who decided to stay in Harrisonburg. We are a part of this city and we want everyone who lives here or visits here to have a great experience downtown.”
With the weekend quickly approaching, Aaram and I both encourage you to come downtown to check out everything that the area has to offer. Downtown Harrisonburg is full of businesses that offer local and international products and foods. So step out into the community, out of your comfort zone, explore a little, and discover downtown!
Kerri DeVries is the Visual + Social Media Intern for Spring 2012. She is a senior Media Arts & Design major at James Madison University.