Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, October 2020
Written by Gail G. Collins
In Lewis Carroll’s book Alice through the Looking Glass, the White Queen states, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” The same trait could easily apply to Amanda Kristinat, who opened White Rabbit Tea Lounge in Aspen Place at The Sawmill in July.
In the span of a year, Kristinat created three integrating business opportunities around a timeless cuppa’ tea, as they say in Great Britain, where she derived her inspiration.
Traveling with a group of teens, she stayed with host families. There, Kristinat was introduced to afternoon tea.
“Teacakes, lemon bread and taking time for one another stuck with me,” she said. “I fell in love with afternoon tea.”
Everything stops for a short break, encouraging conversation over a proper cup of tea. This delight set her on a course of plotting and planning for years.
In 2019, Kristinat launched Everlasting Autumn—a line of gift boxes—and created her own company, Autumn Firefly Tea, both in honor of the ideal season. Mark T. Wendell is her main supplier.
“They’re an old company—trusted and true—with the highest quality tea,” she said.
The Wendell brand, established in 1904, ensures the endless joys associated with a quality cup of tea by providing customers with the finest product, competitive prices, a distinct focus on product freshness and superior service.
This same attention to detail is felt throughout White Rabbit Tea Lounge whether in the preparation of a drink or the décor. Friend Scott Hathcock transformed the space to fulfill Kristinat’s Wonderland vision. Rabbits of all shapes and sizes peek from nooks and nestle on the marble countertop and tables. A deep teal paint on the walls lends a forest feel with a statement pen and ink mural of trees. A door to nowhere, tilted objects and garden art in rustic wood and iron carry off the whimsical charade. Glass chandeliers, a gold coffered backsplash, velvet chairs and couches, plus painted porcelain tea cups and pots offer elegant touches.
Perhaps, like Alice, you’ve become “curiouser and curiouser” about teas. Try a tea flight with teasers, like herbal Apricot Escape, floral White Peony, black London and green Maui. There is a long list of health benefits related to tea, ranging from heart disease and cancer-fighting properties to blends that aid in digestion and can strengthen the immune system. Tea’s antioxidants and polyphenols combat free radicals. Caffeine and theanine heighten alertness and brain function. For quick reference, oolang, pu-erh and black teas are fermented while white teas are made from the newest plant growth, are unfermented and pack the ultimate caffeine punch. Green tea’s steamed leaves hold the highest concentration of antioxidants.
White Rabbit also offers a long list of European-styled sippers, such as crema coffees, elixir sodas, Parisian drinking chocolate, lemonade, mocktails and more. The Queen of Hearts raspberry rose matcha latte is the most popular with a stiff swipe of homemade matcha whipped cream and sprinkle of dried rose garnish. The chai drinks are made from ceremonial grade product and processed in the traditional Japanese manner. Fall showcases pumpkin spice and caramel apple chai varieties or the Great Pumpkin Steamer with pumpkin pie sauce or Falling for You—cranberry tea lemonade served hot. But it’s not all just for grown-ups. Take some time to feel like a kid again and slurp Giggle Water—sparkling water, lemonade and green, edible glitter.
Need something to dunk? Cupcakes, donuts and such are made by local bakeries with many gluten-free options. Seasonal fare includes moist pecan maple and apple pie cupcakes. Soups will join the menu soon, and tea parties can be arranged with 48 hours’ notice, including teacakes and sandwiches prepared according to Kristinat’s recipes.
Beyond White Rabbit Tea Lounge, you can explore the world of estate grown teas through a monthly subscription box, which includes four one-ounce bags of top quality loose leaf tea with tasting notes. Or fall in love with Everlasting Autumn. Each month, the $40 gift box contains six items. The October box features Rabbit Creek cranberry-orange scone mix, Maple Crafted lip balms, cozy socks, Pure Energy essential oil shower streamers, gourmet honey lollipops, a Cocoa and Bubbles apple harvest renewable soy candle plus a brochure that describes products, shares recipes and activities.
Unplug, connect and take a few moments for yourself or with friends at White Rabbit Tea Lounge. The niche combination of simple pleasures and engagement in delightful surroundings with a pastry and a high quality cuppa’ doesn’t require you to get out your passport; just stop by and go down the rabbit hole.
“We’ve got something for everyone, even you if don’t drink tea—pour overs, cold brews, whipped coffees, a huge list of drinks, and we’re relatable for kids,” Kristinat offered. NAMLM
If you go:
White Rabbit Tea Lounge is located at 601 E. Piccadilly Dr., Suite 10. Stop by Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Discover products and order online at www.whiterabbittealounge.com.