By Rachel Bosworth
Thumbing through the pages of a good novel while sipping a hot cup of tea in a cozy setting sounds like a bookworm’s dream. At Harbor Books on Main Street in Sag Harbor, this likely pairing comes together as the old school book shop has recently added a new element with a Dobrá Tea counter. Adding to an already intimate atmosphere, the tea counter gives customers a reason to linger just a little longer.
“I always wanted to add some sort of cafe element to the book store to really create a well-rounded space” says Harbor Books owner Taylor Rose Berry. “Coffee is wonderful, but there really is just something special about tea and books. Plus, there is not a single traditional tea room on all of Long Island.”
Berry’s love affair with books began at a young age. With two avid readers for parents, the transition into opening her own bookstore was natural. The Babylon-born book seller moved to Sag Harbor after studying a range of subjects like child psychology and fashion design at schools like New York University, Fashion Institute of Technology and the University of Vermont. Like most college students, she worked in restaurants, and eventually found her way back to her love of books when she began working in a bookstore, ultimately opening her own years later.
It was while attending school in Vermont that Berry got to know Stacy Jolles and her wife, Nina Beck, at Dobrá Tea. As the representative for Dobrá US and the owner of the Burlington, Vermont location, Jolles shares the uniqueness and quality of what is being offered. “We source tea directly from tea farms,” she says as she often finds other bookstores and shops purchase low quality tea from the Internet. “That’s what makes us stand out – we know the farmers, everything is organic, fair trade, or wild harvest.”
Though there are less than ten Dobrá tea rooms in the United States as part of the collective, there are more than 40 across Europe. Jolles helped Berry with the concept and selection of teas, with 32 selections on the menu. “We are still experimenting with fun concoctions,” says Berry. “I think customers are still trying our menu items and learning about really good teas. Personally, I love the Ya Bao Wild White and our Elderberry Bubble tea — yes, we have bubble teas. Our Chai is very popular and so is our special Detox Tea Blend that I make.”
This counter at Harbor Books is slightly different than the traditional Dobrá tea rooms as it is not the whole setup that can be found in other areas of the country. Licensed to sell the brand, Berry has the opportunity to switch out the various teas and offer weekly specials to customers. “We are really excited to introduce the community to tea culture, it’s incredible,” she says.
From the time Berry thought of opening a bookstore, she had the idea that it would be a very cozy place where you would want to spend hours at a time, and have a feeling like it had been there forever. “Whether you are looking for a beach read, to fall in love with a new or old classic, or a cup of tea to warm you up or a chilled tea to cool you down, a bookstore is a place you should be able to find whatever you need in the moment,” she says.
With a focus on offering a great instore experience for customers, Harbor Books hosts casual book signing with authors, live music, story time and more. Now with the addition of the tea counter, they will offer tea tastings to guests. As Jolles says, “what could go wrong with tea and books?”
Harbor Books is located at 20 Main Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, visit harborbookssgh.com.