By Griffin Nelson
Photography by John Antaki
The art of tea is generally lost on Americans. We know there’s more to it than sticking a bag of leaves in hot water, but what that artistry actually looks like seems fancy, complicated and foreign. Melissa Parrent hopes to bring the culture of tea to Augustans, while making it accessible to the average person.
Despite growing up with little knowledge of tea, a career in the coffee industry led her to Peet’s Coffee & Tea, in a job where the focus on tea required several weeks of training, specifically for their extensive tea offerings. This gave her the opportunity to work with the company’s regional tea educator. But after leaving California and coming to Augusta, she found herself missing the tea and the community she’d grown to love.
Parrent wanted back in the industry. She discovered Ubora and fell in love with the team and community. She also saw an opportunity to help elevate their tea selection. With Ubora’s emphasis on excellence, the owners were happy to give the tea expert the freedom to overhaul their selection and to train staff on proper preparations. Unable to find the exact tea she wanted from one specific company, Parrent took on the monumental task of experimenting, blending and creating a whole line of custom teas from scratch.
So far she’s brought five teas to the Ubora line, investing time and energy in each one. “Every single tea that you see here is something that took a while to bring on,” she says. Having researched ratios, tried samples from all over the world and developed relationships with importers from specific estates, each tea has endless possibilities. Parrent notes, “You can do anything with teas,” pointing out the versatility of each blend. Tea can be enjoyed hot or cold, blended with milk, added to cocktails or cooked into food.
To highlight these special blends and help the community feel more comfortable with the process of brewing tea, Parrent has started teaching “cupping” classes at Ubora. The process is similar to learning about coffee or whiskey — understanding the processing of leaves in specific ways for specific blends, tasting tea subtleties, the importance of temperature/measurements and more.
Each class features a different local bakery and is a great date or girls’ night. Limited seating allows for a fun, hands-on approach in a small setting. To sign up or for more information, visit uboracoffee.com or purchase any of the exclusive teas at the Ubora roastery, 1128 Jones Street, downtown.
Appears in the February/March 2023 issue of Augusta Magazine.