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  The Tea House Times Guest Blog - Linda Villano
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Suspended Coffee or Tea by Linda Villano

Monday, July 21st 2014 @ 6:22 AM

Once in a while something very simple restores all faith in humanity for me.  I had such an experience recently while visiting a Tea House and Art Gallery/Community Space in the town of Bristol, CT where the sketchy downtown area is undergoing a revitalization. 

The aptly named organization Bristol Rising has encouraged and helped new businesses open in some challenged sections of downtown and provides on-going support and services to ensure that the envisioned renaissance isn’t stalled.

My destination was Artist Tree Tea House ( owned and run by the diversely talented, earthy Dori Green who fosters a welcoming vibe in the tea room and adjoining gallery/community space.

Within a short time of meeting her you’ll feel as though you are dear old friends reuniting after a long separation. Dori radiates a calm, peaceful energy which upon entering the tea room from the edgy neighborhood street envelopes you in a warm embrace.  The cozy area is adorned with hanging art work, tea-related accessories fill the shelves and breezy, Salome-like curtains hang in a window area where a built-in section is fitted with a brightly designed cushion for Japanese-style seating.  A few small tables (including a vintage game table) cluster together so whatever desired format can be achieved by moving a chair of two. And all the goodies in the display case call out making decisions very difficult.

As I approached the front door of Artist Tree Tea House I noticed a sign that read “Suspended Coffee Here”.  Although tea is their focus, a small selection of fine coffee is available. I enjoy coffee so inquired about the Suspended Coffee thinking it was a unique way of preparing the brew. Beauty and hope and swell of faith followed.  Dori explained that after she learned about the Suspended Coffee movement, which began in Naples, Italy over a century ago (then declined in popularity after WWII only to have experienced resurgence with the current economic crisis), she knew it must be implemented at her establishment.  The very simple, altruistic concept is rooted in paying it forward.  When buying a coffee, or tea or hot meal for that matter you purchase a second (or as many more as you’d like) which is “suspended” and can be given at a later time to one who is in need.  Now, if I wasn’t charmed enough with my initial impression of the tea house, after learning this I wanted to hug Dori & buy hundreds of suspended coffees.  Later, when researching the concept I came across a few negative posts and articles in which the arguments against the practice were fool-hardy and insensitive ~ it’s difficult to keep track, not wanting an unpleasant “element” begging/upsetting paying customers, not worth the effort, can too easily be taken advantage of by greedy people who just don’t want to pay, etc.  Considering the challenging economic times we are living in and the environment in which Artist Tree exists, this concept is welcome in the downtown Bristol community where there are still many depressed areas where a cup of coffee, tea or hot soup would be beyond the reach of some.  Also, coming from the NYC-area where there are many in need (and sometimes not appearing to be so) I see this being an extremely fruitful way for individuals who want to do some good to do so easily.  Particularly in the cold weather months when a hot cuppa could be fortifying as well has re-humanizing.  No act of kindness is too big or too small.  Perhaps you have a coffee or tea room or frequent one that would be open to participating. If so, visit or the website to learn how to get involved.

More about the wonderful Artist Tree Tea House:

Menu items with fun names but serious recipes are prepared using tea as an ingredient:

Redhead Soup ~ Cream, tomato, basil and Red Tea (Chinese Black Tea) with a dollop of sour cream

Meso Yummy Soup ~ Miso style soup with Tea blend

Tree House Salad ~ Mixed greens, spinach, green tea, mandarin orange, almonds, and oriental noodles with fruity tisane house dressing.


And for something new and different there are Cruffles! What?? New to me, cruffles are truffles densely rich with cupcake crumbles and fudge on the inside covered with a thick coating of chocolate. Oh my. Deeeelicious with a nice hot cuppa.

Aside from all this goodness there is so much going on at this unassuming Tea Room I felt an urge to pull up roots and hustle up to Bristol just to spend as much time as possible at this body-mind-soul nurturing sanctuary.  Dori’s mentor, a Chinese herbalist, musician and life-long student of tea, performs a Gong Fu Tea Ceremony by appointment and she teaches Calligraphy classes on site.

Dori, an artist herself, along with other local artists lead painting classes in the Art Space. Some classes are taught using tea only as the medium.  Regularly scheduled poetry readings, yoga sessions, drum circles are held and soon the rear outdoor deck overlooking a gently lapping river will be open for seating. A community garden is in the works too!

So much is packed into this modest bit of space on an unassuming street. Dori Green has created a Tea House in the true sense ~ a gathering place, quite like the Salons of Europe, where community members bonded, exchanged ideas performed and supported each other.  Knowing now about Suspended Coffee it is perfectly fitting that Artist Tree Tea House and Gallery participates in this movement.  Should I notice a similar sign in a Coffee or Tea Shop window, I’ll be sure to stop in to increase their tally. I’m surprised that there aren’t more Suspended Coffee participants; if in agreement with the philosophy why not spread the word.

~ Linda Villano, SerendipiTea


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LINDA VILLANO co-founded in 1995 with Tomislav Podreka. With a passion for all things Tea, she oversees all aspects of the business; including client consulting, concept and design, staff training, sourcing and product development (recipe creations). Having grown up in a family of restaurateurs and chefs, she considers her role as a purveyor of premium teas & tisanes a natural continuation of her family’s culinary tradition.   Linda is a published illustrator and writer. Her illustrations appear in Tomislav Podreka’s book, SerendipiTea: a guide to the varieties, origins and rituals of tea, and she writes articles about tea for trade publications.

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