Bethany Clough

Eating Out: Raizana adds a tea shop, plus tamales in the Tower District

A tea bar, a tea shop, another cog in the machine of downtown revitalization — whatever you want to call it, Raizana Tea Company’s new space is open and serving tea.

The Fresno-based tea company is still working from the same spot at 2011 Tuolumne St. next to Warnors theater that its had for two years. And technically, you could sip tea at the business before, but you’d have been squished into a little space where they also package tea for online sales.

Now Raizana has expanded into the space next door. Customers have a space that’s more like a traditional coffee shop with bistro tables, a counter that wraps around the room and a couch.

They serve all kinds of teas, icy or hot.

That includes the wellness teas they’ve built their business on: DigestTea, DiabeTea, TranquilyTea, etc.

They also serve “sipping teas,” including lavender vanilla, hibiscus peppermint and lemondrop black. And several teas have been newly added to the menu, including a green pomegranate tea, a machu “peach-u” that blends black tea and peach flavors, and Genmaicha, a Japanese specialty tea that includes roasted brown rice.

Of course, there’s matcha too. Matcha is the celebrity “It Girl” of the tea world right now. People are drinking it for its antioxidants and other health benefits. It’s showing up in everything from ice cream to chocolate.

Matcha is actually finely ground green tea, a powder that’s dissolved into your drink so you’re drinking the ground-up tea leaves instead of just steeping them in hot water.

Raizana serves a cup of matcha and matcha shots — think of it as an espresso shot but made with tea. It’s six ounces of matcha that you can add orange juice or cream to.

Raizana serves coffee and biscotti and more pastries are coming soon. You also can buy tea to make at home and tea accessories such as teacups and tea infusers.

Owners Pablo and Sol Orozco never intended to open a tea bar. They chose the downtown location because of its affordability. But people kept popping in saying, “Hey, can I have a cup of tea?” Pablo Orozco notes, so they obliged.

More than 75% of their business still comes from the wholesale side, selling teas on Amazon.com, through the Raizana website and supplying commercial customers as far away as Japan. Their tea also is for sale at the Fresno and Davis Whole Foods stores.

You also can get it by the glass at Mia Cuppa Caffé, Café Corazón, Peeve’s Public House, Dusty Buns and P*DE*Q.

But the expansion gives them more elbow room behind the scenes to blend and package the tea. They’re hiring a few more part-time employees and getting ready to sell at 50 Superama stores, a sort of Mexican version of Costco, Orozco says.

Along the way, they’ve became active supporters of downtown’s revitalization, participating in vintage pop-up sales and other events.

“Whatever we can do to push that and promote that, we’re all for it,” he says.

The tea bar is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Casa de Tamales

Casa de Tamales’ Tower District restaurant is open.

The restaurant that shows up at various food truck and farmers market events also took over the former Charlotte’s BakerEatery space at 609 E. Olive Ave. This is technically a move as the West Shaw Avenue location has closed.

Repainted in shades of red and yellow, the Tower restaurant serves its beef and chicken tamales, along with modern ones such as spinach and artichoke.

With vegan and vegetarian options available and gluten-free, lard-free and non-GMO ingredients, they’ll fit right into the Tower District.

Customers also can order tamales by the dozen here. And coming soon is the company’s line of tapas, including chicken tortas and salmon tacos.

Casa de Tamales also serves its housemade berry-hibiscus tea and, aguas frescas, drinks made with fresh fruit.

A liquor license is on the way and Jose Aguilar says his wife and owner, Liz Sanchez, is planning to get creative with those drinks, too. Artisan sangrias, wine margaritas with gruit and Mexican beers will be served eventually.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough

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