Kettles stopped boiling and leaves ceased steeping at the The Green Teahouse — a shop that sold and served authentic Chinese tea on 1008 Chapel St. — while Yale undergraduates were on spring break.
The Green Teahouse, the second location of the store founded in West Hartford, permanently closed its doors two weeks ago after opening in January 2014. Owner Ting Chaponis said the New Haven store, which doubled as a Chinese cafe — unlike the West Hartford retail location — was challenging to run efficiently because it was her first endeavor in the food service industry. She added that the small size of the 1008 Chapel St. space significantly restricted the number of customers she could serve at once, which drove away some potential patrons. In January, an investor from China flew to New Haven to assess the business’s operations, and recommended that she close the New Haven location and expand through retail, which has proven successful in online sales and in the seven-year old West Hartford store.
“We had to make a final decision, which is really painful and really heart breaking,” Chaponis said. “I personally didn’t want to leave the city. I love New Haven. The Mayor, Yale and Chamber of Commerce have been so supportive and wanted to help us. Everybody did their part, but we had to deal with the real facts and limitations.”
Chaponis added that she is seeking to open a second retail location for her business and would like do so in New Haven, if possible.
Yale University Properties, the location’s landlord, is now looking for a retailer to fill the space, which neighbors Basta Trattoria, said University Press Secretary Karen Peart. She did not elaborate on what kind of store UP is seeking next. Before The Green Teahouse signed its lease for 1008 Chapel St., an Irish gift shop occupied the space.
Several students interviewed who had visited the shop expressed disappointment that it closed.
Mendy Yang ’15, who frequented the shop as a Yale student, said The Green Teahouse — which held a 4.5 rating out of 5 on Yelp from 68 reviewers — was a valuable service in the Chapel Street shopping district.
“It’s a loss for Yale campus and New Haven because it’s really quite a unique spot that had the ability to help you relax and enjoy conversation with friends rather than just bustle about your day without taking a moment to slow down,” Yang said.
Grace Shu ’18 visited The Green Teahouse twice and felt similarly disappointed. Shu enjoyed the space as an alternative to coffee shops. But she added that the shop had definitely not garnered the mainstream following of nearby cafes.
Though Chaponis will continue to educate and spread awareness of Chinese culture through her tea business, the New Haven location had served as an opportunity for her to share more traditions from her homeland, she said.
“I personally love to do the serving part of food,” Chaponis said. “It is nice to see the people happy and the satisfaction on their face when they eat the noodles, the dumplings and the rice. But creating recipes and having the experience and managing skills in the business were different.”
Tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the world after water.