When you first walk into the fluorescent-lit building, you’ll think you have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Don’t worry, you’re not lost. Continue up the stairs and knock on the door that says, “Tasting Room. By Reservation Only.”
Everything changes the moment the door opens.
Chinese art adorns the wall. The subtle scent of tea fills the room. Warm, incandescent bulbs gently illuminate the space. Six years ago, Tico Aran and Mike Ortiz transformed a former doctors office into Jojo Tea—a loose-leaf tea tasting room that instantly transports you to a place of peace and calm.
You could call it Miami’s only tea speakeasy.
“We didn’t want to worry about people asking for the WiFi password, long lines and people who were in a rush,” said Ortiz, JoJo Tea’s co-founder. “We wanted this to be a place where people could come to slow down and learn.”
Ortiz first began to learn about tea while studying meditation at a Zen Buddhist temple. Whenever he ran out of tea, he felt what he described as, “a heartbreak.”
“I couldn’t find good tea anywhere. I would go to Teavana and give them classes on tea. And I was just some kid hanging out at a Buddhist temple.” So, he took matters into his own hands. Ortiz visited farms in Taiwan and began importing his own tea.
Meanwhile, Aran had been installing wind turbines in South America. He returned to Miami for what he intended to be a quick break.
“I called Mike and said, ‘Hey man, let’s go ride bikes. Let’s go do something’ and he said, ‘We have to go somewhere with hot water. I need to brew tea.’” Aran met up with Ortiz and realized there was an opportunity to work with Jojo Tea to encourage environmentally sustainable practices with farmers across the world. So, he joined the team as a cofounder.
Aran then visited famers in India, Nepal and Taiwan. Some farmers have even Skyped into the tea tastings.
In their tasting room, Ortiz and Aran lead you through a variety of loose leaf teas and explain their origin and history. Their knowledge about all things tea is impressive and their passion is contagious.
“I’m obviously a romantic obsessive with tea,” says Ortiz “I won’t be happy until people know how to brew tea without a stopwatch and without a scale. That’s the mission: for people to know how to work with tea and share it.”
Jojo Tea is just one of Miami’s many hidden secrets. When you stay in an Oasis home, you get access to a Sidekick: a local expert who knows the ins and outs of their city and can help you live like a local. Start planning your next trip by browsing our Miami homes today.