NORMAN — Larry and Tamara Rhoads have been in the tea business for over a decade.
They operate Inspirations Tea Room in Edmond along with Two Hearts Inn, a bed and breakfast in Edmond.
In 2010 they began searching for another metro location to add another business concept. Space was chosen in Norman’s Brookhaven Village Shopping Center and the store was named Teaoli.
They’re marking their first year of business in Norman this October. Teaoli is a retail outlet for a large variety of high quality loose tea leaves, specialty balsamic vinegars and many different kinds of extra virgin olive oils.
“We chose Brookhaven because it’s an established neighborhood and it seems like the demographics are well suited for this kind of store,” Larry Rhoads said. “Once someone tastes our products I don’t think there’s a limitation to the customer base.”
Part of Teaoli’s sales experience is encouraging customers to taste-test right there in there store. Bread bits and popcorn are used for sopping up balsamic vinegar blended with fig or lemon zest-infused olive oil. Tamara Rhoads is executive chef at their tea room and she experiments with combining the various flavors in her recipes. Think grilled shrimp that was first marinated in blood orange and Persian lime olive oils. “We help people pair-up balsamic vinegars with olive oils for different dishes,” Tamara Rhoads said.
Teaoli is allied with Veronica Foods based in Oakland, Calif. The Veronica folks are descended from Salvatore Esposito’s Italian immigrant family who has been in the olive oil business in America since 1924.
Today their focus is on premium product. The retail prices at Teaoli are higher than found at a typical grocery store. Packaging is upscale and high-end gift sets are available.
They have around 20 different kinds of fused, infused and varietal oils.