TELLURIDE – Sensory indulgence has found a home in Telluride, with the opening of T Love, a tea shop, essential oil bar, and emporium of olfactory delights, located on Colorado Avenue’s west end.
Vivid green walls peppered with stained glass and other art set the mood in this cozy Main Street space, where incomers are greeted with bright red cabinets brimming with tea-themed curious and other gifts. Behind a counter resplendent with home-baked, heart-shaped and some gluten-free goodies stands confessed tea-aholic and T Love owner Jen Riley, a tea and essential oil sorceress of sorts.
“Sometimes all we need is to take a deep breath – and we don’t often stop and take that deep breath,” Riley says, describing the atmosphere she has created in this quaint tearoom. It’s located just steps from Telluride’s bustling commercial district, yet it feels miles away from any peripheral uproar, insulated with the soothing smells of tea and soap and brightened by an eclectic selection of art and gifts. Beeswax candles, hemp-based soaps, handmade shawls, local pottery, little bottles of herbal infusions and more adorn T Love’s shelves and counters, while the “essential oil bar” offers sniffs of delicate natural fragrances Riley can use to make specially blended bubble baths, lotions, and other body products.
T Love’s teas, meanwhile, hold court on the wall above the main counter, with more than 75 different blends than span the tea spectrum, from black to white, rooibos to matcha. As Riley describes, “there’s a different tea for every different mood.” She can also make custom-blended teas.
T Love’s thoughtful collection of mind- and body-rejuvenating products reinforces proprietor Riley’s vision that the space be more than a store, and more like a sanctuary.
“I wanted to create a little place here where it’s calm, where you can sit down with a pot of tea and a friend and just relax,” Riley says of her shop, which opened in January.
Riley has long been interested in the healing and soothing properties of herbs, teas and essential oils. Her own allergies initially prompted her interest in herbology and aromatherapy, but that soon evolved into a lifelong dedication to blending herbs and spices for teas, and essential oils for body products, with the end result being an enhanced respect for plant-based natural therapies.
In her early 20s, Riley worked for an herbalist based in Steamboat Springs, learning how to use herbal tisanes, tinctures, poultices and other remedies for mood enhancement and physical health.
She later worked as a paramedic in Montana, developing a respect for contemporary Western medicine but not wavering in her belief that more holistic methodologies are vital for optimal, whole-system health. She eventually opened a teahouse and natural foods café in Montana; she moved to Ridgway, opening Garden Goddess creations in 2006.
She sold the business in 2009 to take care of her husband, who had cancer. After his death, Riley worked in various capacities in the region, but her passion for herbs and teas was calling.
T Love represents a blending of Riley’s long-term loves, both for herbs and for Telluride, which she first discovered at the 1986 Grateful Dead concert, and went on to live in Telluride for the next five years.
“I want to be that place you can come to connect and rejuvenate…and leave all the pressures of every other moment behind,” Riley says of T Love, open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and also available for parties.
Beginning on Labor Day Weekend, when the Telluride Film Festival comes to town, the shop will be open seven days a week.
T Love celebrates its Grand Opening, appropriately, on Valentine’s Day, with live music, tea tastings and treats, 5-7 p.m.