Zachary Linhares

Chimera Teas is a tea shop located in Tower Grove East that serves tea, lattes, small plates, and baked goods. When Brianna Velarde decided to open a tea shop, her main goal was to create a sense of community in the neighborhood. This was especially important because two popular tea shops in the nearby Tower Grove South had recently closed. Velarde wanted to bring back the tea culture to the neighborhood, which she felt was missing. Walking into Chimera Teas (3149 Shenandoah Avenue, chimerateas.com) on a recent Saturday morning, it is evident that Velarde has successfully achieved her goal. The small tea shop, which took over the storefront of the former Kitchen House Coffee, is bustling with customers. Every table is occupied, and there is a small crowd standing around, sipping tea and enjoying pastries. The line at the pastry case and register area is constantly moving, and the shop is filled with the low hum of conversations. This shows how much the shop has become a part of the neighborhood since its opening in late 2020.

Velarde was inspired to open a neighborhood tea shop during the pandemic. Working from home, she realized that she didn’t know her neighbors and wanted to meet people in a more relaxed setting than a bar. She combined this idea with her passion for sustainability, which is evident in Chimera’s plant-based menu and eco-friendly practices. The shop first launched as a stall in the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market and moved to its current location when Kitchen House Coffee closed in March. Velarde was drawn to the space because of its large windows and patio, which she felt would create the perfect atmosphere for her vision.

Velarde designed the shop to have a welcoming and relaxing vibe, with the hope that it would encourage customers to open up and chat. The shop’s interior is filled with plants, and everything on the menu is vegan. Velarde’s goal was to create a space that would not only serve delicious tea and food but also bring people together and foster a sense of community. And it seems she has succeeded, as at least half of Chimera’s customers are now regulars from the neighborhood.

In conclusion, Chimera Teas is not just a tea shop, but a neighborhood institution that has brought back the tea culture to Tower Grove East. Velarde’s passion for sustainability and creating a sense of community has made Chimera Teas a popular spot for locals to gather, relax, and enjoy a cup of tea. 

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