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Tea is the second most-consumed beverage in the world after water. Empires have arisen from the riches of tea, wars have ensued and relevant agreements and treaties have been put in place.
Billions of people in the world drink tea daily, a fact that was not lost on Alfredo Carrai, a young Italian entrepreneur who, fascinated by tea and the universe that surrounds it, founded—in 1961—a family business in Florence dedicated to the sale of this infusion.
From the onset, Carrai’s goal was to introduce Italy to the consumption and culture of this ancient drink, which was almost unknown since Italians have always favored coffee. To that end, the young man began to travel the world in search of the best vintages and the most suggestive and exotic teas.
It was then when he discovered the symbolism of tea in different cultures as well as the different flavors and the way to enjoy thoroughly. Thus the Yunan teas, the Darjeeling plantations or the Japanese Gyokuro, no longer had secrets for him, made him fall hopelessly in love with this evocative world full of flavors and sensations.
“Tea is for me the perfume of a distant country, the echo of the journey of Odysseus, the desire of man,” says Carrai. With this rich background, the entrepreneur decided to create in the 1980s the brand La Via del Tè, which contributed to strengthening the original family company that already had more than half a century bringing the best tea in the world to Italy.
Currently, La Via del Tè has three tasting boutique shops located in strategic points of the beautiful city of the Medici.
Carrai has created an exemplary business that pays tribute to the culture of the Renaissance through elegant combinations of green, white, red, and black tea, among others. His infusions evoke the work of great artists like Michelangelo, Filippo Brunelleschi, Giotto, Raphael, churches like Santa Maria del Fiore and Florentine monuments like the Ponte Vecchio and the Pitti Palace.
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The three shops in Florence are full of aromas and sensations reminiscent of distant lands and ancient cultures. The first opened in 1997 in Piazza Ghiberti, in the district of San Ambrosio, a place of daily celebration within a colorful fruit and vegetable market that creates a unique background for the elegance of the boutique.
The second is in Via Della Condotta, just behind the famous Piazza Della Signoria. And the third store is located in the magnificent Palazzo Frescobaldi, in the noble area of the city in Via Santo Spirito in Oltrarno.
All three offer around 300 varieties of tea brought from China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Japan, and Africa. They also sell delicious aromatic blends, fruit teas, herbal teas, and delicious canned mixtures especially prepared for the New Year holiday.
The three establishments have a gourmet corner where clients can drink tea with a delicious slice of cake, a genuine English sandwich or a variety of pastries or cookies alongside a selection of teapots, cups, and accessories brought from all over the planet. ■