LINCOLN PARK — David Segal, the co-owner of DAVIDsTEA, was in Lincoln Park last week mixing tea-infused cocktails to launch the company's summer line of teas.
The 32-year-old Montreal native has since expanded the tea business to more than 100 stores, including three in Chicago in the last year, and hopes to continue expansion in the city.
"What I love about Chicago are the neighborhoods," Segal said. "We love neighborhood stores and I think Chicago really lends itself to them."
The majority of the business's locations are found north of the border, but Segal is slowly moving south converting coffee and bagged tea drinkers in his way.
The stores carry about 150 varieties of loose leaf tea, along with the accessories needed to brew the tea.
"My favorite is when someone comes in and says 'I'm a coffee drinker' and we open up their world," Segal said.
A "tea guide" greats each new guest to the store to make sure they are not intimidated by tea selection.
To kick off five new summer iced tea flavors, Tyler Fry of Wicker Park's Violet Hour, mixed cocktails at the shop, 924 W. Armitage Ave.
"The idea of infusing tea right into the booze is one of the best ways to make it for a spirit," Fry said. "We are definitely seeing more and more people incorporating tea into the drinks in a thoughtful way."
Fry was dishing out a "Migratory Coconut" consisting of white rum infused for two hours with DAVIDsTEA's Coconut grove blend.
"We try to break every stereotype [customers] have about teas," Segal said.
DAVIDsTEA's other storefronts are located at 1645 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown and 3530 N. Southport Ave. in Lakeview.
Segal, who founded the company with his cousin Herschel Segal, said he was always a tea drinker, but had never really gotten deep into different blends.
It wasn't until he started research for the company and trying hundreds and hundreds of teas that he realized the depth of tea.
"I went through the same process as customers. Tea is like a journey," he said. "At the start I liked it and thought it's either British or Asian, but no one was really doing it in a fun way."