Phoenix Tea Shop announced recently that – after a decade in business – they will be brewing their last kettle and closing the doors of their Burien shop at the end of December.
Owner Virginia Wright said that revenue has been reduced so much by the COVID-19 pandemic that the business has become unsustainable.
“Not being able to do tastings or educate people effectively about tea – with actual tea – has been challenging,” she said. “And like so many other businesses dependent on international trade, we have been impacted by devastating and frustrating disruptions in our supply chains.”
The shop will remain open through the end of December, and will be open for holiday tea sales. In mid-December they will be offering some of their furnishings and personal collection tea wares for sale.
They will also be shutting down online sales, because they won’t have any place to store inventory. “We will be doing some special small tea events in the future, once those types of events are safe to do,” Wright said.
Phoenix Tea was started in 2010 as an online-only tea merchant by Virginia Wright, who is known more commonly as “Cinnabar” within the tea community. In creating the company, she was motivated to use what she had learned about tea in the previous few years to bring fine teas, tea wares, and other tea-related products to tea aficionados.
In July of 2011, Brett Boynton joined Phoenix Tea after many years working at The Tea Cup in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle, and Phoenix Tea, LLC was formed. In December of 2011 Phoenix Tea opened a retail shop in the two-block Olde Burien area, enabling the company to serve the educational and tea-drinking needs of local and visiting customers, as well as continuing to provide fine and unusual teas and tea wares online to customers all over the United States and beyond.
From 2011 to 2015 Phoenix Tea was under the co-management of Cinnabar and Boynton. At the end of 2015, Boynton decided to retire from the tea industry, and Phoenix Tea, LLC is now under exclusive ownership by Cinnabar.
In July of 2016, after the building housing the charming and tiny retail space that had served as home to Phoenix Tea for five years went on the market, and the business relocated a few blocks east to the heart of downtown Burien. The business is now in a more spacious location with greater visibility, across the street from the King County Library and Farmer’s market, and surrounded by a number of other great local businesses.
“I have really enjoyed the past decade running a business in Burien, and I appreciate all of the wonderful relationships with customers that I have cultivated during that time,” Wright said. “My passion for sharing tea culture and educating people about tea is what led me to start the business. While that passion has not waned, it has not been possible to experience tea with people fully and safely during the pandemic, and it is not likely that is going to change for some time into the future. The financial reality that led me to the inescapable decision to close Phoenix Tea is that revenue has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, and the numbers are simply not sustainable. I will miss being a part of this community as a business owner, but I remain actively involved in many other vibrant elements of life in Burien.”
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Phoenix Tea Shop is located at 447 SW 152nd Street in Burien: