By LOIS KINDLE
It’s always a great thing when a new eatery opens in South Shore, especially one offering something new and different.
TBD @ 301, also known as Tea, Bowls and Desserts, fits that description perfectly. Owners, Isabella Rosal, her husband Jerwin, and brother-in-law J. P., have opened a café whose concept is deceptively simple yet deliciously complex.
“Our goal is to provide people with natural, healthier food choices and to help them experience our culture,” Isabella said. “We also want to give something back to the community by donating 5 cents from every cup sold to G3 Life Applications (a 501(c)3 charity benefiting youth).”
Located at 3840 U.S. 301 S., Riverview, TBD @ 301 serves freshly brewed and specially blended teas with or without Boba (tapioca pearls), healthy lunch bowls and specialty desserts. Its tea selection includes hot or cold cloud teas (Fancy Fruit Basket, Berry Hibiscus, Citrus Splash and Lychee Dragon Pearls); premium teas, (Ginseng Oolong, Thai, Classic Earl Grey, Assam Black, Imperial Matcha Latte and TBD Signature); and seasonal blends like Berry Rose Black, Teaspresso Mocha and Sweet Apple Melon.
Born and raised in the Philippines, all three owners grew up drinking milk tea. Jerwin and J.P. both served in the U.S. Navy and most recently were stationed in Naples, Italy, and San Diego, respectively.
When Jerwin was discharged from the service in 2017, he and Isabella moved to the Riverview area, and his brother came in August after his discharge. Missing their milk tea, which was practically impossible for them to find, the trio decided to go into business and open a café together.
“When we moved here in 2016, the only milk tea shop in the area was in Tampa near Brandon,” Isabella said. “So we decided to open one in Riverview to sell milk tea and other blends using actual tea leaves. We met Dylan Chadwell, a former general manager with Teavana, at the Ybor Saturday Market, and hired him to be our tea supplier and mixologist. We call him our tea guru.”
At the same time the family looked for a perfect location for their café and found it across the street from the Publix shopping center just north of Falkenburg Road on U. S. 301.
“The whole area was growing so quickly, and we wanted to get in before everything fully developed,” Isabella said. “This site was a strategic choice. It’s surrounded now by businesses, residences and hotels.”
TBD @ 301 officially opened July 26. It currently offers at least 15 tea flavors and will be expanding in September. The café uses only honey, cane sugar or other natural sweeteners, Isabella said.
The Rosals also hired Maria Katipunan, a chef born in the Philippines and raised in Hawaii, where she received her culinary training. She’s responsible for the cafe’s lunch menu, a fusion of Filipino and Mediterranean foods, which changes frequently to suit demand.
“We always have Lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), Chicken Adobo (braised chicken and rice), Beef Kaldereta (Filipino-style tomato-beef stew), CUNI TUNI Mediterranean meatballs and vegan stuffed peppers,” she said.
Lunch starts at 11 a.m. and is served until the prepared items are gone.
Desserts include specialty items like Eddie Bull’s exclusive cookie dough with TBD butterscotch tea extract; Petite Madelyn’s French macaroons; vegan tea cakes made with shredded coconut and purple sweet potatoes; cake pops; and Augustine’s cheesecake.
On the retail side, TBD @ 301 sells custom-blended loose and bagged teas, infusers, teacups and teamakers.
It also offers tea-blending classes taught by Chadwell, usually from 3 to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of each month. August’s one-hour class on floral tea included his instructions, a kit for the class and a French macaroon. The cost is $35 per person.
If arranged in advance, TBD @ 301 will come to you for a tea party or class. The price depends on the services required, which can include any of its beverages, food and desserts.
Current hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Free Wi-Fi is available.
For more information, visit www.tbdcafe.com, www.facebook/TBDcafe/, or Instagram@tbd@301. To book a class or tea party, get directions and more, call 813-420-0013.