The Tea of Life

The Tea of LifeThe Tea of LifeThe Tea of LifeThe Tea of LifeThe Tea of LifeThe Tea of Life

T heir last name is just a happy coincidence. Greenwell, it turns out, serves both as a surname and a way of living.

Matt and Sarah Greenwell opened the doors of green well organic tea and coffee in New Haven’s 9th Square just this week, having poured long hours into renovating the bright, beautiful space on Crown Street.

“It’s been quite the journey,” Sarah says, smiling widely from under the brim of an appropriately green baseball cap. The shop is light and bright, splashed with verdant greens and bold blues. Funky metalwork chairs contrast well with a soaring, sinewy tree at the center of the bar.

green well is, yes, another coffee house in New Haven. But the Greenwells are hoping it’ll be more: a gathering space for artists and musicians, a place to build community, and, most importantly, a shop where a healthy lifestyle is what’s for sale. Everything that can be is organic (90 percent of their ingredients), from the fair trade tea and coffee to the cheese and eggs used in their lunch options. On their third day in business, new customers wandered in, looking surprised and delighted. They checked out the thorough but accessible menu, which includes 8 coffee roasts and 24 teas, smoothies and fresh squeezed juices.

Sarah handed me a well-steeped cup of crimson colored hibiscus tea, and an organic prosciutto parmesan scone. The tea was lovely, and I had to stop speaking a few times to concentrate on that scone—moist, savory, crumbly. Those perfectly rich bits of prosciutto? They’re sourced from Skappo Merkato across the street. There are creative biscotti options, cookies, and muffins.

green well organic tea and coffee
44 Crown Street, New Haven (map)
(203) 773-0590 |
Mon-Thurs 7am-7pm, Fri-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 8am-6pm

Everything’s baked in house. Lunch options include artisan grilled cheeses (locally sourced), avocado salads, and more.

“We want to be a place that can provide education so people can say, ‘Hey I can eat a gluten-free or vegan muffin, and it tastes great,'” Sarah says. “‘I can use agave instead of splenda and I don’t crash.’ But we also want these choices to be accessible to everyone, because they are. So it’s a delicate balance.”

There are no artificial sweeteners to be found at green well. You can, however, choose from agave syrup, honey and the natural sweetener Stevia. There’s organic milk, but there’s also a choice of almond, soy, and rice milks, which Matt says are quite popular. And that all coincides with a second part of the business: green well BEING. That’s Sarah’s gig — she’ll provide holistic health and wellness counseling to individuals and groups through private consultations and workshops. She was preparing to give a free workshop on the concept of emotional eating that evening — she’ll do something similar once a month.

The couple, who married in October, recently took stock of their lives in Chicago and decided to leave it all behind. Sarah was learning about holistic nutrition—she took classes at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York—and the couple had always been pretty health conscious.

“Now we’re just trying to bring that to

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people, to make people feel better,” said Matt. “We’re really happy people, and we like that ripple of making other people happy.”

So the newlyweds (it was an October wedding) exchanged corporate roles in the Windy City for the differently busy lives of New Haven coffee shop owners.

“It’s such a hotspot for culture,” Sarah says. “And we wanted to create something custom, and want people to embrace it. We looked all over Connecticut, and this really was the perfect spot.”

They’ve built relationships with other merchants in the Square—from the owners of Cafe 9, Skappo, Marco Polo Pizza and Firehouse 12 to a curator at the Knights of Columbus Museum, all of whom stopped by on opening day with “shop-warming” gifts and best wishes. Matt and Sarah hope to build on those relationships—they’re going to start hosting acoustic music nights on Thursdays and Fridays (until 9 p.m., after which they say people can head over to Firehouse 12 or Cafe 9 to keep the night going), and they’re hosting monthly exhibits by local artists, many of whom will be found with the help of Artspace just around the corner.

The lovely young couple are bright eyed and friendly on a Tuesday morning despite an early start: they were up at 4 a.m. to start their day at the shop. Conveniently, they live in an apartment on the other side of the Field Building, which houses their shop.

Aided by the short commute, their extensive renovations of the shop space took 2.5 brisk months. Sarah’s dad, a talented carpenter, found that signature tree, sliced it the long way, hollowed it out, and wrapped it around a support beam in the center of the store. He also helped lay the wood flooring, which Matt’s uncle disassembled from a horse barn in Kentucky. That, along with the rustic tin sheets that make up half of the ceiling, was his wedding present to Matt and Sarah.

“This is what we want to do with the rest of our lives,” Matt says.

Written and photographed by Uma Ramiah.

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Uma Ramiah is a New Haven-based journalist using audio, print, and photography to tell stories about Connecticut. She holds a Masters in Religion and African Studies from Yale and spent a few years traveling and working in West and Central Africa before settling down in the Elm City.

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