The dream of owning a business in historic downtown New Port Richey is one that I have had for so many years that I can't even remember how long it has been..... It seems so surreal and exciting to me to be able to bring my passion to life for everyone to enjoy. - Kelly M. Hackman, Owner, The White Heron Tea & Gifts
Kelly (Maki) Hackman was born and raised in the New Port Richey area. She attended Richey Elementary, Bayonet Point Middle School, and Ridgewood High School. She has always considered the downtown New Port Richey area as a place of pride and community, and that is why she choose to open her business in the heart of the downtown area. She had a dream of opening a small gift shop but after much discussion and debate, she decided that in addition to a gift shop, she wanted something more.
She visited a small tearoom in Tampa and instantly fell in love with the feel, ambiance, privacy, and quaintness of it. It was then and there that she decided to pair her gift shop with a similar intimate and quaint tearoom. The only problem was, she was not what one would consider an avid tea drinker.
"I didn't quite enjoy the taste of tea before I went to my first tea room, Kelly says. "At my first tearoom experience, I discovered that tea is flavorful, and unique. I had only had prepackaged tea before, and there really is a difference between tea in bags and loose leaf tea."
She began researching tea, the practice and etiquette of tea, and all of the different elements that go into making the perfect tea leaf, and she was pleasantly surprised how special a cup of tea is and how much she liked it.
"Not having been a tea drinker when I started this process, I am excited about what I have learned and tasted and I can't wait to share my love and knowledge with those who come to our shop to have tea," states Kelly. "To say I am now a proud tea drinker is an understatement. I can't wait to see what flavor I can try next."
Understanding tea and proper tea etiquette is very important to Kelly. Wanting to offer her patrons knowledge and understanding of the tea she serves, she has recently completed courses and is a Certified Tea Specialist, certified through the World Tea Academy, as well as a Tea Sommelier. She is one of only three Certified Tea Specialists through the World Tea Academy in Florida, and is the only one in the Tampa Bay area (the others are located in the panhandle in North Florida, the other in Vero Beach).
Kelly is currently taking additional classes through the World Tea Academy to obtain her certification as a World Tea Academy Tea Professional and Tea Health Specialist Certifications in the future. In addition, Kelly is a certified Tea Etiquette Consultant.
In addition to tea, Kelly has always enjoyed cooking, baking, and developing new recipes. She often entertains in her home and her fixings are always enjoyed. She is excited to be able to provide some traditional tearoom recipes as well as some of her own that she has been working on for her visitors alone.
Bryan, Kelly's husband, helps out at the tea house when he can but also works as an Associate Electrical Designer for an engineering firm in Tampa. Recently, he and Kelly opened the first craft beer brewery in historic downtown New Port Richey, called Cotee River Brewing Company.
Kelly is excited to welcome you to her tea room! She hopes you enjoy your experience as much as she has enjoyed creating this beautiful location in historic downtown New Port Richey for you to enjoy.