Taste the World

A new downtown shop is happy to teach you all about tea

Thomas Kilborn and Savannah Breeden are introducing tea to Spokane’s masses. - HECTOR AIZON
Hector Aizon
Thomas Kilborn and Savannah Breeden are introducing tea to Spokane’s masses.

Savannah Breeden has sipped tea around the world, but in her hometown of Spokane, she never felt like she could get the sort of high-quality, loose-leaf teas she was after. Now she and her husband, Thomas Kilborn, have plenty of it on hand at Urban Nirvana, their newly opened café in downtown Spokane.

Urban Nirvana is not the first teahouse in the region, but it's certainly raising the bar for tea-centric shops. The specialty café offers more than 40 organic and fair trade loose-leaf teas, while also serving coffee. If you're hungry, Urban Nirvana also has locally made baked goods from Sweetwater Bakery and Sweetbox Delivery, among other items. But the main focus is the tea, says Breeden.

"On our window we have a beautiful sign that says, 'the journey of a thousand cups begins with one sip.' And that is who we are, that is what tea is — not just a drink, but an experience you can smell, and taste exotic flavors and worlds, without ever having to leave the room," Breeden says.

Breeden, who has traveled throughout Asia working on tea farms, also worked in the tea industry stateside. She didn't seriously entertain the notion of opening her own shop until her father, who passed away last August, said that she should focus her energy on opening her own shop. Eventually, Breeden and Kilborn turned their life savings into Urban Nirvana.

Inside the space (the main entrance is on Riverside, despite the address), which was formerly part of the Jaazz hair salon, you'll find a brick interior and tidy tables surrounding the service area. You'll also often find Breeden, who can help you navigate the world of loose-leaf tea, even if you're a novice. If your knowledge doesn't extend past Earl Grey, that's fine. Breeden can show you some loose-leaf teas to smell until something clicks.

As we head into the warmer months, Breeden plans to change with the season, introducing spring flavors as well as cold teas.

"We sell ceremonial teas, and we appreciate tradition and honor it, because tea is one of the oldest drinks, but we are a teahouse for modern people as well — with new and ever-changing blends and varieties — that some are shocked to know it's even tea," she says. ♦

Urban Nirvana • 108 N. Washington, Suite 100 (enter from Riverside Avenue) • Open Mon-Sat, 7 am to 5 pm • urbvana.com • 315-4590

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About The Author

Mike Bookey

Mike Bookey is the culture editor for The Inlander. He previously held the same position at The Source Weekly in Bend, Ore.