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story.lead_photo.caption Taylor Bowman, barista at Urban Tea Town, measures out a syrup to mix in a customer's drink on Thursday. Photo by Kelsi Brinkmeyer / Texarkana Gazette.

TEXARKANA, Ark. — In the comfortable confines of Urban Tea Town, customers are getting a little bit of an education on the art of brewing and seem to be drinking it up.

"When I first came to work at Urban Tea Town, I did not know anything about tea or coffee, nor did I drink either one," said Haley Stokes, assistant manager. "So, I along with everyone else, not only had to learn how to make coffee and tea, beyond just running hot water through beans or leaves, I had to go into a deep dive about the ins and outs of coffee and tea."

Over time, as she learned more about the teas in the store, she realized many of the customers coming there were in a state similar to where she was before she learned all she knew.

"For many customers, their tea experience stops with Lipton and a bag," she said. "There is so much more. Likewise, coffee is far more than a brown, steaming mug. It is an artform."

Urban Tea Town has more than 65 teas, yet customers ordering would usually ask for "what is popular," and a whole swath of their teas continued to be unknown.

"I came up with the idea for the 'Cup of Fame' club to encourage our customers to wander through what we have and discover new flavors for themselves," she said. "We created a spreadsheet which laid out all of our teas. Customers who set out to accomplish this make their way at their own pace through all of our teas. This not only encourages them to give them all a try, but creates a task, a quest even, as well as encouraging them to visit us more often."

The tea world is so much bigger and more flavorful than most customers have experienced, and tea knowledge goes far beyond brewing.

"Not only are there far more tea flavors than most of our customers have experienced, but teas have various health benefits, too," she said.

Customers who complete the quest through all the teas receive a $25 gift certificate at the end, and their picture on the wall of fame. Stokes said no one has gotten there yet, though a few customers are getting close.

(Urban Tea Town is located at 1201 Arkansas Blvd., Texarkana, Arkansas.)

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