NEW ALBANY — Customers can choose from an assortment of specialty teas and snacks at a new downtown New Albany business.

Fresco Tea Bar opened Saturday inside MESA, A Collaborative Kitchen, at 216 Pearl Street. The tea shop offers both hot and iced drinks, and options include bubble tea, steeped tea, tea lattes, wellness tea and coffee.

Ysha Bass, co-owner of MESA, operates Fresco with co-owners Saera and Jonathan Morones — Jonathan is Ysha’s cousin. Before COVID-19 hit, they planned to open the tea shop in its own space next door to MESA, but they decided to scale down their plans amid the pandemic.

The tea bar was added to MESA’s incubator program, which is designed to get new businesses up and running. Customers order teas at the counter, and there are a few tables set up inside the space.

“I’m excited, because I think this is something we can definitely grow to its own location once we know its a proven business plan,” Bass said.

The shop offers grab-and-go breakfast, lunch and snacks from a number of local businesses. Fresco uses teas from the Louisville Tea Company, and the coffee is from Fante’s Coffee in Louisville.

Bubble tea, an iced tea drink filled with tapioca pearls, is one of the highlights of the menu. Varieties range from cotton candy to green tea lattes.

“When we started this concept, we knew we definitely wanted bubble tea, because I don’t know of anyone in Southern Indiana that offers it,” Bass said. “We thought, why not do that, and that’s been a great success. A lot of people are really excited.”

Bass said some of her favorite specialty drinks at Fresco include a whipped coffee with ube (a purple-colored yam), as well as Thai iced tea with vanilla pudding. A turmeric and CBD-infused latte is one of the shop’s wellness teas, and chai and bourbon cream are among the tea lattes.

Steeped teas are available hot or over ice, and customers can select from loose leaf teas and local food products at shelves by the counter.

The shop is offering Tuesday tea tastings — for $10 per person, people can sign up online to try three types of teas paired with food, which rotates each week. This week, Fresco offered a green tea, lavender tea and oolong tea with basil and lemon paired with pasta, poppy lemon bread and granola.

Saera said they are excited to carry food from local businesses in the shop. The shop serves breakfast burritos from Mayan Cafe in Louisville, and Fresco’s baked goods are from local businesses such as Leaven Bakery, Half Peach Bakery and Butchertown Grocery. Ready Set Prep’d, another incubator at MESA, provides grab-and-go lunches.

“That’s really important to us that we support local and we serve local food,” she said. “We really want to grow our community.”

The pandemic has presented a number of challenges for MESA, and Fresco is one way to bring in more revenue to the space, Bass said. MESA has reopened for events, but it is at 50 percent capacity.

Bass said the response has been “phenomenal” so far, and the shop was “completely slammed” on opening day. Saera said they are getting plenty of attention on social media, and she has been excited to see repeat customers over the past few days.

“That means a lot to us, that we’re getting more new customers, but we’re also getting the same people come back,” Saera said.

Fresco is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, log on to Fresco's website at https://www.restaurantji.com/in/new-albany/fresco-tea-bar-/

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