BY PHYLLIS DAY
Times Staff Writer
HOLIDAY — The bar scene was never a fit for Nikki DeRosa and Kris Eigenbrode. Neither one drinks, nor do they enjoy smoky bars.
As the two women looked for alternative ways to spend their time out, they visited Mad Hatters, a botanical tea bar in St. Petersburg where a friend worked. They fell in love with it.
"These were the type of people we wanted to be around," Eigenbrode said. "Open-minded people who tend to be more health conscious."
It didn't take long before the two looked at each other and said, "We could totally do this."
"We just loved the vibe," DeRosa said. "We thought Pasco could use a place like this."
The two women spent four or five months planning, researching, learning and experimenting. After a series of soft openings for friends and family, in October they opened ZenfiniTea Botanical Bar and Lounge on the border of Holiday and New Port Richey.
Kava and botanical tea bars are new for Pasco County. ZenfiniTea will serve kava, kratom, hemp coffee, kombucha and cannabidiol, or CBD products, as well as craft and wellness teas.
The exotic-sounding teas are known for their many health benefits, according to the business partners:
Kava, made from the root of a pepper plant, is a "muddy" tea. Some studies say it may help reduce drug cravings and anxiety, and boost euphoria and overall well-being. It also can be a liver detoxifier.
Kratom works as a stimulant and is consumed to help with fibromyalgia, insomnia, high blood pressure, diabetes and pain and opiate withdrawals.
Kombucha has been hailed as a healing tonic for thousands of years. It can help with digestion, detoxification, immunity and other health issues.
The botanical tea bar also serves sipping chocolates, hot or cold hemp coffee, and a water-soluble dose of CBD that can be added to any tea and can help with arthritis and inflammation.
"CBD products are made from the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant," Eigenbrode said. "You won't fail a drug test after drinking this."
The ZenfiniTea owners also hope it can help with the opioid epidemic. Eigenbrode has been in recovery from drug abuse for 14 years.
"We want to help others who are struggling and don't know where to go to," she said.
ZenfiniTea is family- and pet-friendly. The lounge has a pool table, ping pong table, dart board, a selection of board and video games, adult coloring books and an outdoor patio that seats 48.
"This place is a breath of fresh energy that is well-needed in our community," said patron Bill Cahill, 45, of New Port Richey. "They don't have anything like this here."
"Other tea bars in St. Pete are very cramped, and the drinks are overpriced," said Sam Mancuso, 26, of New Port Richey. "(ZenfiniTea) is spacious, the people are friendly and the prices are reasonable."
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DeRosa and Eigenbrode are planning a grand opening celebration in March. They offer weekly drum circles and may host paint parties, group acupuncture sessions, drag shows and open mic nights. They also want to have ZenfiniTea open 24 hours a day.
They plan to team up with the adjacent New York-style Italian deli, Daddy D's, that is expected to open in the next month. Owned by DeRosa's father, Vinny DeRosa, the deli plans to create tea-infused and lighter dishes that will appeal to patrons at the tea bar.
"There are a lot of really cool things in the works," DeRosa said.
"This is a place where you can have a great night with friends but not have to deal with anyone who is intoxicated," Eigenbrode added.