Poetry & Tea guests at 210 Teas watching spoken word performance. Photo courtesy of Kahssia Hills.

Syracuse’s 210 Teas is hosting its “Poetry & Tea” open mic night this Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. at 108 E. Washington St. Organizers welcome spoken word performers to vocalize their artistic expression. 

Kahssia Hills, owner of 210 Teas, said the open mic night does not have a direct sign up sheet; rather the event values having a free-flowing and no pressure atmosphere for the poets and guests. 

210 Teas owner Kahssia Hills posed at the storefront, Photograph courtesy of Hills.

210 Teas, which is typically open on Saturdays and Sundays, began hosting poetry and tea open mic nights at the end of September, and has since held four. 

 The poetry and tea open mic night is part of Syracuse’s resurgence of artistic expression, bringing attention to renewed hope and interest among poets seeking spaces for creative outlet.

Ruthnie Angrand, director of communications and marketing for the City of Syracuse, said she believes that spaces like 210 Teas add value to living in the city and deepen desire for fellowship.

“I care alot about literary arts. We had a scene for literary arts, but it went really quiet between 2016 and 2020. A lot of people missed having open mics and writing workshops to come to, for adults,” Angrand said. 

Angrand, who is also a poet and fellow tea-lover, said she recognizes the importance of Black cultural spaces that are focused on developing support and community through shared interests, even in something as niche as a cup of tea. 

“There is just something culturally different about having a tea shop instead of coffee,” Angrand said.

210 Teas: The history behind the name

For Hills, the concept of the tea shop’s name was inspired by her late paternal grandmother’s address. 

“Tea to me feels like comfort, like a grounding comfort, it just brings you back. If you’re ever trying to withdraw from something, and take your mind off something or just refocus, recenter on anything,” Hills said. “I feel like tea is the perfect thing to pair with that mindset, it goes pretty good with almost anything you want to do.”

Hills explains when people ask her about what she envisions for 210 Teas in the future, she emphasizes her desire to create a people-focused and community-centered space. 

“What better way to do that, and take up space and share space with other individuals than to just be surrounded by comfort and care, a cup of tea and poetry,” she said. “It’s very intimate, it’s very cozy, very comfortable, and it’s exactly what I think of when I think of people filling this space in the way that I imagine them to.”

Angrand, who is a performer herself, has attended two of the events. 

 “Coming to an open mic is so dope because you don’t know what you’re gonna hear,” she said. 

 Angrand, a Queens native, ascertains Syracuse has a diversity in sound, and said 210 Teas exists to highlight those varying perspectives and experiences. 

Spoken word poet Ricky “Randum” Maeweather, 32, has been a recurring act at the open mic night. The Syracuse-native has performed at all of the events held so far.

He assures the venue’s quaint space is intimate, yet inviting to all levels of spoken word performers.

Maeweather, who describes his poetry style as inspiring, uplifting, and motivating, serves as a supporter to poets who enter the space regardless of their performance experience.

“With me being who I am, I kinda set the tone,” Maeweather said. 

Hills said the shop has served as rental space for tea-themed parties, as well as yoga and tea nights. 

If you’re downtown Thursday night, stop in for a cup of tea and enjoy some poetry. The shop’s most popular brews are the “don’t worry about it sweetheart” and “blue magic” teas.

210 Teas brew assortment flavors including “Don’t worry about it sweetheart” and “Blue magic.” Photograph courtesy of Kahssia Hills.


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