We visited The Spice & Tea Exchange and spoke with the owners and husband and wife team of Howard Bernstein and Lisa Prepon.
For those with a culinary talent, adventurous types or looking to “spice” up their meal, this is a store with a variety of flavors from all over the world.
Prepon will not only walk you around letting you do a sniff test (and some are real zingers!), from their vast selection of jarred spices but will offer advice on what they can be used with.
They provide in-store recipe cards and a vast library online.
How did they become proprietors and select Red Bank? Interesting story.
Bernstein was working as a controller for Dassaut Falcon Jet for thirty-six years and he suggested that the company would be better off financially moving out of New Jersey. They took his advice and the company moved to a very rural part of North Carolina. They decided not to go.
Prepon said “We looked at each other and said, now what?”
While dropping off their son in a Florida college they attended a franchise expo and stopped by The Spice & Tea Exchange (STE) booth. Intrigued, they toured the corporate headquarters and while driving home made side trips stopping at four STE stores in Fl and at six more out-of-state stores. “So we decided to leap off our little fiscal cliff and take the plunge” said Prepon.
They opened their store before Christmas in 2013. Prepon said they liked the business model of Red Bank with attracting tourists and, “Thought it was a good hybrid between tourism and residential.”
I learned about the intricacies of tea form Prepone. “Green tea is a little more delicate and will bur at a higher temperature so it should be steeped in water at a temperature between 175 or 185 degrees. You hear it boil, take it off and and let it settle for a minute. On the spice side we have really nice cocoas, hickory powder, standard fenugreek,currys, anise seed, fennel, and a gumbo from a sassafras leaf for creole cooking. A fun one for kids is cheddar cheese powder. All sold by the ounce”.
What they call their “Prime Jewels” is the custom blends of spices they make in-house and have proprietary recipes for international dishes including Moroccan, Spanish, Mexican. “We bag them in individual packets and they are strong, fresh and a little goes a long way.”
And we’re just touching on their inventory: tea selections exceed forty, over one hundred spices, over twenty-five different salts, thirty plus peppers and chilies, over twenty sugars to choose from. And, over one hundred custom blends and seasonings!
So, move beyond the mass-produced rubs and Adobe-type spices and expand your culinary horizon and make your taste buds soar.
Visit The Spice & Tea Exchange to make a your next meal a gastronomic success!