Sherry Arlena Waters invites calm at the Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary.
by Vanessa Infanzon
In spring 2019, Sherry Arlena Waters did a U-turn when she saw the “For Lease” sign on a small brick building in the Historic Camp Greene neighborhood in west Charlotte. Weeks later, in July of the same year, she signed a lease and opened The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary.
Waters named the tea bar for her grandmothers, Lena Waters and Pauline Whitesides. Growing up, Waters remembers both grandmothers providing peaceful porches and living rooms for family and neighbors, an idea she embraces in her tea shop. “It’s where I remember finding community,” says Waters, 50.
Visitors to Pauline’s choose a teacup from the wall near the counter and order from a selection of 15 teas — Indian Spice, Rooibos and Warming Crimson, to name a few — prepared in a French press. The tea is sourced from a national, eco-sourced fair-trade cooperative or Nebedaye Farms in Indian Trail. Loose leaf tea is also available for sale.
The newly renovated space welcomes patrons with the aroma of essential oils and calming music. Local art curated by 9.18.9 Creative Studio is updated quarterly. An outdoor patio offers views of uptown’s skyline.
Waters partners with local Black women business owners to offer a variety of organic, vegan and gluten-free pastries. She also sells handmade body scrubs, candles and lip balms.
With a bachelor’s degree in communications from UNC Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in practical theology from Pfeiffer University, Waters owns a spiritual companionship and stewardship coaching business with her husband, Ben Bellury.
Comments were edited for brevity and clarity.
What’s your ‘why’ behind the tea bar?
I’ve always longed for a space for our community to come and experience something that was restorative, calming, peaceful. As that seed was planted, I started to figure out what would draw people to a space like this. I thought about tea. Herbal tea is savored. There’s an art to preparing it. When people drink it, they’re smelling it, they’re watching the scent come up. There’s so much about a calming cup of tea. I decided to become a quick study on herbal teas and learned a lot about teas and the medicinal support teas give you.
What do you want this space to represent?
We call the people that come in patrons because once they come, they return often. I am intentional about remembering names so that they feel welcomed. This is like a third space. Between home and work, they say this is their destination spot to come in Charlotte. Before Covid, it had become that for a lot of people who worked uptown. I’m missing a lot of my patrons right now, and I’m hoping they come back soon.
You received a grant from the Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund. How did you use it?
I asked for funding to add outside patio seating. I always dreamed about having a pergola, because when you walk out there, you see the skyline. Every first Friday of the month, I do a live-music, open mic, poetry night from 6-8 p.m. Latina soul vocalist Ana Lucia Divins and guitarist Carlos Crespo just finished a series here. SP
The Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary is open Tues.-Friday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. 2326 Arty Ave.