Sain Kava and Tea Bar

Mike Wallace, owner of Sain Kava and Tea Bar pours an herbal tea.

Sain Kava + Tea Bar, located in the heart of Uptown Greenville at 110 E. Fifth St., opened its doors to the public for the first time today at 9 a.m. to serve patrons with a relaxed atmosphere and drink choices that are unique in Greenville.

Owner Mike Wallace said Sain serves various herbal tea blends as well as kava shots and kava mixed drinks with prices ranging from about $3.50 for teas to about $9 for mixed drinks. He said kava mimics the buzz one may get from drinking a beer or taking a shot of liquor without unpleasant side effects and is actually good for your body.

Wallace said its location on Fifth Street is perfect because it is right in the middle of the “hustle and bustle” of uptown. He said he sees Sain as a middle ground between the day and night scenes uptown, and offers tea to help patrons relax and kava for patrons who may wish for an experience more similar to drinking in a bar.

“It seemed right to put it right there on that strip because just because people don’t want to go out to drink every night, or they don’t go to a club, doesn’t mean they don't want to be out,” Wallace said. “So it just gives them an alternative and something that they can do and still be amongst the crowd and amongst their peers.”

Wallace became interested in herbal teas after he was diagnosed with anxiety. He said he didn’t like that medication was presented to him as the only way to manage his symptoms. Through his search for homeopathic remedies, he started to take online classes in herbology, which taught him about homeopathic and alternative medicine.

Wallace said he discovered there are herbal tea blends which can help with many health issues or regulate and maintain bodily health before issues arise. He said he first came across kava during these classes, and after he tried it he brought some to people he knew in Greenville and they loved it too. Wallace said there aren’t many kava bars in eastern North Carolina, and none near Greenville.

“I like clubs but I think we have enough clubs, I like bars, I like a good beer every now and then, but we’ve got enough of that. Greenville needs something different because we have a lot of students here that deal with anxiety, especially with the way times are right now,” Wallace said.

Indoor seating is available, according to Wallace. He said they check employed temperatures when they report to work, use disposable cups and sanitize the space throughout the day. Wallace said art from East Carolina University students will cover the walls of the establishment.

One artist currently featured at Sain is Karena “Kidd” Graves, a graduate student who pursues an MFA in sculpture. She said Wallace’s inclusion of student artwork at the bar is a great collaboration because it is indicative of how much the university is a part of the Greenville community. She said she is glad to have a space within the city for artists to display their work as well as meet one another and make connections.

Grave said the space at Sain is intimate and is a good place for people to meet and have meaningful conversations. She said even with COVID-19 restrictions in place, the atmosphere is conducive to the ability to connect with others. She said it would be a good place to get to know others in the Greenville community.

“I just think it's a great space, a great atmosphere, they (patrons of Sain) can learn more about teas, get some very great tasting tea, and also look at some really, really beautiful artwork that is from Greenville citizens,” Grave said.

Two of Grave’s sculptures are currently at Sain. The first called “As They Are,” a mixed media piece made of found items, is about androgyny and is meant to equally represent both masculine and feminine characters, she said. Graves’s other piece, an abstract sculpture, is unnamed and slightly resembles a dog. The abstract piece is made of a metal cast of assembled found objects.

Grave said she likes the concept of Sain as a place where people can learn about holistic remedies and the benefits people can receive from herbology. She said she likes that Sein offers an alternative place to chain coffee shops for people to relax and that it allows people to support a local Black owned business.

“I hope this business does a lot for the people here in Greenville, and they do get a chance to at least stop by, get a cup of tea, can get there and relax in a nice environment,” Grave said.

Greenville resident Feleica Henderson said Sain hosted her daughter’s book signing in January before the business' formal opening. She said people should come out and visit Sain because it is owned by locals whose mission is to create a place with a “serene atmosphere.” Henderson said Sain is a great place for students to come to study, read and get some tea.

“The atmosphere is so laid back, delicious tea and wonderful owners,” Henderson said.

Sain Kava + Tea Bar does not have an age requirement upon entrance or for product use, however, products are not recommended for children or those who may experience blood clotting disorders, according to Wallace. He said those who are pregnant, have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease or may have an upcoming medical producer should avoid use of products. 

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