Sangha Teahouse is leaving Durham—well, maybe.
The mobile tea venture that Jeremy Lipkowitz started in July 2014 is coming to a close unless Lipkowitz can find someone to take it over before he leaves North Carolina to return to his home on the West Coast. The business, which has gained traction over the past two years despite lacking a brick-and-mortar presence, sells ethically sourced teas from around the world, plus teaware and tea blends. Lipkowitz started Sangha—“community,” in Sanskrit—as a space for wellness and bringing people together.
“I love tea, and a tea house is the perfect way to combine health and wellness,” he explains. “It helps people to slow down.”
Lipkowitz is returning to California to be with his family. He realized his desire to be closer to home earlier this year during his travels in East Asia, where he was sourcing teas for Sangha.
“I didn’t think about committing to being away from my family for decades when I started,” he says.
He began Sangha after leaving the doctoral program in genetics at Duke, deciding to focus on wellness instead.
“I created Sangha as a way to give people another option,” reminisces Lipkowitz. “All that’s out there for the most part is bars and noisy cafes where everyone is on their laptops. I wanted to give people a space for relaxation and a place where they could feel at home and meet others in their community.”
He wasn’t wrong: since starting the business, Sangha has grown in popularity, garnering support and exposure at various farmers and through local shops where Lipkowitz sets up and sells his tea. Going forward, Lipkowitz hopes that local stores like Indio and Lotus Leaf in Durham will continue to sell Sangha’s merchandise until they sell out—or in the event that a new proprietor is found.
He wants to keep Sangha in Durham, even if he’s not, because he believes it has found an integral community in the city and that it has the potential to thrive here. In his opinion, there’s a huge untapped market for tea in town. It’s part of the reason he doesn’t want to take the business with him when he leaves.
“It doesn’t make sense in a different community, in a different culture,” he says. “Sangha could go in a lot of different directions. [The new owner] doesn’t have to fit a specific mold of [my] idea of business. As long as they have a good idea and a good heart, that’s what matters.”
And while the tea connoisseur is planning to hit the road by mid-June, he says he could try and stay until late July to help the new owner with the transition. As for his own future, Lipkowitz is planning on breaking into web development, though he will miss Durham.
“I’m gonna miss the people the most,” said Lipkowitz. “But I’ll also miss the sense of pride that the people of Durham have for their city, and really, in everything that exists.”
If you’re interested in taking over Sangha, send an email to Jeremy at email@example.com including a paragraph of why you’re interested and any relevant experience.