By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Dec 16, 2002 at 5:29 AM

"I just love tea," says Yvette Livingston. "I'm a tea drinker. And there just wasn't a very good selection of teas in Milwaukee."

So, just over a year ago, Livingstone put cup to saucer and with her business partner, Rob Hasselkus, opened the Windowbox, a shop on Downer Avenue featuring hard-to-find fine teas and gifts.

The store seems to be a hit with other tea drinkers in the community who, until Livingston had her shop, often had to order their tea online, or buy when traveling overseas. "You could go to George Watts to actually drink a cup of great tea, "says Livingston, "but there was no where around (here) that you could really buy it."

One of the most sought-after English teas offered at the shop is Fortnum and Mason. "That one was a hard one to get," says Livingston. The Windowbox offers over 12 brands of teas, including Milwaukee's Rishi Tea, which is especially hot in Manhattan and throughout the East Coast, says Livingston.

Along with the soothing pleasure of a good cup of tea, Livingston says the growing awareness of the health benefits to drinking tea has helped boost sales in her store. Livingston points to a tea on a shelf called Rooibos, a South African Red Tea, made by the Republic of Tea company. "This tea has been known for its ability to help indigestion and other stomach ailments," she says.

A range of recent studies has shown that tea can be good for the skin, good for the heart, and contains anti-oxidants.

"Tea is also great for people who can't drink caffeine or for those undergoing chemotherapy and might have upset stomachs," says Livingston.

Along with an array of tea ware, Livingston says one of the most important tea accessories a drinker can own is the tea cozy, a padded pot-holder kind of cloth that fits like a slip over the tea pot keeping the tea warm for up to two hours longer. "Tea cozys are a staple in Britain and Ireland," says Livingston.

According to Livingston, Ireland has one of the world's largest tea drinking populations. "When they're not drinking beer, they're drinking tea," says Livingston. "It's like coffee to them." The Windowbox carries several Irish teas, including Bewley's and Barry's, known for being teas with a strong kick.

The Windowbox has other tasty goodies like, shortbread cookies, biscotti and chocolates and truffles from world famous Lake Champlain chocolate company.


Situated throughout the store are gifts of the non-edible but very unique variety. A pair of delicate Chinese silk slippers set in their own silk bags hang in the children's section along with books and colorful frames. Toile French linens, beaded purses, coasters from Napa Valley, beeswax candles and handmade jewelry are other wares that can be found throughout the store. At the rear of the shop is a section dedicated to wine-themed items.

OMC asked Livingston to name a few recommended holiday gifts on her list this year at the store:

Customize your very own European gift package of Fortnum and Mason Christmas tea, biscuits, pudding and mincemeat.

For the wild-at-heart, try Rosso by Modigliani a brand new collection of fire-red pottery made by this famous Italian company.

Polka dot teacups and teapots made by Bridgewater, a historic English pottery company. "Polka dots are really in this year," says Livingston.

Red Raspberry Vinegar by Golden Fig Epicurean Delights or an array of spice blends, sugars and vinegars made by owner, Milwaukee native Laurie McCann Crowell.

The Windowbox is located at 2634 N. Downer Ave. Call (414) 967-0781.