Hidden Gem: The Spice & Tea Exchange in Downtown Disney
Tucked into a small corner of a store in Downtown Disney is a rather unique shop by Walt Disney World standards: The Spice and Tea Exchange. It can be a little challenging to find this space located in the Marketplace portion of Downtown Disney. There is exterior signage to help guide your way. You can also look for Earl of Sandwich and Mickey’s Pantry. Earl of Sandwich connects to Mickey’s Pantry inside, and the Spice and Tea Exchange occupies part of the Mickey’s Pantry store.
If you are a foodie, if you are looking for a unique gift or souvenir, or if you are just tired of mouse ears on everything (although I can’t imagine this), this is a great place for you. The selection here includes flavored sugars, a variety of salts, tea blends, spice mixtures, rice, and all of the accessories you would need to go with any of these. The area is divided into sections for each of these products. Much like a Yankee Candle or the nearby Basin, you can smell your selections before you purchase by way of large glass canisters. The day I visited there was also someone working a sample area so you could also taste certain options. The store area itself is very basic with wooden shelves, wooden signage, and the accents almost have the look of a nautical store. I think this relates to the shipping of spices and teas which seems to be the theme of the place.
The smallest selection is of the rice. There were about six varieties available including a red rice, bamboo rice, and saffron rice. These are packaged in bags and were displayed in a barrel during my visit.
There is an extensive collection of salts, and they are offered in various formats. You can purchase a salt block, a stone, a grinder, or small sample packets. Several accessories are also available for purchase including pots, platters, and mortar & pestles. Some of the salts were infused with flavors like the Pinot Noir, the Black Truffle or the Chili-Lime salts. Others were varieties of salts like the Himalayan.
Similar to the salts, the sugar selection is large. This was my favorite area of the store. The sugars are offered as small sized sample packets. It is more of a coarse grain sugar and each one is naturally infused with a flavor.. There are so many options to choose from, many are fruit flavors, but there is ginger sugar, dark cocoa sugar, habanero sugar and espresso sugar among others. We brought home the strawberry, blueberry and cinnamon sugars. And this isn’t a mix of cinnamon and sugar like you would get at a grocery store, it is all sugar that is flavored with cinnamon—it smells divine!
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The extent of my tea drinking is pretty much regular old sweet iced tea, so I am not the best judge of the tea selection here. To my eyes it seemed broad and unique—there were herbal teas, black teas and green teas. On their website they state that they have traditional teas like Earl Grey along with different selections like Blood-Orange Smoothie or Cinnamon Plum. Maybe I need to expand my tea horizons! They are loose leaf teas sold in the small packets and in canisters. A selection of accessories was also offered for your tea preparation.
There were some other drink options as well. We brought home a packet of Tropical Cocoa Mix. One of the things l like about these products is that the labeling contains a nice explanation or history of the product, along with preparation instructions where needed. This particular drink mix contains raspberry, tangerine, and cocoa sugars, dutched chocolate, vanilla powder, coconut powder and Ceylon cinnamon. We haven’t sampled this yet because hot cocoa doesn’t work in the hot summer, but I am excited about the combination of flavors.
In the spice realm you can find everything from rubs to blends to seasoning spices (like Hungarian Paprika). Depending on the variety you select you can purchase them as a small packet or as a grinder. In the category of blends offer seafood blends (like Chesapeake Bay), specialty blends (like Pirate’s Bite or Florida Sunshine), cultural blends (like Chinese 5 Spice), curries, and meat rubs. We bought two sample packets of the blends, the Tuscany Blend and Pizza Seasoning. The Tuscany Blend is listed as their best seller on their website and we have enjoyed it so far in olive oil for dipping bread.
The Spice and Tea Exchange is a fun stop on your visit to Downtown Disney. Here you can find very unique choices to take home and flavor your own dishes—a bit of your vacation that you can keep experiencing. The small 1 to 1.5 ounce packets make an affordable gift ($5.19 plus tax at the Downtown Disney location) or souvenir that is easy to pack and travel. The products are packaged in St. Augustine, Florida, and they do have locations around the country as well as an online store, www.spiceandtea.com if you can’t wait for your Walt Disney World vacation to sample their flavors. Here’s a hint, like most things in the World, the prices are cheaper directly from their online store
Have you visited the Spice and Tea Exchange? What is your favorite item?