Twice-Told Tale

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Twice-Told Tale

Twice-Told Tale

One Stop Spice Shop

Alyssa Wiboon
(Above) The owners of Winter Garden’s Spice and Tea, Mr. Bill Files and Mrs. Linda Files, love how family-oriented the franchise is. Mrs. Files comments, “Within Bill and I’s stores, three out of our four children work there. Our oldest daughter is the director of franchise operations for the whole company.” All graphics courtesy of Canva.

Good food isn’t good without its array of spices. Spicing up just about any homecooked meal elevates food to the next level. With just over 90 locations all over the U.S., and 18 locations in Florida, the Spice & Tea Exchange has a goal of, “Creating and sharing the experience of a more flavorful life,” according to its website. This franchise’s journey began with a shared passion when the owners, Ms. Amy Freeman and Ms. Penny Rehling, fell in love with their values in family, food, and community. For over 15 years, they have strived to connect culinary enthusiasts and adventurers alike with exceptional ingredients and to, “Add a sprinkle of adventure to home cooking,” as stated on their website. Every day, they bring consumers nationwide, “The freshness and quality of a spice market…the theater of hand-blended spices and teas,” and, “The freedom to explore a world of flavors at the Tea Bar.” 

While shopping for organic produce at Winter Garden’s farmer’s market every Saturday, I always keep a lookout for new up-and-coming stores. So, I was more than excited to see the newest location of the Spice & Tea Exchange having its grand opening. I had never heard of this franchise before, and as someone who is passionate about at-home cooking, I loved hearing about their mission statement and their selection of products. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted with a wave of mixed aromas, from cinnamon to curry. The first things that caught my eye were their walls separated into categories of fine spices, hand-crafted seasonings, loose-leaf teas, salts, and sugars. Displayed were lined with labeled jars and packets of just about every single spice and tea product imaginable. It was truly impressive. In the middle of the store were gift bundles, tea accessories, kitchen accessories, candles, honey sticks, and more. My mom was the first to jump at their kitchen accessories, as she is always looking for ways to spruce up our family kitchen. 

The whole Spice & Tea Exchange team was so welcoming and helpful. The store was bustling with customers, and there was just the right amount of staff to help everyone find exactly what they wanted. Especially with a store filled with hundreds of spices and teas, the staff knew exactly how to explain each one of them to me. I loved how the store allowed me to sample from their walls of spices, seasoning, sugars, salts, and teas. I was able to open the jars and smell each product. My sense of smell was all mixed up by the end of my visit with smells of cumin, hibiscus, hickory, monk fruit, and rosemary, but I greatly enjoyed it, as I didn’t know that there could be so many varieties of spices and teas. One offering that really stood out to me was the Florida Sunshine Sugar, which includes notes of orange and lemon fruits and delicate rose petals, perfect for cold desserts like ice cream and cobblers. 

During a Thanksgiving break vacation to Amelia Island, my family and I were shopping in downtown Fernandina Beach on Black Friday when we came across another location of the Spice & Tea Exchange. On this occasion, the store was extra busy and offered loads of gift bundles and specialty discounted products. Some employees came around with samples of focaccia coated with olive oil and spices. They were delicious, and the spices elevated the bread flavor to a whole other level. My family and I ended up buying a trio basket of grinder blends, a trio of tea packets, and a breadboard. 

We were happy to see that the two owners of the Winter Garden location, Linda and Bill Files, were working at the Fernandina Beach location for the holiday. In addition to those two locations, they also own and operate one location in Winter Park and another in Mashpee, Massachusetts. An interesting fact that most people don’t know about the Spice & Tea Exchange is that they carry over 125 exclusive products, curated by both their, “Spice Masters” in-house and within their franchise locations. Additionally, the store incorporates a lot of its spices into its unique candle collection and honey lines on top of its spice blends. They constantly strive to innovate with their signature aromas and extend their product lines, providing a wide variety for shoppers to buy. 

As people rediscover the joy of home cooking and the health benefits of tea, they are turning to specialty shops for quality ingredients. Therefore, the Spice & Tea Exchange is in the perfect position to grow over the years and keep up with its mass success. The future is bright for this popular franchise! Check out their website to hear more about them and purchase some of their products at

(Above) Spice and Tea Exchange goes out-of-the-box with its very own “Tea Bar,” where it serves hot and iced teas with its variety of organic tea blends. Along with the fresh-brewed tea, customers also have the option of adding Spice and Tea monk fruit, honey, or sugar to sweeten it to their desire. (Alyssa Wiboon)
(Above) In the last 11 months, Mr. and Mrs. Files opened up two stores, so they’re still getting settled and putting things in place. Mr. Files commented, “Our objective is that whenever people come in, they have a real experience here. Not just a shopping visit but an experience so that they can come back and see us again.” (Alyssa Wiboon)
(Above) The Florida Sunshine Collection is very popular with customers. This unique blend features citrus and rose petals, and is sold as a spice blend, a sugar, a tea, and a candle. All of the citrus fruits used are peeled and hydrated in-house. Mrs. Files stated, “We use a lot of Florida Sunshine at home.” (Alyssa Wiboon)
(Above) Drinking organic tea has many health benefits. By a cart that displays Spice and Tea’s tea blends were cards that explained which teas and spices helped promote detox, mindful energy, anti-inflammatory benefits, immune boosting, and fast metabolism. (Alyssa Wiboon)
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About the Contributor
Alyssa Wiboon
Alyssa Wiboon, Director of Media
Alyssa Wiboon, grade 11, is the Director of Media of Lake Highland Preparatory School's Upper School newspaper Twice-Told Tale, and Co-Editor of the Upper School literary magazine By Any Other Name, both nationally recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Alyssa is also the Co-President of her school’s club, Paws for a Cause, where she helps spread awareness for animals within local Orlando shelters. Outside of school, she enjoys Irish dancing, going to the beach, reading, and watching movies in her free time. With well over 100 service hours, Alyssa prioritizes helping local communities in any way she can, whether it be at her church or nearby food banks. In the future, she dreams of traveling around the world and creating her own blog, pursuing her love for writing, and being creative.

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