People know they’ve found something special the minute they see Koko Tea Salon and Bakery in downtown Gahanna. The outside resembles a gingerbread house, and inside, the Marie Antoniette-style decor sets a perfectly elegant stage for gorgeous baked goods and shiny tins of tea labeled with the silhouette of a lady with hair piled high. Koko’s artistic owner, expert baker and tea maven is Ava Misseldine. Her family owns a tea company in her native Hawaii, and she named her stylish shop Koko because it’s Hawaiian for “sweet.”
Known for her beautifully decorated desserts, Misseldine makes cupcakes (mini $1.50, regular $3) with frostings that look like rose petals, ladybugs and frog faces. She also does push-up cake pops ($3.50) and cookies “painted” with butterflies and birds. Koko’s organic sweets have locally sourced ingredients, and their colors and flavorings come from natural fruit and veggie juices. By adding dried fruits and herbs to her international array of quality teas, Misseldine also creates original tea blends like French Lemon Cream, which smells and tastes like lemon pound cake. Customers can buy teas to brew at home ($6-$7 per ounce), or chill out at Koko over a pot of tea ($3.95) and pastries. Either way, the unique salon is such a satisfying experience that even coffee lovers think they’ve died and gone to tea heaven.