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Tea-vendor Gryphon Saldin sets up shop along Butler Street in Lawrenceville 

"We have a little more flexibility than a chain."

Tea wasn't Gryphon Saldin's first passion — after high school, he wanted to go into video-game design. But little by little, the Ingram resident began to realize that perhaps his interest in tea was a more feasible way to make a living.

"I was watching the game industry change," he explains. "It got to where it chews people up and spits them out. Between the prospects not being great, and the debt I'd rack up going to one of the schools I'd want to go to, it didn't seem worth it." 

What did seem worth it was taking the helm of the herbs-and-teas company his mother, Zoe, had been running in the West End. What was Zoe's Herbs and Teas morphed into Gryphon's Tea. After being a vendor at Pittsburgh Public Market for about a year, Gryphon's moved into Lawrenceville full time this month.

Gryphon's storefront on Butler Street is furnished with rustic wood furniture, nearly all reclaimed, and offers teas hot or iced. Behind the counter is a wall of teapots, culinary herbs and loose teas. Many of the teas are blended by Saldin, who's been traveling and taking correspondence classes to become certified by the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Soon he hopes to offer tasting sessions.

The real value of Gryphon's lies in the personal touch, given that Saldin himself orders or blends all of the teas. "We have a little more flexibility than a chain," he says.

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