Family traditions are alive at Serengeti Teas in Harlem

Serengeti Teas and Spices in Harlem sources 4,000 varieties of teas from all over the world. But for the family behind this storefront, tea symbolizes much more than just hydration. It is a tradition that runs deep.

D.H. Caranda-Martin is a fifth generation tea merchant from Liberia. He has been sipping and studying the drink as long as he can remember.

He says his Grandma Lulu could cure just about anything with loose leaves and hot water. He followed her around the continent as she shared her gift of healing with politicians and heads of state. Now her legacy serves Harlem on Frederick Douglass Boulevard.

From Rwandan black tea to the Timbuktu pomegranate elixir, 90 percent of the inventory is handpicked by African farmers. Caranda works with over 3,000 of them. Caranda has about 4,000 varieties of tea that he rotates in and out of this store. Right now there are 360 on the shelf.

I'm a bit lost in this apothecary of rare herbs and spices, but don't mistake Caranda's passion for pretension.

The best seller is Grandma Lulu's secret recipe. It is a potent jolt of turmeric and ginger with a splash of lime and honey that changed my outlook on tea.