Tea time for Tamika: Catchings brings passion to tea business


Former WNBA star Tamika Catchings has been quite busy since her retirement from the Indiana Fever.

“Life doesn’t stop when the ball stops bouncing,” she said.

After retiring in 2016, she was named director of player development and franchise development for Pacers Sports & Entertainment. The 2021 Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer was later promoted to vice president of basketball operations and general manager for the Fever. She left that post in 2022.

Catchings, a former University of Tennessee standout and four-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist, has been a television analyst for women’s college basketball for ESPN and the SEC Network since 2017.

She became the owner of Tea’s Me Cafe in early 2017 and has added two locations in Indianapolis. She has now launched bottled teas to retailers.

Catchings said she has been a tea drinker since childhood, when her mother would make sun tea. As an adult, she drinks more hot tea.

“Tea has been a vital part of calming me down and keeping me centered around the family values we had,” said Catchings, who lives on the west side of Indianapolis. “It played such an important role in my life.”

Catchings heard about Tea’s Me Cafe, 140 E. 22nd St., from a fan in 2005.

“I went in there and met the owners and it became my space I would go to,” Catchings said. “I was having a meeting when I heard the owners were moving and shutting it down.”

Catchings decided to purchase it and then opened a location at 3967 N. Illinois St. in the Butler Tarkington Park in 2021, followed by a third one at Ivy Tech, 2535 N. Capitol Ave., in 2023. The cafe serves breakfast, lunch and desserts.

In 2023, Catchings took Tea’s Me Cafe into the retail market. The bottled teas include Pomegranate Blueberry and Keywine (herbal teas), Summer Blush and Tropical Cyclone (green teas) and Kenya (black tea).

The teas are sold at Meijer stores in Zionsville, Westfield, Noblesville, Carmel and Indianapolis (96th Street). Catchings said Kroger, Market District and Fresh Thyme sell the teas.

A percentage of the sales from the bottled teas are donated to the Catch the Stars Foundation, which Catchings founded with her sister, Tauja Catchings, 20 years ago. Tauja played at the University of Illinois. Their father, Harvey Catchings, played 11 seasons in the NBA.

Catch the Stars provides underprivileged youth with fitness, literacy and mentoring programs.

 “We’ve given $950,000 in scholarship money in the combined 20 years of the foundation,” Catchings said.

Catchings played 15 seasons with the Fever, leading the team to the 2012 WNBA title.

“It’s just been a journey and a transition like it has for a lot of us,” Catchings said of former players. “The benefit and blessing have been the foundation. My life even growing up has been about basketball and service and impact. One of my dreams was to have my own basketball camp.”

After tearing her ACL her senior year at Tennessee, she sat out her 2001 rookie year with the Fever while rehabbing and got to know Indianapolis.

“We did our first basketball camp in 2001 and this will be our 23rd year,” she said. “The tea shop has given us the opportunity to hire high school students and for a lot of them it’s their first job. We can help them grow and learn. Our three pillars of foundation are fitness, literacy and youth empowerment.”

Catchings is delighted to see WNBA attendance grow with the arrival of Fever rookie star Caitlin Clark, along with rookies such as the Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardosa.

“I love watching the WNBA continue to grow,” she said. “There are so many great young players who have been able to come out of this class at an unprecedented time.”

Catchings said it’s great to see Fever fans rejuvenated with the attention Clark receives. The Fever have not made the playoffs since Catchings retired.

“(The fans are) coming alive. During our runs there were a lot of people there with us when we won the championship in 2012 and when we went back in 2015,” Catchings said. “It’s been a couple of rocky years (since), but I’m really excited about the future of the Fever. They still need some time to figure out how to play together. I hope the city gives our team grace.”