A new organic bakery and tea salon is like icing on the (cup)cake as Gahanna celebrates its 40th anniversary as the Herb Capital of Ohio.

A new organic bakery and tea salon is like icing on the (cup)cake as Gahanna celebrates its 40th anniversary as the Herb Capital of Ohio.

Business owner Ava Misseldine plans to open the new Koko Tea Salon and Bakery at 116 Mill St. on Saturday, June 2, beside the Ohio Herb Education Center.

A grand opening was set from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 26, with cupcake and tea give-aways, but Misseldine had to postpone the opening to June 2.

Misseldine said her three-year-old business with four employees is moving to Gahanna from Dublin, where it was known as Sugar Inc. Cupcakes and Tea Salon.

"The tea company has been in my family for generations," said Misseldine, a native of Hawaii. "We only buy (ingredients) from small family-owned farmers."

The business will feature 70 varieties of teas and 100 different kinds of cupcakes with both including some herbs.

"Our most popular are Red Velvet cupcakes," Misseldine said. "We were on the Food Network for that. We use all organic. We use beet juice for those. For all the colorings, we use fruit and vegetable juices."

She has already chosen triple berry lavender cupcakes to be Koko's signature item for the Gahanna Convention & Visitors Bureau (GCVB) recently launched Herbal Trail.

"It's a perfect fit," said Karen Eylon, director of the GCVB. "She really gets it on many different levels. She understands the Herbal Trail. She gives us one more thing to talk about."

Gahanna's Herbal Trail links points of interest that showcases the city as the Herb Capital of Ohio.

Aside from the cupcakes and teas, Eylon said the decor of the new bakery is going to be amazing.

"Ava is brilliant and charming and at the same time down-to-earth," she said. "It couldn't be a more apropos business, given we're the Herb Capital of Ohio and the anniversary. We're very excited."

Misseldine is currently deciding what she will designate as the signature cupcake for the upcoming Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival.

"I haven't decided yet but maybe a salty caramel chocolate," she said.

The former chemical engineer was doing research in a lab, when she got tired of being a lab rat and decided to open a tea salon for fun.

"The tea salon is what I know, then I started making tea-infused cupcakes and cookies," Misseldine said. "Friends and tasters said they were amazing, so I started the tea salon and bakery. It was a hobby and it became a business and took off.

"We were open six months and the Food Network called. I thought it was a prank and hung up. They had to convince me it was real."

She was featured on the network's Cupcake Wars show.

When her lease was to set to expire recently in Dublin, Misseldine found a new location in Westerville where she resides, but a friend in real estate had a listing for the former location of Honey Grove Botanicals in Gahanna.

"I fell in love with this gingerbread house," she said. "It's adorable. I also talked to planning and development, and I've never met such happy and exciting people. It was a totally different experience than working with any other city government. They were so excited. I didn't have hoops to jump through. They seem very business friendly.

"I fell in love with the people of Gahanna."

Koko's business hours are tentatively set from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.