Surrounded by acres of gardens – herbs, berries and the first crops of Camellia sinensis that will one day be harvested and roasted into tea – the open-air Honeysuckle Tea House is about as close to a modern-day tree house as it gets. Designed by architect Giles Blunden, who also designed the first Weaver Street Market, the space is propped up on four reused shipping containers and, while completely covered, has no walls but an excellent cross-breeze that keeps it temperate even during the dog days of summer.
Behind the counter, rows of glass jars bear herbal blends meant for steeping into tea and infusing into sodas. A blender whirs property-grown produce into smoothies. A four-handled tap serves up not beer, but locally made kombucha, and organic baked treats beckon from a display case. Every herb and much of the tea is grown on-site and managed by a team of professional herbalists. If you’ve got a question – about tea, yes, or about holistic remedies in general – here you can find an expert answer. Or, out yonder behind the teahouse is a Yome, a yurt-dome (layman’s terms: teepee-tent) hybrid, where one-on-one holistic consultations take place.
“We’re a farmstand,” co-owner Megan Toben says of Honeysuckle’s roots. Opened just over a year ago, the project is a collaboration among Pickards Mountain Eco-Institute, The Abundance Foundation and EastWest Organics. Many of the herbs are infused into essential oils or blended into teas sold at the teahouse and also online. “It’s also about education and empowerment,” Megan says. To that end, the staff offers a robust schedule of classes on everything from herbal medicine and seasonal flower design to Qi Gong and mindfulness techniques.
Honeysuckle’s mission is rooted in education and a natural, holistic approach to well-being, but it’s also simply “a safe space,” Megan says. “All are welcome here.” There’s live music every Friday and Saturday, and folks often come to just hang out and enjoy a community gathering spot. And a few necessities are still available: Coffee is always brewing, and there is Wi-Fi.
It’s a place to treat as a weekend morning activity or an all-day escape, a co-working space or a living room. “People need this,” Megan says. “They tell us what a breath of fresh air it is for them.” Quite literally.