Good news, Good news! Hood River, Oregon finally has a tea lounge! I’m sure you’ve heard of a “tea parlor” – which conjures uncomfortable seating in a chilly, unused room. You’ve also, no doubt, heard the term “Tea House,” evoking a small Victorian two-story, complete with gingerbread trim. Think tea lounge: a comfortable, warm place where you can order a cup of quality whole leaf brew and rest yourself while you sip.
Rated #4 in Top Ten Small Towns, Hood River has year-round recreation on land, water, mountains, and air. Scores of restaurants, a dozen brew pubs, two ice cream parlors, world class vineyards and wineries — just about everybody thinks it is paradise.
And it is, now that Randy Goetz and Nikol Clark – business as well as life partners – have opened up Good Medicine Tea Lounge. A friend and I dropped in on the fourth day of business, where we found good tea, beautifully served in a comfortable and reflective place. Ah, a tea lounge! I ordered the “Kenyan Gray,” which was expertly brewed (pure water dispensed at the correct temperature over tea leaves and steeped for a precise time) and served in a beautiful double-walled cup, allowing me to cradle at my will. Between greetings and customers, I spoke to Randy and Nikol about the venture.
T CHING: What made you decide to start a tea lounge?
NIKOL: I am a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist. It was part of my practice to prepare herbal blends for my patients and clients, which were therapeutic as well as pleasant to drink. The herbal blends – tisanes – were so well received that I began to offer them at Saturday and Farmers’ Markets, where they were very popular. Opening a tea lounge seemed a natural progression, and a way to add quality whole leaf tea to people in the area.
RANDY: We want to offer great tea, some quality food items (provided by Leah’s Lunch), and educate people about what goes into the tea they are drinking. We hope to have a tea-of-the-month, where we provide members with everything they need to brew the tea to perfection.
T CHING: I see you have several Fair Trade and Organic Teas. Is that part of your philosophy of tea?
(Nikol jumped up to greet a friend.)
RANDY: Responsibly sourced and organic teas are important to us, but we have learned that it goes beyond the USDA label. Many small tea farmers cannot afford the organic certification, but produce organically grown teas nevertheless. In fact, in Sri Lanka, it is illegal to use pesticides on tea, but few tea growers can afford the organic certification. That is part of the education we hope to offer our patrons.
T CHING: If you were heading to a desert island for a year of meditation, and were told you could take a kilo of just one tea with you, what tea would you take?
NIKOL: Just one? I’d have to think long and hard between an earl grey – I drink earl grey every day – and jasmine pearls. I love jasmine pearls.
RANDY: Oh, that’s tough. Probably a long-leaf twisty and toasty oolong. I love the subtlety of oolong.
T CHING: Besides the remodeling and preparing the space, teaware, and tea, how did you prepare to open Hood River’s only tea lounge?
RANDY: We did lots of research and drank a lot of tea. We attended the World Tea Expo in Long Beach. Wow, what sensory overload! There we talked to many, many people in the business. We attended tea cuppings and lectures and the World Tea Awards. The world of tea is huge – but the people are friendly and helpful.
NIKOL: We want to provide a comfortable place to enjoy a cup of tea, buy whole leaf tea, and learn about tea.
This comfortable little lounge will be a regular stop!
Location: 1029 May Street, Hood River, OR 97031
HOURS: M – F 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM
LOADING IMAGE courtesy Marsha Holliston; Image 1 courtesy Sandy Bushberg; Image 2 courtesy Regena Rafelson.