Imagine the scent of fresh herbs and aged pine, paired with the taste of ambrosial hibiscus tea. Then add the hum of scores of pollinating bees. Feast for body, soul and mind. "The standard reaction is awe of the natural landscape, the beauty, the feeling one gets from being here," says Dana, a community herbalist.
The Honeysuckle Tea House is an open air structure evocative of Indonesia, located in the Chapel Hill countryside on a 16-acre farm about 20 minutes from downtown. Built to be a community gathering place, the tea house grows its own culinary and medicinal herbs, berries and mushrooms that are used in its teas, smoothies and kombuchas -- a drink with anecdotal health benefits made from fermenting sweetened black or green tea with bacteria and yeast.
"This country had been rich in herbal medicine," he says. "It's just been lost. It's more popular in other parts of the world."
The tea house is built on repurposed shipping containers not only to bolster the structure, but to cultivate edible mushrooms used for medicinal purposes. Designed with a sylvan charm, it features timber shelving and tables made from 100-year-old pine, woody scent still clings. The hut-like house is surrounded by vistas of the farm: garden beds spilling over with herbs, a wooden outdoor stage, clusters of picnic tables, a bridge traversing a pond, and a natural playground for children.
Besides selling beverages and local bites, the tea house offers live music, tea-making workshops and herbal consultations. It too accepts the Plenty, the piedmont local economy tender.
"Last September this was flat," Dana says, looking out at farm as if in wonder. "It was just a field."
In a world that can be filled with chaos and routine, the Honeysuckle Tea House is a welcomed escape. Best part, no passport necessary.
(photographs taken at 8871 Pickards Meadow Rd in Chapel Hill)