The moment you walk in to Baicha Tea Room in Edmonds, the demands of the outside world give way to the deliciously blooming aromatic heaven enveloping you. “I can say tea equals aroma,” Narumol Budharaksa, owner of Baicha says with a smile. “You can just smell it, and it starts to work like how you smell a chocolate chip cookie and know it will be good.”
The most important thing you need to know about experiencing tea according to Narumol, who also goes by Ann, is not to rush and just enjoy. You’ll want to take your time, as flavors from around the world greet every eager taste bud from Baicha’s mainly organic tea selection. The tea room receives high quality tea leaves, herbs and spices from China to Sri Lanka and beyond. Along with the black, green, and white teas, Ann specially blends her own Wellness Line dedicated to harmonize the mind, body and soul with mixes like “Cold Away,” “Strong Heart” and “Relaxing.”
When asking for a Wellness hot beverage, note that it’s not a tea made from tea leaves, but rather a unique blend of herbs and spices to achieve a desired effect. Take for example the Cold Away Blend, which mixes linden flower, chamomile and lemongrass. According to Ann, the lemongrass helps the body rid bacteria quickly while the chamomile relaxes the nerves, aiding the lemongrass in doing its job. When heated, the linden flower secretes an oil that soothes. “I have a customer that would get sick all the time,” Ann said. “He’s been drinking the Cold Away Blend everyday for almost two years and hasn’t gotten sick since. I can’t tell you that it will work for you. You have to try it for yourself.”
Other Wellness Blends include hibiscus for vitamin C, jasmine flower for circulation, and lavender for a sense of calm. Ann and her husband Joe studied tea in Chiang Mai, Thailand visiting tea farms and taking classes on how to pick, dry, shrink and cook teas properly in preparation for their tea room.
The temperature and steep time, known as “cooking tea,” play a key role in the outcome of every carefully crafted pot or cup. The white and green teas prefer a warm 180 degree bath as not to bruise their delicate leaves. The black teas and Wellness Blends like a piping hot 212 degrees to unleash their full potential of flavor, power and health benefits.
If you like your tea sweeter, you may try a blend containing sage and allowing it to steep longer. The longer your sage steeps, the sweeter the tea. You wouldn’t want to over soak every herb, however. Steeping peppermint too long will leave you with a bitter cup. Ann recommends adding more peppermint leaf not a longer steep time for a bolder flavor.
“You really only want to cook peppermint for 3 minutes before the leaves start changing.” The way Ann speaks about tea makes you think it’s a living breathing organism, and to watch
a jasmine flower bloom in a steaming pot you wouldn’t disagree.
There’s a trick to making tea. Ann says to tickle out every elegant flavor note and experience its full goodness. Every tantalizing sip reminds us that good things are worth the wait.
“We keep our environment calm and family friendly. I remember going to other tea rooms with Joe and our two kids while researching, and the kids couldn’t touch anything, which was a challenge. We didn’t want to be that way.”
In the two-story tea room, you’ll find the table tops clear of breakables so children can partake in tea time without parents stressing out watching tiny hands reach for expensive decorations. The tea cups are elegantly modern and made with a non-shattering material. Downstairs, you’ll find nooks of comfortable couches, fireplaces, tables and chairs. Perfect to study in, relax or chat with friends. There’s also outdoor seating for those sunny warm days.
Before opening Baicha on 11/11/11, just because the date was fun, Ann worked as a medical coder at the Swedish Cancer Institute. Now you’ll find her blending teas from 9-4 Monday through Saturday.
Stop in for some tea and breakfast, or lunch with homemade baked goods for dessert and be sure to take your time.