EVERETT — No, you don’t have to take the ferry to Victoria to get high tea. Would you believe there’s an option available as close as Colby Avenue?
A new tea shop and cafe that opened five weeks ago with the unlikely name of Rabbits Pantry offers nearly 40 tea options. They rotate by season from an overall shelf stock of 70 loose leaf tea blends, all available for purchase on shelves in the entryway.
On a recent visit, the meal started, of course, with pots of tea. Chai for me. “Boss Lady Tea,” a tea pressed from blackberries, recommended by shop owner Jessica Martin, for Herald business writer Janice Podsada, who called it “a black tea that tastes of summer’s blackberries.”
“It poured into my cup sweet, clear and amber-colored,” Janice said. Add cream and sugar if you’re so inclined, she advised, “but in my book Boss Lady tea is meant to be drunk naked. It’s sweet enough to stand alone.” Our teas ($5 each) arrived in lovely ceramic teapots.
There’s more here than just the generous selection of teas. The brunch selections include crepes with a variety of toppings — from sweet to savory — $1.50 each with two toppings. I opted for the crepes with cheddar and smoked salmon. It was gone in about as long as it takes you to read this sentence. For an additional $1.50, add a side of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, ham or Cajun sausage.
Other brunch offerings include quiche ($4), waffles ($5), and eggs and toast ($4.50).
The lunch menu has things you might expect on an English tea house menu, like the “Tidy Bit,” a cucumber, cream cheese and mint sandwich ($8) that came with carrot sticks and pesto basil hummus. Janice described the hummus as fluffy and piquant.
For those who have never had a cucumber sandwich, Janice had this recommendation — put aside your preconceptions. “They’re delicious,” she said. Rabbits Pantry’s version is made with sliced cucumber, cream cheese and fresh mint leaves. “Like the blackberry tea, the flavors were subtle,” she said.
What’s proved to be one of the most popular items on the menu is the “Pacific Northwest,” a sandwich with smoked salmon, capers, dill and cream cheese ($12).
There also are some unexpected additions, such as the mac and cheese or chicken pot pie ($6 each).
Rabbits Pantry is a place that its owner designed to be a place to hang out. There’s free Wi-Fi. More than a few customers brought a laptop and ordered tea during our visit. The house where the business is based has multiple dining rooms.
“In the front room there’s a couch. It’s designed so people can come open their laptops and shut the door,” Martin said. Earlier this week, one customer was having a virtual meeting. “With the free Wi-Fi, you can plug in or sit and knit and read,” Martin said. Another room had pink tables and pink walls decorated with oversized playing cards.
So how did a tea house end up opening on Colby across the street from The Everett Clinic? Martin, 40, has several answers. They include a major career switch — jumping from her previous profession as a financial planner — as well as a bout with an autoimmune disease that left her, for a time, bedridden with time to think.
She reflected on what her rheumatologist told her: “You have to slow down. Take your time.” She had an interest in Eastern medicine and, with naturopaths in her family, she started blending teas just for herself.
Three years ago, acquaintances started asking her to blend teas for them, too. Last year she decided to make it her full-time business.
“I thought it was a great hobby, then it kept growing,” she said. When she needed to find a way to expand her warehouse space, she decided to open a cafe.
Rabbits Pantry is a place for snacking and light meals. And it continues to evolve. “I change my menu all the time,” Martin said. “It truly is what I want.” Mac and cheese was added after her daughter came home from school one day saying it was the kind of soul-satisfying food she needed. Martin said, “Let’s just make it.”
The selections are largely based on menus she previously made for tea parties she organized for friends or for charities. Her decision to open the cafe is based on its slogan of “Indulge in the moment,” she said.
“We live in a world that’s crazy,” she said. “You step in here, and there’s a little calm. You have some peace and quiet, a comforting atmosphere.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
Rabbits Pantry, 3927 Colby Ave., Everett, is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 425-583-4406 or go to www.rabbitspantry.com for more information.