Approaching the Enchanted Forrest Tea Shoppe on Big Eddy Road in Soldotna is like walking into a storybook.
The small, log cabin business has whimsical decorations, beautiful gifts and of course, lots of tea.
"There's a feel that Goldilocks could stop by at any time," said proprietor Kate Forrest.
And that's exactly the feeling she was going for when she opened the doors April 15.
"I love the whole fairy tale aspect. There's a sweetness to it - I kind of feel tea being that way, too," she said.
Against the wall a large metal pot holds freshly brewed tea for customers to sample or enjoy outside in the shop's sitting area. In a back room, big glass jars filled with loose-leaf teas line wooden shelves.
"The reason why I wanted to do this is because it's super fresh," Forrest said. "People are blending it right as I order it."
Micro-blenders, much like beer microbrewers, blend by hand in small-batches, she explains.
The tea storage room is place of optimism for Forrest.
"When I walk into the room and see all the teas I feel hopeful, 'Oh look, we'll have so much to drink!'" she said.
There are some 60 different varieties of tea on the shelves like "cream sickle," "huckleberry and "monkey picked white."
The scents are "intoxicating" she said, as she unscrews the lid and gently wafts a cacao smell to her nose.
"We've got more teas coming in all the time," Forrest said.
One of the most popular teas Forrest sells is Market Spice, a tea made in Seattle.
"Market spice is well-known in Alaska," she said. "Can't keep that on the shelf."
Forrest said she estimates some 200 to 300 people have stopped by her shop so far. Many of her customers are tea-connoisseurs and have bought the teas for medicinal purposes.
"There's a lot of people here that are really knowledgeable about teas and know what they like," she said.
Meg Zerbinos of Soldotna is one of these customers, as well as Forrest's friend.
"I just love good tea," she said, adding that she has a particular fondness for Darjeeling. Zerbinos stopped in to check out the new store, which also sells treats, tea sets, books, jewelry, and vintage hats.
"This is way too cool and different," she said.
The shop also sells its own scone mixes that Forrest designed, like "Kenai River Red Riding Hood Mix."
Her real dream, she said, is to have a tearoom where she can serve tea. She just does not have the space to do it yet in the small cabin that her family owns.
"I'd really like my business to grow," she said, adding that she wants to incorporate her 14-year-old twins Willa and Georgie as much as possible.
But for now she is selling fresh loose-leaf tea and all the things that go along with it.
If Goldilocks did stop by she would probably say the cozy shop is "just right."
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at email@example.com.
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