It was two years ago that Rachel Eisenfeld of Herndon made the jump from pedorthist (a professional who modifies footwear) to teahouse owner. Now the 34-year-old Atlanta native is doing everything she can to ensure The Elden Street Tea Shop in Herndon survives the pandemic.
How did you go from foot science to tea?
I didn’t like the traffic to NIH, I was a contractor there making custom foot orthotics for people for seven years, and then I just got tired of the drive. I felt like my life was being taken away from me because I was just in the car, in traffic so much. So my fiancé grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Ardmore, actually. There is a little bulk food supply shop and they have this whole wall of tea. It was just such a great experience and I really thought that Herndon needed something very similar. So that was kind of the catalyst. I wanted to be a contributor to my community by providing a cool, unique space that will drive more tourism and more interest to Herndon.
What do you like about tea?
I love everything about tea. I love the fact that there’s just so many different aspects of tea. The science behind it is amazing. The history and the stories and the fact that tea has been involved with many aspects of our societies around the world. It’s amazing how tea brings cultures together. It’s a common denominator that most countries and most societies have in their everyday lives in some way. It helps people,
literally soothes their soul, whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing that they’re going through.
What makes a good cup of tea?
It’s definitely how you steep it. If you steep it properly, you can get multiple steeps out of it. And the other thing is tea is very personal. So whatever makes you feel good is what you should be drinking.
So what’s your go-to tea at the moment?
I have been drinking this chocolate mint tea. And it really hits the spot when it’s late at night and you want a dessert. So it’s really good if you’re trying not to gain weight.
How has the pandemic affected business?
With COVID, [running the teashop] is one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever experienced in my entire life, especially since we were doing so well. For our second year of business, we were really looking very positively trending, which was really great and kind of unheard of for a second year business. Very rare. And so we’re just trying to hold strong and trying to get back to that space as soon as possible.
How did you adapt to COVID?
Basically, I was forced, literally forced, to change my business so that we can survive this pandemic. And one of the ways that we adapted was rebuild the online store and made it so that we could do delivery and shipping, which was something that I wasn’t going to be implementing until fall of 2020. I literally had to get my online business up and running in two weeks, as opposed to six months. And I’m sure any other business owner will tell you the same thing.
How do you see yourself as a Jewish person and how do you express that part of your identity?
So an interesting thing is I grew up in an interfaith family. My mom is Catholic and my dad is Jewish. And my parents taught me both sides of the coin. I would go to church with my mom and I would go to synagogue with my dad. Same thing with my sister. My sister has chosen to be Catholic and I have chosen to be Jewish, just based on how we feel. And so it’s really interesting because I don’t think many families get a chance to look at it like that, but it was definitely something that I appreciate that my parents gave me the opportunity to learn and make a decision on my own. And my house now with my fiancé, we practice Judaism. He is Jewish and we follow traditions. And we hope to go raise our family to be Jewish as well.