Bliss Tea & Treats
Updated: Oct 6, 2020
Bliss Tea & Treats owner Rushell Gordon stands with her brother, Alfonso Gordon, the chef who created the menu for the tearoom.
Downtown Oceanside tearoom owner Rushell Gordon rises to the challenges of opening a business and creating community in the midst of COVID-19.
Photos by Devina Lopez
Some of Rushell Gordon’s happiest memories were made over a cup of tea. As a child in Panama, she remembers sipping bush tea, which grew in most backyards. As an adult, her career took her across Europe, where she was dazzled by pristine tearooms and captivated by the pageantry of high tea.
“Americans are missing out on a cultural delight others have enjoyed for centuries,” she said.
But Gordon is working to change that. In May she opened Bliss Tea & Treats in Oceanside, her hometown for the last decade.
“I wanted to create a space where locals could linger over tea and make their own happy memories,” she said. “I wanted to give the community a new way to connect.”
Of course, she couldn’t have guessed she’d be opening her doors during a global pandemic — a time when gathering is frowned upon. But Gordon has rolled with the punches, and found creative ways to still build community through tea.
She’s leaned heavily on social media, hosting daily live Facebook events where she educates viewers about tea — which she’s sourced from around the world, sustainably and under fair trade. On the shop’s patio, there are monthly tea education events at a socially safe distance, along with daily tastings.
She’s also put her years of formal tea education to work and hired an herbalist to offer tea blends to help people face the pandemic.
For example, there’s an anxiety blend that she says “will calm you if you are feeling anxious about life.” There’s also Breathe Tea, which is “excellent for your lung health.”
As a mother, Gordon believes kids can also benefit from tea during the pandemic. Popular blends for children include Chunky Monkey, Snickerdoodle and Sleep Tea, which her daughter uses nightly.
To help folks fight loneliness, she’s launched community events, which are hosted out on the patio, per public health guidelines. These include a monthly book club discussion on first Fridays and a poetry night on third Fridays.
“I’ve always believed that tea brings people together,” Gordon said. “And that connection brings happiness, which I think we could all use more of these days.”
She said she sees that happiness most when people come to the tearoom, which is still open for retail and offering tea service on the patio and indoors. Many are having their first experience with a proper high tea.
“We bring out the tea cart, with all of the tea accoutrements, and people just go bananas,” she said. “Their faces light up and it’s the best feeling.”
Bliss Tea and Treats is open Thursday and Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. View the menu and monthly event calendar at blissteatreats.com.