One Root: not your average tea and herb shop

By Libby Sherwood
Staff Writer

The scent of sweet tea, herbs, citrus and even a hint of chocolate tickle the nose when you step into One Root Tea and Herbothecary.

Owner and founder Margaret Mendoza coined the term “Herbothecary” to describe her union of Herbology and an Apothecary, into a small store with big ideas about promoting health in daily life. “Every time I walk in this place I feel good,” said frequent customer Iona Singleton.

One Root is not just a store, however. It also incorporates a buy-in club, an online Chinese herbal medicine shop, a seminar location, an artisan vendor, a high-end tea shop and a pharmacy.

“I zoom in on what I do best,” said Mendoza. “I bend with the times, and learn a lot by listening to my customers.”
Since 1992, Mendoza has been working hard to provide local goods and quality products. It started as a buy-in club where people could purchase all-natural farm fresh foods straight from the source. Still flourishing, the club currently services about 75 families and individuals. The club costs $25 to join and $15 to renew annually.

“[Modern] allopathic medicine should be the last choice when you’re looking at your health,” said Mendoza, pulling out a small book whose pages have been taped and stacked carefully into its deteriorating spine. “I think that when you understand an herb or medicine and why you’re taking it, it’s so much wiser and your body responds better.” If a customer comes in with an ailment, Mendoza will usually direct them to Chinese Medicine first.

Mendoza also carries more potent treatments that require prescriptions, like cancer remedies. She hand-picks a selection of supplements that she describes as “amazing performers,” including those that help with clarity and mental focus, as well as stress. “The herbal world really has its specifics,” she explained. However, Mendoza appreciates the healing power of all herbs, no matter the need. “But you know what? There’s something that a European herbalist said that really sticks with me. She said, ‘If you don’t know what to do and you only have one herb available, it will help you.’ I just love that.”

Mendoza pointed out that the products in her store are mainly specialty items that cannot be found in a catalogue. That is part of the reason that Mendoza’s most expensive tea runs a mere $119 a pound. Thankfully, she will sell it to you by the ounce.
“I’ve learned not to be afraid of the higher-end teas,” she said. “And a little goes a long way because you can get several steeps out of one tablespoon.”

Mendoza personally knows her customers, as well as the providers of her products. In order to support local agriculture, Mendoza gets many of her products locally and encourages others to do the same.

“You’re not just supporting local business but you’re also getting a better product,” she said. She uses her farm-fresh eggs, running $4.75 per dozen, as an example. “You may be able to find $2 eggs at a grocery store on sale, but if you compared them to these you would see such a difference in freshness, vibrancy, color and taste.”

“Where you buy is political,” she continued. “What are you saying when you buy your eggs from Walmart? People aren’t willing to spend $5 on a dozen eggs, yet they’ll spend $5 on a latte from Starbucks without blinking an eye.”

Mendoza admitted that her steady learning process about foods, herbs and remedies keeps her “constantly interested,” even though she has been in the business for nearly two decades.

Mendoza welcomes new and curious customers. “Come in and ask a question. Take responsibility for your health.”

This article appeared in the March 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.
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