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Jan. 28, 2023

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IV Tea Co. moves from Vancouver Mall to downtown

Shop opening in May in the former Black Rock Coffee space near the library

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IV Tea Co. owner Michael Hearn III brews a cup of papaya blackberry fruit tea with edible glitter at IV Tea on Broadway in Vancouver.
IV Tea Co. owner Michael Hearn III brews a cup of papaya blackberry fruit tea with edible glitter at IV Tea on Broadway in Vancouver. (Photos by Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Michael Hearn III recently closed his tea shop, IV Tea Co., at Vancouver Mall to open a new space in downtown Vancouver at East Evergreen Boulevard and Broadway.

Hearn hopes to open his cafe in the former Black Rock Coffee Bar, 1001 Broadway, on Friday. He’s waiting for additional equipment and a final inspection.

Starting in May, the tea shop hours will be 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. Workshops and classes will be offered on Sundays. IV Tea Co. has also applied for a liquor license to serve tea- and coffee-based cocktails. Hours will be expanded when the liquor license is granted, but alcohol will only be served at night to create a comfortable space during the day for those who don’t imbibe.

The name IV has a double meaning. Hearn’s son is Michael Hearn IV. In addition, tea has helped Hearn combat his health problems like an IV infusion of medicine.

A heart attack at the age 19 upended Hearn’s life. His doctor prescribed various medications to treat his high blood pressure, but the side effects were unpleasant. Hearn thought of how his Choctaw ancestors would treat disease and found himself experimenting with medicinal tea recipes.

Before his heart attack, Hearn had a landscaping and construction business. After six months recuperating, he lost his clients and had to close his business. As a newlywed with a new baby at home, he felt compelled to start another business.

He sold the equipment for his landscaping and construction business to finance a new start as a seller of custom blended loose-leaf teas. In 2020, IV Tea Co. started at local farmers markets and then later moved to a space in Vancouver Mall.

“At the mall, we had over 70 teas aimed at health, but clients weren’t interested in drinking tea for their health, they wanted taste,” Hearn said. Listening to his customers, Hearn shifted to more teas with dried fruits and other popular flavors.

At the World Tea Conference and Expo in Las Vegas in March 2019, Hearn discovered a variety of high-quality products that fit his goals of sourcing organic, fair trade, and sustainably grown ingredients. These finds include a greenhouse-grown rooibos tea from Ethiopia and a Sencha tea from Japan that is lightly roasted to give an earthy flavor to the leaves.

In addition to IV Tea Co.’s special blends of loose-leaf tea, Hearn will serve Compass coffee, as well as food from local purveyors like Amilkar hummus and NW Nut. Eventually, the cafe will serve small bites, including tea sandwiches with cucumber or turkey and avocado made on-site.

An evening menu with tea and coffee cocktails like sour cherry hibiscus coconut tea with vodka, triple sec, and lemon juice will be available as soon as a liquor license is approved.

Service won’t be fast like it was at Black Rock Coffee Bar. Hearn envisions IV Tea as a place to take time out of the day to relax and enjoy quality food and drink. Tea will be freshly brewed and made to order, coffee will be poured over in Chemex or brewed in a siphon. Drip coffee will be available for those seeking a quicker drink.

“Everything is made with love,” said Hearn. “We try to make good cups of tea. It’s about the experience. It takes five minutes to brew the tea because it’s made fresh,” he said.