Once upon a time, a woman took a trip to Eastern Europe. Happily ever after, Miko Fossum opened a business inspired by the journey and lived the fairy tale of her dreams in the form of Magdalena’s Tea House.
Magdalena’s Tea House, at 2006 E. Michigan Ave. in downtown Lansing, serves as a homey hideaway for aspiring musicians and offers an accepting atmosphere for anyone seeking warmth and good chai. And it’s only a dramatic magic carpet ride away, sweeping you from the dreary streets of Michigan to the exotic medinas of the East.
[shoes] Scene 1: A Turkish marketplace. Duck out of the bustling commotion of city life into the simple urban antithesis that is Magdalena’s. Light flows seamlessly from the room’s summit to its floor through jeweled glass lamps, creating an illusion of open air. Opulent wall-to-wall carpets compliment gold- and wine-colored walls. Delicate candles cast flickering shadows through ornate stained glass vessels onto overstuffed couches. This is the very essence of relaxation.
Fossum said she chose the colors from a palette inspired by her rugs. She wanted a relaxing atmosphere reminiscent of Turkey.
As in most Turkish tea houses, guests here encouraged to remove their shoes at the door. “It comes down to the little details,” she said.
Scene 2: A celebration of music and art. The dusky façade of the tea room emits only the slightest hint of the exotic melodies within. Random jams and designated open mic nights allow guests to express their creativity in many forms. The talents of the many patrons and performers manifest in poetry recitations, drum circles and foreign film nights.
A regular performer at Magdalena’s, Dan Eakin, an LCC student by day, spends his Monday nights drumming in a nouveau folk gathering called the Eastside Musicians Jam.
“Everybody is welcome,” Eakin said. Many come in with any number of instruments; Eakin said one woman even plays the saw. “People bring different styles and different attitudes. I’ve never seen a place that sponsors all different types of music and musicians like this.”
Pickers pluck their mandolins, guitars and banjos while others follow suit on pianos, violins and harmonicas. “[Performers] just walk up and start playing. That’s how we do it here,” he said.
Fossum added that Magdalena’s is first and foremost a community space, so new acts are always welcome. “I’m happy to be an outlet for beginning bands. It is a way to promote community,” she said.
Scene 3: Steaming water and aromatherapy. Fragrant currents of spiced leaves lazily wind their way to each corner of the room, inviting guests to partake in Magdalena’s collection of teas and organic coffees. The winter outside is truly seven wonders away.
[window] Joseph Harris, a history graduate student, always begins his road trips with a serving of aroma-rich exotic tea at Magdalena’s. The tea house is the perfect place to collect your thoughts, he said over a cup of African Redbush Peach tea. Tea is affordable, there is a plethora of blends and the medicinal effects of herbal tea are immeasurable, Fossum said.
In addition to tea, Magdalena’s serves delicious fair trade brews and other organic delicacies. Fossum hopes to expand business by adding a kitchen that will serve all-natural whole foods, locally grown by area farmers.
The magic carpet has landed, but the fairy tale has just begun. Check out Magdalena’s Tea House on Michigan Avenue near Clemens Street any night starting at 6, and prepare for an experience entirely uncharted in Lansing until now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *