So I recently took a journey up to Seattle, home of all things non-tea, and was pleasantly surprised by what has been happening in the tea world up there. Many of the shops were making a great effort to bring tea into the land of coffee that it could be safe to assume that Seattle is now the land of the hot beverage.
Here are my findings:
Remedy Tea - Having previously visited this establishment years ago, I always was impressed with there modern, scientific approach to their teas. It is also great that they create the recipes for ALL of their blends and carry an impressive tea and separate food menu. I tried the Apple Pie Sandwich, which I can say HOLY CRAP, I am a changed man! Melted cheese and apple butter in a grilled sandwich with the crusts dusted with cinnamon sugar. Comparable to that moment you get the tingle in your spine at the peak of a ferris wheel. Righto Remedy Tea!
Tea Cup - Cute location. Amazing light. A student’s delight! The Tea Cup was cute, and the staff humored me as I ordered a self made blend out of their yerba mate and jasmine pearls green tea. In retrospect, the blend wasn’t the best idea seeing that the caffeine combined kept me up into the weee hours watching Mean Girls and the Wedding Crashers (or was it the pure entertainment provided by Gretchen Wieners?).
Yummy crumpets and tea!
The Crumpet Shop - The Crumpet Shop had the vibe only discovered within the Pike’s Place Market that gives it the old world charm and bohemian vibe. In my experience those devoted to the crumpet have a unique and enchanting view of the world, and this place held true to form. The biggest seller for this space were not the crumpets, but the staff. You know those moments when you get the warm fuzzies when a stranger is being genuinely kind to you? The staff members here make the most welcoming impression, and it makes perfect sense since they probably are drinking TEA all day. I am only kidding, but kudos to the owner for hiring genuine, young bohemians. One oddity I spotted was that one of the highly recommended teas was a ’2008 Silver Needle’ tea from China. Seeing that we are approaching the 2010 tea season, this made me think the tea may be going a bit stale but I guess that depends really on how well they have been storing it. I won’t be a snob about it given they managed to induce warm fuzzies.
Market Spice Tea and Coffee Company – This place gets alot of press around the country and I seem to see their product line everywhere. It was a treat to see where all the magic happens. I more so was impressed by the spices in the store than tea, and both were being stored in the glass jars. Big no no, but makes for a good display.
Seattle’s Best Tea Corporation - Ok now for a moment of candid frankness for the sake of industry quality… Great location in the heart of China town and it looked like the owners had some amazing connections for importing tea. They also have a friendly staff (owners plus one) who were very good at engaging me to try to do a tea tasting (many many invitations to do so). My qualm was, and will always stay in my mind, was the very cute little pomeranian puppy hanging out in the shop, ON THE TEA COUNTER. I saw tea being measured and packaged on this counter with the staff frequently petting the cute, furry creature. An easily correctable error (which I hope this message may find its way to the owners), but I will not be doing a tea tasting there anytime soon.
Tea infused coffee drink
Fonte – So this Coffee/Wine Cafe has won the award of Seattle’s Best Coffee Shop. Not to sure what random tags are in the fine print (like Seattle’s Best Coffee, this side of Pike’s, below the street elevation…), but I was thoroughly impressed with the decor and the food/bev list. Some highlights: The Sage Infused Latte and the Keemun Tea-Infused Latte. I was impressed that a fabulous coffee shop knew about the fabulously flavorful wonders of Keemun Tea, when some famous tea institutions have never heard of the Chinese Black Tea treat. If you drink GOOD coffee, try it for yourself.
My overall experience with tea in Seattle was impressed with the number of places to visit. These people love hot beverages and it was only natural for the tea industry to flourish up here. Overall, the tea shops were carrying a lot of the same goods that I have seen in tea shops across the US, but there was room for creativity which is only natural in the Pacific Northwest.