By Carrie Uffindell
Move over java, there’s another popular brew in the Northwest’s hot beverage scene: tea. Here you can find everything from a frothy Darjeeling-caramel latte to a traditional cup of Taiwanese oolong. Read on to steep yourself in some of our favorite purveyors in the region. All offer fresh, high-quality teas in their shop fronts, teahouses and/or mail subscriptions, so you’ll never run out of fine blends.
Steven Smith Teamaker, Portland
Named for its founder, the late tea maven who also co-founded Stash Tea Company and helped develop the Tazo Tea Company, Steven Smith crafts fragrant full-leaf, small-batch teas and herbal blends using the highest-quality ingredients. Enjoy a flight of their excellent teas, a handcrafted tea latte and more at their two tasting rooms in Portland – the first located in a former blacksmith shop on NW Thurman Street, the other in a warehouse in Portland’s bustling Central Eastside.
Plum Deluxe, Portland
Although without a permanent retail location, Northwest tea lovers will want to know about Plum Deluxe, a popular organic, fair trade tea purveyor. Mostly known for their creative blends and tea of the month club community, the company also hosts a variety of tea-themed events throughout the Northwest, such as tea + yoga or tea cocktail parties. Events are listed on their Facebook page.
Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections, Portland
This is arguably the most tranquil teahouse in the Northwest, situated downtown inside the walled Lan Su Chinese Garden and run by one of Portland’s long-time tea companies, the Tao of Tea. Here you can sip a piping hot cup of traditional Chinese tea – choose from oolong, green, black and white – while gazing out at the classical garden’s placid lake, bridges, walkways and pavilions. Note: you’ll need to pay admission to the garden to access the teahouse.
Jasmine Pearl Tea Company, Portland
Portland is rife with great tea rooms and Jasmine Pearl Tea Company is no exception. They offer over 100 imported, hand-blended and house-roasted teas in their Asian-themed tasting room and tea shop in the city’s northeast quadrant. Visitors can see, smell and sample any of their teas for free. Along with freshly brewed tea, other specialty drinks include tea lattes, including a sweet yet earthy Macha-and-rose petal infusion, and house-made sparkling sodas, like Vanilla Rooibos.
Suttle Tea, Sisters
This fun and funky western-themed town in Central Oregon is now home to its first tea café, Suttle Tea. Drink offerings include high-grade Japanese macha, hot and cold tea lattes, and Bubble Tea. All are made using Metolius Artisan Teas, a Bend-based company that specializes in creating high-quality, hand-blended teas. Once you grab your drink, settle in to enjoy the café’s rustic lakeside décor and a casual vibe. Not to miss is the chocolate chai latte. Yum!
Floating Leaves Tea, Seattle
Inspired by the tasting rooms and tea shops in her native Taiwan, owner and tea evangelist Shiuwen Tai specializes in Taiwanese, Japanese and Chinese tea, tea ware and tea culture. At her cozy shop in Seattle’s historic Ballard neighborhood, you’ll find Tai’s 40+ varieties of hand-selected, seasonal, unblended and (mostly) single-estate teas as well as classes and a tea club. Uncertain what to get? Try the $7 tea tasting.
Miro Tea, Seattle
Also located in the Ballard neighborhood, Miro has one of the largest selection of fresh loose leaf teas and herbal blends in Seattle, over 150 varieties (and counting), offering everything from black teas like Assam and Darjeeling to Rooibos and Yerba Mate. A teahouse, crepe café and tea shop all rolled into one, Miro is simply furnished with ample tables and chairs, a tea bar in the back and a welcoming atmosphere.
Queen Mary Tea Room and Restaurant, Seattle
If you enjoy your tea served in a bone china cup along with finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, then be sure to visit the Queen Mary Tea Room for an authentic British-style afternoon tea. Located in Seattle’s Ravenna neighborhood, the Queen Mary is hailed as one of CNN Travel’s five great American tea rooms. Inside and out, the ambiance is pure Victorian elegance, with plenty of flounces, frills and dessert-laden trays to delight ladies of all ages.
Joyful Tea, Boise
Tea lovers in the Boise area should visit Joyful Tea. At this tea shop and teahouse, you’ll find over 155 loose-leaf teas and tisanes selected by owner Terry Hathaway, one of only 138 Certified Tea Specialists in the US. For something really special, look for the Magnificent Collection, unique, rare (and yes, often more expensive) teas prized by Hathaway. To learn more about the world of tea, check out their classes, tastings and other events.