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It was a cold and stormy day. What a great morning for tea in a warm space with entertaining and lively pals. I found this at the Burien Tea Tasting Club at Phoenix Tea, in Burien, on Saturday from 10-12 noon.  It was two hours of conversation and tea tastings. Time slips away, one elegant sip at a time.   

We sampled eight teas from the Darjeeling area of India and one from the Assam area. We smelled the tea, tasted the tea, discussed the tea, contrasted the second and third infusion with the first. I learned a lot about tea, and infusions. The owners, Brett and Cinabar (great name), know tea, and are not pretentious about sharing their knowledge. 

Each tea from Darjeeling was different one from another. Who thinks up these names? Moonshine Darjeeling, for instance. No, it’s not alcohol, it’s a white tea. The first infusion was subtle, with little color, smell, or taste, but the second infusion was darker and smelled like sage with a little more taste. The third infusion was also dark, and it had a sweet smell. I liked the tea, all three variations. At home, I don’t tend to do multiple infusions, but it’s nice to know that I can, and the flavor and smell may change each time. Ok, I am frivolous with tea infusions, using them for one infusion, then discarding that tea in favor of another. I don’t want to drink the same tea all day. Next year I am going to be in the second grade! 

The other Darjeeling that I liked was Glenburn Darjeeling Autumn Oolong. It kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It could be the name of a favorite aunt: Glenburn Darjeeling Autumn Oolong. Regardless, it had a little licorice taste that was pleasant and sweet. I like dry wines, but I like sweet teas. 

You can buy both teas, and many others, at Phoenix Tea, 902 Southwest 152nd Street, Burien, WA 98166, (206) 495-7330


Six miles up the road from Scottsdale, Arizona sits Cave Creek, population roughly 5,000. Mainly, it’s cowboy country, with horses, some livestock, hippies from the ‘60‘s, and golf courses. The land may be country, but the people are eclectic, with varying incomes and interests.  

In the midst of this non-McDonalds or big-box-stores town resides Aunt Jenny’s Remedies, a locally owned tea shop that beckons you in for a cup of tea, wares, incense, meditation, and/or chat. It’s a comfortable place for locals as well as strangers passing through. Jennifer Rassmussen, the owner, opened shop in October of this year, and seems to be making a place for herself in the central part of town near candle and soap makers. 

All of the teas are organic, and several are medicinal. I tried the White Peony, a white tea, which was light and mild with a sweet smell. I can drink it all day, and I don’t think the caffeine hit is too bad. If it is, I don’t want to know.

Next, I smelled the Lapsang Souchong, a black tea and the other end of the spectrum. It was strong, and reminded me of campfires and Scouting in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Yes, in fact I was a Girl Scout who camped out and sang Kumbaya. Lapsang Souchong tea smells enticing and though I am not fond of Lapsangs in general, I decided to see if the smell matched the taste without overwhelming it. Much to my surprise, it didn’t taste like I had just come off a forest fire line in mid-July, which is fine for atmosphere but not so much for tea. The semi-fermented mature tea leaves are laid over bamboo and smoked over Spruce wood. Whatever it is, the taste is pleasant and smokey but not heavy.

No more Kumbaya’s for me. Some things should remain a memory.

Should you be traveling through Cave Creek, Arizona, stop by for a chat and a cup of tea. 

Aunt Jenny’s Remedies, 6245 E. Cave Creek Rd, Cave Creek, AZ, 480-241-9255


I am not sure what they drank before, but when King Charles II of England married his Portuguese bride, Princess Catherine of Braganza in 1662, tea was introduced into English society. In her dowry (a gift of money or property paid from the bride to the groom at her marriage), she brought a small supply. Really? A dowry??

It wasn’t long afterward that the British East India Company began importing tea from China, along with silk and porcelain. It became part of the Indian opium to China, China tea to England trade. As tea was expensive, at first only the upper classes could afford it. By the turn of the century, tea was as much in demand as chocolate and coffee, two other luxuries available in coffeehouses dominated by men. These were gathering spots around which politics and business conversations flourished. The water cooler hadn’t yet been invented. 

 When physicians began recommending tea to ensure a healthy and vigorous constitution, it became more popular, and moved into “Tea Gardens”, public teahouses where both sexes could mingle. The first teahouse in London was Thomas Twining’s “Golden Lyon”. That would be Thomas Twining, whose teas are still popular, 350 years later. Tea clamped onto the English, and hasn’t yet let go. 

The original imports of tea weighed hundreds of pounds. However, by 1770, the imports totaled 9 million pounds of tea. As more was imported to send to the American Colonies, it became cheaper and more popular. Add to that, the millions of pounds of smuggled tea, and well… you can see how England and America became such a tea drinking society in the 1700’s. As to the smuggling, mainly by the Dutch, it was the answer to the onerous tea tax that the government levied upon the British East India Company. 

And of course, it was ‘round about 1773  that America got really sick of the exorbitant tea tax, and did something about it. We know it as the Boston Tea Party, or America’s answer to taxation without representation.  

Which may explain why America went the direction of coffee, and not so much tea. 


Given the size of the NW Tea Festival, the Fischer Pavilion at Seattle Center was a perfect choice. I would rather attend a festival that feels a little crowded than attend a festival with a few booths and way too much physical space. It’s like having 6 chairs in an auditorium. And the Festival is growing every year.  

The Fischer Pavilion was just the right size;  a cozy and comfortable size. There were people galore. For a donation of $10, you received a small tea cup, with which to sample various teas from the vendors. Almost everyone had samples, and I sampled almost everything. Jazzed, but not over-caffeinated. Booths were well represented: An Afternoon to Remember, with Pumpkin flavored teas that were like dessert, Tea Master, the Chado Tea Room. I remember visiting Los Angeles several years ago, and my pal took me to a well known tea room in the LA area, and it turned out to be Chado. Small world.

In addition, there was Choice Organic Teas, with some fabulous samplings; Eco Teas, and Kombucha Wonder Drink. I tried Kombucha again, as I have over the last couple of years. I think that it may be an acquired taste that I haven’t yet developed. Still, I sampled it, and was glad for the opportunity. Only by going to the NW Tea Festival can you do that. No one has to like everything, but you defeat the purpose of the Festival if you don’t at least try new things. Taste buds change over the years. What you don’t like today, you might like tomorrow. Maybe there’s hope for me next year. 

Market Spice Tea was represented, along with the Perennial Tea Room, Phoenix Tea, SA Japanese Green Tea, Teahouse Kuan Yin, Tea Lady, and a new addition, Snow Lotus fine Teas, from Edmonds. This was their first year, and their booth was packed with tea samplers, wanting to try the “new kid in town.” The response was positive for the simple, organic teas, and the clean, minimalist decor. I understand clutter, but I personally love sparse. But that’s just me. 

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants, from Portland, Oregon, were just around the corner, near the stage for lectures and demonstrations. There was a tea tasting by Silk Road Teas, as well as food vendors including 3.14 Bakery, Anita’s Crepes, and Hallava Falafel. Wendy Ann Creations had  a booth chock full of tea cozies, pot holders, and other such whimseys. 

It was a fun weekend of tea, with absolutely gorgeous, warm weather for this time of year. 

If you missed it this year, plan on attending next year. 

 


Given the size of the NW Tea Festival, the Fischer Pavilion at Seattle Center was a perfect choice. I would rather attend a festival that feels a little crowded than attend a festival with a few booths and way too much physical space. It’s like having 6 chairs in an auditorium. And the Festival is growing every year.  

The Fischer Pavilion was just the right size;  a cozy and comfortable size. There were people galore. For a donation of $10, you received a small tea cup, with which to sample various teas from the vendors. Almost everyone had samples, and I sampled almost everything. Jazzed, but not over-caffeinated. Booths were well represented: An Afternoon to Remember, with Pumpkin flavored teas that were like dessert, Tea Master, the Chado Tea Room. I remember visiting Los Angeles several years ago, and my pal took me to a well known tea room in the LA area, and it turned out to be Chado. Small world.

In addition, there was Choice Organic Teas, with some fabulous samplings; Eco Teas, and Kombucha Wonder Drink. I tried Kombucha again, as I have over the last couple of years. I think that it may be an acquired taste that I haven’t yet developed. Still, I sampled it, and was glad for the opportunity. Only by going to the NW Tea Festival can you do that. No one has to like everything, but you defeat the purpose of the Festival if you don’t at least try new things. Taste buds change over the years. What you don’t like today, you might like tomorrow. Maybe there’s hope for me next year. 

Market Spice Tea was represented, along with the Perennial Tea Room, Phoenix Tea, SA Japanese Green Tea, Teahouse Kuan Yin, Tea Lady, and a new addition, Snow Lotus fine Teas, from Edmonds. This was their first year, and their booth was packed with tea samplers, wanting to try the “new kid in town.” The response was positive for the simple, organic teas, and the clean, minimalist decor. I understand clutter, but I personally love sparse. But that’s just me. 

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants, from Portland, Oregon, were just around the corner, near the stage for lectures and demonstrations. There was a tea tasting by Silk Road Teas, as well as food vendors including 3.14 Bakery, Anita’s Crepes, and Hallava Falafel. Wendy Ann Creations had  a booth chock full of tea cozies, pot holders, and other such whimseys. 

It was a fun weekend of tea, with absolutely gorgeous, warm weather for this time of year. 

If you missed it this year, plan on attending next year. 

Dempsey


I love festivals. They are busy, noisy, crowded, overstimulating, and fun. You have to know that before arriving, or you will have an experience that you won’t fondly remember. They pump us up, show us things, invite us to try new things without committing ourselves to big purchases which we hate when we get home. They are a way to have many experiences in a short amount of time.

I just went to the Chocolate Festival, here in Seattle. Sure enough, herds of people wanting to sample everything. Me too. Waiting my impatient turn, I met several fellow chocolate enthusiasts, all of us gushing over the choices. I sampled everything I could get my hands on, chatting up vendors and attendees alike. Me, talking to total strangers, and finding them interesting. Amazing!

As a bonus, I attended a seminar and learned how to temper chocolate. I was wowed! Now I have a soon-to-be new hobby. 

Festivals are about experiencing new ideas, new tastes, like-minded people, and learning a few things. They open the world to us, forcing us out of our comfort zones to embrace the unknown. And find that new flavors are not so awful, and festival people not so different than ourselves.

Now the NW Tea Festival arrives here in Seattle on Sat, Oct 6, and continues Oct 7. I am going to try every new tea I can, and go to as many seminars as I have time. This is a fun opportunity to get out and try new teas, meet tea vendors and owners of tea establishments, and engage with other tea lovers. It’s a small but engaging group. 

There will be lots of teas to taste. For a $10 donation, you receive a tea cup with which you can travel from vendor to vendor, tasting their wares. There will be local tea people, and out of town tea vendors as well. If you find a tea you like, the vendors are there to talk about all their offerings, from where their tea comes, how best to steep it, how you can branch out to different teas based on what you already like, and how to order more. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, down the rabbit hole. Nothing but wonder. 

Why anyone would miss this is beyond me. Get up, get going, get out, try new teas. Or revisit old teas, and make new acquaintances.  It’s all happening next weekend. 

The NW Tea Festival, Oct 6 & 7, Fischer Pavilion, Seattle Center. 


If you are looking for an excuse to take the train to Portland (4 hours through beautiful back roads country not seen from your car), The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants is just such an excuse. And they are not far from the train station in Portland.  

They have a huge collection of teas, tea ware and herbs, all organic. In addition, they offer a “Tea Education Series” in tea basics, focused cupping, blending, and finding possibilities in what you like in tea. And what you don’t like. You could spend a nice afternoon in their tea shop.

OR…come to the NW Tea Festival, Oct 6 & 7, in Seattle. The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants will host a booth, and in addition to their own teas, will be hosting Richard Sakuma, from Sakuma Teas, a tea grower in the Skagit Valley. Who knew Washington grew tea? If you are interested in sampling tea from Washington State, and why wouldn’t you be, The Jasmine Pearl booth is the place to go. And it means more tea tastings at their booth. 

How I love tea tastings!

And snacks! Their booth will be sampling Wagashi, Japanese tea sweets from Yume Confections. We would not want you to starve at the Festival. Meet the confectioner, Gena Renaud.

Smooze a little. Learn something about tea. Try different teas. Get to know some tea people. Enjoy yourself. 

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants are also bringing Richard Brandt and his hand-thrown gong-fu pots and Japanese tea ceremony bowls. Finally, maybe I will get the tea ceremony right. Both he and Gena Renaud will be available to chat, as well as The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants. 

Additionally, there will be copies of the Portland Tea Events Calendar because…Portland has their own tea festival. Wahoo!

If you enjoy the camaraderie of festivals, this is another one to attend. 

The Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants
724 NE 22nd Ave, Portland, OR 97232, phone: 503-236-3539

It’s all happening at the NW Tea Festival, Oct 6 & 7, Seattle.

Dempsey


Carol & Felix, owners and worker bees, at their shop, Tea Lady, with tea from, well, everywhere, and practically everyone who produces tea. Teas you have never heard of. Teas you cannot find in many shops. Serious teas. Fun Teas. 1,000 different teas and herbal tisanes from everywhere in the world. Not only can you find Choice Organic Teas, Mighty Leaf, Harney & Sons, Market Spice, Stash, and Bewley’s, but they also carry Revolution, Grace Rare Tea, Tea forte, Montana Tea & Spice, & Rishi…and a whole tea store more. It’s maybe a sort of, kind of longish drive (depending from where you start), but what an inventive store with tea choices galore. And it has free parking. I LOVE free parking. 

TEA LADY, www.tea-lady.com

420 Steele St, SE

Olympia, WA 98501

360-786-0350

See them at the NW Tea Festival, Oct 6 & 7, 2012 at Seattle Center, Fisher Pavilion.

Dempsey


Sa TeaLet’s meet at Starbucks. No response. At least you can find it. Ah, someone who understands that I easily get lost. So Kyohei Sugimoto and I met at the Starbucks in the International District of Seattle. To discuss SA Tea, a division of Sugimoto America, a Japanese Green Tea company.

Japanese tea is only green tea, not black, oolong, chai, or herbal. It is the country of China who brought in Oolong, and India who brought in black tea. The Japanese employ steaming to stop fermentation, while the Chinese utilize pan frying for the same procedure. It’s a different taste. 

Kyohei’s grandfather started the tea business in Shizuoka, near Mt Fuji, in Japan (of course) in 1946. Now his son runs the company, but the tea is still produced the same way, with the same standards. 

The Japanese steam the plucked tea leaves, generally for a minute, to stop the fermentation. Seconds can make a difference in taste. Leaves are plucked every day. Sen cha is the most popular tea in Japan, commanding 80% of all tea drunk in that country. Interestingly, in America, we favor Genmai cha, which is green tea with roasted brown rice. In this country, we call it popcorn tea. We would, wouldn’t we? It has a nutty, toasty taste in the mouth, very different from Sen cha.

My problem with green teas is that most that I have experienced smells and tastes like grass, in water. Ick! If I lower the temp, like it’s suggested for green tea, it smells and tastes like lukewarm grass, in water. Which is why I tend to favor flavorings in green tea. I talked to Kyohei and he suggested I try the Sen cha.

I was amazed that I liked it because I hate change. It was very smooth and subtle, and that grass smell is a moot issue. 

Green tea has something that coffee does not: theanine. This is an amino acid that counters the effects of caffeine. It is also used in treating anxiety and high blood pressure, and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s. 

You can find SA Tea across the street from the Starbucks at Uwajimaya,  the Asian specialty supermarket in the International District of Seattle, and at Metropolitan Market, among other places. Look for the labels in the picture or the Enrich loose leaf tea pouches.  

And, of course, you can find out much more about SA Tea at the NW Tea Festival Oct 6 & 7. Another reason to attend. 

 


You are shopping to your heart’s delight at the Pike Market. And now you’d like to take a break, sit down for a moment, and have a nice cup of tea. Somewhere with a table and chairs and a warm atmosphere would be nice. You’re in luck. The Perennial Tea Room (206-448-4054) at 1910 Post Alley is open daily from 9:30am - 6:00pm.  The owners, Julee Rosanoff and her business partner Sue Zuege, have been serving the tea community since 1990, 23 years in Seattle.

She started hosting tea parties for her family and friends. Then she moved on to giving classes to hotels offering afternoon tea. After that came a tea pot store, and finally, a full tea store. 

 Julee loves all kinds of tea, and has a wide variety of loose and packaged teas that are oftentimes annoyingly hard to find. She stocks Barnes & Watson, Bewleys of Ireland, Barry’s, PG Tips, Taylors of Harrogate, Twinings, Typhoo, Harney & Sons, Murroughs, Steven Smith, and Silk Road, among others. The great news is: you will not find these teas in the local grocery store. It’s an opportunity to try a new tea before deciding whether or not you like it enough to buy it in volume. Some teas have sat on my shelf for years, because I don’t like them, won’t drink them, and obviously, will not throw them away. With this assortment and background in tea, do you wonder if Julee blends any of her own teas?

Yes indeed! Perennial Tea Room blends two very special teas: the Perennial Tea Room Seattle Breakfast Blend, a nice get-up-and-get-going morning tea, and Room Eleven, It’s Heaven Tea. Room Eleven was blended by grade schoolers who were studying the Boston Tea Party. With Indian and Ceylon teas, it’s wonderful for afternoons. It may have been what the Patriots threw overboard. Or not.

Besides tea, the tea room carries delicate yet sturdy cast iron tea pots from the Orient, and  an assortment of traditional and whimsical pots. Accessories, tea wares, and books take up the remaining space in the shop.

The Perennial Tea Room is a study in tea and it’s culture, and well worth the visit. It’s  entertaining, enlightening, and comfortable. Additionally, the Perennial Tea Room is part of the NW Tea Festival, happening Oct 6 & 7, at the Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. Check out the website for the tea room: www.perennialtearoom.com, and in the Fall, come to the Festival. Educate yourself, entertain your palate.

Julee Rosanoff in her tea shop, the Perennial Tea Room.

Hours: Mon - Sun:  9:30am-6pm

1910 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101

206-448-4054


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