News & Announcements

Just around the corner from my accountant (yes, it’s tax season) sits Floating Leaves Tea, a small space owned by a woman with a huge, wants-you-to-know-about-tea heart.  Shiuwen Tai, a native of Taiwan, is introducing more Taiwanese Oolong tea into American culture. Besides the oolong, she sells green, black, white, and puerh tea, plus Yixing pots and gaiwans. The store is packed with tea and accessories.

Not only does Shiuwen sell Taiwanese and Chinese tea, she also guides a Taiwan Tea Tour. This is very cool, and the only shop that I have visited that hosts tea tours. Taking a small group to visit farms and farmers in Taiwan almost every year, the trip is nearly always sold out. This year’s tour travels 11 days in Taiwan, visiting farms to see how farmers grow, process, and appreciate tea. It’s a cultural experience for those of us who live in countries where tea is not grown so much. Visiting any foreign country is always enlightening, and makes the world a smaller and more intertwined place. Cross cultural understanding is the road to World Peace. And travel is a lot of fun.

Twice a month, Shiuwen hosts a tea club. It is according to your tea knowledge and interest. One tea club is more for novices to tea and it’s culture; the other club is for a more developed palate. There is something for everyone, whether you know a lot or a little about tea. Shiuwen is so engaging that I cannot imagine anyone feeling uncomfortable or overwhelmed with her information and teaching style. 

Tea classes are on the horizon with the emphasis on tasting several teas with which you may not be familiar. That is the point of classes, is it not? To get out of your rut. Why stay with the same-o, same-o tea. In the company of your peers, you are more likely to try something different, with lots of comments from other tea sharers, and guidance from Shiuwen. 

I came home with some Baozhong Farmer’s Choice. A beautiful yellow green color when poured, it’s taste is light and ethereal. It’s an easy tea to drink all day. Now if I can just get the hang of that dang gaiwan that I bought….

Floating Leaves Tea,   www.floatingleaves.com

1704 NW Market St, Seattle, WA 98107,   206-276-9542


My sister teaches 5th grade. Those children are about 10 years old, and they have a lot of imagination, energy, and the attention span of a gnat. Every year, she teaches about the American Revolution, and she begins with a challenge to the hyper-active kids about uses for tea bags. She arrives with English Breakfast tea bags (this is a hint of what’s coming) and the kids work in groups to invent novel and interesting uses for the  tea. They may include the actual packaging. They are not allowed to use the obvious, which is, making a hot or cold drink, with or without honey and lemon.

Ok children…….ready?

GO!

Here are the 5th graders barely plausible uses for tea bags:

  1. a pillow for your pet mouse
  2. use the inside aluminum packaging to signal when you are stuck in    the mountains taking your 92 year old grandma on a hike, and you have lost your way. Oh, where are those boy scouts?
  3. yo-yo replacement string
  4. cat litter. You will need more than one bag of tea unless it is LARGE.
  5. cleaning windows. Once again, you may need more than one bag, unless you are really efficient. 
  6. air freshener. Really????
  7. a lasso for a mouse. Is the mouse being lassoed or is the mouse  the perpetrator, lassoing his fellow mice?
  8. half a pair of earrings
  9. toothpaste, or is that teeth-paste? That’s a sister joke. 
  10.  use the tea bag string to floss your teeth.

Then my sister announces one last use for bags of tea: overthrowing a government, and with that, she begins her chapter on the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party.

…Dempsey, with thanks to my sister Gin and her 5th graders, who didn’t realize that I would steal their story


Since Pu-er is a black tea, and one that I didn’t  care for until very recently, I wanted to see how it fared against other black teas that I like and regularly drink. Hence my own tea tasting soiree, involving the new Purple Tip Pu-er, Kusmi Tea, a Congou, and an Earl Grey Black Tea.

Let the tastings begin. Right away I noticed that there was, indeed, a difference, which put to rest the notion that all black teas are similar. Or maybe my taste buds are becoming more sophisticated. You think? 

The Earl Grey Black Tea, from Choice Organic Teas was, to me, the most astringent, the driest. It is a tea with a lot of flavor, boldness and smells wonderfully of bergamot oil, which I like. Preferring stronger teas in the morning, and something to wake up my taste buds, the Earl Grey does that pleasantly, without being English Breakfast Tea, which is generally too dry and slightly bitter for my taste. Interesting, because I prefer rocket fuel for coffee, but not the equivalent of French Roast for tea. 

Next came the Congou, from the Perennial Tea Room. It’s taste was a little softer, but still fairly bold. It’s another morning tea for me.  From there, I moved on to the Kusmi Tea, from the Tea Lady, in Olympia. This is what I normally drink in the morning when I don’t want to make a decision that early. It’s smooth, with a lot of flavor, no bitterness, and that bergamot smell that I like, along with some citrus.  

Finally I tried the Purple Tip Pu-er again. Last week, I didn’t like Pu-er………”tastes like dirt”. But this week, I have grown accustomed to it, and found it to be the smoothest and most subtle of the black teas that I tried. This is a nice afternoon tea. 

You can find all four teas in the Puget Sound area, at enjoyable tea shops. Perhaps you will try your own tea tasting soiree. Contrast/comparison is a great teacher for a pleasant afternoon.  

Zen Dog Tea House; Purple Tip Pu-er:  http://www.teahousegallery.com

Tea Lady, Olympia, Wa;  Kusmi Tea:  http://www.tea-lady.com

Perennial Tea Room, Congou;  http://perennialtearoom.com

Choice Organic Teas, Earl Grey Black Tea;  http://www.choiceorganicteas.com


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. 

Dempsey


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. 

 


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


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