The Face of Tea in the Northwest

Think the face of tea is a blue-haired lady with a purple hat?  Think again…or walk into a tea store and look at who you find: Expect to see kids, men, women of all ages, young boys—especially teenagers.

As a tea store owner, and as a teacher of true tea, I have observed the growing fascination with tea and watched how it takes hold of people to sometimes become a captivating interest (would I dare say obsession?).  That may sound like a bad thing, but when you think of tea as having the same complexity and craft of fine wine, it’s not unusual, and, in my mind, beneficial.  There are after all, proven health benefits to consuming tea*.

What I love most about tea is its age neutrality: every age can enjoy tea (ideally together) and other than some consideration to caffeine, it doesn’t have a compelling downside.  Parents and kids can enjoy and explore tea together, any time of day, in many different settings.  Just bring out a tea pot and some loose leaf tea and watch the conversation unfold and develop.

In the US, we think of tea as a “women’s drink”, yet in many countries around the world tea is the primary beverage enjoyed by all.   The variety and natural flavor spectrum of tea goes far beyond black tea: white tea, green, oolong and an aged and fermented tea called pu’erh all come from the same plant as black tea—it depends how the leaves are processed after they’re plucked.  Once people get a taste for some of these other types of true tea, their interest and respect for tea grows—which then naturally connects people to history and cultures.

The face of tea in the northwest is really the face of tea in the world.  Next time you’re in your company’s break room and find a co-worker steeping tea, ask what kind it is, where it comes from and you might just get the offer to share.  Seek the opportunity to learn about this unique beverage—it will serve you all your life.

Roberta Fuhr

Experience Tea Studio, Issaquah, Washington