Where to Find the Best Tea in Seattle
(This post originally appeared on Lipsweater and is reproduced with permission.)
If you got a chance to read my last post, you’d realize I’m a bit of a tea geek.
Part of being a tea geek is trying all the tea purveyors and experiences that you can find around town. An epic Seattle coffee geek post from Jonathon Colman inspired me to come up with my tea short list, so let’s get drinkin’!
(Disclaimer: I’m more of an “eastern” tea fan and that’s what you’ll see in this list. Still trying to warm up to western tea; give me more time!)
“A float down the Yangtze River in the Emerald City.”
Location: 416 Maynard Avenue South, Seattle
Personal brew time: You’ll spend at least 1 hour here. And arrive with an empty bladder.
This is a true Chinese tea experience where the owner will offer you to sit down for a personal tasting. She’ll continue to pour you tea until you turn your cup upside down or you pee your pants. (I’ve had a few close calls. Good thing the bathroom is two seconds away.) The tasting is free, but you’ll probably want to buy some loose-leaf tea afterwards as a courtesy. (Not hard to do because the tea there is delicious!) Pro tip: ask about their Pu-er (pronounced “poo AIR”… seriously, and it tastes nothing like, um… at least, I don’t imagine it does).
“A coffeehouse for tea lovers.”
Location: 1911 N 45th St, Seattle
Personal brew time: 2 hours or 8, there’s enough tea and open wifi to keep you cranking through your work.
Psst. Secret: this is my favorite work-day escape. It’s just like a coffeehouse–but all tea and more varietals than you can possibly taste. Order fresh-brewed loose leaf tea in a pot, sit, boot up your laptop, and enjoy for hours. BONUS! Delicious, wholesome soups, quiche, rice, and vegetarian dishes on hand to feed you at every meal.
“A teahouse with a preserved history.”
Location: 605 S Main St., Seattle
Personal brew time: Less than 2 hours. It’s a neat hideaway, but the premium-priced tea and food will keep you from making it your office away from the office.
A historic hotel-turned-B&B with an awesome tea opportunity. The quality is excellent. They even offer manju, a work of art as a Japanese sweet. (Note: this place tends to be a little pricier, but it’s worth it.) Tip: the iced sencha paired with the green tea cookie make a tasty diversion for green tea lovers.
“The shortest route to Japan from Seattle.”
Location: 1075 Lake Washington Boulevard East, Seattle
Personal brew time: 1 hour for the ceremony, but plan on 2 hours to include a leisurely walk through the beautiful Japanese garden.
If you’re looking for the most authentic and historic tea experience you can get your hands on in Seattle, this is it! Arrive early for a true Japanese tea ceremony experience: walk through the gardens to relax your mind. Purchase your $5 tickets ahead of time and reserve a place to actually participate in a ceremony. (After paying $6 for entry to the garden, you’ll pay $11 in total.) In addition to a sweet and a bowl of matcha tea, you also get to sit in a traditional tea house imported from Japan! (Be sure you buy a ticket for the chado presentation.)
“A personal tea presentation from an urban zen master.”
Location: 2015 Northwest 85th Street, Seattle
Personal brew time: 30 minutes is enough time for a taste of one or two teas and browsing the collection of Asian art.
It’s literally in a home converted to an artist studio and Asian curio shop in the middle of a neighborhood. You can’t miss the location–the exterior has Chinese accents and red lanterns dancing in the trees. Larry, the shop owner, is an architect-turned-zen master. Way cool guy. Very welcoming and definitely knows how to sell his tea. (His tea sources are very trustworthy, too!)
“The local favorite.”
Location: 1704 Northwest Market Street, Seattle
Personal brew time: You’ll have to tell me.
I’ve never been here but it’s been on my list of places to try. I consistently hear from my tea friends that it’s one of the best places to go, so try it out and tell me what you think!
“My Eastside home base.”
Location: 1015 108th Avenue Northeast, Bellevue
Personal brew time: Stay for a few minutes or for hours. I usually hang out here at least 3 hours when I stop by to work.
Cafe Cesura is unique from the above in that it’s 1) outside of Seattle and 2) it has an equal focus on coffee. I love this place because it’s more convenient for me being an Eastsider and, although they also sell coffee, they just get tea rightin ways most coffeehouses don’t. Take one look at Cafe Cesura’s Facebook page - regular postings, interacting with fans, copious free tea tasting events – and you know Shawn (the owner) is passionate about appreciating tea.
Whew! There’s a great starting place. Have you tried other tea places around the greater Seattle area? Did I miss any? Let me know–or better yet, invite me out for a cup with you.