Tuesday, June 5, 2012

NW tea destinations

My list of Northwest tea links keeps growing, so I decided to organize it a little better, separating it into three sections -- Seattle, Portland and BC Canada links.  While I do my best to keep current I'm sure there are tea houses, tea schools and tea sellers I'm missing.  Please don't hesitate to contact me if there are others I should add.  Also, I should tell you that I haven't visited or done business with all of the companies listed and so can't vouch for the quality of each.  Some sell great tea, some are just really cool tea houses to visit and hang out at, some are probably best classified as tea schools, and one I felt just deserved mentioning even though it's neither a tea seller or tea house (Tokara Japanese Confectionary in Seattle -- yum!).  I've also removed the few blogs I had listed previously since they're all included in the blog roll already.  There are also several high tea (British) tea houses in Seattle and Canada which I haven't included in the lists.  Maybe I should?

At the very bottom you'll see one very tiny list -- Northwest Tea Farms.  This is an exciting development in recent years.  Only time will tell what will come of these, but I find it enjoyable to watch how these take shape.  Sakuma Brothers (in the Skagit Valley of northern Washington) have been growing tea for well over 10 years now.  I visited their roadside farm stand a few years back and picked up some of their teas, but alas I somehow lost my purchases on the way home!  So I still haven't actually tried them.  Their tea bushes (or at least some of them) were growing just a short distance from their stand and I walked over to take a look when I was there.  Perhaps it was just the time of year, or maybe those weren't their best tea plants, but I can't say they looked to be in the best of health.  Still growing, and still green, but were sparsely-leaved and leggy.  Hopefully what I saw did not reflect the whole of their operation.  The Vancouver Island farm, Teafarm, is still in the process of nurturing their tea bushes to sufficient maturity to harvest.  They expect it will be another few years before they can start picking from the plants, but from what I've seen in photos their plants are looking very healthy and well-cared for.  I only hope that as their operation grows they begin experimenting with making pure Cowichan-grown green and oolong teas, and not simply use their leaves for making herb and fruit-infused blends.  But they've certainly got a lovely little oasis to tea (and pottery!) up there on the island.  Definitely high on my must-visit-soon list.


  1. I would make sure you pay a visit to Mad Hat Tea in Tacoma! It's probably the only tea house in Tacoma, so you might not find it worth the stop, but it's so friendly and has a great "vibe."

    Also, thanks for mentioning Tokara. Japanese desserts, oh yes!

  2. Hi Em -- thanks for stopping by :) Mad Hat Tea! So glad you mentioned this. Though I have yet to visit there, I've already been introduced to one of their teas as well as many kudos about what a great spot it is. A friend swears by a botanical tea they carry for warding off colds and flu. Now I *definitely* have to make a trip :) Sounds like a worthy addition to the list and well worth the drive.

  3. Its nice to see locals growing tea. I am a little skeptical as to the quality of taste. We just don't have the right climate to grow tea, Hawaii on the other hand has great potential.

  4. Apparently, Chinese immigrants from the last century who came to the NW to work were known to plant tea bushes here for their own use. Sure would love to find some of those, but tea plants do grow in this climate. I've even been thinking about picking some up from Raintree Nursery (about halfway between Seattle and Portland) to plant a few on my own property. While it's a long way away from Yunnan gushu, there's certain to be a uniquely NW terroir in the leaves. No telling if that's a good or bad thing, but I'd love to try it and see.