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Food & Drink

Guide to Asian Tea Houses in Seattle

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credit: LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images

credit: LAURENT FIEVET/AFP/Getty Images

With a welcoming nod to the Year of the Dragon, here are some authentic Asian tea houses in the Seattle area where you can sip, and regain a little zen in your life. Enjoy a traditional tea ceremony, tour the only remaining Sento in the US, or watch a beautiful tea flower open in your cup.

Zen Dog Tea House Gallery
2015 NW 85th Street
Seattle, WA 98117
206.784.8289
http://www.teahousegallery.com

At the top of Crown Hill, Zen Dog Tea House is a historic tudor revival style house with Chinese entry gate and red lanterns. Enjoy views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains as you share conversation and sip some wonderful loose leaf teas. Try one or more of their hand-picked teas that are processed at small estates in China and Taiwan. You’ll notice how the taste and body of the teas evolve through multiple infusions. Stroll through the art gallery in the red cedar paneled studio. Purchase teas with confidence after your tasting.

Japanese Garden in the Washington Park Arboretum
1075 Lake Washington Blvd E
Seattle, WA 98112
206.684.4725
http://www.seattle.gov/parks/parkspaces/japanesegarden/Tea.htm

From April through October, on select weekends, you can watch or participate in a Chado presentation (tea ceremony) at the Shoseian Teahouse in the Japanese Garden. Tea demonstrations last approximately 40 minutes. No reservations are required for viewing from the patio, and there is no charge. Visitors who would like to enjoy a bowl of tea and sweets can purchase a $5 tea ticket at the Garden ticket booth. Tea tickets are limited to 20 person session. Sit on a tatami mat, and experience the luxury and tradition of the Japanese tea ceremony. Check online for dates and times.

Teahouse Kuan Yin
1911 N. 45th St.
Seattle, WA 98103
206.632.2055
http://www.teahousekuanyin.com

The Teahouse is a cozy, individual place, with comfy chairs and quiet music. Their “no cell phone” policy and free wireless internet make them a popular spot for study, work, and lunch meetings. Filled with a rotating array of teas, you’ll find some to sip or take home. Japanese, Indian, Chinese and Sri Lankan teas in many varieties and flavors. In cold weather their most popular beverage is the hot Kashmiri Pink Chai Tea (with your choice of milk), and in hot weather they break out the juicer for Jasmine Pearl Lemonade. The Teahouse features wheat-free, gluten-free and vegan baked goods made by Great Harvest Bakery, along with a wonderful selection of cakes, cookies, bars, muffins and scones from Renaissance Desserts, Essential Baking Company, and Jodee’s Desserts, along with their homemade in-house soups.

Vital Tea Leaf
1401 1st Ave.
Seattle, WA 98121
206.262.1628
http://www.vitaltealeaf.net

Vital Tea Leaf offers a modern twist on the age-old tradition of Chinese tea drinking. Modeled after a wine bar, you are welcome to come in for complimentary “try before you buy” tastings. With an inventory of more than four hundred teas, Vital Tea Leaf offers the finest and most varied selection of teas from China, Taiwan, and Japan available on the West Coast of the United States. In addition to loose leaf teas and hand-rolled flowering tea balls, Vital Tea Leaf offers an assortment of porcelain, glass and rare Yixing purple clay teapots, hand painted tea sets and other accessories. The shop has been featured on international culinary and travel television shows, too, and is in the heart of Seattle’s Pike Place Market.

Historic Panama Hotel & Tea House
607 South Main
Seattle, WA 98104
206.223.9242
http://www.panamahotel.net

The Panama Hotel was built in 1910 by Sabro Ozasa, a Japanese Architect and graduate of the University of Washington. Through the years it has served as a home for generations of Japanese immigrants, Alaskan fisherman and International travelers. The building houses the only remaining Japanese Bathhouse (Sento) left in tact in the United States. Now operating as a European style bed and breakfast hotel and tea house, you are welcome to come for an overnight, just enjoy a cup of tea from an exotic place in the world, or take a tour of the Japanese Bathhouse.

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