Magazine article Sunset

Teatime in Latte Land

Magazine article Sunset

Teatime in Latte Land

Article excerpt

Seattle-area coffee shops are in no danger of being elbowed out by teahouses. Well, not yet, anyway

We are sitting around a table dominated by a perforatedmetal tray with a rosewood rim. On it rests a tiny tea set made of purple clay, though it appears brown. Purple clay tea services are functional art objects of the highest order. Joe Hsu wouldn't serve tea in anything else.

This is Hsu's store, Seattle's Best Tea, a small, bright, modern shop in the International District. Hsu is showing me how to brew a cup of tea. Deliberately, he pours boiling water from an electric kettle into and over the empty pot to clean it ("never use detergent on the clay," he says through his interpreter and associate, Scott Searer). He pours the water from the pot onto the tray, where it drains into a well below. And then he scoops the curled leaves of a high-mountain spring oolong from a silver tin, dumps them into the pot, adds boiling water, and waits. …

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