Seattle does love its tea. Honest. The Northwest’s coffee mastery unfortunately obscures the fact that there are plenty of residents who don’t even drink coffee or even just plain prefer tea. Coffee fueled the go-go high-tech 1990s, so maybe tea is an appropriate beverage for the mellow, reflective hangover (not that the city doesn't still have its fair share of coffee spots). Most of the best coffee houses serve a more than decent cup of tea, but for the best brew head to one of these great dedicated tea rooms.
Nestled unassumingly on Wallingford’s busy Market Street, Kuan-Yin is about as relaxed a tea room as you are likely to find. The furniture is just the right amount of worn. A bookcase provides books on architecture, travel, and classic cinema. The tea is a deep, diverse mix of traditional teas from around the world, including puerh, oolong, and black and green teas from India, China, and Japan. Just far enough away from the university to keep the more frantic younger crowd out but close enough to attract a clientele with plenty of character.
Where: 1911 N 45th Street, Seattle (Wallingford)
Stepping into Remedy, you might think you’ve mistakenly wandered into a research lab. The walls are lined with test tubes and the counter is backed by over a hundred large numbered cylinders. This is tea science at its most precise. Beyond the space age appearance, the atmosphere is very inviting and the staff is happy to wax poetic on the merits of any of their 150+ teas. Remedy has plenty of old classics plus dozens of fresh, inventive blends like “Fire and Ice,” all served in aerodynamic, clear tea pots and cups.
Where: 345 15th Avenue E, Seattle (Capitol Hill)
A cozy yet sleek shop on Ballard Avenue, Miro Tea is the perfect place to steal away on those drizzly Sunday afternoons that bring you to Ballard for a misty stroll. For those who brave the elements, Miro will reward you with an abundance of loose teas, some classic and some as funky as their corner of the city. Looking for a little more? Their baked goods and crepes are just right for a “not quite hungry enough for potatoes and 6-egg omelet” mornings. Try the “London Fog” while you’re there: a rich milky tea infusion with just enough sweetness.
Where: 5405 Ballard Avenue NW, Seattle (Ballard)
The cups don’t match, but don’t let the details distract you from a refined experience at the Village Eatery and Tea Company. Tea-sized pastries with jams, finger sandwiches, and other delights will accompany your favorite traditional brews. They even have a "high tea" which is as much about the ritual as it is about the layers of treats you’ll receive. So step into a different time, take in a pot, and remember the empire.
Where: 740 238th Street SE, Bothell
Cederberg is an area of South Africa that serves as the source of rooibos tea, which happens to be a specialty of Cederberg Tea House. Owned by a mother-daughter team, this tea house has a unique focus: South African pastries and sweets and rooibos tea espresso drinks. While you can order more run-of-the-mill drinks, don't miss the rooibos latte.
Where: 1417 Queen Anne Avenue N, Ste 101 B, Seattle (Queen Anne)
Tea Republik in the U-District is known for its wide selection of teas from all around the world. You might try a Thai tea, milk tea or any number of brewed teas in a spot. However, Tea Republik is known for its milk teas. Try a Lavender Earl Grey for a smooth, creamy and sweet tea treat.
Where: 4527 University Way NE, Seattle
Tacoma's Mad Hat Teas is a tea house located right downtown that aims to be a place where tea-lovers can unplug. There are hundreds of teas created by the shop (and offered in many local coffee shops as well) and it's affordable to try many of them rather than having to try just one. A small pot of tea is just a few dollars so try one or try a few. If you aren't sure what to order, the staff can help you with recommendations. If you find one you love, you can purchase loose leaf tea by the ounce to take home.
Where: 1130 Commerce Street, Tacoma
Updated by Kristin Kendle.