Vital Tea Leaf - Seattle, WA

I love this tea house. I've frequented it every time I'm in Seattle. Not only do they have some great teas here, but the free tea tasting makes the visit even more rewarding.

Blossoming Tea
These are just beautiful teas that blossom when you pour hot water over them. They are not only pretty to look at but they are actually tea as well.

I've included a few shots of some of the tea I purchased at Vital Tea Leaf. Click on the thumbnails at the bottom to change images, and click on the image itself for a high-res version.

From left to right: Yunnan Special Pu-Erh Tea (13 year old), Baby Chrysanthemum, Blue People Ginseng Oolong, Stevia, Silver Needle White Tea

Pu-erh is a very earthy black tea that is preferred by seasoned tea drinkers. At first taste it resembles what you can imagine tree bark to taste like. But like any delicate flavor it takes years of tea drinking to understand the depth that is there. This tea has been aged for 13 years making it a bit smoother than younger Pu-erh teas. I had a chance to taste a 3 year old tea next to this 13 year old and was only able to discern a slight difference in flavor. I guess I need to drink more.

Baby Chrysanthemum tea is my tea of choice for after dinner. It is a floral tea so has no caffeine, and it's got a nice floral scent and flavor and is great to settle your stomach after a big meal. I take a pinch or two of the stevia leaves to give it a nice sweetness. Stevia is a natural plant sweetener that has a grassier flavor than sugar but is sweet without being over powering. It's great for bringing out the sweet flavor of the chrysanthemum flower.

Blue People Ginseng Oolong is an oolong tea that has been coated with ginseng powder making it a great tea for the mornings. Many people believe ginseng gives you energy making it a substitute for coffee for those who are crazy. Oh sorry, my fingers just typed what I was thinking, I mean for those who have sensitive stomachs. Many people also believe that oolong tea is good for losing weight, and after eating all this food from this blog I should probably drink a gallon of oolong a day. Oolong tea does have quite a bit of caffeine in it so stick to the day time for this one. Once pouring the hot water over these leaves take a moment to smell the steam coming off the top of the tea. You can smell the ginseng and it's such a wonderful herby smell. Take a sip and that flavor will linger in the back of the throat for minutes after. It's a one of my favorite teas here.

Silver Needle White Tea is the most prized version of white tea. The soft hairs on the tea give it a silvery color when seen in the light. The flavor is lightly sweet and fragrant. It's a very mild tea but does have a small amount of caffeine so if you are sensitive to caffeine you should stay away from drinking it at night.

So if you are in the Pike's Market area of Seattle, take a moment to slow down and try some teas at Vital Tea Leaf. You won't regret it at all unless you find yourself at the end of it walking away with this.

--Joe Kwon

For more information on these teas, visit Vital Tea Leaf.