Calling all Seattle caffeine lovers who just can’t seem to find their rhythm with espresso. And yes, such a person exists. If your quest for a morning loose-leaf brew has forced you to resort to generic grocery store tea bags with much dismay, we’re here to lead you through a variety of local tea shops and spice-stocked shelves to prove you can steep otherwise.
Pike Place Market’s aromatic hidden gem contains shelf upon shelf of glass jars enclosing hundreds of different tea leaves and spices. Think an old-school candy shop, recast as a kaleidoscopic haven for tea lovers. Its roots date back to 1911, when a small tea and spice shop blossomed in the exact same spot. Today MarketSpice offers a vast variety both in bulk and prepackaged. The shopkeepers provide knowledgeable and no-rush assistance as you unscrew each lid to uncover what lies within, a sort of tea-leaf speed dating until you find your perfect match.
Be physically in Seattle, yet simultaneously steeped in Taiwanese culture at this cozy oolong school in Chinatown–International District. Take a seat at one of the tables, where you can be social and convivial or tranquil and meditative—whichever is your proverbial cup of tea. Experience your tea along with devoted regulars and newcomers alike—under the almost familial care of owners Joe Hsu and Lydia Lin—and take note of the shop’s strong ties to tea farmers in Taiwan and authentic mountain oolongs, a traditional semi fermented Chinese or Taiwanese tea carefully dried under strong sun before it’s truly ready to sell. For those who want to know more about the tale behind the tea, we’ve found your people.
Founded in 2007, Miro Tea originally bonded Ballard with artisan-quality black tea beverages. Now the wood-polished shop offers an assortment of teas, latte-like brews, and American- or French-inspired bites. Pair a cup of rooibos chai with a grilled apple and basil panini to combat the lunch break lethargy. And before you walk away from Miro Tea’s homey, mismatched furniture, pocket a macaron or two for later.
Sick of sadly sipping tea that’s clearly less than fresh? Steepologie founders Andrea and Joe Raetzer have your back, with them: 300-plus loose leaf options open for your olfactory receptors. The two owners and educated staff keep their leaves under careful inventory, ensuring tea is never overstocked or eventually dulling in quality and flavor overtime. Your relationship with rooibos will never run dry, seeing as teas are blended on a daily basis to ensure optimal freshness. The massive mural in their Denny Regrade shop says it all, “We are probably good at a few other things, but we really just live and breathe fine quality tea.”
Both Asian lanterns and Christmas lights adorn this Chinatown–International District gallery, as does one massive grinning Buddha who clearly seems to enjoy his herbal surroundings. New Century serves up more than just jasmine, honeysuckle, and chrysanthemum. Sift through intricately decorated teacups and rustic tea kettles among displays of vintage Pu Er cakes and oolong leaves. Depart with more than bulk floral and leaf combos, and tack on some new tea-drinking knowledge: Ask the shopkeeper about their take on chayi, or “the art of drinking tea." You’ll be more than prepared to host your next tea-inspired gathering.
If you can’t complete your morning tea without a crumpet spread with apricot or raspberry jam, befriend this funky corner of Pike Place Market. Since 1990 it’s served up a variety of bulk and packaged teas, with whimsical owl-shaped teacups and a rainbow of kettles as vessels. Take your at-home tea experience a step further with simple scone mixes and jar-filled jams. Beyond the bounty of leaves, this charming Post Alley find is a must for the fellow far-out tea lover in search of quirky tea-adjacent products.
More of a laid-back tea lounge than a quick Broadway swing-by, Capitol Hill’s Tea Republik offers cozy couches and vegan or vegetarian snacks alongside an eclectic menu of brews. Visitors work and chat over jelly-studded bubble tea or a pot of rose hibiscus. The adventurous drinker may opt for the more experimental menu that goes beyond the classic English Breakfast, like a concoction of apple-tinged “Eve’s Downfall” black tea or coconut-creamed “Malibu’s Kiss.”
This cozy Wallingford nook holds a “Craft and Chat” every Sunday and “Game Night” every Friday. It’s a small family-owned tea company with a geeky-themed take on tea, because brew guru and owner Friday Elliott has a rare condition known as lexical-gustatory synesthesia, which essentially means her sense of taste and ability to process language are crossed. Put another way, she can taste words, an ability (or "superpower" as she puts it) that drives her approach to custom tea blends.
Step through a beckoning Chinese entry gate and work your way up to a Tudor-style house tucked among a spread of glowing red lanterns in north Ballard. Nearly entranced simply by the peculiar Fantasia-like vibe, you’re welcomed into tea master and bearded-wizard Zen Dog’s lair after reserving your tea tasting online. From here you need only sit back and sip, as Zen Dog walks you through different loose-leaf samples. “Discover the Way of Tea!” he calls, and before you know it you’re seated in an intricately decorated tea-infused oasis, anticipating an army of brooms with pales of water to materialize at any given moment.