New Blog!

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Lo and behold, I find myself in a position the likes of which I can hardly remember: I have a new blog and something to write about!  Over the last few months, I've been taking full advantage of my new-found tolerance for caffeine (more on that later); I've become a regular at Portland's own Tao of Tea Leaf Room, as well as at their beautiful outpost in the Lan Su Garden.  In the idiom of "high school dating experience" metaphors, I think the Tao of Tea would have to be cast as that First Real Relationship; the one that forms and changes you in ways you could never have imagined possible, and ushers you into a new world of possibilities.

Language evocative of movie trailers aside, I have been getting more and more excited about tea this year, and my excitement has coalesced over the last couple of days in a frantic bout of blog designing.  What you see before you are the nascent results of said frenzy; I hope they are to your liking!

Well; back to today's adventures.  I have been driving by a little sign on the corner of NE 20th & Irving for some weeks now, a little sign proclaiming, "Tea Shop."  If you've been by that corner you may have wondered, as I did, where in that strange and characteristically Portlandian mix of industrial and residential buildings someone would find a place for such a shop.  Well, the Jasmine Pearl found a place for one in a lovely old arch-windowed brick building right here:


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(Don't let the address on street view fool you, they are actually located at 724 NE 22nd.)

They've made a lovely, light, airy space inside, and, more importantly, have a lovely stock of teas and wares.  Their range covers the old standbys -- Earl Grey and English Breakfast, Dragonwell and Darjeeling, Genmaicha and Gunpowder -- but they also have a nice selection of teas somewhat more off the beaten path, including enough puerhs to encompass ripe and raw, tuocha, loose leaf, bing cha, and brick.

And man, are they happy to sample stuff for you!  When I arrived, there were three or four people sitting around the tea bar, talking to each other, talking to the owners, talking to the guy who does the in-house blending...  It was a wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic atmosphere.  Let's see if I can remember all the teas they were sampling during the twenty-odd minutes -- the last twenty minutes of their day, no less! -- I was there: There was an extra malty Assam, a sticky rice scented puerh (scented with an herb, not actual sticky rice), their house blend oolong, and a purple puerh, which I think had just come in.

Their selection of the more high-end, rare and specialty teas is, by their own admission, not that extensive.  Their main business up until opening the tasting room this past October has been distribution to caf├ęs and restaurants, with some online retail, and there just wasn't that much demand for the more out-of-the-ordinary nonpareils amongst their distributees.  But, it sounds like expanding their top-shelf selection is a priority for them, now that they're working in the brick-and-mortar.

As something of a tea novice, I found plenty there to keep me interested, and it's so nice not only to be allowed, but to be heartily encouraged to taste, taste taste!  And, hopefully, as my palate broadens, so will their collection.

Next Up: I can hardly wait to try the three teas I brought home from my visit.  I'll talk about them here when I do.

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Here are my notes from tasting the Golden Needles I got on this visit to the Jasmine Pearl... Read More

Here are my notes from tasting the Keemun Black I got on this visit to the Jasmine Pearl... Read More

July 2014

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