Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Port Townsend Afternoon: Discovering a Perfect Cup of Tea

While artsy, Victorian-esque Port Townsend, Washington, is indeed quieter in the winter, it's still a fun and refreshing destination regardless of the season. 

When I go there to visit family, I regularly make pilgrimage stops at some favorite local spots like William James Bookseller for used and rare books, Chimacum Corner Farmstand for local farm meats and produce, and Elevated Ice Cream for excellent ice cream. This past weekend, thanks to a transcendent pot of exquisite tea, I've added a new stop to my list.

After a tasty lunch at Silverwater Cafe, my aunt suggested a cup of tea at Pippa's Real Tea, just around the corner on Water Street.

Last time I was at Pippa's was a few years ago, not long after it opened. I remember it as a warm, cozy yet contemporary space with nice tea.

Aussie proprietor/owner Pippa Mills (by way of London and New York) now offers High Tea on Saturday afternoons, opened a courtyard out back for warm weather tea al fresco, and has seen her business named #1 Best Tea House by the Seattle A-List (never mind that Port Townsend is over 50 miles and a ferry ride away from Seattle).

High Tea service at Pippa's
The real Pippa
But back to that amazing tea. I ordered the delicate Silver Needles white tea from Glenburn Tea Estate in the renowned Darjeeling region of northern India. What a revelation!

If you think you don't like tea, I say you haven't had a high-quality tea carefully brewed with expertise (good water heated to just the right temperature, steeped just the right amount of time, served in appropriate china or glassware in a pleasing setting, etc.).

I've had silver needle tea from China, but this Indian tea is smooth, buttery, floral, and light yet crisp. Words aren't doing it justice. Five days later I'm still thinking about it, how that perfect cup of tea sliced through everything and hit the sweet spot.

Pippa came to our table with a beautiful smile and got excited when I raved about the tea. She brought over several canisters of loose leaf tea from Glenburn and described how different teas come from the same plants with different harvesting times and processing techniques.

Different tea, same tea plants
Her enthusiasm and gracious manner (she calls herself a tea maven, not tea master) was infectious. I enjoyed a whiff of each, some richer, stronger, fruitier.

I asked Pippa how she came to open a tea house in Port Townsend.

"When I came to the States from London many years ago, I couldn't find good quality tea. People mostly drank tea in tea bags [which are generally lower quality teas]." When visiting relatives in Victoria, B.C., her family stopped in Port Townsend and fell in love pretty quickly.

Port Townsend, where small businesses have hand-crafted signs out front.
So she aimed to open a tea house serving quality loose leaf teas with excellent baked goods and lunches to match. I'm so glad she did. 

And now I'm off to see if I can possibly replicate the perfect cup with some of that silver needle tea I bought and brought home.

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.  

When You Go
Pippa's Real Tea is located at 636 Water Street, the main street that runs along the water in old downtown Port Townsend, toward the north end of town.  They host a variety of arts and food/tea-related activities. Pippa's is open Wednesday through Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 (ish) pm. From the Seattle area, easiest driving route is to catch a ferry (downtown Seattle Colman Dock Terminal to Bainbridge, or Edmonds to Kingston) and head north/west across the Hood Canal Bridge on Highway 104, then north on SR 19. Check here for detailed directions from either ferry terminal. Expect about 90 minutes travel time if driving, given the ferry loading/unloading.


Rabbits' Guy said...

Quit telling people about Port Townsend!!!

jill said...

Haha, well....I wanted to tell the world about Pippa's beautiful teas! BTW town was pretty empty last Saturday. Cheers. :)

Lesley said...

Can't wait until my next trip there! I may make a special trip just for this. Thanks for sharing, despite what Rabbits' Guy says! :)

jill said...

Thanks Lesley! Let me know if you are heading to PT!