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Welcome to ... First Steep!

This 'Places for Tea' page will be updated on a regular basis, for people who have visited a tea house or tea room, or would like to know of a new place to have tea. I will do my best to visit these places myself, but you know 'interactive' is my key word. You're opinions count, too!

Below are the rating keys for the places that have been visited. Iím looking for the following things:

  • Environment - Personally, I like places that make me feel comfortable, where the atmosphere has a 'good vibe' (yes, itís a hippie term). Anyway, tell me if you find it comfortable or not. If you can describe the mood, colors, or just the over all setting, that would be great.
  • Personnel - How are the people working in this establishment? Helpful? Easy to talk to? Well educated on teas? Or are they just robots (donít talk - just work)?
  • Price - Do you feel you got what you paid for? Are refills free or not?
  • Food - Does the establishment serve it? Do they have just pastries, or meals and pastries?

So that is what Iím looking for. You can tell me if they are a 'one teapot' place Ė meaning it's 'OK, but nothing really to go ape about.' Two teapots - meaning, of course, that 'it's good.' Three teapots - meaning 'great, get off line and go have a pot of tea.'

Please, when writing to me about the teahouse or tea room, include an address (the location, City, State, Country), and when possible, a web address. Reviews are welcome from all parts of the globe, and are not limited to the West Coast of the United States. Reviews will be evaluated and posted as time permits. Please send your teahouse reviews to: Adriene@firststeep.com

Below is a sample chart of how I'll summarize the 'ratings' that you send to me. Thanks for sharing your opinions!


Name of Teahouse General Description Rating
Teahouse #1
123 Any Street
Town, State
Not too bad. Leaves something to be desired, though. Not great service. (Sample opinions only ... tell me what YOU think.)
Teahouse #2
456 Any Street
Town, State
Pretty good. Fair Prices, no free refills. Pastries only, no 'meals'. Great service, OK atmosphere. (Sample opinions only ... tell me what YOU think.)
Teahouse #3
789 Any Street
Town, State
Excellent! Good prices, free refills. Wonderful pastries. Great service and atmosphere. (Sample opinions only ... tell me what YOU think.)

Click on the name of the teahouse / room to read a full review.

Name of Teahouse General Description Rating
Floating Leaves
2213 NW MArket St.
Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98107
Amazing shop! Beautiful decor. Excellent selection of teas.
Sassy Teahouse
16244 Cleveland St.
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 885-3581
Cute place. Good food menu, but tea menu isn't as impressive.
Abbey Garden Tearoom
1308 A 11th St.
Bellingham, WA 98225
Slightly higher prices. Some desserts. No free refills. Good service but it can get quite busy.
2207 Queen Anne
Avenue North
Seattle, WA 98109
Fair prices. Good service but a bit crowded.
Panama Hotel
607 South Main
Seattle, WA 98104
Fair prices. Some desserts. No free refills. Good service and atmosphere.
Imperial Teahouse
Ferry Bldg. Mrkt. Pl.
SF, CA 94111
Fair prices. Finger food & desserts. Good service and relaxing atmosphere.
Island Tea Co.
1664 E. Main St.
Freeland, WA 98249
Good prices. Great scones and tea. A small shop, but good service and wonderful, relaxing atmosphere.
Teahouse Kuan Yin
1911 N. 45th Ave
Seattle, WA 98103
Good prices, free refills. Good pastries and some food. Good service and atmosphere.
Celadon Tea
1111 Solano Ave
Albany, CA 94706
Good prices. Good pastries / desserts. Good service and mellow atmosphere.
McGregor's Tearoom
430 E. 25th Street
suite 65
Tacoma, WA 98421
Good prices, free refills. Good scones and finger sandwiches. Good service and interesting atmosphere. Note: McGregor's has closed their Tearoom in Tacoma, but it is rumored that they may soon open at another location. Check back for updates as they become available.

Our next tearoom review is of Floating Leaves in Seattle, Wa.

Floating Leaves

Floating Leaves
2213 NW Market St., Suite 100
Seattle, WA 98107

In Seattle, Wa., in an area called Ballard, is a teahouse call Floating Leaves. Floating Leaves is a wonderful teahouse. Why you ask? Three reasons ... (1) the shop ... (2) the owners ... (3) the tea.

(1) The shop is amazing! The furniture alone is incredible ... almost like that from the Imperial Teahouse (see review). The cherry or Mahongany makes it look like an "authentic teahouse" ... there are also a couple of Japanese style sitting tables. The Calligraphic art that decorates the walls also contributes to the style and feel of the teahouse. The cups and tea pots (especially the small Oolong pots scattered near the entrance to the shop) really puts you into the mood. It's "Asian style" ... I hate to classify what style a teahouse is, but you can definitely tell you're not in western teahouse.

(2) On to the owners of the teahouse. These people are the most delightful owners Iíve met. Shuiwen Tai is the first owner that my friend Tanja and I met. She was so incedibly sweet, and so knowledgeable concerning tea. I was truly impressed! Most of all, what made her "real" was her taking the time to serve us "Gong Fu" style tea. Her serving was a work of art. Shuiwen actually took time while serving and talked to us about her adventures in Taiwan ... of going to the Mountains and meeting the farmers who pick the tea. Sharing her stories with Tanja and me was so sweet.

Shuiwen's partner, Rob Bageant, whom I met on another visit to Falling Leaves (with my friend Vinni), is a wonderful man. He's definitely passionate about tea ... and he's also charming to talk to. These owners are definitely the ying and yang of the teahouse.

(3) The teas ... the last item to discuss. The selection of teas is more towards the Oolongs, with a few Japanese teas ... some black and a few herbals. But overall the selcetion of teas are brilliant. You must try the Le Shan. I feel it's even better than the Ali Shan.

The only downfall (and I do hate to say it), is that there's not a lot of food to choose from. Cookies and other Japanese treats are available, but I wish they had something to eat with the Oolong teas (which are a bit harsh without food in the stomach - jitters) ... even if it was a small dish of cold noodles, or Udon , or Humbow. I think this would appeal to more customers. Sweet stuff is nice, but real food is good, too.

Overall, I love this place! I give it a "three teapot" rating. Iím not joking when I compare it with the Imperial Teahouse in San Francisco. This is almost equal to them. Please go support the local folks. Youíll have a pleasant time.

Next up is a review of The Sassy Teahouse & Boutique in Redmond, Wa.

The Sassy Teahouse & Boutique

The Sassy Teahouse & Boutique
16244 Cleveland Street
Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 885-3581

The Sassy Teahouse ... the name alone sounds intriging ... well I was pretty taken by the name anyway. "This teahouse has got to be pretty darn cute. Cute like a kitten, or a poodle with a red ribbon on its head." With that idea in mind I went to the Sassy Teahouse with my friend Tanja.

The trek began from Tanjaís home, across the 520 bridge and into Redmond. Redmond strikes me as a strip mall town with a bunch of old buildings tossed in the mix. It seems to work in Redmond, while in other places it wouldnít. Anyway, the drive to the Sassy teahouse was pretty cool. When we stumbled upon the building I was hooked by its cuteness. I love this building ... made with stone and brick ... and the cobble stone walk way is so cool ... its so historic. It makes you forget that your amongst strip malls. Tanja and I were just amazed by the large trees that shaded the Sassy Teahouse. The colours in the garden look stunning.

As for the inside the Sassy Teahouse, well I just canít say whether I like it or not. I know its very pink and petite and very feminine, which was kind of "over poweringly" cute. I wouldnít find this place relaxing inside ... maybe outside. The space inside is small but adequate for moving around without knocking tea out of someoneís hands. The staff are petite women who can easily glide around the room. Tanja and I decied to sit outside which was great because the garden was so cute. Besides, I liked staring at the building. Like I said before we were both amazed by the trees which manage to block out the sound of the street (which was right behind us).

The food menu was pretty impressive, but the tea menu was a little disappointing to me. I didnít see a huge selection of Chinese teas (Oolongs) or Japanese teas. It was interesting that they included Roobios in a special part of the menu. There were plenty of Herbals, but (most disappointingly) the selection of Black teas was small. The tea Tanja and I ordered was called "peach & ginger". The black tea was Ceylon, but that was really disappointing. I should have gotten the house black tea.

Oh, one nice thing is that the Sassy Teahouse serves High teas, Afternoon teas, and kids teas ... even tea for two. Go to the website http://www.www.sassyhouse.com to see how the different types of tea are served. Anyway, the peach & ginger tea was weak, and smelled like peach rather than the combination of both. There was a hint of ginger, but not enough to justify it being called peach & ginger tea. Tanja (a big ginger nut) was disappointed as well. I should have stuck with the basic black tea.

Hereís Tanjaís review about the teahouse:

Sassy Teahouse & Boutique is very aptly named because the interior is quite sassy ... all done up & put together. As I am a more laid back, granola kind of girl, I preferred the environment of quaint tables for two outside on the brick path among the large old growth trees, shrubs and flowers. The stone cottage that houses Sassy, and the old growth trees are a real treasure to find in the modern hustle and bustle of downtown Redmond.

For tea, we chose a peach ginger tea. I was really surprised (and a little disappointed I must say) to taste more of the peach than the ginger in my tea. Also a little disappointed that the tea was brought out to us already steeped ... I'm one of those people that loves to lift up the lid to the teapot and see and get the aroma of all the tea leaves and other goodies that make up my tea. That being said, there was a very large variety of teas on the menu to suit an array of tastes. Personally, we agreed that we might have been better off, given our tastes, to have gone with a simpler tea. Would definitely give the tea another try.

The food and the tea desserts were excellent! I had the Caprese Salad, which was totally fresh, delicious and a great size for a light lunch. The tiny tea desserts we shared were gorgeous to look at and tasty. Though I must admit that out of the four desserts, the one that melted in my mouth and left the biggest smile on my face was the tiny tiramisu!! Glad it was bite size because it is so good that if it came in a larger size it could ruin any dessert lover's diet in a heartbeat.

Overall, Sassy Teahouse & Boutique is a nice spot to step out of the craziness of your everyday routine and spend a little quality time catching up with a good friend over lunch or a snack and a pot of tea.

So for me the Sassy Teahouse was a "two pot" place. I was going to give it three, but honestly I just canít . Love the name ... love the look of the building ... and love the garden we sat in, but the tea was really the disappointing part. Even if I had a bad experience with the black tea I ordered, I think overall the experience was good, and like Tanja said, it was great for quality time with a friend.

Write to Adriene@firststeep.com if you would like to share your opinion
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