Archived entries for seattle

Let’s Talk Tea in Seattle

Do you like tea? Or LOVE tea?

Seriously, who talks about Seattle and tea in the same sentence? It’s always coffee, espresso, sexy baristas, and latte art in my town.

I’m expecting my second child in July, so one of the biggest changes I’ve made to my diet lately is adhering to the well-known “don’t eat or drink” list. You know, don’t drink alcohol, don’t have too much caffeine, no soft cheese, etc. I’m usually a morning coffee drinker, but I’ve rediscovered my love of black and green teas in the past few months.

In Seattle there are a number of awesome coffee shops (which by the way also happen to usually serve awesome tea), but what deserves some attention are the tea shops! I met up with some friends for a tea tasting at Vital Tea Leaf near Pike Place Market. I tried a wide selection of teas, starting with light and subtle green teas, going through a range of oolong and puerh, and finishing with the darkest black tea. I can’t even remember the number of teas I tried, but it was a fun time!

Miro Tea in Ballard has a great atmosphere for getting work done, playing a game of chess, or just catching up on for a chat. A wide selection is available and the best part is that unlike many other strictly tea shops their hours are geared for the person that wants to stay out a bit late. 10PM!

If you want a frilly, ladylike tea experience then there’s nowhere else to go than Queen Mary Tea in Bryant. I went with my Mom one summer day for lunch, and we were surprised by the number of ladies dressed up, girls in tiaras, and general atmosphere of formality. I don’t think I saw a single guy in the packed room aside from the waiters. But the food is great, and you could possibly get the girly tea party experience you’ve always dreamed of!

Organic Gardening Essentials

A view of Seattle Tilth's greenhouse and nearby P-Patch

I’ve been very busy for the past month taking an Organic Gardening class at Seattle Tilth. It’s a comprehensive class that focuses primarily on growing annual vegetables without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

I’ve been a gardener for years, but this year I really want to focus on edible landscaping, growing more of my own food, and trying to do it all organically.
Also, a big positive note in taking the class has been getting to know so many other people passionate about food and gardens, urban farming, and getting their hands dirty!

I summed up what I think the big three points are concerning what your organic garden needs.

1) Great Soil - The earth you plant your food in is the most important element when growing healthy and organic edible plants. Make sure to get your soil tested. Amend with the proper balance of essential nutrients (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium), natural amendments such as algae/kelp, or other beneficial bacterial.

2) Great Plan – Going to your garden center in spring is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming experience. So many varieties of tomatoes! Lettuce seeds! Alpine strawberries! But the best thing to do is plan what you’re going to have in your garden for the year before even breaking ground. Observe the sun’s path on your property to determine the best place for your garden. Remember crop rotation from high school history class? It’s still applicable today! Think about the entire growing season instead of just individual crops. Try to spread out your garden’s output so that you have a continuous supply of what you and your family love to eat.

3) Organic Pest and Disease Control – Central to most people’s perception of organic gardening is the lack of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. This is true, but what really keeps the bugs an disease at bay are a few things: putting the right plant in the right place, having the soil properly amended, and rotating the types of crops you plant. Beware any type of pest control that doesn’t involve just taking off diseased leaves or simply crushing or disposing of little critters that will destroy a crop. A little bit of proper prevention of pests and disease is actually the best “cure”!

I’ll be elaborating more on these points in future posts! Until then, think about your soil and planning your garden before going to the store or ordering from a seed catalog!

View

Looking east across Lake Washington

View from the grounds of the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.

We secretly switched your normal coffee..

The "Custom Blend"

I’m no stranger to Zoka coffee, as they’re only 2 blocks away from my house. Their coffee is GOOD.

However, some employees that work there started mildly suggesting a single origin coffee to Mike a few weeks ago. No thank you, he’d say, I’m sticking to my Fitzroy. Mind you, Fitzroy is a blend.

I had to get some food shopping done yesterday, and on my way back I decided to get a pound from Zoka for the next morning. No Fitzroy, as expected. I got the barista’s attention when I said “God, what was I thinking, decaf?!” while grabbing the decaf from the counter near the register and running back to their table of coffees to try and pick a new flavor. While trying to pick something new, the barista started grilling me about Fitzroy. Why do you like it? Did you ever try a single origin? “Single origin is where IT’S AT!” I basically said I like its body (it has a very full, rich creaminess to it). Plus I added, “My husband very distinctly said he does not think single origin’s where it’s at.”

This barista dude got a determined look on his face. He took out a paper bag and wrote out Custom Blend.

“I love fucking with people.” He told me that they had recently screwed around with their manager during a cupping, and had laced her cup with Starbucks beans. She knew something was off, and couldn’t quite put words to her taste buds – but finally her coworkers ‘fessed up.

So I did it, I did the Folgers switch with my man. But with gourmet coffee.

Mike was mildly excited about finding a custom blend on the counter the next morning. Upon grinding the beans, he said “This smells different.” I felt a little wary of the dénouement for this switcheroo. Will he get testy once he finds out he’s been deceived?**

But all was well, we both loved our coffee. So, we have a winner, the Sumatra Permatoa Gayo! Thanks you nameless barista dude – I’ll tell you what happened the next time I see you.

For those who are curious, here’s the description of the coffee as listed on Zoka’s site.

This is not your mother’s Sumatra. Cultivated in the nutrient-rich, volcanic soil of Sumatra, this coffee from the Permata Gayo Coop in the Aceh province of Northern Sumatra is unlike any other Sumatra we’ve tasted. The wood and earth notes of your typical Sumatras are gone and replaced by a delicate orange peel up front, followed by blackberry jam, and finishing with sassafras.

**As a side note, a long time ago I switched Mike’s regular coffee with decaf. That wasn’t as fun as I thought it would be.

Free Plants

Imagine my delight when some neighbors up the street offered these boxes for free on the curb! They’re currently out on the back deck, and already fit in perfectly.

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