The Jasmine Pearl Tea Shop…more of Portland, Oregon

While in Portland, we tasted tea in several tea shops.  Each was unique.  While we just loved the Steven Smith Teas and Tasting as posted here, The Jasmine Pearl, an eclectic, very “Portlandish” feeling shop was another find.  The proprietors were quite free with their tastings…literally…they suggested we choose a few teas, then steeped them up for us, gong fu style…no charge.  The Jasmine Pearl is a bit tricky to find…but they have cute little signs along the roadsides pointing you in the right direction.

The Jasmine Pearl, in Old Portland...on the fringe of a residential area ...follow the signs and you will get there

The Jasmine Pearl, in Old Portland…on the fringe of a residential area …follow the signs and you will get there

They offer a significant variety of teas…the ambiance leans towards Asian, yet is very “Portlandlike”, meaning eclectic and relaxed.  We tried two of their featured, single estate, rare Japanese Green teas…the preparation was meticulous and enjoyable…the teas really high quality.   I am not a huge fan of highly vegetal tasting Japanese teas; however, we found the Tsuyuhikari Sencha to be to our liking.

Tasting two Japanese rare green teas...gong fu tasting style...a beautiful service...we chose the Tsuyukikari Sencha...really green but not overpoweringly vegetal

Tasting two Japanese rare green teas…gong fu tasting style…a beautiful service…we chose the Tsuyukikari Sencha…really green but not overpoweringly vegetal

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The Jasmine Pearl has a huge variety of Puerh’s…the  fermented tea cake.  We didn’t taste Puerh’s on this visit, yet their selection was stunning.  In future posts, I plan on exploring this interesting tea…cake…a truly old method of handling the tea leaf.

Puerh Cakes at The Jasmine Pearl, Portland, Orego...a gorgeous selection

Puerh Cakes at The Jasmine Pearl, Portland, Orego…a gorgeous selection

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Their website showed they have a large selection of hand-made tea cups/pots…they did not disappoint.  I could have brought home several but decided to come home to order and not lug them home (I am getting a bit lazy about that…love to come home and order, have them shipped to my door).

Hand-made tea cups...artisanal, beautiful

Hand-made tea pots and cups…artisanal, beautiful

offering an enormous tea selection, this photo depicts less than half of what was available.

Half the tea selection at The Jasmine Pearl

Half the tea selection at The Jasmine Pearl

Located in Old Portland,next to the coolest antique hardware store…

Old Portland...hardware store, sits next door to The Jasmine Pearl...

Old Portland…hardware store, sits next door to The Jasmine Pearl…

I did bring home a small tasting cup from The Jasmine Pearl…am getting ready to steep my own cup of Tsuyuhikari Sencha after finishing this post…something about drinking Japanese green tea seems sooooo healthy.  And from petite cups makes me feel ritualistic and serene while doing so.

My tasting cup...and favorite Bodum, silicon striped petite cup.

My tasting cup…and favorite Bodum, silicon striped petite cup.

 

Drink tea…It’s really good for you.

Hello Friands…

No…this is not a typo.  But I thought it was when I saw “Friands” as the chapter heading in a sweet little tea book I found at the Huntington Gardens and Library this week.  As you can imagine, I have many books about tea and tea time experiences.  The photos in this one are strikingly clean and beautiful.  I picked it up to purchase, flipped to the table of contents, and was taken aback by the apparent misspelling of their chapter titled Friands.  My mind’s paradigm immediately assumed that tea with friends was a fitting chapter for an afternoon tea book. I even read a blog titled Tea With Friends.  Wondering how an editor missed this blatant typo, I flipped to page 32 and saw it again….but this time, realized there was no error…I learned something new…about a baked good called Friands.

Table of Contents from the book The Afternoon Tea Collection by Sterling publishing

Table of Contents from the book The Afternoon Tea Collection by Sterling publishing

Friands is the real name for a growing food trend in pastry for afternoon tea partakers and  petite pastry fans. It’s also simple to prepare as a gluten free product as less than 6% of the ingredients is flour.

Friands...featured in The Afternoon Tea Collection...by Sterling A tiny cake primarily made from almond flour, egg whites and sugar...easy to adapt for a gluten free treat

Friands…featured in The Afternoon Tea Collection…by Sterling
A tiny cake primarily made from almond flour, egg whites and sugar…easy to adapt for a gluten free treat

Friands originated in France (no surprise  🙂 )  May also be called a financier.  It is popular in Australia and New Zealand.

The main ingredients include egg whites, almond flour (or ground almonds), sugar, butter and flavoring of your choice and is baked in small molds, often oval in shape.

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Lemon Friand...dainty little cake - from Friand

Lemon Friand…dainty little cake – from Karen Kennedy of The Friand Cake Company, U.K.

From Karen Kennedy of The Friand Cake Company in Scotland...”Having icing sugar and egg whites instead of whole eggs and very little flour, makes them dreamily light, while the ground almonds keep them beautifully chewy and moist. Moreover, my Friands are all made using gluten and wheat free flour. To this basic recipe, I add an elaborate range of fillings, drizzles and toppings to produce a delicious and delicate tea or dessert cake in the true patisserie genre.
The French word friand broadly translated means “dainty or a gourmet who delights in delicate tastes” Literally it is translated as “partial to or fond of “ which is very appropriate for a Friand because most people are! ” Pictured here are a few photos of The Friand Cake Company’s gorgeous delicate little cakes.

Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea 🙂

 

Friands from Karen Kennedy, The Friand Cake Company

Friands from Karen Kennedy, The Friand Cake Company

Time to Celebrate “Tea Gone Cold”

I don’t know who comes up with these designations; however, tomorrow, June 10, is National Iced Tea Day in the U.S. and parts of Canada; therefore, I decided to celebrate by pulling out my brand new iced tea pitcher. For the past 30 years, I’ve pretty much used the same Princess house clear pitcher for my iced teas. But now I’ve gotten myself a fancy infuser model :-).   Spice Merchants in Laguna Beach carries a nice variety of iced tea infusers and tea pots.  I love it and it works well for hot tea too.  It’s a good size, holds 68 ounces of fluid, which makes plenty for a gathering.  When making iced tea, use double the amount of tea leaves as you would for a hot cup.  Once steeped, remove the leaves, let the strong tea cool, add equal parts pure, fresh water.  Chill. Add ice as you serve the tea.  This makes for the best iced tea.

For Life Brand Iced Tea Jug with a basket infuser that easily lifts out once tea has steeped.  Lid fits tight and it can be refrigerated...

For Life Brand Iced Tea Jug with a basket infuser that easily lifts out once tea has steeped. Lid fits tight and it can be refrigerated…

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In sunny So. Cal., iced tea in consumed in massive quantities.  In fact, over 90% of tea consumed in the United States is the iced variety.  It is said that iced tea was discovered at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair when on a very hot day, a tea merchant (Richard Blechynden), found that no one wanted his hot tea.  He borrowed ice from another vendor, poured his tea over it and there you have it, iced tea discovered.  While I believe this story to be true, and this certainly may have created the tipping point in exposing a broad population to the concept of iced tea, it seems that sweet iced tea existed in the American South long before 1904.   I read many civil war books and there’s definitely sweet iced tea being consumed and that was the middle 1800’s.  In any case, a freshly brewed jug of iced tea is my favorite thirst quencher…unsweetened for me.  Our Southern relatives call that “yankee style iced tea.”   If you are sweetening your tea, make a simple syrup by bring equal parts cane sugar and fresh water to a boil in  a saucepan until the sugar dissolves.  Cool it and you now have a sugar that is already dissolved as it hits your iced tea.

My absolute favorite iced tea away from home is Starbucks unsweetened black iced tea…shaken over ice.  It is just sooooo good.

Starbucks iced tea...shaken...delicious, unsweetened for me.

Starbucks iced tea…shaken…delicious, unsweetened for me.

Drink freshly prepared, whole-leaf steeped iced teas.  They are good for you.  And if you order iced tea in a restaurant and get something that tastes “off putting”…send it back.  It’s probably old.  Iced tea should be made fresh daily!

 

Steven Smith Teamaker…Quality, Whimsy & The Most Excellent Tasting Room

I’ve been noticing Steven Smith Teas the past couple years and had recently received their sampler as a gift from a friend…every time I steeped a variety, I was impressed with the beautiful quality and flavor of whatever I tried.  So, this tasting room was on my list of “must see” stops on our Portland, Oregon trip.  Awesome quality teas, cool packaging, and an excellent tasting room is what we found…Smith Teas was my kind of place…”just my cup of tea” (pun intended)…as well as, was my husband and nephew’s favorite tea stop too…it’s contemporary, yet exudes and acknowledges the historic Asian and Indian world view roots of where great teas reside.  Steven Smith, tea maker, wonderfully crafts small batches of tea in his Portland, Oregon tea atelier using fine ingredients picked at their peak.

Steven Smith Teamaker, Tasting Room, Portland, Oregon...on a quiet little street

Steven Smith Teamaker, Teaworks & Tasting Room, Portland, Oregon…located on a quiet little street

 

Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room...small brick building located on a tree lined small side street

Steven Smith Teamaker Tasting Room and Tea Atelier…small brick building located on a tree lined small side street

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The tasting room is inviting with a small tea bar, as well as, a few tables for tasting.  There was a clear view of the manufacturing equipment and product displayed in an accessible and not overwhelming way (as some tea rooms almost offer too much variety and product for my taste).  Not here, everything was just perfect. And why not, Steven Smith is no newbie to the tea world…his resume includes starting another small tea company with friends in the the 70’s…called Stash Tea…sold it, then later started another small tea company you might have heard of called Tazo Tea (yes, the one Starbucks bought from him)…then after going to France to live the good life for a few years…he came back to Portland and his love for tea and voila…we now have potentially the coolest tea company around…Steven Smith …this guy knows what he is doing.

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Inside the tasting room...a small tea bar, a hallway leading to the tea maker's workroom

Inside the tasting room…a small tea bar and a hallway leading to the tea maker’s workroom

Our tasting…

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Our tasting...we chose four teas to taste.  Their preparation and presentation was the really nice.  We tried a light green (Dragon well), an Oolong and two black yes...they have cards for each to explain what they are, their nuances and origin...just beautifully done.  The guys in running the tasting were knowledgable, friendly, and efficient too...well trained and loved their tea.

Our tasting…we chose four teas to taste. Their preparation and presentation was excellent. We tried a light green (Dragon well), an Oolong and two black tea varietals…they have cards for each to explain what they are, their nuances and origin…just beautifully done. The guys running the tasting were knowledgable, friendly, and efficient too…well trained and loved their tea.

Not only are the teas of the most excellent quality, their packaging is really neat.  If you go to their site, you will get the sense of whimsy and lighthearted fun Steven Smith and his team of tea makers has in numbering their products and creating descriptions of why the number and best way to consume.  They openly disclose their rationale for each box style and state that you are paying more for the packaging…which we bought as the boxes are so cool 🙂

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Steven Smith Packaging...string boxes hold 15 whole leaf individual bags..

Steven Smith Packaging…string boxes hold 15 whole leaf individual sachets as do the Tip Top boxes inspired by the Crayola Box..

They offer just a small display of  tea equipment and I loved it all…particularly the glass teapot…everything is tastefully merchandised

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Tea making accessories display tastefully...I love the clear pot with stainless steel infuser basket...clean ...and the tasting cup was perfect

Tea making accessories are tastefully displayed…I love the clear pot with stainless steel infuser basket…clean looking and easy to keep clean …and the tasting cup was perfect.  Their merchandising area also had tins and bags for sale with whole leaf varieties…they would pack up whatever amount you desired too

Every single eating establishment we went to in Portland proudly offered two things…Stumptown Coffee and Steven Smith Teas.  We loved every cup, along with the whimsical sayings on each package ..such as No. 39 Fez…says “best when shared with friends while lounging on pillows”

Each number has a rationale (go to their site where each is explained).  It’s worth the read. I would have liked to have been in the room as each tea description was developed, that must have been fun.  Again, these guys know what they are doing!   We’ll be back to Steven Smith … and my teapot is in the mail.

Drink tea…it’s good for you and your being!

No. 39 Fez

No. 39 Fez