Leaf & Kettle…Fine Tea Delivered with Finesse!

Leaf & Kettle Tea Shop...Beautiful, contemporary, over 100 teas waiting for you to taste...well, maybe just three at a time...excellent and knowledgeable staff too.

Leaf & Kettle Tea Shop…Beautiful, contemporary, over 100 teas waiting for you to taste…we tasted four and will be going back soon.  It is an excellent experience with a knowledgeable, engaging staff, displays of gorgeous tea ware set in a clean, fresh, upscale, yet accessible, environment.  Located in Del Mar, California

Occasionally I literally “run into” a fine tea shop. Such was the case with Leaf & Kettle Fine Teas and Teaware in Del Mar, Ca.

Several weeks ago,  we trekked down to a  restaurant/bar in Del Mar, North San Diego area, to   hear live music from one of my husband’s favorite up and coming artists. Upon leaving the restaurant, I spotted this cool looking tea shop.  As it was late, the shop was closed, so we put it on our agenda to check it out soon.  We did, and what a treat. This contemporary tea shop…with tasting bar and over 100 fine teas was certainly my kind of tea house.  Sometimes I get in my own little world of tea and forget that there is this vast population of tea fanatics like me out there.  This shop was the epitome of what I enjoy about going to a tea shop.  We got to sit at this beautiful wooden bar and try four teas of our choosing while engaging in a lively, dynamic and informative dialogue with Leaf & Kettle’s tea smart manager.  The tea preparation was precise, ritual-like using Gaiwan lidded steeping cups, and an invigorating experience.  It was also fun.

Leaf & Kettle tasting using a gaiwan lidded cup and tiny tasting bowls made for a special experience

Leaf & Kettle tasting using a Gaiwan lidded cup and tiny tasting bowls made for a special experience – o.k., and yes I did go home with some of those darling little tasting cups and the wooden tray/saucer

 

About LEAF & KETTLE – they state:
“We are dedicated to providing our customers with a wide selection of high quality teas and tisanes backed by superior customer care and a passion for excellent service. We purchase in limited quantities to ensure all stocks are sold through and remain fresh. Season-specific teas, especially white and green teas, are always from the current harvest year unless otherwise noted.

One of our favorite aspects of tea is that it can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. We don’t believe there is a “right” or “wrong” way to enjoy it. Some people would not dream of adding milk or sugar to their tea, while others have formed entire tea drinking rituals around the addition of these items. We believe you should enjoy tea in any way you see fit. We love it all and usually prepare our style of tea based on our mood, the weather, time of day, or how much time we have. On cold winter mornings, piping hot tea steeped in a pot is such a treat. For others, they may prefer a nice Wuyi Oolong with its dark, sweet roasted character best coaxed from a traditional Gaiwan (lidded cup). On a hot day, a freshly shaken glass of iced tea always hits the spot. Consider all of the different tea cultures around the world: tea taken with milk and sugar throughout the UK, the spicy sweet Masala Chai of India, the refreshing sweetened mint green tea from Morocco. And these are just a few! There are countless other ways tea is enjoyed around the world, all of them valid. So, establish your own favorite rituals and take your tea however you most enjoy it. That’s what we do!”

And I will say, they do it well and we came home with superior teas that I hadn’t tried before.

Photos also depict Casey, our tea barista, pouring my tasting of two Japanese green teas and, my favorite of the day,  Iron Goddess Reserve Oolong…I went home with 4 ounces of this well-balanced tea which was perfect after the lunch we came from.  It tasted warm, sweet, creamy with a slight hint of maple (one of my favorite flavors)…fresh, light and yummy at the same time.  My husband went for a large iced tea to go also…and the freshly steeped tea, shaken in ice and poured over ice is just stunning.  I now do it that way at home with a martini shaker that I hadn’t used in years.  The inside of the shop has beautiful tea ware.  Will share more of the tea ware later as I did pick up my new favorite everyday cup from them that day too.  All in all, a great tea day!!!  Thanks Casey and Leaf & Kettle!  We’ll be back.

We tasted and purchased several teas.  My favorite was No. 49 Iron Goddess Reserve Oolong...we also took home a fruity tisane I would be infusing for an  iced tea tasting class...it was called Island Tradewinds - a blend of coconut, kiwi and ripe cherries.  Light and refreshing...

We tasted and purchased several teas. My favorite was No. 49 Iron Goddess Reserve Oolong (pictured above)…we also took home a fruity tisane (pictured below) which I would be infusing for an iced tea tasting class the following week…it was called Island Tradewinds – a blend of coconut, kiwi and ripe cherries. Light and refreshing…everyone in the class loved it for its mild, yet distinctively fresh fruit flavor and it’s simply beautiful pink blush color.  My husband tried a handful of the dried fruit – which prompted a few of the students to do the same, they claimed it tasted similar to a trail mix.

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The Finesse of the Donut @ Blue Star Donuts

Blue Star Donuts...this way, you couldn't miss it with the line out the door.  The line moved along quickly and efficiently...it was fun being there and gave you a bit of time to figure out which donut to choose

Blue Star Donutsthis way>>> Actually, you couldn’t miss it as there was a  line running out the door. The line moved along quickly and efficiently…it was fun being there and moving through the line gave you a bit of time to figure out which donut to choose.

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Visiting Blue Star Donuts on a drizzly Portland, Or. morning

Visiting Blue Star Donuts on a drizzly Portland, Or. morning

Portland, Oregon offers a plethora of fabulous, remarkable, and renowned cafes and bakery establishments….none more popular (and rightly so) than Blue Star Donuts.  With a line of patient patrons running out the door, this Food Network featured cool shop, known for offering unique, quality donuts which reflect a high degree of craft, understanding of ingredients, and skill in creating is totally worth the wait and the calories.

The display of products was tantalizing, clean, and simple…and donuts are just about made fresh to order.

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The donuts...

The donuts…using fine ingredients such as Valrhona chocolate, hazelnuts, and my favorite combination, maple & bacon Mmmmmmmm

Who would have thought a donut could be cool.

The staff was delightful and helpful.  I love an open kitchen, theirs reflected great organization and was really clean!  My nephew said he once heard Chef/Owner Stephanie Thornton say “we just make donuts.” How nice to see someone master their craft, do it well, and offer remarkable consistent products which tantalize your taste buds with diverse combinations.

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Blue Star kitchen...organized, clean and lots of brioche donuts ready to get dressed :-)

Blue Star kitchen…organized, clean and lots of brioche donuts ready to get dressed 🙂

The decor was cool, white, and clean with really neat descriptions of their philosophy of quality and a good education in the definition of various social media platforms…note the use of Steven Smith Teas…and Portland’s Stumptown Coffees. All consistent with the quality of the donuts.IMG_1689

 

It's about "quality" and I got schooled too in social media defined...

It’s about “quality” and I got schooled too in social media defined…

My biggest challenge was managing how to eat breakfast at one of the awesome breakfast eateries and  fit in donuts!  It was work, but we figured it out :-). While we did a good job getting to several eating establishments on our Portland must do list, we will definitely need a few more trips back to this wonderful city to consume more of the beautiful products offered.