Gateways to Tea

I’ve spent the last five years sampling a wide variety of tea, not to mention writing about tea, studying and reading about tea and more. But it wasn’t always thus. For the majority of my days I was not a tea drinker. Growing up I barely knew what tea was – my only experience with it being with the powdered stuff that came in a jar that my parents used to make into a concoction that was passed off as iced tea. Not surprisingly, it was not a beverage I ever acquired a taste for.

Everyone who drinks tea probably has a brand that got them started on their way and which they will look back on with at least some measure of fondness. I don’t recall exactly how I came to dip my toes in the waters of tea, but I do remember that Stash Tea was instrumental as a sort of gateway drug, if you’ll pardon the expression.

The Pacific Northwest is best known as a bastion for the vending and consumption of another hot beverage – the one popularized by Starbucks, that 800-pound elephant of café culture. But if the truth be told this region has also produced a number of noteworthy tea merchants. Most notable among these are Tazo Tea, which started off a small independent and was eventually gobbled up by Starbucks, in an obvious attempt to diversify their offerings. Another noteworthy tea vendor associated with the Pacific Northwest – Stash Tea.

While you can find out more about the history of Stash Tea, suffice to say that they started in a modest way, in Tigard, Oregon, vending herbs and herbal teas and eventually expanding to the point where today you’re likely to encounter at least a few of their teas in nearly every grocery store you set foot in.

As the company notes at their Web site, they currently offer more than 200 of these teas and tisanes. Of these, there are a few that stand out in the memories of my early days of tea drinking. Most notably, the Premium Green tea and the Peppermint. The latter comes highly recommended to anyone who likes a mint tea that packs a truly pungent wallop.

Don’t forget to check out William’s blog, Tea Guy Speaks!

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