Tea was discovered in ancient China when a leaf blew in the window and landed in the emperor's bath, which he was slurping through a straw. Sip leaves steeped more decorously with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of organic loose-leaf teas, accessories, and gifts at Zen Tara Tea in Bethesda.
Consummate quality and sustainable sources characterize the teas and trinkets of Zen Tara Tea, which features more than 100 distinctive varieties culled from across the globe. Teacup collectors will crave the expansive selection of loose-leaf teas, such as the mild bancha green tea ($7 for two ounces) or the earl grey with blue flower ($7 for two ounces), which is enhanced with blue malva flower to balance flavors, soothe scratchy throats, and enhance pigeon-whispering skills.
A bevy of inventive blends brings the best of diverse varieties into one delightful beverage, such as the exotic cardamom and perky mint notes of the Maghreb mint green chai ($7 for two ounces). Merchandise such as silicone-spouted teapots ($22) and customized gift sets ($30–$50) make ideal offerings for housewarming parties and interventions for Big Gulp addicts.
Since its humble beginnings, Zen Tara Tea has continued to grown to be a hub of herbal products that are certified organic, as well as environmentally and socially responsible. The 1,600 square-foot Bethesda Avenue storefront houses more than just dried delights, as dedicated spaces for tasting, blending, and table seating accommodate midday tea breaks much more comfortably than an unused elevator shaft.
- Thai native Methee Thavornvongkajorn and co-owner Guy Munsch travel to Thailand, Vietnam, and China collecting more than 100 oolongs, greens, and other steepable leaves — nearly all of which are organic and fair trade. – Daily Candy
- I all kinds of love this place. They have an enormous selection of teas, and the workers are very friendly about helping you figure out a tea to enjoy. – Alice L., Yelp, 9/1/10