The Puget Sound is that part of the Pacific Ocean that pushes its way through the straits and narrows of western Washington, winding around islands, streaming into inlets, and creating a watery wedge between the peninsula and the rest of the state.
The Sound provides sheltered ocean waters for pods of Orcas, migrating whales, shellfish, salmon, and a huge variety of birds. It is ringed by mountains, with the Olympic range on the peninsula to the west and the Cascade range inland to the east. As you drive along the Cascades from north to south, it is easy to spot three volcanoes: Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens (which is the only one currently smoking
). Most of the mountains in the Cascades are around 4,000-6,000 ft tall with a few shooting up higher, but Mt. Rainier towers above the others at 14,000+ feet. When fog or low clouds roll in, Rainier visually disconnects from the earth and seems to float in the sky. Often, though, it and most of the other peaks are hidden behind the clouds that catch in them. This is the first mountainous place I’ve lived where people refer to “the mountains being out today.” On those days when the mountains are “out,” the sun is blazing, and high pressure offshore keeps the mist away, there is nowhere better to see the view than from a ferry crossing the waters of the Puget Sound.
It was with those views in mind that I headed for the waterfront on a very sunny and warm day a few weeks ago. There are many state ferry routes leaving from the Seattle area
, but on this day I decided to take a ferry to check out a tea shop in Bremerton, a cute town on the inner side of the peninsula. The boat ride across the water
is about 1 hour each way, so there is plenty of scenic viewing time. I filled a thermos with iced oolong, grabbed my camera, smeared on some sun screen, then headed for the ferry terminal.
After parking the car below deck, I went topside and found a sunny spot to watch as we left Seattle:
I sat back and enjoyed the view while sipping my iced tea (Nantou oolong from IPOT
Can you see Mt. Rainier floating over the morning mist in the background of the picture below? Click the photo for a larger version, and you'll get a sense of the ethereal quality to the mountains here. They're watery and misty, not at all like the rugged and dramatically defined Rocky Mountains where I've lived in the past. Of course, once you get closer and start hiking or driving in the mountains, the clarity and depth change (but that's for a future post).
I forgot to take a picture of the town of Bremerton on my recent trip, so I'm including one from this past Spring. You can see the Olympic range peeking out from behind the clouds in the distance.
After docking in Bremerton, it was just a quick 5 minute drive to SpecialTea Pots
It’s a small, cozy shop, with herbal tisanes and select teas, as well as a wide range of Yixing-style clay pots. The prices are quite reasonable, and the shop owner is a warm and friendly woman who poured me a very nice cup of iced herbal tea to try while I shopped. I spent some time looking at different pots and cup sets before deciding on a few items.
One of my goals with this trip was to find another yixing pot for puerh. Instead, I found a larger clay pot that I now use for golden yunnans. I wanted a chocolately-looking pot for the cocoa-mocha tones of my favorite yunnans, and this one suited me. It is larger than my Yixing pot, and it has a brewing basket which works well for a black tea. It was a relatively inexpensive teapot, and that’s what I wanted for my first attempt at seasoning a clay pot. All went well, and I’ve been using it for my first cup of tea each morning.
The shop owner has a Chinese speaking person come in to do translations of pots with text, and she had a few notes about the text and images on this one. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the specific meaning, but it had to do with purity or essence of water. That seemed quite fitting for my trip across the Sound.A few last thoughts:
Note: click any of the above photos to see larger versions.
- I missed one spot with the sunscreen, and oooooooooooooooh what a 5-inch sunburn that was!
- Shiuwen of Floating Leaves found me the perfect little Yixing with the snubby-nose that I love. I’ll be using it for puerh (Shiuwen is seasoning it for me now).
- My next ferry adventures will be Seattle – Bainbridge and Mukilteo – Whidbey Island. Both of these destinations have places for taking tea, so I can combine a boat ride with tea and sightseeing (or, in the case of Whidbey Island, some really fabulous hiking). More on those in the months to come.