Capital Teas and a quick trip to D.C.

Where San Fran Tea can’t go home again, because her parents have changed the locks

Thomas Wolfe may have written “You Can’t Go Home Again”, but the Washington D.C. area has always seemed like my second home. I grew up and lived there for most of my adult life until I moved to California in 1995. When I go back it’s amazing how much things seem the same. The National Mall never changes, I can still find my way around on the Metro and my parents live in the same house that I grew up in. Politicians come and go, but overall it seems like nothing much has changed much aside from my getting older.

All along the subway, I kept seeing younger versions of myself going to work. I wondered what they were doing, what their dreams were… would they succeed or would they get broken down by the world and give up like so many of us do? Wistful thoughts aside, I’ve always enjoyed the gestalt of urban life; people closing in on each other, creating culture, strife, love, economies and flotsam. There’s some kind of wisdom to learn from this, perhaps a greater understanding of togetherness and tolerance, if only we would sit down and listen.

I knew a tea trip would be a mandatory detour for me in our Nation’s capitol. After doing a bit of internet research, I decided to pay a visit to Capital Teas in Dupont Circle, they had the most interesting tea collection I could find outside of chain stores. Somewhat of a smaller chain, they have four locations in the D.C./Maryland area. I found a place for Chinese tea, but decided to skip it since that’s easy enough for me to get in San Francisco. Note the guy wearing shorts above, yes, it was a sweltering and muggy day which is no surprise for August in our Nation’s Capitol.

When you walk into the store, the first thing to notice is the giant tea wall, with the teas housed in small glass containers that you’re able to open up and smell. Being the tea nerd I am, It took me quite a while to settle on the ones I wanted, but what a glorious dilemma to be confronted with.

A photo of my swag after the fact. Do I have a tea problem? No, I don’t think so! One of the most interesting selections I found is the War of 1812 Commemorative Tea Blend. If you were in Baltimore this year, you would have seen various events commemorating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. This brew mixes smoky black and green teas (gunpowder, anyone?) with a hefty amount of fruit flavor. It definitely caught my attention and the affection of my taste buds. Also, being a Maryland girl, I went for the Chesapeake Sunrise; a blend of green and black teas, jackfruit and almond. I had some of this iced the very next day — sheer perfection for the muggy weather.

Usually when I go to D.C. I visit one of the Smithsonian museums, on this trip I thought I would do something slightly different. I set out for a walk after my tea buying escapade and came across this beautiful Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, owned by Martha Washington’s granddaughter and built in 1816. It’s now a National Historic Landmark and open to visitors year round. My visit was ill timed because they just started a tour after I arrived and I didn’t want to wait another hour for the next one. I spent some time meandering around the gardens and took this photo from the lawn which would have been a great place to play croquet and picnic in the back of this grand old house. There is a Japanese tea house on the grounds built by the last owner of the house, but unfortunately it was not staffed for thirsty travelers.

My last stop was at Dumbarton Oaks, another historic estate in Georgetown owned by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, which now houses a research library and collection owned by Harvard University. This facility specializes in Byzantine and Pre-Columbian studies and has a small museum, which is open to the public. I’m an avid art lover and greatly enjoyed my afternoon viewing these gorgeous pieces, some of which are pictured below but more can be seen on the facility’s website. Dumbarton Oaks has gorgeous gardens you can meander around in to your heart’s content. If I had more time I would have loved to have spent another day taking snapshots or plein air painting. Be careful in planning your visit if you go, the facility doesn’t open to the public until 2 p.m.

After a day of history, tea, art and adventure I was ready to go back home and brew up a cup of Sailor’s Delight, a blend of black and green teas with strawberry and papaya which was delicious served over ice in the humid weather. A fun day full of eye candy and tea treats were had by your faithful correspondent.

Comments (8)

    Profile photo of thepurrfectcup
    thepurrfectcupSeptember 24th, 2012 at 3:56 pm      

    That’s the same shop I stopped into! Great minds think alike! Sounds like you had a fantastic and yet HOT time.

    Profile photo of amyoh
    amyohSeptember 24th, 2012 at 8:22 pm      

    Yeah it was hot and especially HUMID! Still had a great time tho’.

    Profile photo of xavier
    xavierSeptember 25th, 2012 at 11:45 am      

    I read about the store concept.
    How does it look like in real life?

      Profile photo of amyoh
      amyohSeptember 29th, 2012 at 9:13 am      

      I thought it looked great. My only suggestion to them would be they need pads of paper for people to write down what they want and take notes. :)

    Profile photo of lazyliteratus
    lazyliteratusSeptember 29th, 2012 at 1:58 am      

    I’m surprised you didn’t make it to Zen Tara in Bethesda. They’re my “must-sip” whenever I make it back to D.C.-ish lands.

      Profile photo of amyoh
      amyohSeptember 29th, 2012 at 9:12 am      

      I will check it out on my next trip. Are you in the DC area often?

        Profile photo of lazyliteratus
        lazyliteratusOctober 7th, 2012 at 6:18 pm      

        Can’t say I’ve ever tea’d in D.C. Zen Tara is on my must-visit list because I’ve tried their wares before.

    Profile photo of jackie
    jackieSeptember 29th, 2012 at 8:52 pm      

    Have never been to Capital Teas, or Zen Tara for that matter. I don’t recall any tea shops on our last trip to DC, but I think we spent most of our time walking in and out of museums. I really like your choices in finding alternatives, they sound interesting. And Georgetown, would be nice to go back and spend more time walking around there, it’s a fun part of town.