Bellevue is losing a longstanding tea fixture in Smacha, which is shuttering its retail and takeout shop May 31 to focus on online sales, while Belltown recently gained its own tea takeout option in Steepologie.
Tea master Jason Chen opened Smacha in 2013, sourcing much of his high quality loose leaf tea from his own gardens in China, and even roasting oolongs in house. He also patented the Smacha Autobrewer, an automated steeping device designed to take the guesswork out of the process. Unfortunately, he announced via social media this month that while Smacha.com would continue its online sales, the storefront would close May 31.
Smacha wasn’t a cafe where guests could sit and order tea by the cup and while away the hours (for those, see Eater’s guide to Seattle’s teahouses). Instead, the shop hosted free tastings for educational purposes and sold a variety of loose leaf tea, teaware, and hot or iced drinks to go. These were complemented by house pastries made with tea, like Russian tea cakes or red bean and mochi matcha cakes. From now until closing, in-store items are on sale up to 50 percent.
Meanwhile, Steepologie opened last month at the corner of 4th Ave and Stewart St, offering a similar retail- and takeout-only model as Smacha but with more emphasis on herbal tisanes and blended, flavored teas — think white tea with acai berry or black tea with rose and vanilla — plus two blends of Iggy’s kombucha on tap.
Initial reviews on Yelp are positive, and the company’s website/online store suggests two more physical locations are on the way in 2018. The flagship store is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.