A friend and I visited A Tea Utopia on Tuesday, November 7, 2006.
We walked into the warm, sunlit shop in the middle of the day. The first thing you notice when you enter is the "wall of tea." One of the two main walls of the shop has nothing but shelves filled with jars of loose-leaf tea. Signs indicate that customers should feel welcome to open the jars and smell the teas.
We opened many jars, but left the vast majority unopened. I smelled tea from China that was so smoky it reminded me of roasted meat. I inhaled oolong that made me sigh. I saw a jar of genmai green tea, which normally has toasted brown rice in it, that had tiny, little popcorn mixed in.
The store proprietor came out and offered assistance. If you need advice on how teas will compare to others that seem similar, this is the lady to ask. She handmixes each tea on the wall, carefully selecting the aromatic pieces of the puzzle. She experiments with different blends, sometimes tossing a whole batch if it doesn't come out so well.
I enjoyed a freshly baked blueberry scone with a cup of iced jasmine tea, sweetened to my liking. My friend enjoyed a cup of an herbal tea, scented with vanilla, and a Nonni's biscotti. It was lovely to sit and talk, enjoying our treats. Customers pay for the items purchased at the conclusion of their visit, probably to allow them to add on extra food items as they give in to temptation (hey, we didn't originally start with that scone and biscotti!).
There were a couple of elderly women enjoying tea and conversation, so quiet that they were in their own world and we in ours.
I recommend this store for several reasons. The vast selection usually gives more room for experimentation, going outside of one's boundaries. The fresh pies and other treats would attract even a non-tea drinker. And lastly, the warm atmosphere and hands-on approach of the owner lend the store a very local flavor. It's comfortable there.
A Tea Utopia
1280 Centaur Village Drive Unit 7
Lafayette, CO 80026