My bachelorette party was this weekend.
I’m going to give you a minute to ponder what possible hijinks my friends and I would have gotten up to on a bachelorette party.
Got some ideas? Maybe something traditional like doing vodka shots, in flavors like watermelon and bubble gum, at a male strip club? A night of makeovers and chick flicks with a private makeup artist? Or something more akin to my nerdy tastes, like a video game marathon or a midnight viewing of “Thor?”
You (like me) may be surprised to learn that the main event was a private tea tasting at the Jasmine Pearl in Portland. I’m pretty sure that heaven is going to be that tea shop. First of all, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a private tea tasting, but my awesome bridesmaids found one. Second, this tea shop is absolutely brilliant. It’s owned by people who have been everywhere, know everything, and have made everything related to tea, growing tea, blending tea, brewing tea, the history of tea, and even how to cook with tea.
Our host, Heather (one of the owners), spent a good hour and a half with us while we sniffed every tin of tea in the shop and tasted around a dozen. I got to try teas I’d never heard of and teas I may never be able to afford. Heather actually developed many, if not all, of their blends herself, and the quality and taste compared to grocery-store teabags is unbelievable. She told us about the teas she uses as spice rubs, the differences in cultural perceptions of tea quality among tea-producing countries, and how you make jasmine pearl tea. I spent the last few samples studying my notes and picking out my inevitable purchase. I managed to choose just two: Cocoa Deluxe and their house oolong.
And yeah, the cocoa tea was really cool! I’ve tried maybe one commercial chocolatey tea, and it was just weird, with an icky artificially sweet taste to it. This one had a great rich cocoa aftertaste and is pretty fabulous with cream and sugar. The oolong is, well, oolong, nothing too exciting, but it was the one we sampled and I liked it a lot.
If there’s anything left of my tax returns after our Ikea binge, I’ll be going back for the best tea I’ve ever had anywhere: their mayucha sencha green tea. Normally I don’t like traditional green teas because they taste too seaweedy, but this one was light and fresh and almost fruity.
It’s also twelve bucks an ounce. So there’s that.
Some of the other cool teas we tried were genmaicha, a tea Tess suggested that’s made with toasted rice; Lime Twist, a citrusy tea that I was tempted to get for iced tea; and yerba mate, the super-caffeinated “tea” that’s actually made from a South American bush. We all left on a nice caffeine buzz and drove to a highly recommended but not-yet-visited Portland landmark restaurant: Montage.
It’s awesome. It’s loud. They serve frog legs for appetizers. Their cocktail menu takes up a full sheet of legal-sized paper. You can get jambalaya with alligator or catfish in it. They’ll package up your leftovers in aluminum foil sculptures of cats or battle axes or scorpions. And they have a gazillion varieties of mac & cheese, which was why it was recommended to me in the first place.
So over the course of the party I consumed a whole bunch of tea and a significant portion of gourmet mac & cheese, hence covering my two favorite food groups. (Chocolate was partly covered by the Mississippi mud pie we tried to take back to the hotel for dessert, but the waiter left out the part where it’s made of ice cream, so we wound up digging through half-melted piles of chocolate and crust.)
We spent the rest of the evening (which was slightly shortened by the fact that we got lost IN PORTLAND, UNHEARD OF, THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE) swimming, trying to find something on TV, and making wire jewelry, or mostly watching Tess make wire jewelry for us because she was the only one who actually knew how to do it.
It was really fun, but it took me a while to relax and accept the fact that my friends were spending money on me as a treat for me. We went to a great restaurant and stayed in a pretty swanky hotel suite (a suite!), so I was very antsy for the first part of the night thinking about how much money was going into it. Tess tried to reassure me by telling me that she and Jessica expect the same treatment when they get married, but I’m the one getting married in the midst of the recession while my friends are struggling to make ends meet, or even find jobs. Okay, I still haven’t really gotten over being treated to a party. Kevin’s sister even bought my tea for me. I feel guilty. I shouldn’t, but I do.
Solution: buy a lot of very expensive tea to compensate.