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20 Nov '15

Totem Tea Review in Willamette Week

Posted by Phillip Sauerbeck

It was so great to meet and share tea with some of the Willamette Week team after my interview with Michael.  Big thanks to WW for helping to bring interesting teas into the spotlight.  Here's what they wrote about Totem:

Totem owner Phil Sauerbeck's business card says, humbly, "tea researcher." But after 15 years of tea obsession, he's more like the Alan Lomax of tea, hunting out the rare and untasted from family-run farms and little merchants in Taiwan and bringing them here to you. Almost all of the small-batch teas he sells are unavailable elsewhere nearby, and every one we've tried has been exceptional. Sauerbeck doesn't feel the need to buy and sell a tea he doesn't think is really special, he says. A red-tinted snow honey chrysanthemum from China's Kunlun Mountain is the rare herbal tea that reveals its true depth only on the second steeping, while a gui fei gets its natural sweetness because it's been fed on by leafhoppers, and his mulberry tea is prepared in the style of a Japanese sencha. All are worth not only drinking, but talking about. Right now you can get them only at Coquine and Noraneko restaurants, or online through his website. We suggest, strongly, that you do so.


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