A Travellerspoint blog

Unshelved: Library Exploration and Tea Tasting

Who would have thought a library could be so entertaining?

sunny 65 °F

Whoever has engrained in the minds of the masses that libraries are solemn locations exclusively for forced studying and those rare occasions when the internet is down at home, forget all that nonsense and visit the Seattle Central Library nestled right in the heart of downtown for an unforgettable experience.

I had not intended to visit the library on this particular visit downtown, but my husband and I had planned a morning of tea tastings and when we arrived early we had nothing better to do. I had heard that the architecture of the Seattle Central Library was worth viewing, but let me tell you I was completely blown away by the impressive structure that defied any notion of what a library should or should not look like.


The Seattle Central Library was built in 2004 at a mind-boggling cost of $166 million. The building was designed by Rem Koolhaas, an award-winning Dutch architect whose portfolio includes a long list of projects in cities across the globe. If it weren’t for the clusters of computers, stacks of periodicals, and students studying, the structure would resemble a giant dance club with its steel and angles, neon lit elevators, mod furniture, and sweeping views across 11 levels.


A massive Microsoft auditorium is used for lectures and book readings, an entire floor is devoted to computer and internet use, jam session rooms are available for music practice, and yes, there are even books for your perusing pleasure. For a mid morning on a weekday, the library was more happening than Starbucks, which in Seattle, is saying a lot. However, with library usage up 20 percent in the last year, changes to rules of conduct have been proposed. Patrons will be awoken if sleeping, shoes must be worn at all time, and gasp, loud talking will not be tolerated. Oh, and, all items brought into the library must meet airline size carry-on requirements or they will not be allowed inside. No joke.


Careful not to provoke any hard-nosed librarians, we tiptoed out of the library and made our way to the Vital Tea Leaf to taste different teas and learn about the proper steeping of tea leaves. I was quite excited to be attending a tea tasting as I can’t seem to get through the morning without a cup of black tea. I am also a purist in the sense that I appreciate the aromas and flavors of tea without any added sugar or cream, so with that we sat ourselves down and let the tastings begin. Between ginseng, rose petals, and jasmine I was overwhelmed by dozens of flavors. I typically like my tea fairly rich and full-bodied, but here I had the opportunity to try teas that tasted floral, crisp, and sweet. It awoke my taste buds and I left with a new appreciation for all the endless tea drinking possibilities.



Before leaving downtown Seattle we stopped in Metsker’s Maps where we gathered guidebooks and maps in preparation for our Alaska cruise and jaunt into Denali National Park. The next time you hear from me, I will be aboard the Island Princess headed North into the Inside Passage of Alaska. Our stops include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Anchorage with several days of scenic glacier cruising aboard the ship. I can’t wait!

Posted by Jennylynn 17:25 Archived in USA Tagged educational

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