Experience Tea brings unique flavor to Issaquah

Once a high-ranking national manager at a bank, Issaquah resident Roberta Fuhr took a bold step in 2008.

Roberta Fuhr

Roberta Fuhr

Once a high-ranking national manager at a bank, Issaquah resident Roberta Fuhr took a bold step in 2008.

After watching her daughter graduate college and move to the East Coast for a job, Fuhr did some soul searching and decided to step down from her banking position.

“I was just really ready for a change  —  I was at that place where I needed a purpose,” she said.

After spending time exploring her interests, the recreational tea drinker started reading books about the intricacies of Camiella Sinensis  —  the species of plant whose buds are used to produce tea. She followed up by taking certification courses with the Specialty Tea Institute.

That’s when her idea was born.

“I started Googling tea classes because I thought, ‘Wow, I wonder if anybody teaches this,’” Fuhr said.

The answer to her question was a resounding ‘no.’

“What was frustrating to me as I was getting more into tea, is how bad our industry is in really teaching people what tea is,” she said.

She added that many specialty tea shops focus on things such as free WiFi, serving food and free shipping, while they keep their product behind counters.

Fuhr took a step towards changing that model in October 2011, when she opened Experience Tea on Issaquah’s Front Street. The business sells a large variety of specialty teas and tea accessories, but its uniqueness lies within its open tea studio concept.

Fuhr, who runs Experience Tea on her own, holds a variety of tea discovery classes and tastings throughout the week. She teaches customers everything from the history of tea to how oxidation can make a difference in flavor, to the importance of steeping temperatures and times.

“The way I look at it, I start them on a tea journey because it really is a journey,” said Fuhr, comparing the tea experience to that of wine and wine tasting.

In a basic tea-tasting class, Fuhr has customers sample the whole spectrum of teas. They start with one white, one green, two oolongs, two blacks and one pu’erh  —  an aged tea from southern China. In order to maintain an authentic experience, teas are served in a traditional gaiwan bowl on a gongfu serving table. Fuhr makes sure to use teas that are single origin in flavor so people experience the true taste.

“By the time people leave here they’re just excited,” Fuhr said. “It’s cool to learn something new. I think they have a real appreciation for the complexity of it and there’s so much more that they want to know.”

There are a large variety of other classes and workshops, which range from $20-$25.

According to Fuhr, business continues to gain momentum, largely by word of mouth.

“I walked out of there feeling more knowledgable and actually excited about tea,” Sammamish resident Jenny Schmidt said. “This is one of those rare places I couldn’t wait to tell friends about.”

Local customers make up a large portion of the clientele, but people have come from as far away as Gig Harbor to take classes.

“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” said Fuhr, who has lived in Issaquah for more than 22 years. “I just had this strong feeling that Issaquah is where it would be best.”

Experience Tea is located at 195 Front Street in Studio C. Retail hours are from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Call 206-406-9838 for more information on classes.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Business

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
How financial planners address plan uncertainty | Guest column

One of the key challenges we face as financial planners is dealing… Continue reading

The results are in!
Best of Issaquah 2021 results

We had almost 1,100 voters and 12,000 submissions. Most popular categories: Best Coffee Shop, Customer Service, Hamburgers, Non-Profit, Fine Dining, Park, Mexican Cuisine, Pizza, Family Restaurant and Lunch.

Mixologist and general manager of Civility & Unrest, Joe Dietrich (photo by Cameron Sheppard)
If you want a regular cocktail, go somewhere else

Master mixologist Joe Dietrich is elevating cocktail culture at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest.

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
Is cryptocurrency really an investment? | Guest column

Undoubtedly you have heard about the new form of money known as… Continue reading

Front bar at Bellevue’s Civility & Unrest (courtesy of Civility & Unrest)
Two of James Beard Award-winning chef Jason Wilson’s restaurants to reopen in October

The Lakehouse plans to reopen Oct. 12 and Civility & Unrest reopens Oct. 14.

Stock photo
Grocery store workers have right to wear Black Lives Matter buttons

National Labor Relations Board ruling against ban by Kroger-owned QFC, Fred Meyer

Big Island Poke in Renton (courtesy of The Intentionalist Facebook page)
Small-business advocacy group wants you to try minority-owned businesses and put it on their tab

The Intentionalist is opening up $400 tabs for folks to use this weekend at select businesses.

Eastside King County restaurant owners discuss challenges with U.S. Rep Suzan DelBene at Pomegranate Bistro in Redmond. (Photo credit: Cameron Sheppard/Sound Publishing)
Restaurant owners discuss labor difficulties with U.S Rep. Suzan DelBene

Experienced service and kitchen staff are reportedly hard to hire as food service reopens.

Dave and Buster's restaurant and entertainment venue looks to hire 130 people to staff its Bellevue venue, set to open in August. Photo courtesy Dave and Busters.
Dave and Buster’s hiring 130 for August opening in Bellevue

Dave and Buster’s restaurant and entertainment venue opens in downtown Bellevue on… Continue reading

Images of dishes from Issaquah’s Umi Cafe posted on the SMORS page. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Ho)
Facebook page promotes minority-owned restaurants across Puget Sound region

Miya Nazzaro used to be a member of Facebook pages that were… Continue reading

The Moe Vegan food truck serves meals at the city of Kent’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 21, 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
King County fire marshals offer regulatory relief to food trucks

39 fire authorities have reportedly agreed to standardize fire codes and inspections.

Cash Cards Unlimited partners, left: Nick Nugwynne, right: Cassius Marsh (photo credit: Cash Cards Unlimited)
Former Seahawks player Cassius Marsh cashes in on trading cards

Marsh and his friend open physical and online trading card store as collectibles boom amid pandemic.