Monday, March 19, 2012


LAKEWOOD, COLORADO - Choose from a list of 150 whole and loose leaf teas accompanied by some light affordable fare and marvelous munchies at downtown Lakewood's Belmar Tea Bar.  A relaxing environment with both indoor and outdoor seating, the vibe here is comfy casual.  A perk of Wystone's corner location, plenty of sunlight illuminates the orange, sage green, and cream decor, giving it a natural, organic, and delightfully friendly bistro feel.

The servers are equally as friendly and knowledgeable about the vast tea selection, and are happy to answer any questions that might arise.  The list can seem a bit overwhelming at first, but with proper guidance, you can find something to fit any personality and craving.  If you'd like to learn more about the tea you're tasting, Wystone's offers a variety of opportunities to further educate yourself about the benefits of tea on site or online at their tea blog which features articles, tips, and videos that help you enhance your life and your food with the cunning use of tea.

Classified in my book as a $$ restaurant (which means bring a twenty), you can get away with a full meal, a pot of tea, and can manage to still have some change left over after leaving a proper tip.  Impressive, right?  Most meals can feed two unless you have a voracious appetite.  They appear small, but are mighty, especially paired with all that tea!  Prices ranging from $2-13, there is something for everyone to nibble on.  If their giant $4-5 pots of tea don't fill you up, you can have a free refill of hot water which will give you a tea slightly less strong after the second steeping, but equally as delicious!  Most meals come with a soup or can be downsized for the careful eater and the sides/appetizers are filling enough to be a small meal within themselves.  "Tea Trays" are also available for those sporting a hefty appetite or have come on a budget with a friend or two to share with.  All in all, any choice you make will be quite satisfying.

Your tea experiences begins the moment you arrive. Outside, a thermos of tea awaits, luring in passersby with warm herbal deliciousness on such a chilly early afternoon.  I was already intending on stopping in, but that tea out front was dash cunning and mighty persuasive.  Upon entering, you are offered a table and are presented the teas of the day on a crisp, white dish.  They look and smell amazing and serve as a comforting jumping off point for the indecisive tea drinker.  Although they were tempting, I was too excited by the two-sided tea menu jam-packed with antioxidant goodness in my hands to settle for an initial recommendation.  After a good five or six minutes, I had my list down to only a handful of choices which Scott and I discussed and narrowed down to two... Melon Berry Sencha Green Tea and Yoga Ayurvedic Health & Fitness Tea.

Out came the tea with two color-coded timers... Pink/Herbal, Green/Green.  I must say that I found these a particularly nice touch on their part.  The clear pots of tea were enormous and filled with loose leaves and spices floating away as they steeped into tea bliss.  The pots were fashioned with little clamps on the bottom that fit directly over the clear teacups that were provided and would release the tea into the teacups once locked into place.  A clever contraption if I do say so myself!  This allowed for the hot water to run one last time through the tea at the bottom of the pots and offered a spill-free carefully filled cup of fresh tea every time.  Again, I am MOST impressed.

  • Melon Berry Sencha (Green) -  a mixture of green tea, honey melon, and raspberry with a light fruity smell.  The melon taste is prominent with raspberry undertones whose flavor can be best brought out by a bit of agave.
  • Yoga (herbal) - listed under the category of "Ayurvedic Health & Fitness Teas" this herbal tea smells like apple cinnamon and is composed of a mixture of clove, cinnamon, and sage.  Surprisingly the cinnamon is not overpowering, but instead offers a spicy "holiday" feel to the taste.  All the spices are well blended and none outshine the rest on the palate.
  • Wise Soy Matcha Latte - warm, frothy, and good for the body... but toward the end of the cup the tea leaves became a bit of a nuisance because they were not finely ground into the powder that I had originally anticipated.  Overall the taste was VERY organic, natural, and "leafy green."
  • ABSURDITEA! MELON BERRY YOGA (my personal blend) - unintentionally, I created another "ABSURDITEA!" blend by not paying attention to which pot of tea I was pouring into my already somewhat filled glass.  Much to my surprise (and delight!) the ratio of 95% Melon Berry Sencha to %5 Yoga Tea turned out to be a mildly fruity spiced cup of deliciousness.
Trying to figure out what to eat was fairly difficult, but what caught my attention immediately was the opportunity to enjoy some Red Pepper Hummus with a side of Pita Points.  It's a bit of a weakness of mine so I couldn't resist, even after Scott tried to talk me out of it because I was already having it slathered all over my main course.  There really is no stopping me when it comes to my hummus.  Delightfully creamy with a bit of a red pepper kick and perfectly soft bread on the Pita Points, this was definitely the buy of the meal... and was filling enough to have satisfied me as its own meal as well.  Thank goodness for to-go containers!  It made the perfect after-midnight snack.

Scott (who loves hamburgers) opened his mind to their Artichoke Pitza which consists of grilled zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, bacon and cheese (a detail I overlooked) on top of a plate-sized pita.  Lucky for me he is a sweetheart and picked off pieces of cheese from a bunch of the veggies for me to enjoy!  He commented multiple times about how it was excellent.  Next time I'm in town, I will gladly try it out sans fromage.
Stuffed with tons of grilled veggies and field greens, the Vegan Wrap's white tortilla is slathered in Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Hummus and dressed with cucumber yogurt.  On the side is a cup of Genmaicha-Infused Harvest Vegetable Soup made up of cucumbers, lima beans, red peppers, corn, onions, and spinach in a hearty vegetable broth.  The wrap consisted of tons of similar veggies and was complimented so beautifully by the hummus that I commented on it multiple times.  I, however, surprised that the veggies and the wrap were served cold because the menu implied that "grilled" meant hot off the grill... but it was delicious nonetheless and is definitely worth trying.

Scott's not a vegan by any means, so lucky for me (who dabbles in tasting meat dishes every now and then where there's fresh livestock) he ordered the Tea-Smoked Barbeque Chicken Panini. (images #3 & #10)  Never in my life have I tasted such delicious BBQ sauce, let me tell you that.  Filled with Souchong Tea-Infused Poached Chicken, this panini might almost have converted me back over.  The meat was tender and flavorful, the shaved red onion added a nice touch, and the grilled focaccia that it was served in was an excellent touch.  You'll have to ask Scott how the Provolone cheese tasted mixed throughout, because I only had a little corner (as always) sans fromage.  Now, don't let me forget to tell you about the potatoes!  These weren't just any potatoes, but Kenyan Tea-Roasted Red Bliss Potatoes!  (what a mouthful!  oh, bad joke...) They were quite delicious and available as a side dish if you're not up for the full meal or decided to get the soup instead.
You probably noticed that we overspent our budget a bit by trying so many new things at once and we (well I) definitely had eyes bigger than my stomach because we carried out a second meal's worth the leftovers, but I am glad that we were able to try so much of the menu on this trip.  I now have a better idea of what I am looking to try next time and I hope that I have provided you with enough information to want to venture out there yourself and try their dishes and teas.  Overall, this was a delightful trip into Belmar... The food was scrumptious and beautifully plated, the tea was invigorating, the menu was affordable, and the dining experience was positive to say the least!

Now it's your turn to try!


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