If you’re the kind who attends chichi gallery openings, grassroots fundraisers or charitable events around town, chances are good you’ve enjoyed the generosity of Maureen McHugh and Tobin Ropes, co-owners of the Mad Hat Tea Company. In fact, it’s inevitable, because these connoisseurs of tea (and owners of a gallery themselves) have absolutely no sense of proportion or restraint when it comes to supporting good causes with oceans of donated, exquisitely prepared leaf tea.
The Mad Hat is one of Tacoma’s most warmly regarded bohemian outposts; a sprawling, subterranean lair with moody lighting, and two seating areas where one can either lounge and check e-mail, or grab a stool at the bar for a proper tasting. Tucked away in the middle of downtown, the teashop offers a quiet space for contemplating a cup of fabulous, hand-blended leaf tea as well as a wide variety of art (some of our favorite is by Maureen herself, who creates amazingly intense India ink drawings, as well as Mad Hat’s beautiful, black-and-white tea labeling). When he’s not brewing the perfect elixir, or holding forth on any topic under the sun (the latter free of charge), Tobin coaches the rugby team at the University of Puget Sound.
Why do these two donate leaf to literally dozens of organizations each year? “Because it’s the right thing to do,” says Tobin. “I really think tea and art go together so well.” Discover the magic of the Mad Hat Tea Company at 1127 Broadway; 253.441.2111. Open 10am – 5pm (never earlier, sometimes later). Contact: www.madhattea.com.