Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

Archive for the ‘Tea Shops’

Tea (and coffee) Shops of Reyjavik, Iceland

August 16, 2011 By: ctan Category: Tea Shops

So, I went to Iceland.

My intention on going to Iceland wasn’t to see a lot of tea shops, but when I woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose on the morning I had been planning on a whale watching boat trip, I decided I’d be much happier spending the day in warm places drinking warm things. I’m good at making decisions that make me happy. So I created myself a tour of places to drink warm things (and write) in Reykjavik. (more…)

Chelsea (NYC) T Salon

January 27, 2010 By: ctan Category: Tea Shops

As I type this entry, I am sitting in a tea shop that gives the Samovar Tea Lounge a run for the money when it comes to hippest tea-sipping spot. I’m at the T-Salon in Chelsea Market.

First of all, this is Chelsea Market in New York City. In what was an old meatpacking building, there is now an incredibly hip foodie paradise. Similar to the Terminal Market in San Francisco, only bigger with even more shops and restaurants, Chelsea Market has fine cheese, fresh fish, farm-raised meat, and on and on with the gourmet shops and bakeries. This building also houses MLB.com and the Google NYC offices. Morimoto (the Iron Chef) has a restaurant here. Hip.

It’s so hip that the free wifi comes with the following terms of service:

I promise to refrain from any hanky panky
Or anything that would make anyone get cranky.
Anything I do with this connection that is lame,
I absolve Chelsea Market et al of any blame.

You click a button that says “All righty!” to agree.

But back to the T-Salon. (more…)


San Francisco Tea Tour: Stop #4

September 14, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings, Tea Shops

Our final stop of the day would be the Samovar Tea Lounge. Samovar is tea at its hippest, while at the same time reaching back into the cross-cultural history and roots of tea and the tradition of the tea house as a hang-out.

On previous trips to San Francisco I had been to their location on the border of the Mission and the Castro to meet up with business colleagues. Tea is far superior to meet over than lunch, because you don’t get overstuffed, and you are intended to linger over tea. Tea allows you to set the pace of the meal and conversation, rather than being lock-stepped through courses and perhaps hurried out the door. You have nibbles, you have steeping and re-steeping, and you have the weight of thousands of years of civilized conversation behind you.

Tea and writing go together as cornerstones of Sinified Asian culture, and perhaps that is where philosophy comes in.

San Francisco Tea Tour: Stop #3

August 31, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Shops

Next Midori took me to a place I never would have found on my own, the Lupicia tea store inside the San Francisco Centre, despite the fact it was a mere two blocks from the hotel I’d been in the week before for a conference. San Francisco Centre is a shopping mall. I’m not a big fan of malls. Having spent my teenage years in suburban New Jersey, the mall is a place that I associate with being trapped in a place where shopping to increase one’s social status is the only pastime. This is why I don’t live in the suburbs now.

The Lupicia store, from the outside, looks like a fancy cosmetics store. Everything is lit with the tiny bright jewels of track lights, some things in neat shelves, others in baskets… Seriously, it could have been bath soaps and skin care products they were retailing, like an AVEDA store.

However, it smelled far better than any cosmetics store I have ever been in, of course.

Tea Touring #2

August 17, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings, Tea Reviews, Tea Shops

Our next stop on our San Francisco tea excursion was the Aroma Tea Shop, a place I’ve ordered from many times on the web but never visited.

If you have seen their web site you will have seen a posed photo of Haymen Da Luz and his wife Ying Wi, described there as “the young and sexy owners of Aroma Tea Shop.” In the photo they are both wearing traditional garb, Haymen is holding a bamboo bird cage, Ying Wi a teapot that matches her chongsam. Midori, who had met them before at their Richmond area store, however, described them to me as “like two characters straight out of anime.” (more…)

San Francisco Tea Tour, part one

August 15, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings, Tea Shops

Today I am drinking bubble tea, because I worked at my tae kwon do school this morning. Otherwise one would normally not see me getting up earlier on a Saturday than on a weekday. It’s a scorcher out there today (or as we say here in Boston, “ah scaw-chah”), so on the walk home I could not resist stopping at Tapicha, the bubble tea stand in the Porter Exchange (Lesley) building.

I’ll have to do a bubble tea review at some point, but today I’d like to finally start writing about all the tea shops I visited while on my recent travels in San Francisco, Montreal, and Washington DC.

Actually, on the trip to DC I was so busy I never made it to Teaism, which I recall liking very much on past visits, though I did have some surprisingly nice teas in the fancy hotel where the SABR conference took place. They had Republic of Tea in food service bags in the restaurant, and every day the maid refilled our selection of Taylors of Harrogate. The hotel was one of the more expensive ones I’ve stayed in, so it was nice that the tea was a little more upscale than what one often finds. At a reasonably nice Sheraton one will find Tazo, at a Holiday Inn Express, Lipton. (I bring my own teabags when I travel, since in some hotels one doesn’t find tea at all. This wasn’t the case this time, though!)

But a bagged tea made in a hotel room coffee maker is just to tide me over most days while I am traveling until I can have some real tea, either by returning home, or by playing tea tourist.

Tea tourist stop #1 on my trip to San Francisco was, accidentally, the Asian Art Museum (see previous post), but I made an actual plan to meet up with my friend Midori to seek out some shops in the city. Midori has many virtues as a friend, not the least of which are an automobile, fine taste in tea, and an unending ability to converse with me about all the intellectual curiosities of the world (people, food, culture, art, architecture, food, history, politics, literature, and did I mention food?).

Our day began with dim sum. We met a small group of friends at a restaurant just a few blocks from Chinatown proper, at 11:45am. I arrived at 11:40 and the place was deserted enough that I checked that they were open. By 11:45 four parties had been seated and I could literally see people coming down the hill and up the street from the financial district. I secured us a table for five and by 12 noon there was a line out the door.

It was dim sum, therefore we feasted. The tea was good, if unremarkable. Thus fortified we set out for the Ferry Building, which has become a gourmet shopper’s dream.

Handcrafted chocolates. “Tasty salted pig parts.” (As the Boccalone slogan reads.) Wild mushrooms. organic everything. And a tea shop. (more…)