Tea Writings

A blog about tea from the desk of Cecilia Tan

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…)

Roast Sweet

June 17, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings, Tea Reviews

Ahhh, this is Da Stuff.

I’ve been drinking a lot of enjoyable teas lately. Despite the fact that it’s mid-June and the longest day of the year is nigh, it’s been downright chilly in New England. With the temps in the low 60s every day and in the 50s (or even 40s again like it was last night) at night, it’s perfect tea-drinking weather. A warm pot sits on my desk throughout the day and evening hours while I work.

Having just ordered a slew of sample teas from various places, I’ve been brewing lots of things that are quite tasty, but I’ve been refraining from writing about them until I’ve tried them each four or five times. I used to review music back in another life, and I learned that I didn’t really know what I thought of an album until I’d heard it through five times. I figure tea might be the same.

Except today I brewed a pot of “Oolong Choice.” (more…)

Today’s Tea: Big Red Robe

May 13, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

Today I brewed some Big Red Robe for myself. I had already had some bottled tea with my lunch, at a Middle Eastern shop near my house called Wrap-Pro. Very delicious shwarma, baba ghanooj, and falafel at this place which is on Mass. Ave. between Porter Square and Harvard Square. (In Cambridge, Massachusetts, for those of you for whom those landmarks mean nothing.)

I deigned to drink a Lipton bottled tea product which had the word “natural” repeated all over it on the label, which told me it was supposed to be Green Tea with Honey flavor, “Natural Flavoring with Other Natural Flavorings.” (No, I have no idea what exactly that last was referring to, only that it was printed on the bottle.) The overwhelming flavor, natural or not, wasn’t of tea, but of honey. That was actually all right, since it was a very pleasant honey flavor, and honey goes very nicely with middle eastern food.

But as a result I didn’t deem myself to have had TEA yet. On returning home to sit down to write for the afternoon, I brewed up a nice hot pot of Big Red Robe or Da Hung Pao. (more…)

Today’s tea: citron oolong

May 11, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Reviews

Today I am drinking Rishi brand’s Citron Oolong. I originally bought this tea because I liked the Rishi Orange Blossom blend, but couldn’t find that in the store, so bought this instead.

My first impression of this tea was that it was as lemony as Lemon Pledge. Which is to say, too strong. But now that I am reaching the end of the can, where all the little specks and bits of things are, it tastes fine. This makes me think I might have liked it better all along if it had been run through the spice grinder once quickly before steeping…?

Not only that, I am now on my third steeping of this basket of leaves, and it’s still quite delicious. Maybe I’m just in a more citrus-y mood than I was in all winter, but I think I’ll have to give this tea another try… but mix it better first. Or just go back to the Orange Blossom.

I’ve also really enjoyed their sencha yuzu, which is very expensive, but very very nice if you like yuzu. If you hate the taste of grapefruit, you might want to avoid yuzu flavored things.

UPDATE: Fourth steeping was still quite delicious! I could easily get a fifth out of it that would be a pleasure to drink. I’ll clearly be digging to the bottom of this can the next time I buy it.

Heart’s Delight

May 09, 2009 By: ctan Category: Tea Musings

We indulged ourselves in one of my favorite weekend “brunch” traditions, which was going to Chinatown for dim sum.

We arrived at the restaurant at noon and I was surprised to find how uncrowded it was. Oh, there was a lively business going on at the dim sum palace known as Chau Chow City, but nothing like what it was like ten years ago, when you had to fight to get in on a weekend day between 10am and 1pm. I don’t know if it’s the economy affecting the crowds or just the tradition of family dim sum for Asian-American families is waning? Several of the Asian markets have closed because fewer and fewer families make the special trip to Chinatown to do their shopping. On the other hand, the huge Asian markets like Super 88 that are located in the suburbs where the vast majority of the Chinese population have moved to are also downsizing. So, I don’t know.

You wouldn’t think the economy would keep people away from dim sum, which is one of the least expensive gourmet meals one can buy. Six of us went this morning, and we were overstuffed at the price of $12 each, and that with leaving a generous tip. $12 each got us approximately 15 different dishes? Let’s see if I can remember: