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The Art of Tea

14-Dec-2004

I love tea.

I’ve been a tea drinker since long before people were jumping on the bandwagon because of the beneficial health effects. My parents were always “coffee in the morning, tea in the evening” people. From my early years I was given a little tea in my dinner glass of milk so I that could participate in the ritual. Of course, in those years the tea we drank was always Lipton’s Orange Pekoe and occasionally we’d have Red Rose or Tetley’s.

I think tea is the perfect drink – it warms you when it’s cold, you can drink it cold when the weather is warm, it’s comforting and ritualistic, the warm steam rising from the cup brings on relaxation and a sort of meditation. It can bring calm to a frenzied day or console you when you are feeling down. It can hold off hunger or settle your stomach after a full meal. It’s the super beverage!

When I got to college I started trying different types of tea – first English and Irish breakfast, Earl Gray and Darjeeling. My senior year, I was a Resident Assistant (RA) in Callahan Dormitory at Oregon State University – it was a way to help pay the bills and I liked being a pseudo counselor to the others in the dorm. One of the other RAs, Claudia, was also into tea. It became our afternoon ritual to make popcorn and have a cup or two or three of tea as we talked over the day’s events. We explored everything we could find. I still remember the day Claudia brought Red Zinger to our ritual and I learned about Celestial Seasonings. What an eye opener that was!

Since that time my tea horizons have expanded considerably. I still prefer black teas, but occasionally dip into greens or whites and even now and then have an herbal – which is actually a tisane. When I travel I visit tea shops or look for good tea houses where I can sit and relax and watch the world go by.

My favorite shop is a place called Tealuxe, in Boston. They have several locations but the one I frequent is the original store in Harvard Square. It’s tiny and cramped and full of bins and bins of lovely teas as well as teapots, mugs and strainers. Heaven! When I’m in town, I stock up on my favorites and always add two or three teas I have not yet tried. In between visits I order from their website, but I have to be honest that can be challenging. They are pretty obviously a tea company and not so much a technology company.

Another great shop is the T Salon in Manhattan. Downstairs is the Salon where you can have a cup of tea, as well as a light meal or snack. Going upstairs is like entering an ancient Asian warehouse, with all manner of teas and tea paraphernalia. The staff is more than happy to show you some of the more exotic offerings, like Dragon Pearls.

In Paris there is a whole different sort of teahouse, Le Mosquee, (39 Rue Geoffrey Sainte-Hilaire) a combination bath house, tea room and restaurant, where they serve glasses of sweet, hot tea on intricately detailed brass tables. The inside of the building is covered with bright mosaics and one area of the tea room is filled with cushioned benches straight out of a Middle Eastern tale. And next time I’m in Paris I plan to visit Mariage Freres a renowned fabulous French Tea room with over 500 teas.

I haven’t even mentioned Afternoon or High Tea, but we can save that for another day ~ ~

Start exploring the world and the world of tea – and let me know what you discover!

 

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2 Comments
  1. Unknown permalink
    16-Dec-2004 3:05 pm

    A great spot for tea in the Pacific Northwest is Teahouse Kuan Yin in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. Their selection is large, and they offer tastings if you\’re unsure which tea you\’d like to try. I\’ve discovered some wonderful black teas there myself; black teas are my favorite as well. The atmosphere is bright but contemplative. Typically you\’ll see writers and students with their laptops at the cafe tables. Along one wall you\’ll find a wide variety of teapots for sale.If you live in the Seattle suburbs, you might try Typhoon restaurant in Redmond at the Bella Bottega ShoppingCenter. It specializes in Thai cuisine, but offers a huge tea menu, and the food is excellent.

  2. Culinary permalink
    20-Dec-2004 9:47 am

    Thanks for the ideas, Janna! I\’ll check both places out. And actually there is also a Typhoon below Pike Place Market, on Western so I won\’t even have to cross the bridge! :-)

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