Well, I went to another tea store today — Itoen, the Japanese tea store. They are huge, and they make lots of (fairly reliable, in a pinch) bottled teas. I figured, why not, even though I’m no great fan of Japanese tea, I’ll go check it out.
Well, the experience was rather disappointing. I guess I’m picky, but when I go to a tea store, I expect some service, since you can’t see the tea unless they show it to you (and seeing age old, bland smelling tea samples in glass containers isn’t the same as seeing the real thing). Despite the fact that the store was not very big, that there was only one other customer than me and my friend, and that they had three people working, nobody bothered to come up and ask if I wanted anything. Perhaps they’re trained to be cool and non-intrusive, but I thought at least an acknowledgement that I existed would’ve been nice (something along the lines of “if you need any help…”). Since I was walking around their store, looking around, had eye contact with more than one sales person, and reading their menu rather closely, them not even nodding in my direction was rather rude.
Since I didn’t see anything in particular that looked interesting anyway, and since nobody bothered to ask what I wanted, I didn’t feel like asking them and just left. I guess I’m snobby that way, but I don’t like being treated poorly in teashops.
But the whole day is not completely lost. I went to East Village for dinner, and in the market there when I was buying my drinking water, I saw this bottle called Jana. Since I’m a sucker for trying new waters, and this wasn’t too exorbitant ($2.48 for a 1.5L), I bought it. They claim, on their label, that they are the Aqua-Expo, Paris 2005, 1st place winner, and the taste shows. The water is soft, with no obvious, overpowering mineral taste (hello Evian) and a little cool to taste. It would seem to be able to add a great deal of body to a tea, and give it a nice taste to it. I will need to try this water out in brewing tea.
The mineral contents state that it’s mostly bicarbontes, some Calcium, and some Magnesium. The water’s slightly alkaline. Unless the Iceland Springs, which is just cool and crisp (thanks to its low mineral content) this one has a lot of stuff in it, but the bicarbonates, I think, gives it the soft taste without a strong mineral tone. I think I will keep enough of it so I can make some tea with it when I get home tomorrow.