Today was a total loss for tea, spent traveling, etc…
Yesterday, however, was not. I went in the afternoon to the Tea Gallery in NYC. Many of you have probably heard about this place. If you haven’t, it’s basically… the best place to go for tea if you want Chinese tea in New York City, as far as I am aware anyway.
They apparently have regular Tuesday gatherings there, and I met, again, Toki, but also another friend whom I’ve only corresponded with on RFDT. When I walked in, they were already drinking — four teas from different cakes of a private production, but somehow all tasting quite different. The first was smokey, the second a little more bland and weak, the third and fourth tasting more like Yiwu, but different in their own ways. All were different and with varying degrees of bitterness and thickness. It would be rather difficult to believe they were all from the same production if I wasn’t told, even though the dry leaves don’t immediately look different. The colour of the wet leaves are also different…. some were darker, some lighter. The variation is simply quite striking. I think at least part of it has to do with a slightly uneven production process — not all the cakes were made/pressed at the same time or using the exact same batch of leaves.
Then we tried a dancong I brought over. This is a gift from somebody in China, supposedly of some pretty decent quality leaves. The tea is very sweet, with a nice hint of something like apricot, but the taste is a little on the light side. I need to try brewing it with my own pot and experiment with it. I might go back and buy a little more if the price is right.
We also drank a very nice, fragrant, and deep shuixian. I’m not sure where it’s from, and neither does Michael, the owner of the Tea Gallery. He got it from somebody in Taiwan, and it is, from what I gather, a gift. It was nice drinking though.
There were people coming in and out of the place while I was there. It was pretty busy. We all had fun and it was particularly interesting drinking those four rather strong puerhs.
All in all, a good day, and finally got the chance to meet somebody I’ve been corresponding with but not met. It’s really a rare thing to have in the States to be able to sit at a teahouse and chat for hours on end about various things related (or unrelated) to tea. It is also a great thing to meet like minded people. If only we had such a place in Boston….
Or maybe it’s a good thing there isn’t one here. I know I won’t get work done if it exists!