Today I was in the Pearl District here, and ran into a place called Teazone. Why not walk in and check it out?
It’s not a big place, and there’s a section where they serve alcoholic drinks in the back. There are some standard racks with teaware on it — ok teaware for those who don’t have much in the way of teaware, but not too useful for those who do have a collection of something. A few gaiwans, a few other things, not cheap…. but these are never cheap in a store like this.
The tea menu is actually fairly extensive, and thankfully, most are actually teas and not some strange concoction. I wanted to try this tea from Georgia (the country), but…. they ran out, so instead, I opted for a supposedly pretty good Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, I should’ve remembered that even the best Sri Lanka tea are often not terribly great…. at least that’s what I’ve found from my experience. I find them a bit rough and without enough of an interesting character — there are better blacks in different ways, whether aroma, body, aftertaste, etc, so that they’re rarely worth the trouble.
I think this place is actually fairly typical of teashops in the US — you can drink tea there, you can buy some teaware, and you can buy some tea there. The teas they serve are not glamourous. It’s not terribly interesting, if you’ve got a fair amount of tea experience, but the shop does try to serve interesting teas. Bread and butter teashops, basically. They do one important thing though that are absolutely essential though — they provide that gathering place for people who are interested in tea, should the shop be sufficiently good. It’d be a better location if, say, the shop didn’t smell like cooking oil the whole time I was there (ventilation problems with their kitchen…). Still, I wish every neighbourhood would have at least one or two of these places. It’d make tea drinking more interesting in the States.