Tea in NYC

Hill and I went to NYC on Wednesday to experience tea together outside of our "norm".

We started out going to Ito En at 69th and Madison. The selection of Japanese teas is far more extensive than what I'm used to. The man that helped us made a pot of Megami Sencha for us to try. It was more mild than Harney's Ichiban Sencha but sweeter and simply delicious. There are far too many to name and I have no idea what the differences in any of them are, but it would be fun to try a bunch if given the time. I asked what he drank the most and his answer was mostly greens and oolongs. His favorite oolong at the moment is Four Seasons Oolong. It smelled floral and buttery so I left with an ounce of that. I also bought an ounce of Vanilla Hojicha for two reasons: my boyfriend loves vanilla, and I've never seen flavored Hojicha before, it seemed rather interesting.

::Tasting note:: [The next day I brewed the Four Seasons Oolong. My gods it was wonderful. Sweet and buttery and floral all at the same time.]

Our second stop (after spending about an hour in Crate & Barrel) was to Takashimaya for lunch. It was nice, but not our style. The food was good, but the waiters seemed disinterested in the fact that we were there, and it was not a warm and loving atmosphere that we're used to being in.

Our last tea stop was to The Tea Gallery. I had visited a few weeks ago with Brigitte, but we wanted to share the experience with Hill. Dae was wonderful again, we tried different types of teas this time. Last time we were focused on oolongs and puerh, this time we tried Golden Buddha (a Wu-Yi Cliff tea), Queen's Red tea, and a Gyokuro from Uji.

The Golden Buddha (the Wu-Yi Cliff Oolong) was really delicious for reasons I can't explain. Hill is far better at describing tastes, I just enjoy them. Dae said that it should have a mineral taste because of where it's grown and made, and while I never quite grasped "mineral" I did notice the lack of the floral or fruity which is what I usually gauge my oolongs by.

The Queen's Red I didn't really enjoy at all. It was all buds, very similar to Assam Golden Tips, although Chinese instead of Indian. I think I prefer my red teas to be less sweet and honey and more oomph and body.

The Gyokuro was freaking delicious. The leaves were long and shiny, a dark emarald green. Dae brewed it in a shiboridashi, which is basically a Japanese Gaiwan. It's a shallow lidded bowl with the smallest suggestion of a spout.

(Image courtesy of www.thejapanesegreenteashop.com)

She brewed it with approximately 130 degree water, she wasn't using a thermometer, and although it was very cool by the time we drank it, it had a sweetness to it that we've never matched in our own Gyokuro brewing. It was lighter in color but thicker in body. It was heavenly.

So now I have another piece of teaware I must own.

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