Today I had the pleasure of visiting Tea Drunk, a quaint tea house nestled in the East Village NY. A great place to relax, read a book and, of course, drink some of the finest tea. I would highly recommend visiting if you ever the get the chance even if you are new to tea.
Tea Drunk is a tea house with an extensive range of all the classes of tea –Black, Oolong, Green, White and Puerh teas, and holds authenticity in Gongfu Cha, which is the Chinese tea ceremony and method on how tea is served. In Gongfu Cha quality of tea leaf is imperative, appreciating the colour of brewed liquor, aroma and, of course, the taste. You use more tea leaf to smaller amounts of water and shorter brewing times which allows for multiple steeps of the tea, enabling you to enjoy and appreciate the subtle changes in every brew.
As I walked in the shop, pleasant aromas of sweet florals and fruits lingering in the room happily reminded me of a freshly brewed Oolong. I was welcomed warmly by a gentleman who goes by the name Dylan, who invited me to come and sit at the bar. Soft music of the Blues playing in the background, sets the mood nicely when enjoying tea. I had a feeling this was going to be good.
After some friendly banter, he kindly served me a taste of what he explained to be a Phoenix Oolong (guessing what I could smell when I first walked in), that is from the highly revered Wu Dong Mountain, China. It was highly aromatic with notes of sweet florals and stone-fruits. This tea had a magnificent complexity of flavours with a smooth finish and lingering notes of peach. What a treat!
Dylan asked what type of mood I was in –did I feel like something light or heavy. With a full belly after lunch I guess you could say I was in a “something light” kinda mood. Looking through the green teas, I couldn’t help but choose one of my favourites Longjing that also goes by the name of ‘Dragon Well’. It is very rare to come across an authentic Longjing as there are many copies of this famous tea, so I wasn't going to miss the chance.
First, I was handed the dry leaves to smell –they were fresh with nutty notes of chestnuts and slightly vegetal, and then was asked to pick out a tea pet of my liking. A tea pet is a ceramic animal that sits on the tray when serving tea Gongfu style and keeps you company while drinking your tea. They had an excellent selection, but my choice was the sweet tortoise that had a jade-green shell.
Hot water was poured back and forth between the water pitcher and the glass server about five times; this helps to cool the water down by about 10 degrees every time it is re-poured, a cooler temperature is a must for green tea. The brewed liquor was pale yellow and bright; I enjoyed the warm toasty aromas before taking my first sip. It was deliciousness in a cup; light, fresh and nutty, I was in heaven. The tea was good for three infusions and held all its wonderful flavours till the end, me savouring every last drop.
It was an outstanding sensory experience, and I thanked Dylan for his brilliant tea service that was truly admirable. I left feeling totally satisfied with a smile from ear to ear.