Today was great. I hope I'm not getting too spoiled out here in SF or it will be tough for me to get back into the groove in NYC!
First thing today, I got caught up on my blog a bit. I've been writing them down, and then typing them up. (If you're viewing them on Vee Tea and the order seems weird, that's why. You can read them in the correct order, with the correct dates on the Vee Tea Blogger Page. Sorry for the inconvenience.) So today, I got a little more caught up to where I should be.
After writing/typing for a bit I left the apartment to meet my friend Tajee at the oldest Chinese tearoom in the U.S. It's called Imperial Tea Court and it's out on Powell St. in SF (though they have two more locations in town, this one is the original). We had the pleasure of experiencing a formal gaiwan presentation and a formal gong-fu cha ceremony. We tasted their Imperial Silver Needle white tea for the gaiwan presentation and their Monkey-Picked Oolong (which they fire in-house) for the gong-fu ceremony. The accompanying tea lecture/talk and the atmosphere (ornate surfaces and pots, caged songbirds, calm music) made it all the better. Afterward, I bought a sample pack of pu-erh for myself and a few other teas as gifts for friends. If you ever get the chance to go to Imperial Tea Court for a formal presentation, do it! You won't regret it. I say that no matter how much you know about tea, there's always more to learn. Tajee learned a lot, and even I learned a thing or two.
After the tea presentation, we met my friend Justin for (yup) more tea. We took the BART out to Berkeley (BTW, is it just me or is Berkeley a weird town?) and walked over to Teance. Let me just say that it was well worth the trip. I'm not even sure if I mean from SF or from NYC, but, yeah, it was totally worth it. I am in love with this place. It is incredibly tranquil and beautiful. There is an overall impact in the design (tall waterfall by the entrance, swooping curved teabar, elegant displays) that doesn't let you down when it comes to the details (inlaid fossils and stones in the teabar, for example). The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and skilled in making tea. Tajee had the White Peony Longevity Brow (delicate, floral, mild), Justin had the Golden Buds Keemun (rich, mellow, earthy), and I had the Luu Shan Clouds and Mist (highly vegetal, with strong notes of asparagus). The teas were almost alarmingly fresh and the focus on customer education is (I think) enough to leave me grinning for days. I also got to meet the owner, Winnie, who sources the teas herself and (not surprisingly) is a very cool person. On the recommendation of the people next to me at the teabar (a charming couple, high on tea and affection), I picked up a bag of Teance's unusual "Eight Treasures Tea." I'll let you know how it is when I try it. Next time I'm in SF, I will definitely be returning to Teance.
After all that tea, it was time for some food. I wanted Tajee to try Absinthe, so I ended up going a second night in a row (not that I minded!). Justin and Tajee's friend/"trial boyfriend" (I think they should just date already! They're adorable together!) were there, too. We all got loads of food and had a blast. This time I decided to give in to the Might Leaf and had a Ginger Twist (although what the twist was comprised of was unspecified). It was OK. (The twist turned out to be lemongrass and mint.) The conversation was the real winner this evening. We talked about all kinds of interesting things, from music to politics to the internet and media to travel . . . so much fun.
I'm turning in early tonight. Tomorrow is my last full day in town, so I want to make it count!