T Shop Anniversary Dinner!

T Shop celebrated its two year anniversary over this weekend. "Harmony" was the word Theresa often mentioned over the course of the dinner -- as the weekend brought the many customers who helped support T Shop together for a night of amazing food harmonized with tea.

Each of the dishes used tea as an ingredient, and was paired with the tea that was used. This got me to think about a tea session I once had -- a session where we played with teas that were very different, and very similar. As I started thinking about this, I was greeted by a pour of the Four Seasons Spring oolong, signaling the start of the meal.

 Cold Brew Four Season Spring oolong

Cold Brew Four Season Spring oolong

The meal began with a Ceviche that I thought was a great balance of textures and flavors. I thought the dish was complete on its own, until I had the Four Seasons Spring that was served with it. The tea felt like a natural extension of a dish -- echoing the base of the dish, while springing forth the aroma of the tea. This completed my memory -- the teas that were widly different clashed in the tongue, but the teas that were similar balanced each other, and subtly highlighted the difference. Harmony.

 Ceviche with oolong crisp

Ceviche with oolong crisp

The cackling texture continued with the next dish -- a braised goat stew, featuring a crispy black rice. Textures were at play again, along with rich flavors that highlighted the thickness of this tea. This was better demonstrated in the fish dish that followed, where the oiliness of the fish was caught and taken up by the Wild Lapsang Souchong. Did ingredients, cooked with tea, help the tea catch the lingering flavors better?

 Tea infused black rice

Tea infused black rice

I did not have long to wonder as I was soon met with the standout pairing of the night, the Fanesca -- featuring ingredients of tree regions, paired with a raw puerh from this season. "Tastes like trees", was a remark by the guest next to me, and that made the subtle flavors of the tea grow more and more bold. The texture between the dish and the tea transitioned smoothly, while the notes brought out changed as the tea cooled down, an effect that was also noticed by next course, the Guatita en Peanut Sauce, where the dish was first finished by the roastiness of the tea, and by the sweetness as the tea
cooled down.

 Fanesca, a dish that brings you from the coast to the mountain.  Ingredients from the tree regions harmonizing with a raw puerh from 2016.

Fanesca, a dish that brings you from the coast to the mountain.  Ingredients from the tree regions harmonizing with a raw puerh from 2016.

There was a small time for a cheer with a cocktail made with tree tomatoes, the Red Water Oolong, and Zhumir, and the meal turned into darker earthy notes with a guinea pig, tea infused mushrooms, and a 2015 raw puerh. The dessert -- was a spectacular pairing of Tie Guan Yin ice cream with a chocolate mousse, garnished with black sesame and figs.

 Tie Guan Yin, chocolate, and black sesame

Tie Guan Yin, chocolate, and black sesame

Theresa mentioned that tea being used in the dishes brought the flavors together, helping them harmonize. Although, I wasn't able to taste the ingredients separately beforehand, I didn't doubt her -- after all, if tea brings people together, then why not flavors? It was a night that showcased tea's magical abilities to harmonize, and I was glad to be able to experience it.

 Tea brings people together! Thank you chefs for your passion, creativity, and crafts!

Tea brings people together! Thank you chefs for your passion, creativity, and crafts!

Guest writer: Wooju Lee

Photo credit: Max Falkowitz

Kitchen Therapy Dinner and Tea Pairing

This past weekend, T Shop proudly held its first dinner with Kitchen Therapy. In seasonal kaiseki style, Kitchen Therapy paired a six-course vegan dinner with curated teas from T Shop. The dinner showcased fresh vegetable based dishes and how well tea can bring out the nuanced flavors in them.

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Take the third course, a chawanmushi custard made with taro root, shiitake and shimeji mushrooms that was enhanced by the deep earthy flavor of our 2002 Shou Puerh. This dish grounded our bodies in a mushroom covered forest floor. The tea reinforced a natural setting that reminds us to pay attention to our bodies and the environment.

The fourth course, a Soymilk Nabemono made with sake lees, daikon, potato, and chrysanthemum greens was paired with our new Bulang Mountain raw puerh. The richness in this hearty dish was cut by the sharpness of Bulang Mountain, making for a balanced and delicious experience. Even the nuanced flavors of tea can have playful, focused effects on a vibrant dish.

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Roasted notes from our charcoal roasted Cui Feng oolong danced along a symphony of flavors from a sweet chestnut rice and white miso soup course. Our guests savored the tea with every bite of rice.

The night was a celebration of food and tea. A reminder from Chef Federico that “every bite is an act of kindness towards the body and the earth.” We look forward to our next dinner this Spring season and invite you to join us!



2015

My first cup of tea in 2015 was made by one of my dearest friend, Merry. It was Merry’s first experience of making tea, but when she made it with her little magic, I tasted the best steeping of Four Seasons Spring Oolong ever! I have been trying to find a word to describe Merry’s little magic, the closest word I could think of is “passion”! It is the passion that you put in which makes the tea tastes different from others. Passion is not just about passion for tea, but passion for life, so that you’d enjoy and live in every single moment. I always believed the skill of tea making is important, but what’s more important is just simply to enjoy the process of making tea, just feel and be with the leaves. Thank you Merry for giving me the inspiration to start 2015!

 Merry making me  the first tea of 2015

Merry making me  the first tea of 2015

One thing that I have realized since I opened T Shop is getting to meet some tea bloggers and tea instagramers. It’s really exciting for me to acknowledge the fact that there are a lot more tea lovers than I thought.  These new tea friends often give me new visions about tea and the tea community. I would like to share a blog post from Jo, a Gift of Tea. http://scandaloustea.teatra.de/2015/01/06/january-hot-tea-month-day-four/

“As a tree has many branches each leaf is unique, with proper care and nurturing the tree will grow and thrive.”

Jo wrote this at the beginning of the post and I really like it.  Opening T shop is by no mean saying that I know tea more than anybody else. The reason for this space to be existed is just to share what we love, getting to meet and share the passion with others.  There is no right or wrong about the passion.  I just hope with the existence of T shop, more of us would be able to connect and share through the leaf.

 Meeting tea friends from Long Island on a snow-rain mixed afternoon. Nothing can stop the passion for tea!

Meeting tea friends from Long Island on a snow-rain mixed afternoon. Nothing can stop the passion for tea!

It’s been 3 months already since the opening of T Shop. I am really thankful for all of you who have been part of my journey and am looking forward to have many more 3 months with you!

 Tea in the snow

Tea in the snow

T.

Because of you

It has been a week since the opening of T Shop. One of the bestselling items in the shop is a cup named “Because of you”. When you fill this cup at 90% full, the cup appears square, but at half full it becomes a circle. The idea of this design is:

“Thanks to you, my ruggedness is transformed into smoothness.
Thanks to love, my straightforward and outspoken personality has become more refined and diplomatic.
From rugged to smooth, my life has more emotion because of the power to change you gave me.
Through thick and thin, our affection has grown with each passing day allowing me to experience even greater fulfillment.
Meeting you has changed and enriched my life forever.”

When I was in Taiwan, I was lucky to have a chance to meet and talk with the ceramicist who designed this cup. He told me that many people would think this cup is designed for lovers, but it actually can be used for other relationships such as friends and families.  Today I would like to use this idea and say thank you to my business partner, the co-owner of T shop, Yuki.

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My tea journey began when Yuki wanted me to accompany her to Fang Gourmet Tea's tea ceremony class.  Life has changed since the moment tea was introduced to me.  Imagine if I did not become a tea drinker, I might never get to know the people who I met through tea.

Yuki was also the one who brought up the idea opening T Shop.  When we started working on T Shop, due to the fact that we all have different values, ideas, and ways of handling things, sometimes we had conflicts or hard time communicating with each other. Gradually we learned from the experiences and became more understanding, compromising, and acceptance.

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Thanks Yuki, because of your trust, support, and hard work, I can do what I always wanted to do.  It’s because of you!

T.


A Little Thought to Share…

When I first decided to open a tea shop, I actually did not know what kind of tea shop it was going to be, or how I would want to do it. There was only one thought on my mind: I want to open a tea shop and let more people know about tea!  Later I found that my trip to Taiwan helped me to have a clearer idea of what I should do.

How my visit to Taiwan affected me is really hard to describe.  Yes, I bought tea and teawares to bring back to the shop and I met people and became friends with them. Yet what I came away with went way beyond that. I’ve always known that Taiwanese people are very friendly, yet the hospitality that I received from the people I met really shocked me. They treated me like an old friend they have known for years!  All the people I met - the plantation owners, the people working in different tea shops and tea houses, the potters / ceramists, the other tea drinkers or customers I met at the tea places, even the drivers!- all of them were so willing to share!  They shared their passions, knowledge, experiences, stories, tea, etc.  I truly felt that they were trying to share everything with me! They knew that I planned to open a tea shop in New York and they told me it would not be easy, but they also told me to remember that I am not alone.  They really touched me a lot!

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I was in Taiwan for only 8 days but the whole experience was so warming that I was a little upset about returning to New York.  New York is a relatively “cold” city compared with Taiwan, but a friend I met in Taiwan cheered me up and told me to “remember the warmth and happiness of tea, and share this feeling with others”.  So this is what I am going to do: open a little, cozy shop in this cold city, and share the happiness with everybody.  For me, being able to enjoy a cup of good tea is the happiest thing in the world and I would love to share this experience with everyone.

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T.