Appreciating fine tea

Usually the tea served at Chinese restaurants are typical teas. They come in a metal pitcher and is usually jasmine, oolong, or green tea. The tea is usually not of the best quality. For better teas, there are more expensive fine teas and competition grade teas. I recently experienced fine teas at two restaurants in the SF Bay Area.

On a whim, I went to Kirin in Berkeley one night. I do not recall having been there before, but was quite impressed at the tea selection. The orchid oolong tea was quite refreshing and smelled absolutely lovely. I also really liked the 炸醬麵 (zha jiang mien; noodles with zha jiang sauce)! It reminded me that I need to find a recipe so I can cook it on my own.

After the experience at Kirin, I seemed to be on the lookout for fine tea. I went to the Berkeley Teahouse of Imperial Tea Court (there is also a San Francisco Teahouse). It was my first time at the teahouse and it was really wonderful. I tried the 蓋碗 (gai wan; covered bowl) tea presentation with orchid oolong tea (yes, I had to try the same tea at a different location). The tea presentation was different from how I’ve had tea before. It allowed each person to choose a different type of tea since each person was given their own set of cups – one to steep the tea, the other to pour the tea into for drinking. The pitcher of hot water was shared. I think orchid oolong is now one of my favorite teas. The dim sum sampler was really good and went well with the tea. Next time, I’m trying one of the main dishes!

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