March 31, 2013

SIDE TOURING: The Tea Culture Movement

Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
"A man without tea in him is incapable of understanding truth and beauty." -Okakura Kakuzo
Recently, courtesy of Side Tour, I had an opportunity to experience a tasting of Tieguanyin (oolong tea) with artist and co-owner of Mandarin's Tea House, Timothy Hsu for two hours - with every passing minute the taste become incredibly more potent! The experience was amazing and I highly recommend a visit to the tea house for a cup of tea with your cultural lesson.

The tea culture is so expansive and inclusive with tea novices, aficionados and snobs intertwined at socials, and the ranges of teas that are steeped into existence continually redefine the question of "how many teas are out there?

There is a tea movement gaining momentum whether out of people seeking a healing alternative rather than continue with tradition medicines that fail us or choosing a healthier way of life by way of drinking natural beverages that taste good (and are good for our bodies) instead of indulging in bad drinks that are loaded with processed sugars, fructose, etcera. Or simply have the utmost respect for the leaf - whether it be part of a spiritual or cultural regime. 
Whatever the reason - more people are drinking tea and that is great thing!

Spices and Tease at the Chelsea Market [NYC]
Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography
The tea world is still fresh to me and I'm enjoying every millisecond. My introduction to loose leaf tea was about two years ago. And my very first tea house experience was at the Radiance Tea House this past January. What will be my next tea experience? I can see more tea tastings in my near future (the April 11th Tea By Tiffany’s Chocolate & Tea Tasting comes to mind!). Or perhaps being a part of a Japanese tea ceremony. Who knows!? But whatever the experience I'm grateful to broaden my cultural palate.

Visit to the Sullivan Street Tea & Spice in the West Village [NYC]
Photo Credit: Chante Ramsey/Vysyn Photography

SideNote: If you want to know more about the medicinal benefits of tea or are curious about the various Asian teas, be sure to read "Healthy Teas" by Tammy Safi. It was so helpful to me! Learning is fundamental but while I experiment on my own I tilt my hat to tea specialists that have inspired & enlightened me - Tiffany (Twitter: @teabytiffany), Mario (Twitter: @mariotravels) and Nicole (Twitter: @teaformeplease).

What's In Your Cup?