Tag Archives: new york

Getting Tea Drunk at Tea Drunk

Last weekend I was in New York City to see a show and one of the things I always do in New York City is visit all my favorite vegan restaurants and cafes. This trip had an additional draw, though, being able to visit Tea Drunk, a gongfu teahouse that brings me right back to Taiwan. In fact, it’s really on-par with my favorite teahouses the world over. Small and cozy with a real expertise in Chinese tea and quite a selection, it was a perfect place to sit, sip, and chat. I even got to meet a few of the other guests, because it’s hard to avoid making friends over tea.

Nicole at Tea DrunkOur host was the imitable Nicole Martin, aka: Tea For Me Please. The owner of Tea Drunk wasn’t in that day, but Nicole was there to guide us through what probably amounted to 12 infusions of a nicely woody 2011 Sheng Da Meng Song (大勐宋), followed by maybe 15 gaiwans of a 2010 Shou Tuo Cha (of uncertain origin) that was even better than I expected. I was very energized by the time I left. The shop certainly lived up to its name!

The Sheng was crisp and comforting. The Shou was not too sweet, and had a blackberry quality to it which I really enjoyed. There are some really great young Puer cakes being produced these days, but a few years can make a big difference.

Photo Jul 12, 4 25 42 PMThe shop is small, but beautiful. It looks from the outside like its space is in part of an old church. A host of teaware adorns one wall, while the other is devoted mostly to a seven person bamboo gong-fu bar that I’ve always dreamed of having for myself. The rest of the space holds about six square tables, each with its own custom-made petrified bamboo tea table that are works of art in themselves. When we sat down, we were able to pick one of the cute tea pets from their collection to share our tea. You’ll notice our friendly tea-loving bulldog in the pictures.

One of the most exciting aspects of Tea Drunk for me is their events. They have started a weekly “Tuesday Tea-Off” where each participant (including the teahouse) brings a tea of the same category for a blind tasting to compare and contrast. If only I lived closer! Nevertheless, it’s inspiring and a great way to involve the tea community.

Normally I would have been sipping with one hand and taking notes with the other, but I was really enjoying the conversation with Nicole and I never got around to writing down my thoughts about these teas. At this point all my memory can tell me is that they were both delightful and that I will definitely be returning to Tea Drunk next time I’m in New York. Their tea is definitely priced for small groups to share, but is undeniably worth the expense. If you are alone, perhaps you can find a friend in the city who’s willing to share a cup or two.


Korean Wild Green Tea 2nd Picked

While attending a Broadway show in New York City this weekend, I had the opportunity to visit a lovely little Korean teahouse and vegan restaurant named Franchia. I confess that I learned about the food first and was drawn in by the tea only after I decided to go. So many restaurants these days will put “teahouse” in their name, meaning that yes, like every other restaurant, they serve something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea. Sorry, I get carried away. Actually most places willing to call themselves a teahouse do indeed have tasty tea, but Franchia definitely impressed me with their unique offerings.

franchia_menuI’m familiar with Nok Cha (녹차, or “Green tea”), the delicate tea lovingly produced in Korean gardens, by way of the versions (apparently Jiri Mountain “Jungjak”) procured by Dobra Tea. That hardly qualifies me as experienced, though. I’ve rarely had the opportunity to try any other varieties, but more and more I have read about the delicious things coming out of Korea and now I’ve grown quite curious. It’s been on my to-do list for a few years now to gain at least a little more familiarity with tea from this country.

Well, I was fortunate to stumble across this gem in New York. I highly recommend them for both their food and their camellia sinensis! They offer three harvests of their “Wild Green Tea”. The menu gives water temperatures for each tea, which is already a good sign. Being as it is the middle of winter, I wasn’t sure which one to pick, but I opted for the middle ground and chose the 2nd harvest.

franchia_cupJust as I had come to expect from my previous experiences, the ceramic strainer (I love Korean tea cups) was filled with beautiful whole leaf sets that produced a creamy, but very light-bodied broth. The aroma was a combination of roasted hazelnuts and toasted seaweed that I tend to associate with fine Japanese Gyokuro and Kabusecha. Intoxicating. The taste was delicate and sweet. I found I was able to get just about 3 infusions from the leaves before they began to lose their luster. This also meshes with my previous experiences of Korean greens. Still, there were hints of flowers and a little roastiness that I would like to know better, perhaps with longer infusions. If I hadn’t had to get to a show, I would have sat and tried all three harvests!

franchia_outsideIn my haste to leave, I didn’t even notice that they sell their tea. I will definitely have to return during my next trip South. Perhaps if any one else out there in tea-land has a chance to visit Franchia, they can add their reviews to mine. In the mean time, I will definitely need to check out some Korean offerings from others on the ‘net.