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Posts Tagged ‘Chinatown’

Privileged – “having the rare opportunity to do something that brings particular pleasure”. Yes, that describes our trip to the Red Blossom Tea Company.

Teri Kalama, my son’s true love who is newly in his life, offers to take us to Chinatown to meet her college friend Alice who owns a tea company and will conduct a “tea tasting” just for us. I am thrilled … D.L. is doubtful but game for another experience … and we arrive to meet a gracious person who puts black tea and hot water in a teapot to steep … after a few minutes she transfers it from the teapot to another clay container … my Curiosity Imp gives me a poke … “Why did you pour the tea into the second vessel?” I ask.  Alice smiles and says, “Oh this is the ‘fair’ vessel”. This way when there is a tasting the third cup of tea gets the same intensity of tea as the first cup that is poured … it makes all the cups “fair”.

We all look at each other in amazement. Alice then presents us with cups of tea and two pastries. The first contains a combination of gray sesame custard and green tea custard and the second has a golden tangerine custard inside. D.L. balks at the sesame/green tea pastry but tastes the second golden pastry and pronounces it very good. These pastries come from Mr Holmes Bakeshop and are called “cruffins”, a combination croissant and muffin.

We move on to another pale, creamy green tea as Alice explains that her family has owned this shop on Grant Avenue for decades. Her father was a Chinese Apothecary (from the Latin apotheca- “storehouse”) who dispensed herbs and special teas for years to the community. He developed ties to local tea growers in Asia and selected all his own herbs. When Alice took over the shop many of the tea farmers he bought from refused to do business with a woman, so Alice went to the locations and began friendships with her own suppliers. This elegant tea shop is what emerged from all her hard work. As an added treat Alice shows us a video of her five-year old son playing the piano at a recital at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. It was a WOW!

After carefully wrapping my tea purchases she gave me a tea thermos … glass cylinder with a screw top where you put the tea and hot water into the cylinder, put a shallow metal plate on top so the loose tea does not wind up in your mouth,  screw on the lid and replace it in a black bag which fits perfectly to keep the tea warm. Thank you, Alice … we were privileged to meet you … Mary and D.L.

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