I work at a tea shop, but it’s not really like a Teavana or a davidstea. There aren’t a lot of fruity blends, except for a Hibiscus-Berry herbal blend. The selection is mostly pure teas with nothing added, and the shop gets them from all over the place. Some are wholesale from yunnan sourcing, some are from a brooklyn-based performance artist from Hunan, some were brought back in the owners’ suitcases from Taiwan, some are from this, that or the other vendor. I haven’t been on any of the china/japan/taiwan trips, because I’m the one who works the shop while they’re gone. The shop hosts Global Tea Hut and other bowl tea events/ceremonies, with the occasional gongfu thing or ceramics workshop. This is where I met Petr Novak, Wu De, and Gary Snyder’s housemate. More on that in another post.
Working at a tea shop, you see people approaching tea from every conceivable angle. People want tea to relax, go to sleep, wake up, digest food, lose weight, taste floral, taste fruity, clean their house, walk their dog. Once I have that info, I tell them what they should buy, and if that doesn’t work, we might drink something, or I’ll tell them about puerh, or something else I’ve been into recently that they could try. If they leave, they leave.
There’s a lot of puerh where I work and it’s stored naturally mostly in big ceramic Novak/Randova puerh jars. Some of it just sits in drawers with rubber bands around it, but it’ll be fine because those cakes are drunk pretty quickly. Some of it is out in open air on puerh cake stands.
It’s different storage than I do at home, so the tea comes out different. It’s more… natural. Storage in porous earthenware is very different from storage in boveda packs in a metal stock pot. One of the owners asks me sometimes if the metal affects the energy of the tea in a negative way. I have to say I don’t quite know. There’s no way to know.
At the shop, all sorts of tea enthusiasts collide, and the results are very often profound. As stuff like that happens, I’ll write about it.
The teashop is a very cool place.