Monday, May 3, 2010

Tea Meet Up in Brooklyn

Photo by Brandon of Wrong Fu Cha

After a long hiatus from my tea life (family, cancer, death, grief, settling affairs, more grief and a recovery of sorts..), I sealed my recent return by hosting The New York City Tea Club at my home in Brooklyn this past Saturday. Guests included some well known tea luminaries like Toki of The Mandarin's Tea Room; Matt from MattCha's Blog; and Michael and Winnie. The wry and funny Brandon from the blog Wrong Fu Cha took photos and video. A number of members couldn't make it but my little tea table was still packed elbow to elbow.
Click here to see Brandon's photos of the event.
My friend Rob, had brought back some gorgeous shincha from his Japan trip for me. For those who don't know, shincha (new tea) is the first sencha harvest of the season. Just three weeks old, my mouth watered as soon as I opened the package and the aroma of fresh, green leaves spilled out. We started with that while more guests arrived. I was feeling rusty since it had been a while brewing gongfu style so I was grateful that Toki took over to brew a couple of puers he brought along. It was also one of those days where my clumsiness was in overdrive. I managed to chip the lid of my glass kettle and shatter a gongfu cup.

Photo by Brandon of Wrong Fu Cha

The time passed quickly and we moved through different teas, getting giddier with each sip. Some of the guests left for other engagements. Four hours after the first cup, the cookies I had picked up at the farmer's market weren't cutting it and we had to break for dinner. We wrapped up with some more shincha at Toki's request. Brandon took video of me brewing the tea. As I said, it's been a long while since I've made tea for anyone and the afternoon of drinking had me buzzed like a newbie. I was surprised by how low my tolerance had gotten and my hands felt jittery while I brewed. If you watch the video you can see it. I also didn't have a water cooler so I made do with a Ching Dynasty bowl once owned by Kingston. It doesn't pour well but it's beautiful. There's no style to speak of; it's fast and sloppy but it tasted great. Click here to watch.
After an excellent dinner and some shots of silky aged bourbon at Char No.4, we headed back to the tea table. Some of Michael's 1980's mushroom puer helped digest the rich meal. More guests took their leave, leaving only Brandon and Benito to share some suixian from the early 1900's. It was smoky and sweet. The chaqi helped relieve the fullness I was feeling from dinner. The last of our tea party finally headed out the door around 1:30 in the morning. I sat in my now quiet room surrounded by empty cups and tea filled gaiwans, feeling tired and content. It felt good to be back.

Visit Brandon's site,
Wrong Fu Cha to see more tea events and his personal discoveries. His tea journal is always earnest and entertaining with great photos.