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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chinatown: Tea Tastings at Vital Tea Leaf

It had been a long time since I wandered through Chinatown. So we headed over there one day in search of the Fortune Cookie Factory. We found it (written up in a separate post), but we also found a few other fun stores to share with you.

Vital Tea Leaf was one of them. The clean and modern tea tasting salon is modern and inviting. There's a long tea tasting bar, with seats, fortune cookies and beautiful displays of tea. Tastings are free.

The walls are lined with jars of different teas - available for sale. The staff there can help you pick out whatever you're looking for - whether it's something to soothe your digestive system, or a pick-me-up.

Plus in the back you'll find other specialy teas, like bricks of tea (apparently tea used to be packaged this way and you'd just break a chunk off to boil into the beverage).

If you're a tea lover, you must read Sarah Rose's book For All the Tea in China. I mentioned it on the blog once before, but it's a fascinating story about how the English stole seedlings and trade secrets from China to grow their own tea empire.

Vital Tea Leaf has three Chinatown locations - the one we feature here is at 1044 Grant Avenue. There's also one on Pacific Avenue (at Jones Street). Admittedly, we did not do the tea tasting. With 4 kids and only 2 adults on this excursion, it was a bit too much to ask of our kids, none of whom like tea. Sigh. I'll have to go back without them.

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