Once Upon an Oolong

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Curiosity is a strong indicator that our brain cells have not yet died. As long as we still have active brains, then learning is possible. However, humility must accompany curiosity because it takes humility to recognize and to admit that there is something to learn.

So it was with my curious colleague friend. A journalist by trade, she knew that I “liked” tea but readily admitted that she knew nothing about it. However, she wanted to learn about tea. A new tea convert?! How could I refuse? I promptly extended her an invitation to her first tea tasting.

In my experience, once someone tastes a properly prepared cup of tea, then their perspective about the drink and its customs alters considerably. For such a momentous occasion, I wanted to immerse my inquisitive comrade in tea culture.

LUH YU TEA EMPORIUM – FLUSHING, NY

Flushing, located in the New York borough of Queens, is home to 173,826 residents, 43.1% of which identified themselves as Asian during the 2000 United States Census. Those who seek authentic Asian cuisine (e.g. Thai, Malaysian, Indian, Chinese, Korean, etc.) make the 10-mile journey from Manhattan to Flushing, an easy 7 subway train ride to Main Street – Flushing.

Stepping down into Luh Yu Tea Emporium, we were warmly greeted by owner Annie Ro and Luh Yu’s display of clay teapots. Once I explained our mission — introduce my friend to our world of tea — then the exploring began. We drank and savored Bi Lo Chun (green), Dong Ding Oolong and a Yunnan so spectacular that no one noticed the rain that started pouring profusely outside; we busied ourselves with drinking tea profusely inside. Our conversation covered several topics: tea origin, Chinese medicine, massage, benefits and customs. My participation surprised Annie, who pronounced me “half Chinese” and shared her local restaurant favorites.

Since then, I’m happy to say that my colleague friend now properly prepares her green tea, complete with rinsing the leaves, not boiling the water and warming the pot. Thanks to fellow tea enthusiasts, another person has been rescued from the perils of tea ignorance.

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About Verna L. Hamilton

Unapologetic tea aficionado travels world, drinks tea, and pours out words. Shares her passion for the Camellia Sinensis plant in all its forms -- black, oolong, green, white, pu-erh -- and, if done well, doesn't discriminate against rooibos, herbals, tisanes or other infusions. Uses tea as a bridge towards bringing people together. Cups up! #DrinkTea

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