12 January 2012

As featured in the LA Times!

The LA Times ran a little story the other day (also picked up at the Monterey Herald) about the tea group that meets in Los Angeles, back when I was still living there. It's a good article, and I give my thanks to Rosanna Xia for doing her best to be true to our experiences drinking tea.

The one thing the article plays up with exaggeration is the cost of fine teas. The best of the best, as with any epicurean pursuit, is very, very expensive.

But the majority of the tea we drank at LA Tea Affair was not nearly so high-end. Higher-end than your average loose leaf, but certainly not commonly in the $1500/lb range. When I've had the pleasure to sample such expensive teas, the person or tea shop sharing was munificent in their not charging me a thing. And that generosity amongst tea drinkers makes our hobby so great.

Likewise, sharing has been central to the success of the LA tea group. Tea is best shared with others, and that sharing rarely comes with a cost or debt of reciprocity.


Will said...

Great post, and well said.

Anonymous said...

The comments...are...hilarious!

Imen Shan did come off better in her article in the Times.


MAG said...

Can you provide me with the name of the tea shop, run by the Taiwanese family, mentioned in the LA Times article?

Bearsbearsbears said...

@MAG Valley Tea & Coffee is the name, I believe

Unknown said...

hi. i've been hosting gongfu tea at events in LA for the past 2 years and I've never heard of this group until I read this article. How do I join?



Bearsbearsbears said...

Hi Adam,

Sign-up is at latea.org. You might also stop by teadrunk.org (Will's tea forum) and put in a note to introduce yourself.

Centranthus said...

Definitely enjoyed concept of the article, as I'm sure not many people are aware of tea beyond Liptons. I definitely have to agree, though, with a section of a comment: "there was too much of an approach in the article like these people were zoo specimens to be examined." - And it was disheartening to read a lot of the negativity and "poo-pooing" in the comments section.

*shakes head* Oh well - their loss, eh?

Bearsbearsbears said...

@Centranthus There is something to that comment, more like anthropological examination than straight reporting. But I don't mind being a bit of a zoo specimen if it brings more people to appreciation of tea.

Regarding the comments, I've always viewed reading news comments as a one-way ticket to misanthropy. And with this specific situation where the news concerns my habit: if I cared what people thought of my tea hobby, I probably wouldn't have one! :)

Yugan, who is a Talovich said...

a friend led me to the LA Times article, which led me here. Great! Glad to see people are catching on to good tea.
~I am a tea freak, and have been drinking puer since about 1971, I guess, but didn't start getting really fanatic until about 1980. I have some photos on flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/talovich/sets/72157603393019043/, and really should update those. Also, sometimes I write about tea on my blogspot blog, Wandering in Wulai.

Marlonm said...

Jason, what water did you use or how did you filter it when you lived in LA? I know Poland Spring is good, but hard to get on the west coast.

Bearsbearsbears said...


We have a Coway filter that RO filters water and then remineralizes it. It seems to work pretty well, as it seems to put just enough stuff back in the water to keep the tea interesting.

Before that, I used Crystal Geyser or any generic brand that was bottled by Crystal Geyser.

Arrowhead was hit or miss for tea, I think because they had so many potential springs it could be bottled from. However, spring water taken from around the Big Bear area (above Lake Arrowhead) was "too good" for tea. Great taste, but softened the tea way too much.

I also used Brita-filtered water with some success. If your tap water is not too awful to start with, Brita seems an acceptable method.


Will said...

@Marlonm - I have Ok success with Crystal Geyser. These days, I get Sierra Springs delivered (it's the one type of spring water I'm aware of you can get delivered in large containers in Southern California).

I also sometimes use our normal house filtered drinking water, which uses three stage non-RO filtration.

As the article mentions, I like Volvic, though, as the article fails to mention, I rarely actually use it for tea brewing.

Marlonm said...

J & W,

Thanks for your tips. I'll look into getting Sierra Springs in Santa Barbara and I know I can always get Crystal Geyser.

I'm actually in NYC right now and had the pleasure of drinking tea with Tim at Mandarin's. He said that he just uses RO which surprises me because he didn't mention anything about remineralizing the water after filtration.

Will - Tim also said that I should try to make it to your LA tea meetups. Should I just sign up to your listserve or is there more I can do to stay up to date?