Tea at Cha’an
[Continuing on from the evening portion with Patrick. If you haven't read the first part, please do so (click here). I know I'm doing this at a painfully slow pace but uh, stuff is happening in life that's slowing me down from updating. Sorry.]
If any of you ever meet Patrick in person, he tells you two things. No. Make it three: (1) he’s vegetarian but loooves cheese, (2) he needs to eat a lot (like a minimum of 4,000 calories) before he withers away (lucky him), and (3) he loves tea. I covered fact number one at Hearth, fact number two is supplemented with my food gifts to him (Mitzy’s macarons from Tafu, Bouchon Bakery’s peanut butter cup, and Momofuku Milk Bar’s cookies) and whatever he ate earlier in the day, and now I’m taking care of number 3. Since that evening was really cold and ridiculously windy, we seek refuge to the nearest tea house from Hearth the my mind can come up with – Cha’an.
Going up a flight of narrow stairs from the entrance, it felt like we were transported to a different place. It’s zen-like yet casual and lots of conversations carried around in this small tea house. You can tell it’s very tea-focused when you flip through the pages of the menu. Especially with the worn pages of the world map indicating what region the tea comes from.
Eventually, Patrick and I settled with Twelve Tea Oolong – tea for two, gungfu style. Both of us were scratching our heads wondering what does “gungfu style” mean? But we just let our waitress enlighten us and show the proper technique when she brought us the tea set and cookies to go with it. (But if you’re inclined to know the whole story, look at this Wikipedia article.)
Gung-fu tea ceremony
After the few minutes of demonstration and the actual serving of the oolong tea, Patrick and I were amused how it went and chatted on the highlights of this entire ceremony. Tasting a sip from my dainty tea cup, this oolong tea was very delicious. It’s fragrant with a hint of floral musk and I like the bitter to sweet flavors of the tea. This was enjoyed immensely.
The plate of shortbread cookies were pretty good. All were crumbly, buttery and not too sweet. The two flavors offered were green tea and black sesame. The one that tasted better was the black sesame because of its inherent nutty flavor when it’s toasted.
Back when Patrick and I were discussing online, prior to his visit to NYC, I’ve asked him if he ever tried the lovely Japanese confection, mochi? He replied to me that he hasn’t, I’ve urged that we shared a plate of Earl Grey Tea-Chocolate mochi. What I love about mochi (in case you never tried it), is it’s soft, chewy rice cake exterior and the subtly sweet filling (usually the red adzuki bean paste) meshes so well together. Getting to the point, Cha’an’s version is about as addictive as Minamoto Kitchoan‘s chocolate daifuku. The difference between the two, Cha’an’s rice cake exterior is softer, almost pillow-like, obviously, there’s no cocoa powder rolled on it, and the chocolate filling does have a hint of Earl Grey tea flavor.
After eating the mochi, we’ve lingered around – drinking more tea, chatting and catching up.