From the fields of Kyoto to the mountains of Yunnan, Kathy Chan travels the world in search of the best teas
Date: Sep 05, 2015
By: Ligaya Mishan / NY Times News Service, New York
A year ago, a member of a private tea society in Shanghai presented Kathy YL
Chan with a small box as slender as a cigarette case. Inside were four tiles of highly prized pu-erh tea, conjoined like a chocolate bar and almost black, twined with green and ocher.
Chan, 29, who writes about tea and advises restaurants, hotels and companies on tea offerings, had mostly encountered pu-erh in the form of dense, mulchy rounds (bing cha in Mandarin), each with a crater at the center, like flattened volcanoes. The delicate box seemed a secret missive from “a darker, cooler world,” she said — what she calls, only half jokingly, the “underbelly” of tea.
The pu-erh within, from Menghai in China’s southwestern Yunnan province, near the Burmese border, was too precious to drink, Chan decided. And so she safeguards it in the kitchen of her East Village apartment, amid her considerable arsenal of teaware, including fine-spined whisks; long, skinny bamboo scoops and short, hand-hammered brass ones curved like thumbnails; a Korean teapot with a straight side handle; a ceramic bowl, or chawan, for frothing matcha, a Japanese green tea; and a paring-size knife for breaking off pieces of pu-erh, should she one day feel that she can wait no longer. [FULL STORY]