Thursday, September 13, 2007

Tea Tasting in LA's Chinatown

Tea cups and tiny tea pots at a tasting in Chinatown Los AngelesTucked in-between the golden dragon archways on Broadway and Chinatown Metro Gold Line station with its green, yellow, and red curved roof is Far East Plaza. At the entrance to this plaza is Wing Hop Fung Ginseng and China Products Center. But don't let the name fool you. There's more to this place than aromatic herbs and beautiful hues of porcelain dishes and figurines (though it does have a good many to please). Pass by the first floor of ginseng and herbs behind glass countertops and the large selection of dark and light wine bottles lining the shelves. Then head up the escalator and next to the assortment of imported food goods in bright plastic packages (ranging from yellow rice crackers to sweet and salty plum candy), a tea fan might find a surprising treat... the top floor of Wing Hop Fung are large glass cylinders and glass countertops filled with tea leaves. Recently, I had a lovely tea tasting experience with fellow ExperienceLA blogger and ExperienceLA founder Curt Gibbs, when meeting with George Yu of the Los Angeles Chinatown Business Council and Bibiana Yung of the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles.

Curt Gibbs purchasing teaIn addition to letting us smell the intense and fresh aroma of tea leaves, the woman in this area of the store provided us with a sample of Fujian Fresh Flavor Oolong Tea, which retails for $68.99, and plum tea, cold and slightly sweet. One surprising aspect of the selection of teas is the price range, from expected prices one might find in a general store to a high-end selection worthy of Rodeo Drive. Curt purchased a sample of an extremely fragrant $150 tea aptly named "Lion Hill Supreme of Green Tea."

Rows of TeaSL732618.jpg
In addition to invigorating the sense of taste and smell, tea tasting at Wing Hop Fung is a truly visual experience. Tea can come in all shapes and sizes, more than just small leaves, they can be beautiful bulbs and round kernals. Most people are likely to visualize tea in its Lipton sachets of crushed leaves - sometimes the dark, dry mixture has hints of colors from other leaves and dried flowers, visible only through the gauze of a tea bag. But aside from pre-packaged paper boxes of this and loose leaf tin canisters of the standard fair of Jasmine, Oolong, and Green, few can likely attest to seeing tea unparceled, unready for just quick placement in a porcelain tea pot or mug of hot water.

If you want an experience to invigorate your senses, have a taste of tea at Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown.

-Charity Tran, ExperienceLA Web Coordinator

No comments: