Saturday, April 17, 2010

‘T’ An Urban Tea House, First Visit

Finally the long awaited ‘T- An Urban Tea House’ is open! The spot has been under preparation for a long while, and everything is set up nicely and ready for you to come in and have a great cup of tea prepared for you. They immediately hold an advantage over any other tea house because of their Curits water aerator system. Oklahoma City water is so vacant of oxygen that the tea I prepare at home with it is often bordering on flavorless. So anything that can be done to get more flavor out of those leaves is a big plus. It is really nice to know that there is a teahouse in Oklahoma City now that cares enough about its tea process to have 2 water aerator machines set up, one at 212 for black tea and one at 192 for oolong or green tea. The tea is kept in airtight and lightproof containers with a narrow opening at the top. When they are opened, I think they let less air out than the hat box looking containers at Teavanna. The customer’s area is really clean and uncluttered, with tons of space for your cup, pot or press, and reading material. The décor is really nice too, there is a soothing feel to the color scheme on the walls and counter area. It appears all the work put into its look has resulted in a teahouse with a comfort level that ranks above any Starbucks type atmosphere.

Thanks to my financial situation, I will not be placing an order from Upton for at least a week. So my purchase plan from ‘T’ was a small package of something affordable yet drinkable. I did not plan to sit and have a cup in the teahouse at this time, but I will be going back for that soon. Their bulk tea prices are too high to put it bluntly, as are Teavanna’s prices. The Golden Monkey was over $22 for 2oz, which is more than double the price of Upton Tea’s Golden Monkey Pekoe. ‘T’s Golden Monkey is priced at $4.50 for a cup, so yes the cup price is set quite high too. But in the inner city where the water is chlorinated and treated to the point of complete sterilization, the availability of a well steeped cup of tea becomes more valuable. I intend on visiting again soon to have a cup made from their ‘special’ water just to see how well these machines work.

The Ceylon tea I bought was a little less than $6 for 2oz, not a great price. I didn’t think it quite had the dry aroma of what I am used to as I poured it into my Bee House container, although I recognized the leaf color and uniformity from other Ceylon OP. I set my kettle of Central OKC swill water on the heated burner and scooped out 1 ½ tsp rounded into my strainer basket. Pouring the boiling water over the leaves didn’t release the aroma so much, and the 4 min steep time didn’t seem to help it much either. Of course, no malty bubbles on the top of the infuser basket, but there never is with that water. After adding a spot of milk and light dose of demerara, the fun began.

Sitting down to my computer desk, I cued up the Acid Mothers Temple CD, “Recurring Dream and Apocalypse of Darkness“. Before taking a bite of my wheat bread with almond butter, I took my first whiff and taste of the tea. Keeping in mind that tea made at home is always less flavorful, I really found this tea pretty flavorless upon first sip I’m sorry to say. With a little almond butter, and an ‘E’ power chord that drones for a good 12 minutes with the Japanese Hendrix wailing over the top of it, the flavor increased to a pleasant ‘better than bagged’ level. There never was that great high region Ceylon aroma rising from the steam. And as the 5 minutes of single note feedback cooled my cup, the flavors just didn’t quite stand out enough to consider buying this one again. The 36 minute and 30 second grunge fest that sounds like the beginning of ‘War Pigs’, with Sabbath forgetting to ever going into the verse part, outlasted my cup of tea. But I enjoyed the abuse of my eardrums a bit more than I did my cup of Ceylon Breakfast from T-An Urban Tea House. I am going to give it another try at my workplace where there is good water. I expect the results will be a little better there, and I will post an update when I do.

Until then... happy sipping!


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