Saturday, March 17, 2007

My journey down the tea path

An intro of my tea drinking days. I have been reading pu-erh community for a good 6 months now, also posted a couple of times. I enjoy this pool of tea wisdom immensely. Only recently I discovered a link on pu-erh community of reader/user bios which I have not done. In a way, I am not quite comfortable shouting out my life in a big community as such. So without being "mysterious", here is my tea bio.

I started drinking tea ever since I could remember having visitors at just a few years old, mainly black and loose pu. It's a tradition to treat your visitors with tea. It's part of being Chinese which I feel extremely lucky to be to have such early exposure to the world of tea, although not the greatest tea at the time.

After landed on land of the free, North America, for many years, I had lost in touch with my roots. Those days were about re-adjusting, trying to fit in in a new culture/country. Coke was cool although I could never get used to the sugary taste and the carbonation. Then it was the cocktail days in college. Gosh, the memory of alcohol after taste still urks me from time to time. Then it's coffee for a couple of years after college, cuz it's a social pad for people watching. However they were trendy/cool beverages I never find my passion sink in any of them, not quite satisfying either.

The turning point of discovering quality tea, rich history and art of China was 1998, my first trip to China since landed on North America. I had my first kungfu tea in Beijing. It was intriguing to observe how it was done meticulously, especially after knowing the term "kungfu tea" since as little as only a few years old. I came home with 20+ yixing teapots. The airline made me checked in my teapot full carry-on, and broke a couple of pots and cups. Evil airliners! At the time, I was infatuated with the designs of the yixing pots, without knowing and learning about its usage and properties associated with tea. My friends were also contaminated by my new found teapot craze, I ended up giving most of them away, only a couple of them left in my hands as of today. I learned what quality tea taste like since.

In 2000, I made LA my new home after living in various cities in the Midwest. A friend of my close girlfriend signed up for a 4 day tea seminar provided by Mr. Wang - owner of Ten Ren San Gabriel store, of course I tagged along for curiosity. It was a 3-4 hours session on 4 consecutive Saturday afternoons. The class was taught by Mr. Wang himself, a tea master, competition participant/winner at many Taiwanese tea events. He no longer gives free classes due to change of business direction in recent years. This seminar has further opened my sight. I have since drank tea the kung fu way only, oolong (family) is my primary choice, sheng pu has crept up on my list for a little over a year now.

The experience has inspired me in many levels, not limited to just tea, it is a continuous walk down the path of 5000 years Chinese culture in all aspects. In addition to tea, I am also interested in alternative healthy living. Long term stress has caused me health problems that western medicine is not able to cure. Base on my own discoveries, I am inspired to introduce and share them with others in this fast pace society, where highly stressful working/living style is unavoidable. I am currently working on opening a tea lounge with a tea bar in Palos Verdes. I will take on the mission of teaching/introducing the wonderful world of tea with what I know, share with and learn from the knowledgeable ones. I had the opportunity, and so should everyone else. My goal is to provide a relaxing space to rediscover ones center. Having good health both mentally and physically as the foundation of life is the only way to succeed in all areas, and have the luxury of live to enjoy the success. LA is my long term home, I hope to see tea culture flourish here, but not limited to here!


Danica said...

Imen, I am into alternative health practices as well. Tea is a great part of the art of living and I drink lots of it at work, to keep my stress levels down. We should talk!

Imen said...


I admire your diligence to follow these strict health regiments. Discipline is what I need to work on. I enjoyed our tea time together, and this adds so much more to our already "interesting" topics, ie the granola topic?! ;)

Donna Chua said...

Hello Imen, found you while doing a search on Ten Fu tea. I love tea, although I don't know half as much as you do about them. Best wishes on your plans to open a tea shop/bar and expose the rich Chinese heritage to the world.