Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Article in LA Times

The article is out finally! Oh my! It's more than I ever expected. I have quite a few people to thank for giving my store a whole new life. Thi the writer, RS, Jay the photographer, the editors of LA Times, and everyone that have been supporting Tea Habitat! This is absolutely fabulous and I am speechless with joy! I woke up at 7:40 am this morning and WY already sent out emails with the online version link.

It's nerve wracking to read through the story and my eyes swelled up at the end of the article. When I said I'd bury my ashes under a tea tree couple of weeks ago, it was a joke but an endearing one at the time. Reading it on a national paper like this has such a profound impact and unexpectedly. I am speechless....

Myself and people of the Phoenix oolong tea industry are over joyed by the article and grateful for tea drinkers from all over the world enjoying such great teas with enthusiasm. The people who nurture those tea trees deserve more credit than myself. I am just a messenger promised myself, my tea master and the tea farmers of Chao Zhou, do the best I can to promote this fabutastic genre of oolong teas that come from my birth land.

12 comments:

Victoria said...

Congratulations!! It was great!
I'm so happy for you, and a great boost for interest in the tea community. Yay!

Maitre_Tea said...

Congratulations also! It was a well-written article that managed to scratch the surface that is DC tea, but hopefully we'll have some new "converts" into the tea community here

Thi N said...

Imen, when you said that you wanted your ashes buried under a tea tree, I carefully kept my face calm as I wrote it down, while my inner soul was screaming, "F*** yeah! F*** yeah! There's a f***ing outtro if I've ever seen one!"

I'm glad you liked it. I actually got depressed the night before because I was completely sure that I'd completely failed to capture the *importance* of the experience. I was lying with my head in girlfriend's lap, moaning about how I'd disappointed everybody and screwed up the once chance to communicate the wonder of the teas, and you.

Anyway - I wrote the damn thing, and my job is over. Now your job is take every single lost soul who comes into your shop and convert them into a hardcore, serious, open-hearted, sensitive, loving tea drinker. OK?

Maitre_Tea: on "scratching the surface" and converts - it's a funny thing. By the time I got to writing this thing, I had about 50 pages of notes - history of the tea, Imen's life story, tasting notes on almost her entire stock, brewing technique, more. My first draft, I got about half of what I wanted to get written down, did a word count check, and realized I was already at about 3000 words. My word limit for the article was 800. I also realized it was reading more like an internal document between serious tea drinkers. I mean, I had a line about how the texture was like of one of the dan congs a really fresh mao jian, and I was like, "Come on, man, how many of readers will this make *any* sense to?"

I decided I was missing the damn point. This was a chance to get, you know, the average general audience reader - the majority of whom have never even *thought* the idea "multiple infusion" - to have the thought that maybe tea could be taken as seriously as, you know, wine.

I was complaining to a friend of mine - Sari, another one of my friends who I brought to the shop - about being confused about what I was doing, and she said, "What you have to do is *invent tea* for people." She meant something like: for every serious tea drinker who was going to read the article, there were 2000 people for whom tea was a teabag, or at best some loose leaf from the grocery store, that you dunked and sugared and sucked down without thinking, and that they had no idea that there was this *thing* you could do where you could sit down and devote *your whole soul* to it - and that a story about Imen *was the most perfect imaginable way* to do this.

Or, basically - that the point wasn't fine tea talk, but conversion. And the weapon for conversion was all these glorious quotes from Imen, and her particular passion and knowledge and eloquence.

Jane said...

Oh, wow, Imen. It's a beautiful piece. Here's my favorite quote: "Drinking it, it makes you feel like you don't belong to this practical world." That's IT, precisely. I've tried to explain my love for tea to friends by saying that it's like a journey, like being taken to dimly remembered and yet unimaginable places . . . but the way you've expressed it here puts it much better. I'm going to quote you from now on. :-)

Thi, as I said, it's just a beautiful piece. I almost can't tell the difference between Imen and the tea itself: she doesn't have to wait to be cremated. She already IS the spirit of tea.

Sandra said...

Hi! Discovered the article through a twitter post. Absolutely fascinating!
I do have a quick question, if you dont mind. Prior to reading the article, I was unaware that loose leaf could be brewed multiple times. How do you store/keep tea before its brewed again, and how long can it be kept?
Once again, WONDERFUL article. Once again Im miffed that I apparently live on the wrong coast.

MarshalN said...

Congrats again Imen!

Sandra -- there are plenty of tea addicts everywhere. I'm sure there are some in your neck of the woods too.

Imen said...

Thank you Victoria, Maitre Tea, Jane and Marshaln! :)

Thi,

Wow, a big story behind the story!

Some how when I blurred out the ashes, and heard the key stroke at light speed, a couple of brain cells of mine said uh oh, that better not appear on a national paper!

The thoughts you put into this article is very heart felt! I can't thank you enough!


Jane,

You are always so kind and sweet!


Sandra,

Resteeping the tea leaves is usually continues when it's wet, rather than put away for another day(s). You can reuse the same leaves within a day usually.

East coast has a bigger tea theme than LA I think. Just not a Dan Cong specialty store. :)

Thanks for reading the article.

Katrina said...

Congratulations. What a fantastic thing. Wonderful for the tea world and for you personally! I'm so happy your hard work has been rewarded.

Imen said...

Thank you for the kind words Katrina! :)

Jason Witt said...

Everyone is happy for you, Imen. It was clear the reporters from the paper fell in love with you and your store. I had no doubt they would, considering what you're doing with Dan Congs to give them as a Blessing to all of America. You deserve it. --Spirituality of Tea

toki said...

Now that's a Great Harvest! Congratulations Imen. Toki

Imen said...

Thank you Jason again!

And thank you Toki!