I dusted myself off and came out of my basement Tea Lair for a bit of an outing today, one bus trip downtown later to Crown Center and I was at my destination. Today is the Grand Opening of Shang Tea’s Brewing Station! This is also my first time visiting their new location, which, might I add, looks amazing.
For those not familiar with the shop, Shang Tea offers some truly wonderful teas, including the very unique Pao Blossom White and White Wu-Long. Shang grows his teas high in the beautiful Fujian Mountains, and after trying a few of them, it is certainly not hard to see why several of his teas are award winning.
While visiting the shop I was treated to sample tastings of the Pao Blossom White (always a favorite) and the Tangering Blossom Red. Of course all of the teas are presented in clear ‘sniffing’ canisters so you can enjoy the aroma of the leaves before purchasing sealed packages. While I was busily sniffing all the teas and selecting samples to buy, one of the very courteous members of staff pointed out the Shang Tea Sampler which Ben was sweet enough to buy for me. I certainly recommend getting it if you want to try an assortment of their teas. It doesn’t have all of them, but it is a great starter.
After ogling the teas and various tea brewing gear, it was time to visit their new Brewing Station and try their specialty, the Tang DynasTea! Back in the Tang Dynasty of China, tea drinking really hit its stride, it was during this time period that Lu Yu wrote The Classic of Tea, the Tea Horse Road was created, and when Japan was introduced to tea. It became more of an art form than just a medicinal drink, usually with things like onions, ginger, pepperming, cinnamon, oranges, and salt added to it (though women of the courts preferred their tea with fruit juices). Shang recreates the artistry of a time long passed with his Tang DynasTea, blending Brick Aged White Tea, Ginger, Cinnamon, Wild Honeysuckle and a touch of Himalayan Salt.
The aroma of this tea was incredibly balanced, blending the cinnamon and ginger warmth with gentle sweetness and a whisper of floral. It has a smell that I can best describe as welcoming. The taste is a great adventure, it starts out subtly sweet and spicy, the sweetness has a floral quality to it that blooms into a stronger, heady floral at the midtaste. Next is a gentle malt quality that still has an underlying sweetness, and for the finish, we get the salt. Usually with an odd taste like this I would preface ‘this might not be for everyone’ but the salt is mild and has the effect of making you salivate more leaving a sweet aftertaste. The salt really accentuates the other tastes, not something you would expect to work in a tea, but I can see why it was so popular back in 618-907AD. If you are in the Kansas City area I certainly recommend giving their brewing station a visit!