Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Looney for Lupicia! (San Francisco)

This is A Mystery Eater posting! Fret not, Clayfu will be back shortly with more gluttonous eats and the like.

Now that spring is upon us, the birds are chirping and the days are longer, there is nothing I enjoy more than a nice cup of iced tea.
While the standard black Lipton is delightful, I prefer fruit-infused and flavored teas for my iced teas.

And now, for your brewing pleasure . . . starring . . .

Lupicia loose leaf teas! (applause from the audience)

With the supporting roles of . . .

Crate & Barrel Tea Clamp

Tea Steeper (uproar and raucous cheers)

A quick note on tea trinkets and the like. While you definitely can brew the loose leaf teas without any contraptions, the above gadgets make it much easier to drink tea without those pesky leaves getting in the way! The tea clamp was roughly a $5 dollar investment, and the tea steeper, around $14 (find it at your local Target or fine discount stores like Ross, Marshall's, etc). Clayfu prefers the tea steeper, since the water flows through the leaves and into the container, allowing the recipient to get all the benefits of a strongly brewed tea, without the leaves and twigs.

Having had the opportunity to try various teas from Lupicia, the favorites are as follows:

Houji Fruits Out of all three, the fruit flavor is the strongest in Houji Fruits, which makes it the ideal candidate for iced tea. Not overwhelmingly so, though. There is a nice balance of black, green, Muscat and apple flavors. As soon as you open the tin to smell the tea leaves, you’ll notice the distinct Muscat flavor. Look above at the tea steeper photo #1 for the rich dark color of the houji fruits.

Ripe Mango Oolong

Clayfu prefers the Ripe Mango Oolong due to the subtle mango flavor in the background of the fresh oolong tea. Apparently, oolong is the “middle” tea between green and black in oxidation! You can read more here, if you care. As the tea is brewing, the lovely scent of ripe mangoes fills your entire kitchen, inviting you to partake in this tea (but be careful, it’s hot!). The color of the oolong is above, in the tea steeper photo #2. While tasty as an iced tea, the sweet mango flavor is more prominent in the hot tea version. So, if you like fruity teas, perhaps its best to have the Ripe Mango Oolong hot.

Momo Oolong Super Grade

The Momo Oolong has a very light peach flavor, since the tea is flavored with white, not yellow peaches.

While you can purchase the various teas on-line (free shipping after spending $35), shopping at the store is a pleasant experience both for your olfactory system and taste buds. The store is divided into the major groups of tea—black, green, oolong, even decaffeinated and often times, there are samples of teas!

If you fancy, the sales associates can brew you a cup of a tea so that you can try the tea before purchasing. Now, don’t go abusing the system and trying ten different types of teas, but do take advantage of this if you are having trouble deciding between two very fragrant teas, or if you’re not sure how the scent of the tea will translate into taste. Also, they have little brochures by the door that talk about the different varieties of teas, what sweeteners to add (if any), whether to use bottled water or tap, etc.

Teas can be purchased loose-leaf in a bag, tin (for an additional $2), and some in tea bags. (from right to left). Another added bonus of the teas is they come with a label that tells you how many grams of tea leaves to use, coupled with steeping time.

One downside is that the tea is a bit pricey. This is not your $2.69 for 12 bags of Lipton/generic tea. The teas vary from $4.50 to $19.99 depending on grade and size.

Locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and Hawaii:


Charlie Fu said...

very nice! Not only is the tea a treat to look at, so is your post! =)

Anonymous said...

Wow, the store looks like a museum of tea. I wonder how anyone could figure out what they want.

Charlie Fu said...

It's actually pretty confusing, just the sheer amount of tea is astounding. I think each time I've purchased its been whatever tea they are featuring.. haha

Nicholas said...

any white teas? the houji fruits one looks pretty dark

Mystery Eater said...

Nicholas: They don't have a very extensive collection of white teas, from what I remember. Online, they don't seem to have very many either.

You could opt for green or oolong and not brew it as long?