by Cassandra Vincent
Hello there beautiful people! In a culture filled with specialty coffee shops that offer tea as an afterthought it is exciting to see a place like this pop up – Jin – The Tea Shop (www.jinteashop.com). Finding this shop on accident was like finding treasure really and I wanted to share this experience with you. Not only is this shop entirely dedicated to tea it specifically offers brewing variations on 3 types of organic Taiwanese oolong:
High Mountain Oolong
Oriental Beauty Oolong
Oolong tea (their basic oolong)
The teas they do focus on they make exceptionally well, using precision executed brewing methods.
Now that is specialty tea.
They offer cold brew versions of each of their oolong teas in a lovely slender reusable bottle. The tea is cold brewed for 6-8 hours. I had the Oriental Beauty, as I am a lover of fragrant oolong and this was on track, lovelies: soft and aromatic with a bit of earthy depth and touch of natural sweetness. The cold brew really allowed the floral and sweet aspects to shine as the tannins were kept mellow.
They offer a hot brew of their oolongs in yixing teapots on their Artisan menu. The tea is made in front of the customer and they can choose whether they want it stronger or not. How brilliant (and rare) is that! They first do a hot wash of the teapot they are going to brew in. Then after measuring the leaves on a scale and placing them in the pot they do a wash of the leaves to open them. Then they do two steepings, allowing the customer to decide the strength. All in all about an 8-10 minute process that results in a fine cup of tea. I had their basic oolong and it was a tad earthy with a light floral aspect. To me it smelled of earth, grass and wild flowers.
They also offer their version of boba teas, mostly cold with a few hot options, and toppings made by the company itself including a tofu pudding, which tasted like a lightly sweet silk tofu based item; and an herbal jelly (also referred to as ‘grass jelly’) made from the Mesona Chinensis herb (see photo of the sample of these two I was given to try). These toppings are mildly sweet compared to that of many boba shops I’ve been to, allowing the tastes of the tea, herb and fruits to come through. All fruits come from Taiwan, including a lemon that is sweeter than Meyer lemon. What I appreciate about this portion of the menu is that it gives the customer the freedom to choose percentage of sweetness in 25% increments from 0 to 100%; amount of ice - none, less or normal; and select from many toppings/additions.
Milk teas are also on the menu, with set recipes of toppings/additions like their Signature Organic Milk #1 with tofu pudding, egg pudding and brown sugar pearls (boba). The majority of this part of the menu is offered hot or iced.
Finally they have a few other hot beverage items including ginger and longan teas.
This shop is tiny and designed as a to go place as there are only a few stools, more for waiting than a long stay. They do not at present offer their tea leaves for sale, nor do they have a program where the cold brew bottles are refilled for a reduced price. I would love to see that as the bottles are the only way they serve their cold brew. But the product is of good quality, a high end alternative to super sugary boba teas and a good introduction to Taiwanese tea.
This is an exciting development that seems to support the notion that interest in tea, and high quality tea at that, is being recognized. It would be great to see the sad teabag floating in lukewarm water (often with a metal spoon in it, conducting what little heat is there away) become a rare experience.
Note: These opinions/observations are all my own. I was not paid for this review.
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