A trip to Flushing from New Jersey is not exactly a hop, skip, and jump. It took about 2 hours from door-to-door. It included walking, switching trains, and navigating subway lines. Is a cup of tea worth this much trouble?
It was for the Fang Gourmet Tea Expo.
For more than five years, Fang Gourmet Tea has hosted an Expo in the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel. The Expo lasts several weeks, and includes demonstrations on topics like pestle tea, gongfu tea steeping competitions, and exhibits of jade or pottery.
Fang Gourmet Tea’s Expo is one of those places where you can find a cup of tea worth climbing mountains for. It isn’t just the tea – it’s the whole experience.
If you’ve attended the Coffee & Tea Fest and have that in mind as the typical expo experience, you will find Fang’s expo to be a refreshing change of pace. The atmosphere is more relaxed, yet more focused. Here, you can sit with other attendees around a gongfu tea service as tea is steeped before you. You take in all the sights, aromas, tastes and other impressions of the tea makes upon you.
The expo is a richly rewarding experience. The Fang expo is one of the (maybe the only) places in New York where you can smell tea being freshly roasted while learning to appreciate wood-fired and rock mineral teaware.
Wood-fired ceramics require extra care to create. Clays need to be heated to certain temperatures at certain points for certain durations in the firing process, so there are recipes of woods that used at various stages of firing. Some woods burn hotter. Some burn faster. As a result, not every wood-firing attempt is successful. But when they are, each piece has its distinct colors and marks from the tea and ash. Each piece has something to admire.
Rock mineral teaware are true treasures. The combinations of clay and pulverized mineral used result in distinctive works of art unique to each creation. But these are not minerals chosen simply for their beauty. Rock mineral teaware enhances the quality of tea.
To test this theory, Fang conducted an experiment. They invited customers to purchase a tea storage jar made of rock mineral clay. Those jars were then filled with tea leaves. The owners of those jars signed a seal on the jar, agreeing not to open these jars for 6 months. When the time had passed, the jars were opened, and the tea was steeped alongside the same tea leaves that had not been stored in the rock mineral jars. In blind tastings, the rock mineral stored tea garnered significantly more votes than the other teas.
Of course, Fang offers teas and teawares year-round, but the expo allows these stars to shine a little brighter.
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