Monday, January 12, 2009

Dim Sum and Chai

While in California a few weeks ago, our friend M took us to a neighborhood Dim Sum Restaurant- Empress Harbor.

We fell in love with the concept of Dim Sum. I believe there weren’t any tables in the restaurant like ours- where there wasn’t a single person who knew exactly what was in the carts of food being taken around by cute little old ladies who spoke very little English. 

Along with the food there was this magic tea-pot with an endless supply of amazingly good hot tea. It was like no tea I had ever had before. It was deliciously earthy and refreshing. Drinking it out of the teeny little white porcelain cups added a ton to the flavor. We finished up three pots of it the first we were there (consequently there were quite a few restroom breaks- but like a dear friend likes to say- lets please only talk about inputs- not the outputs!)

 The next time K and I stopped by for a quick brunch, we drank up another couple of pots of tea. As we got out of there, we decided we needed to find out from them what was our new found favorite was. Notice how these ideas never come to us while we are at the restaurant. We need to be at least a half hour away before brilliance strikes. Before someone mentions “But you could always call”- please know that it didn’t seem like good idea for two very different reasons. Everyone we interacted with at the restaurant spoke very little English. More importantly, why would we throw away another opportunity to go back to Empress Harbor?

 So the night before we were to get back home from the heaven that is California* , we stopped by at Empress harbor again- this time to just ask them what was the tea and may be drink a little bit of it. However, that was not to be. They had a wedding party in progress there. The restaurant now had a lot of beautiful beautiful people with stick straight hair and lots of black and gold all around. We decided not to disrupt the proceedings and stopped by at another dim sum restaurant where we drank a substandard tepid pot of tea with tonnes of server-attitude thrown in for good measure for about 6 dollars a pot. That was the end of our tea exploration in California

Once we got home, K asked the Google Gods to tell us about the tea served at Dim sum restaurants. Bo-lay tea and Jasmine tea was what Google and chowhound said.

 A quick trip to our friendly Chinese Grocery Store  saw us come home with two boxes of tea bags. One was definitely for the non-traditional folks- seeing as it was called “the Chinese Restaurant Tea”. The other was called “Puer tea”. I know we could have gotten adventurous and brought home the loose leaves- but we decided to start with stuff that could be taken to work easily as that’s where we were going to drink tea for the most part. 

These teas make me think of mushrooms and the smell of the outside after rain. As a side note, green tea always makes me think of grass. I know, I need to learn to appreciate a lot more in tea flavors- but I had to let you know of my green tea and grass connection. 

The store bought Dim Sum teas took a little getting used to, as initially I found the flavor of a little too intense. Both K and I prefer the second or third mug of tea from the tea bag a lot more than the intense flavor from the first mug. We also dilute the first brew. K actually has the first brew ratio worked out. He keeps a quarter of a cup of hot water with his full cup of tea and mixes a little tea in the hot water at a time to enjoy the tea but not get overwhelmed by it.

So now you know all about what’s keeping both K and I warm at work!


  1. Now I'm tempted to try the tea. Simply because I can't put together the mushroom and outside rain combination, and how one can taste that... lol...
    Or is it pure imagery and I am ruining the poetry of it all?
    Whatever it may be, I am tempted!

  2. So now it's time to go visit China Garden in Rosslyn, VA. They serve dim sum on the weekends and have a variety comparable to NYC. They are most definitely the BEST in the DC area. :D

    Jesse Wong's Hong Kong Restaurant in Columbia, MD is quite decent as well. Slightly pricier, but lovely location right by a little lake as well near Columbia Town Center.


  3. Hey L,
    Lovely suggestions all of them. Will keep you posted on when we make it to China Garden and/Or Jesse Wong's.

  4. Miss P,
    The teas are waiting to be brewed- see you soon!