Ten Ren's Tea Time

79 Mott Street

212 732 7178

We have always people refer to excellent tea tasting like fine wine, but even the relatively good teas we have found have never measured up to the finer cabernets or Bordeaux. Then we found Ten Ren's, right down in Chinatown, of all places, on Mott Street. Naturally, we went for the high end, and found ourself sniffing a sample of the 403 Series King's Tea, a totally amazing green tea, and then the 409 Series King's Tea, an even more amazing black tea.

Both teas had a wonderful smokiness, that bespoke careful drying and processing, and both teas had a certain richness to them, a fullness of flavor, that makes even a good whiff of Twining's seem to be a single note, lacking undertones and harmonics. The black tea, is of course, a bit darker, perhaps woodsier, in flavor, but both of these teas were beyond anything we had ever tried before.

We bought about a pound of tea leaves for the price of an expensive California cabernet sauvignon and set about brewing. We were not disappointed in the least. The brewed teas were, if anything, better than we had expected. Indeed, these were teas one could compare in taste with fine wines.

As for the shop. It is pleasantly busy and full of merchandise, including tea, gingseng products and probably other stuff we weren't clued in enough to ask about. The service was friendly and helpful to us novices. They are also starting to serve hot tea, "tea snacks", and tapioca iced tea, so this may be just the place to come for something more than just a cuppa.

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