Buy tea, or anything else, and get cash back!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dragon Chinese Cuisine & Tea

Bor and Siew Sengpaseuth (Chen) opened their first Dragon Chinese Cuisine & Tea restaurant in San Diego in 1985. They now have two locations, one at 12075 Carmel Mountain Rd. and the other in Mission Valley at 2169 Fenton Parkway in the same strip center as IHOP and Oggi's Pizza and across from IKEA. Their restaurants serve traditional Chinese food, but of particular interest is their substantial offering of mostly Chinese teas.

Bor was born into a tea loving family, so he naturally brought his family traditions to their business venture. Their traditionally decorated store offers over 30 varieties of tea from Zhe Giang, Yun Nan, Gian Su, Shanghi, Foo Jian, and Hau Nan provinces.

They offer both loose and bagged teas, with an array of loose teas in plastic bags that can be opened to sample their aroma and examine their leaf quality before purchasing.

Notable "bests" among the loose teas include:

Yunan Tippy, a full-bodied black tea

Dragon Well Lungching, a more delicate green tea grown in the vicinity of an especially pure water well used only by the emperor. The teas grown in that area sometimes sell for up to $1,000 per pound. You can pick up this loose leaf tea that is grown in the same area and watered by the same well for just a few dollars (such a bargain!).

The best among the bagged teas include:

Royal Kuan Yin Tea, a delightfully complex Oolong tea that I had picked up from the Chens a few years ago and drank my way through 100 bags in no time while other teas still sat in my tea chest. It's truly a magnificent tea experience not to be missed.

If you like subtle teas (pun intended), try the Shoumei white tea.

If you need help with digestion and with cleansing the impurities from your body, the Yunna Bo Nay tea may just fit the bill.

The Chen's prices are very reasonable for the value of their teas. Loose teas sell for about $15-35 per pound. The bagged teas sell for $2.95 for 25 bags and $5.95 for 100 bags. Compare that to a 20-bag box of Tazo black tea at Vons that costs $5.24. You do the math, not to mention the quality. Unless you like Lipton that sells for $5.79 for 100 bags (now available for $2.49 with Von's card), I think the teas at Dragon Chinese Cuisine & Tea are an exceptional value for the quality and freshness that they offer. Their store also carries a number of reasonably priced tea pots and accessories.

For the best result in taste, Bor suggested that the full-bodied Oolong teas be brewed at 180 to 200 degrees for 3-5 minutes. The lighter greens should be brewed at 150 to 180 degrees, otherwise they "bruise" and their light flavor can become bitter. I've noticed many coffee houses use their espresso steamers to indiscriminately heat water for tea drinkers, usually making it far too hot for green teas.

On a personal note, Bor and Siew were among the many whose homes were destroyed by the San Diego wild fires last October. They were awakened at 4:30 a.m. and were forced to flee for their lives. They ended up at their store in Mission Valley at 5:30 in the morning, probably wondering how they were going to put their lives back together. But, as many small business owners are, they have an optimism that has carried them through as they've been putting their home life back together while maintaining their profitable businesses. They're wonderful people and I hope you take the time to have lunch or dinner at their restaurant, get some take-out, or let them cater your company affair. We should support our local business people, especially the ones affected by the fire tragedies. And of course, pick up some tea while you're there!

Their restaurant website is Their teas are not yet listed on their site, but I'm sure you can contact them at (619) 281-2198 if you would like to order one of the teas I've highlighted above until they get their teas listed on their website. You can also contact them by email at

The Art of Tea in China

This CNN article gives an interesting look at the art of tea making in China. Here is a brief excerpt.

Tea master Wong Sun Chun has been studying the art of tea making and drinking for more than 30 years. He says the Chinese tea ceremony is very different from the Japanese style.

"In Japan, it is not an art form, but more like a culture," he says. "It is more important for them to focus on how to drink tea. All the steps you have to follow are very rigid. But Chinese tea is more like an art form. It's the taste that is more important to use so it's a lot more basic and less complicated."

See for the full article

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Infusions of Tea store and website

Infusions of Tea advertises itself as San Diego's Premier Resource for high quality, loose leaf teas from around the world. This specialty tea shop's only problem is not enough people know about it. The shop is located at 8750 Genesee Avenue, across the street from the mall in La Jolla.

Their store's design creates a calming setting for a time out from humanity. When you walk in, the quality of design implies that this must be a franchise, carefully monitored by a corporation that pays attention to detail. In fact, this is their prototype store, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time and smart investing before their model store will multiply and infuse the markets where tea is appreciated.

I found their friendly personnel offered superior knowledge about teas, without being snobby. The shop offers a broad variety of packaged teas, and accessories. Whether you want a simple cup of black tea, a pot of healthful green, or you want to discuss trading high-priced estate teas, Infusions of Tea offers a competent, refreshing alternative to beverage shops staffed by students.

Peet's Coffee & Tea

I live in San Diego, and one of my favorite places to go for freshly brewed, loose-leaf tea is Peet's Coffee & Tea. Peet's has multiple store locations in the major coastal cities of California, Oregon, and Washington.

Starbucks only has Tazo tea in bags, and their personnel rarely have any knowledge about their stock. Peet's, however, has a variety of loose-leaf teas, and their personnel actually know something about their varieties, including the proper water temperature and time for steeping each variety.

Peet's website ( offers a variety of teas, samplers, and accessories for brewing and serving for sale, including a "tea tour" that offers a monthly sampling of tea varieties sent directly to your home. The site also offers a map of store locations. They also have a "Learning" area of their website that offers information about how tea is grown processed, and graded. It's nice that they have recognized that some "Peetniks" are tea drinkers, not coffee people.

Peet's is definitely a cut about most coffee shops that "also" offer tea. In a future post I'll discuss some "tea only" shops that cater to tea snobs and connoisseurs.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Joy of Tea by igourmet

igourmet The Joy of Tea Collection:
A soothing cup of tea is a perfect way to take time out of your busy schedule, relax and reflect on the finer things life has to offer.

Since 1850, Ashby's Tea has created blends and flavors with incomparable standards. They offer quality and freshness that reflects the heritage and reputation that the English have come to expect of a great tea.

Contains 24 foil wrapped tea bags:
Earl Grey: Fine Oriental black teas flavored with the oil of citrus- bergamot.
Raspberry: This black tea is flavored with the tangy taste of red raspberries.
Cinnamon Plum: Black tea flavored with rich plum and a hint of cinnamon.
Japanese Green: A light, delicately balanced green tea from Japan.
English Breakfast: A traditional blend of black teas. Rich and falvorful.
Apricot: This fruit falvored blck tea is delicious served hot or iced.

If interested, you can find this product on the Amazon link on the right.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So little time, so many teas

More than 40 countries grow tea, but China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, and Taiwan produce 90% of the world's supply.

The discussion about tea begins in China, as it is the homeland of tea. Even the word "tea" is derived from the Chinese character "cha." China's tea spread to Japan in the 6th century, then was introduced to Europe and America in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Enough history...let's get some. I've posted some good sources of tea, both retail and wholesale, in the links section to the right.

If you ordered one from each, that'd be enough tea to keep you stimulated for months!!

Stay tuned for more joy of tea.

Green tea, elixer of life

Green tea may be the elixer of life for what ails you.

Green tea abounds with antioxidants, eases digestion, regulates blood sugar, supports heart health, and raises the body's metabolic rate to burn fat as body fuel. With an increase in your metabolism, green tea could help you shed unsightly pounds faster. Green tea also contains theanine, a natural stress reliever. The optimal formula for weight loss is five cups a day.

For all those benefits, I'd drink it if it tasted like medicine. But, green tea's stimulating bouquet and gentle palate offer a joyful break, whether enjoyed hot or cold.

So, deep-six those sodas. Corral your coffee use to early morning. Drink to your health; take a healthy green tea break. Your body will thank you.