All the tea in China
I went to a marvelous party. A tea party! No, it wasn’t a political event, nor were there little girls, stuffed teddy bears or Barbie dolls. It was a small gathering of friends at Dobra Tea in Squirrel Hill.
The venerable teahouse has a huge selection of teas from around the world. They probably did have all the tea in China right there in the back room.
I know what you might be thinking: Why pay five dollars for a cup of tea when you can get a tea bag from Lipton for nine cents? The important thing is the tea is excellent and I had a great time.
The teas on the menu are described like items in the J. Peterman catalog: “This vibrant and captivating variety (of tea) dances with notes of lilac and juniper, and it is imported from the bright slopes of the Ting Tung Mountains.” My tea didn’t dance. I didn’t really want it to. That sounds freaky.
P.S. That’s the actual description from the menu.
I can’t say for certain that I could taste the juniper and the lilac, but the tea was better than your average mug of Tazo. One of the teas I tasted was too floral for me. It tasted like a greenhouse, roses, thorns, dirt and all.
I went for a Turkish tea, strong and black, from the foothills of the Ponte Mountains. I don’t know where the Ponte Mountains are, but those Ponte people brew a mean cup of tea. The tea arrived in an ornate silver kettle. I thought about extending my pinkie when I put the cup to my lips. You don’t know badly I wanted to speak in an English accent the whole time.
My friends and I sat on the floor in a room with a beaded curtain and pillows. It was like sitting inside of Jeannie’s lamp from “I Dream of Jeannie.”
We sat lotus style. I was sort of locked into the position. It was a bit difficult to rise when I had to use the rest room. After several cups of tea, I used it three times.We snacked on baba ganoush, a roasted eggplant dip served with pita and veggies. It was delicious. It was one of the easier things to pronounce. I ordered an iced tea called Staroborshov. Though when I ordered the beverage, it sounded like I said, “Star borsh borsh.”
It was hard not to sound like a philistine, or country bumpkin, ordering drinks with international names. A lot of them looked like they came from a random letter generator. Try ordering a mug of Feng Huan Dan Cong and not sound like an idiot. I dare you.
The entire experience seemed hilarious to me, especially when I was told, “We’re going to a teahouse that has a hundred different kinds of tea.”
I didn’t know there were a hundred different kinds of tea. I thought the Celestial Seasonings Variety Pack was the extent of exotic teas. It was a little like thinking chocolate chip cookies were the only kind of cookies in the world. I can’t wait to go back. I promise to order a different tea next time. Maybe one I can pronounce.