Top row: raw puerh tea from 2017, bottom the prized 1976 raw puerh.
Fang Gourmet Tea is one of my favorite places to take food tour guests when exploring the bustling neighborhood that is downtown Flushing. It’s a great way to get to know my new friends. Plus, they’re always surprised to find the oasis of calm lying at the back of a minimall, just steps away from the often chaotic energy of America’s Greatest Chinatown. The puerh tea that I typically order—Little Brick—is great for the digestion, and it’s always neat for my guests to see the bullion-sized break expand over the course of five steeps. (more…)
Since Yelp exists, there’s really no point in making an exhaustive list of coffee and tea shops. However, there’s still room for a curated list, so I’m going to present my favorite Flushing spots for coffee, food, working, and hanging out. Unlike some other parts of Queens, the eastern end is still limited in terms of Third Wave coffee shops, but this is changing gradually.
Although Flushing’s eastern border is officially Parsons Boulevard, for the purposes of this article I will use the moniker as it often is, as a shorthand for Greater Flushing, encompassing Murray Hill, Auburndale, and Bayside, and will append Douglaston/Little Neck, the New York City neighborhood that abuts Long Island.
However, I’m primarily interested in the somewhat insular, heavily Korean neighborhood that runs along Northern Boulevard from Main Street to the border of Long Island (and beyond), because this is where most of the cafes are situated. The only exception is a recent Chinese-owned entrant, Presso Coffee, located in the attractive new One Fulton Square development in downtown Flushing. (more…)
I love having guests on my food tours try po cha—the salty Tibetan butter tea—served throughout Himalayan (aka Jackson) Heights. I like the stuff particularly on a cold winter—or spring—day. Not everyone’s a fan, though. Andrew Zimmern hated butter tea when I introduced him to it. (more…)
Malaysian mooncake with pandan filling and a salted egg center.
Over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking tea at Yumcha Yoga in Flushing. It’s a monthly ritual (yumcha means to drink tea in Cantonese) over at the newish yoga school established by the creators of Dim Sum Warriors. This month’s theme? Mooncakes, the dense, sweet Chinese treats eaten to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival. Theresa Wong of Fang Gourmet Tea paired the cakes with a lovely aged pu-er tea. Afterwards she told me that she’s not really a big fan of mooncakes. So with the moon hanging heavy in the sky and the festival falling this Thursday here’s what I’d like to know. Do you dig mooncakes? Or do you liken them to hockeypucks? And if you do like them what’s your favorite? Mixed nut, Malaysian pandan flavored, the platter sized discus that is Fujianese mooncake,or some other variety? For the record my favorites are the Malaysian ones.
Fang Gourmet Tea lies at the back of a mall on Roosevelt Avenue.
For as long as I can remember tea has always been an accompaniment to Chinese food. First at various suburban restaurants it was bags of Swee-Touch-Nee orange pekoe. Later as I began to enjoy yum-cha at dim sum houses in Queens and elsewhere, the tea was decidedly better. I never gave all that much thought to the nuances of tea though until I went to a tea tasting at Yumcha Yoga with tea expert Theresa Wong from Fang Gourmet Tea.
That day Wong poured pu-er tea. The most striking thing about my first tea ceremony was the method in which Wong prepared the tea. First she warmed the teapot discarding the first batch of leaves. Then she brewed the tea. Everything was done in a measured almost meditative manner. I honestly don’t remember exactly what the brew tasted like, but I know I liked it and recall it was a relaxing experience that left me wanting to learn more about tea. (more…)