Business owner Sam Shi is bringing a touch of China to Lodi’s downtown scene through the art of tea tasting.

Shi, who recently opened Tea-Tasting at 40 Downtown Mall, hopes to introduce traditional Chinese practices to Lodians, looking to immerse themselves in the tradition of venerable teahouses that hail from the Song dynasty in 960 A.D.

Ancient Chinese teahouses were a welcoming symbol of enlightenment, conversation and conviviality. They served as hosts to tea drinkers while also providing a calm place for people to unwind and enjoy the company of friends.

“In the Chinese culture tea tasting is about the experience,” Shi said.

At Tea-Tasting, guests are able to sample five types of teas ranging in taste and variety. They offer traditional oolong teas, classic Chinese green teas, and an extraordinarily rare type of tea known as Wuyi Rock Tea.

“It is not easily found in the United States, it is a scarcity that people can not pick up from the grocery store,” Shi said.

Wuyi Rock Tea is a type of black oolong tea that is grown in the Wuyi Mountains of Northern Fujian, China. The Wuyi Rock Tea was highly coveted and was smuggled into the U.S. by British soldiers before the revolution. It was also one of the types of teas that were thrown into the Boston Harbor during the Boston Tea Party in 1773.

Shi was inspired to feature the Wuyi Rock Tea at his business because he felt that it connected U.S. history to the Chinese delicacy.

Wuyi tea offers smoky undertones and flavors of stone fruit.

“Tea tasting is very similar to wine tasting. The layered notes of the tea are what you should search for when you are tasting the tea, “ Shi said.

In order to change the flavor profiles of the tea, Shi and employees at Tea-Tasting manipulate the brew times to create bold-flavored teas.

“For a more subtle taste we will brew the tea for a shorter period of time,” Shi said. “But each of the teas we offer has a unique flavor.”

Shi hopes that people who experience his teahouse will learn the proper techniques associated with tea etiquette, and develop a more pronounced affinity for tea.

“People that visit our teahouse will learn how to brew tea and the proper brewing temperatures for tea,” Shi said.

Interested people wanting to experience a tea tasting are encouraged to visit the tea house, or set up a tea tasting time by calling the store at 209-787-9037 or by visiting their website at www.tea-tasting.com.

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