Time for Te Company Tea
It’s the service at Te Company, as polished as a river stone, that starts to give away the secret. Most days, a man named Alejandro Manjivar does the greeting; you might think of him as a tea sommelier. Ask him for a recommendation and he’ll flip gently through the leather-bound menu, guiding you to the Oriental Beauty (“super grassy, a little citrusy”), perhaps, or to the No. 2028 (“sweeter and rounder, shares a grandfather with milk oolong”), explaining patiently and engagingly the difference between black, oolong, green, and white tea (same leaves, different levels of oxidation). The tea is steeped, using water whose temperature has been carefully calibrated for each variety, in ceramic pots, then decanted at just the right moment into little pitchers, to be poured into handleless cups. When your pitcher is empty, tilt the lid of your teapot and Manjivar will come and refill it with water. His sense of when each pot is ready is uncanny: when the room is busy, he may pause midway through describing Green Sanctuary White (“really savory, almost like an aperitif”), as if hearing an alarm, and ask you politely to hold, please, as he pivots gracefully to decant another customer’s tea.
From the Tables for Two column in the New Yorker; Photo by Zachary Zavislak
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