I emailed the tea room to set a date and time and before attending the private class, Georgia and I answered some questions regarding what we hoped to learn in our session. Tim covers Chinese teas, so we decided to focus on oolongs.
Located in Soho, The Mandarin Tea Room is an space where Tim runs his book design business and gives his tea lessons. The space is gorgeous and Tim's giant dog greeted us at the door.
Across a long table with Tim on one side, and us on the other, he started to prepare the oolong for steeping. The private class is very much a conversation rather than a lecture.
First, we started with breathing into the oolong to warm it up a bit and to take in the essence of the tea.
Then came the steeping. Many, many steepings. Expertly prepared, the true flavors of the tea were experience between each steep. And each steep tasted different.
Loud sips and slurps were encouraged and even with the tiny cups, we got tea drunk pretty quick. I was starting to get loopy.
Tim prepared about 3-4 different kinds of oolong and it was surprising how different they tasted. I lost count of many steepings we had for each kind. Toward the end, I couldn't even finish a tiny cup.
Each session runs about an hour and a half, with ours lasting about two. It costs $85 per person and is limited to three people per private class.
It was a delightful way to spend an afternoon and I learned a ton about oolong teas.