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My Favorite Tea in Asia

My first afternoon in Korea, my friend Hyon-Rim “Shalom” brought me to a special tea place, where I discovered my new favorite tea in Asia.

We had stopped by her work, a Pharmacy outlet in the 5th floor gleaming silver and blue glass high-rise building of a super high tech business park in the brand new city of Pan-gyo.

Sunday afternoon the place was rather quiet, but a few shops and restaurants were still open. After she showed me cold remedies that she sold in the pharmacy, she considered where to take me, we zipped down the elevator to an underground wealthy shopping area, passed a few nice looking tea houses and finally stopped in a very chic traditional tea house, with tastefully decor,

She gave me a choice of two types of tea. One had “all five flavors” in it–sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and spicy. The other was “Jujube fruit flavor” a kind of date, she told me.

I had not had jujube before, and could only think of the Jujube jelly candies that I had bought in movie theaters growing up as a kid. I was rather sure they didn’t make a tea out of those. But I was curious, so I picked it.

The tea arrived in heavy grey artistically designed marbled stoneware, very ancient and very new at the same time.

Both teas were extremely tasty, but the jujube won my heart as my new favorite flavor. Mildly sweet, deep reddish brown colored, it had a new and very pleasant flavor. The large mugs of tea, big enough that it was almost like a bowl of soup, had little pieces of fruit in it to chew, and a melange of flavors that touched my soul.

The mugs of soup were accompanied by a little plate of biscuits. Not quite a meal, but a very satisfying snack. So pleasant, so light and satisfying. So this is how the ancient Koreans drank tea? Marvelous. I could enjoy myself being an ancient Korean, I thought as I absorbed the deicious flavor and wisdom of the 4,000 year Goguryeo people.

And just the right thing to share with my old friend from Santa Cruz, reconnecting our lives again for a few moments after many years apart.

To your ancient and satisfying health!

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