My cup runneth over: Tea as an obsession

Tea time

I'm a collector of tea. I have way too many kinds in my cupboard -- probably half a dozen fruit-flavored black teas, jasmine tea, some interesting decaf chocolate tea I found at Trader Joe's, Celestial Seasonings' Sleepytime, Rooibos, and Nutcracker Sweet (the vanilla-scented holiday tea that they only sell once a year), and four kinds of green tea, including one mixed with mountain herbs, which I bought at a mountaintop Shinto shrine outside of Tokyo. Who needs this much stuff to steep? I surely don't, but I can't help myself. Besides -- it keeps for quite awhile, and my mom just gave me a new tetsubin (Japanese cast iron tea pot) that I'm anxious to christen.

I still haven't found a place in town to get some better-quality matcha (powdered green tea), but as far as loose teas go, Souvia's got some incredible offerings, like Russian Caravan (black tea flavored with cardamom, orange peel, cinnamon, and ginger), hand-rolled jasmine pearls, and organic hojicha. There's got to be a tea there for every conceivable mood, whim, or occasion.

And tea must be a good business, because Souvia just spawned a second branch, at Scottsdale and Miller (the original location is on North 7th Street). Better yet, the place is offering classes now. I'm eyeing up the "Tea 101" introductory class, just to find out what they think is the way to brew a perfect pot. The session includes historical background on tea, as well as a tea tasting.

In the meantime, I think I'll go make another cup...

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