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Tea time at Imperial Tea Court

GaiwanSo yesterday morning I had a meeting that didn’t happen. As I had planned to meet my friend Hugh at Ferry Plaza for lunch and farmer’s marketing, I had a little time to kill. Since I was going to end up at the Ferry Building in the end anyway, I decided to kill that time there.

I’m chagrinned to admit that I don’t spend as much time at the Ferry Building, nor frequent that farmer’s market, as much as I ought. So, when I do go, it’s always a series of new discoveries and unexpected delights. The Imperial Tea Court was of course not a total surprise, but I had never actually stopped and had tea there before. Tea and time killing are a match made in heaven.

I opted for the gaiwan presentation of Imperial pu-erh tea. For the next 30 minutes or so, I enjoyed the sublime activity of incrementally adding hot water to my tea leaves, paddling with the lid, and sipping the tea through the gap between the cocked lid and the cup itself (this takes a little getting used to at first). All this while watching the world pass by in the main concourse of the Ferry Building. I liked the pu-erh tea — distinctly earthy, almost musty, but once the strongest steepings faded, it opened up to a gentle grassy flavor with hints of clove and cinnamon. The only thing I didn’t really love about the place is that the tables are a tad tall for the seats — or the seats too short for the tables, I guess depending on your perspective — so I felt even shorter than usual. A small quibble.

Hugh and I had lunch at Boulette’s Larder, sitting outside on the back of the building. I had the pulled pork sandwich (as did at least one person at every table in eyesight). Y’all know by now how I love the pulled pork, and this did the trick. However, it’s more like a cubano — not vinegary and sweet like barbecue, and on a fluffy roll. Hit the spot.

Imperial Tea Court
Boulette’s Larder
Ferry Building Market Place

  • kudzu

    Glad you liked the tea. It’s the variety I was taught to order with dim sum (when I trekked Chinatown with a Chinese cooking teacher friend). It manages to cut the grease from the fried foods and is slightly stimulating to help with digestion. I think it’s wonderful.