Enjoying Tea with Ellen Lii

By Joe Meny

Come in, relax, have a cup of tea…with renown Ten Ren Tea owner Ellen Lii. Enter the Ten Ren tea store, and don’t be surprised if you’re offered a sample (hot or cold) of some very nice tasting tea. Buying tea might be daunting to some, especially with dozens of varieties to choose from, and some costing more than $100 per pound. However, after a few minutes with Ms. Lii or her knowledgeable staff, the whole process begins to easily make sense.

The world has been enjoying tea since the Lei Min Dynasty. There are several essentials you will need in order to properly serve a cup of tea. Most importantly, is the tea bag, or tea leaves and an infuser. Everything plays a role; from the Tea pitcher to the Tea funnel (to measure the exact amount of tea) to the bamboo tea scoop to the scraper to clean the pot. But no matter how you make your tea, once the water (regular tap works fine) has changed color, you know your tea is ready. The longer it sets, the darker the color, and the stronger the tea. A tea master knows that to make good tea you need a good green leaf (and only use the top of the leaf), grown in good weather, plentiful sunshine, moderate winds and temperature. But never pick your tea on a rainy day!

If you’re looking for a uniquely beautiful or uniquely simple tea pot, Ten Ren Tea offers a wonderful assortment. All shapes, sizes, colors and designs, you will surely find the pot that suits your fancy. Ms. Lii describes the perfect tea set as 1) easy to handle, easy to use; 2) design; 3)good clay-quality; and 4)made in Taiwan. You’ll also find a delicious assortment of tea snacks at Ten Ren Tea to compliment your favorite cup of tea.

Ms. Lii will tell you that natural tea is invaluable for your body. And here’s to your health: black tea for an ulcer or sensitive stomach, and green tea removes oil from the stomach. A 2007 study at the University of British Columbia found that the polyphenols in green tea decreases the sulfur compounds in your mouth that cause bad breath. Just be sure to drink it straight-adding sugar or milk will increase the bacteria that you’re trying to reduce. The pleasure derived from drinking tea is that much better for you because of the vitamin C and antioxidents present. And did you know that tea can actually help you lose weight? It’s best to drink your tea in its pure state and natural flavor. Tea is both calming and relaxing, and despite what you may have heard…the fact is tea has half the amount of caffeine to the same amount of coffee. There are many varieties, but only 3 categories of tea: Japanese Green tea, English Black tea, and semi-fermented (from 10%-15%, all the way up to 99%)

Ms. Lii is a 5th generation family member to be in the business of tea. She describes her employees as smart, honest business people, who were all basically trained on-the-job, and primarily come from China. We found them to be quite helpful, knowledgeable, and friendly! Immortalized in the 1992 book, “Amy Elizabeth Explores Bloomingdale’s”, Ten Ren Tea has a clientele that is local, national, and international. Experiencing the world of tea with Ellen Lii have been past presidents (Bush Sr.), governors (Cuomo Sr.), Mayors (Giuliani) and other assorted political figures and Hollywood stars (Michael Douglas). Ten Ren means “heavenly love”, and we were grateful to Ms. Lii for spending some with us, and helping us understand how deep (and fulfilling) a love for tea can be. Ms. Lee’s ‘tea philosophy’ is definitely worth sharing with our readers: “Cherish every moment, and do it with tea. And always make it the best!”