A chance online contact, a woman from the Philippines, now living in Phuket, mentioned a pu'er-theme shop in Bangkok I'd never heard of. I waste so much time discussing and reading about tea here that shop had to be Google-proof, and as it turns out it is. Even their own business website doesn't mention they sell tea, since it's also a household goods chain here, or mostly that. It seemed a good time to write about both that store and bit about what Bangkok is like.
yard at the house; not so urban right there, and tropical
About that audience, you might wonder who would read a blog about tea out of Thailand. In a sense it doesn't matter where I am, since only local cafe and shop posts relate to where I live, not the reviews, and for the travel theme posts I could've started from anywhere. Related to readership, sometimes I'll check who is reading a particular post by reviewing the day's stats, and I just did earlier, so I'll share a little about that before moving on:
A good bit more people than average visited that day due to that post about pu'er group buying being of interest (600+, half to read that post, in the first day). Half were from the US, the rest from all over. Of course some of those views are from loyal bot-readers, who probably don't feel a close affiliation to their origin country since they're computer programs. It's odd that India didn't make that list, since I help run an international themed Facebook tea group with a lot of Indians as members.
Anyway, this was supposed to be about that shop, and partly a lifestyle-theme post.
me as a monk; those were the days, two months worth of them
I don't write about my life because it's not interesting, to be honest. I work in IT, doing process and compliance implementation and auditing, which is about as compelling as it sounds. I don't take a tuk-tuk or long-tail boat to work, or even visit local markets by way of those on the weekend. I use a bus and then a sky-train to commute (an elevated train), and today also a subway.
river ferries are a cool way to get around
I work in a high rise office building, and on the weekend I'm busy taking my son and daughter to swim lessons, or piano lessons, to study Chinese language (Mandarin), or maybe to a park or zoo, or to a water park. I certainly don't go to bars where ladyboys pole-dance on stage (the Thai expression for that third transgender, which is not negative, it's just normal here), although that's a real thing, not only a cliche. If you see a woman that's very beautiful here you might naturally wonder if she's really a man, or started as one, however that works. That "Hangover 2" scope is part of Bangkok but not related to my own experiences.
Bangkok, an out of the way part of it
Asians do this; it doesn't seem to mean anything
My life is all about my kids, and even for other people with kids hearing about that would get old fast. We play; puzzles, monopoly, a little chess, frisbee, hide and seek, drawing, soccer (football, to some), whatever comes up.
Tea is as much about needing a hobby as about tea being great, but it is amazingly diverse, interesting, and tasty. It works out well that it's a bottomless subject, with so many dimensions to learn and appreciate.
Yaowarat road, Chinatown, which looks like it always has
I wrote a post about that once, about tea in Thailand, but it's mostly a long version of expressing that. They produce oolongs made from Taiwanese cultivars in the North, and a little black tea, with the styles imported as well. But being only 30 or 40 years into that Taiwanese versions still tend to be better.
I've heard that Bangkok has the second largest Chinatown in the world, outside of China (after San Francisco; hard to know if that's true though), but tea appreciation still isn't prevalent, to some extent even there. Of course you can buy tea there, but I only know of one tea cafe in the Chinatown. Most of the tea shops sell tea in open bins (exposed to the air; the horror), or large jars, so they're not really on the page of presenting really good teas at their best. Tea is only now entering the culture through modern cafes and mall shops, with more specifics on that in that post.
good at joy
About that tea shop, Teeta Talk
I just happen to be working at a recently spun-off division of the company for ISO 27001 and 20000 certification auditing this week (information security and service management scope), and that mysterious low-profile tea shop is right down the road from here, one subway stop away. For Bkk locals, it's at the Belle Condominium shops (like a mall), beside the Central Plaza Rama 9 mall. It's more or less a Tae Tea / Menghai Dayi outlet (factory pu'er), and they also sell some white tea cakes and a bit of loose tea, all a range I can work with.
Teeta Talk shop
The woman at the shop was very nice when I visited, offering samples of pu'er and shou mei cake (compressed white) tea, and letting me try some Thai loose teas. Again and again they were interesting but not so much that I wanted to buy any of it. It's not that I'm a tea snob, I've just been spoiled by vendors passing on samples of better sheng, and I don't drink much shou, and have a little at home. I reconsidered that and bought a brick anyway, to get better calibrated for standard shou (read: inexpensive). It's a 7581, which means nothing to me, yet. If it tastes a little like pressed garden mulch with a touch of tar and old catcher's mitt that still might be ok.
I reviewed some 7572 Tae Tea / Dayi versions three years back (here and here; odd citing posts from that far back, when I still don't know what I'm talking about now, and much less then). Shou is not exactly new to me, but aside from picking up a tuocha in NYC I've been off it since I tried some Thai versions awhile back. Good stuff, those, and this Thai sheng version was quite nice too, which I have a cake of at home, except for drinking just a little now and again and sharing small pieces.
It would be hard to do good business selling factory pu'er in Bangkok. I'm not sure how that works out, and I've not yet met the owners to ask. There is one pu'er theme shop here, Tea Dee Zhang, way, way out on Srinakarin Road, in the Thanya Park mall, but they've put some serious effort into building up business, and they also sell a range of loose teas. Their business is not Google-proof, and a loosely associated Facebook tea group has 1,792 members. The largest Thai Facebook tea group has 12,762 members; seems like a lot, for all the more Thais that are into loose tea.
I was excited to discover this store, and look forward to trying those teas, and it's nice to share a more about how things go here.