Do you know your Qilaishan Long Wu from your Huang Zhi Xiang? Well, neither do I. But Greg Fellman does. Fellman is the owner of Seven Cups, the three-month-old Chinese tea house that held its grand opening party on Saturday, September 13.
On a warm, late summer day, the store felt very cozy. The decor is ornate, yet somehow homey, half art gallery and half coffee shop. Hordes of people were inside and out, enjoying the splendors of exquisite tea, cakes and fruit. A few extremely knowledgeable employees ambled around, sharing information from their vast tea library. I was blown away that there was so much variation in teas specifically from China.
“All of our furniture, decor, tea and tea ware come directly from China in order to maintain the feeling of a teahouse you would find in China,” Fellman told me. “The idea is that when you walk in here, you will hopefully feel like you're transported to a teahouse in China. I've seen many other teahouses that have western decor but carry teas. Their teas may be excellent, but they may not be going for the feeling of a true Chinese teahouse. We want to avoid that route and give the customer a unique cultural experience.”
At its opening party, Seven Cups succeeded fantastically in that respect. Fellman and certified tea-master Zhuping Hodge, co-owner of the Tucson Seven Cups, rapidly dished out hot, steaming cups of knowledge (along with a little tea, of course). I learned about a type of green tea that was lost for centuries, only to be found a few years ago. Also, that oolong tea is not fermented, only oxidized. And that all tea comes from just one specific plant.
If you’re looking for a stunning cultural experience or just some great-tasting tea, stop by Seven Cups at 1882 South Pearl Street. It’s open from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. Sunday. And if you want to get a great lesson on Chinese tea, Fellman offers free tea tastings every Friday at 3 p.m. Bring an open mind and an open palette. – Tyler Nemkov