Just spent my afternoon break checking out a new tea shop called Dado Tea, which is on Mass Ave between Harvard and Central squares. The term "Dado", as explained on the store's website, means "the way of tea or tea ceremony", and one of the shop's goals is to expose customers to the different ways tea is served in Eastern and SE Asian countries. Indeed, when my Korean Green tea arrived at the table, a staff member showed me how to prepare the tea. He poured the green tea leaves from a bamboo scoop into a clay cup (which already had a clay strainer), poured hot water (from a huge black thermos, like those used to pour milk into your coffee at coffeehouses. Somewhat spoils the Asian ceremony) into the cup, covered it with a saucer, and told me to steep the leaves for 1 min and 50 seconds. Luckily, one of my friends had a timer! The tea itself was quite deceptive. After steeping, the water still looked quite pale, but had a very strong and roasted flavor.
My friends ordered the dark oolong tea, which involved a more complicated cermony. The staff member first warmed up two tea pots and cups by rinsing them with hot water. Then he poured the tea leaves (again, from a bamboo scoop) into one of the tea pots to steep for 2 minutes. The tea is then poured into the second tea pot for serving. My friends liked the first batch; the leaves weren't so good for a second steeping, although that could be due to a timing issue.
Besides tea and coffee (which is served in actual mugs), the shop sells tea sets by local artists as well as some food: sushi, salad, and Western accompaniments to tea like cakes, brownies, cookies. The raspberry cake that called out to me was a mix of very strong tastes: sponge cake with tangy raspberry filling in between layers, topped with VERY buttery icing. Not sure if the combination worked for me since the sponge cake was not substantial enough to support the filling and icing.
The store itself is quite lovely. When I first stepped into the shop, I felt oddly transported to a Californian coffeeshop. The space is bright and airy, with huge windows in the front and what looked like handmade paper on the walls. Classical music from a radio station is piped in, which adds to the calm environment (except when the commercials come in).
Since Dado Tea is celebrating its grand opening today, the shop also offered free coffee, mango lassi, and bubble tea. The mango lassi was a little bit on the thin side, but a very nice and strong mango flavor. The bubble tea consisted of cold tea (green?) with pearl tapioca. Since it was a free sample, I think the tapioca might have hung around a bit too long as it seemed to be a fuzzy around the edges. But the cold tea was nice.
Overall, a very pleasant and educational experience. I look forward to going back and trying other teas - and prepared with a timer!