The Finger Lakes have always been known for beautiful scenery and picturesque wineries. Lately an influx of breweries and even a few distilleries are starting to pop-up. What they're not known for is tea, but something unique is brewing just off Seneca Lake. The Finger Lakes Tea Company, a brand new facility owned and operated by the Lin family has just opened in Waterloo, NY. On their 30 acre farm the Lin Family has planted thousands of tea plants using seeds from their homeland of China. They hope to harvest tea from their land in the next few years when the plants reach maturity. For now all their tea is imported directly from China and offers a wide array of high quality black, green, white, red and scented teas.
Walking into the store I'm struck by the long counter were people can taste or purchase teas and even take part in a Ku Fu tea ceremony. There is also a small retail section of the shop dedicated to beautifully hand crafted tea service sets. The back area serves as a dim sum cafe with plenty of items to choose from including a wonton soup that was complex and texturally unique to fried tofu cubes that had a custard like interior. They also have a variety of dumplings including soup and shao mai. Pots of any of their teas are perfectly brewed and available to order.
Everything at Finger Lakes Tea Company is a family affair. We start out with a tea tasting by Amy a cousin of Lily Lin Who owes the shop with her husband Mark. Our six samples included dragon well (green), traditional red (red), black bowl (black), and three scented teas mint, chamomile and lemon slice. Amy starts by rinsing each tea with the boiling water then seeping it for the perfect amount of time. Each tea is served in a small 2-3oz cup and as we drink Amy explains what to look for in good quality tea like color and smell. She also describes how in China it's customary to drink green tea after lunch, black tea after dinner and lavender tea with jasmine honey before bed to induce relaxation and sleep. The lesson is a great introduction into the practice of drinking and enjoying tea.
Meeting Lily Lin who is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable about her products is a real thrill. We spent a while just discussing the quality of tea she had and also the direction she hopes to take the company in the future. She is an excellent resource when deciding what types of teas you want and how to best prepare each one for consumption. The Lin family is doing something very rare in the United States by growing and eventually selling their own tea. Mrs. Lin swears to me that the northern climate will benefit the tea plants. Unlike the southern climate where it's sunnier and the tea can mature too fast on the outside before fully maturing on the inside the northern climate allows the leaves to mature both inside and outside equally. She stressed the patience it takes to grow the plants but she feels the end result will be worth the time and effort. The Lin family has created a business worth seeking out. When visiting the Finger Lakes make sure to put aside some time to stop by and enjoy all that the Finger Lakes Tea Company has to offer. Your time will be rewarded with a wonderful experience brought to you by a wonderful family.
Finger Lakes Tea Company
678 State Route 318, NY (Across from Waterloo Outlets)
Toll Free 844-358-2888