A tea party

Illustration By Mark Stivers

Tian Ran Tea

6835 Stockton Boulevard No. 410
Sacramento, CA 95823

(916) 393-7888

As a little girl, I fantasized about tea—the result of reading countless English children’s stories. Now I drink it frequently but pragmatically, rarely stopping to sip and savor. Once in a while, though, I succumb to its magic, as I did at Tian Ran Tea, a Chinese tea shop that’s a wonderland for anyone who harbors secret tea dreams. I was greeted by a charming little girl in high pigtails asking if I wanted tea. Soon, I found myself seated in the back tasting tea ceremonially, along with the girl, age 4, and her mother, whose ritual of tea preparation—rinsing, swishing and pouring into perfect tiny cups—enchanted both her daughter and me. I tried ginseng tea with a lingering sweetness and an exquisite green with a lovely floral aroma. Such delicacy comes at a price: the latter was $250 a pound. I left with a buzzy, euphoric tea high and a quarter-pound of a different tea, one not quite so much in the realm of fantasy. 6835 Stockton Boulevard No. 410, (916) 393-7888.