Last April, on my way home from a tea tour of China, Tibet and Taiwan, I spent a few days in Tokyo. A Japanese friend, whom I’d met in New York, opened her home to me and arranged a city-wide tea tour. My introduction began with a breakfast brew of Genmaicha (a mix of green tea with toasted rice kernels) and roasted Mongolian barley served with freshly made French toast. After breakfast, we visited several street markets where bright banners proclaimed “Spring Tea!” in bold calligraphy. Customers lined up at market stalls, in department stores and specialty shops, jostling each other for a chance to sample the freshest leaves. One tearoom even offered a sip of sake, before tea, to clear the palate.

Inspired on that trip, and a previous visit to India, by the sheer diversity of tea experiences, I came home determined to share some of Asia’s rich tea traditions with lovers of the leaf. While an English-style afternoon tea is often the introduction to taking tea, it’s only one small part of the world of tea.

If a visit to New York is in your plans, please join me for guided walking tours of the city’s unique places to sip and shop for tea wares, and sample bubble and bocha tea, thequino, chai and green tea ice cream. You’ll learn first-hand, from experts, how to brew their national drink. For more information, visit www.teawithfriends.com or contact me at info@teainthecity.com.