The woman was blocking the cash register. “Can you believe that?” she opined, “I don’t have pets. And he just brought his dog with him to my house! On Thanksgiving!” The woman behind the counter shook her head. The other patrons, sitting at stools, shook their heads. “I should’ve told him there’s a good animal shelter nearby, if he needed a place to leave his dog!” More commiseration, all around. When she left, one of the women at the counter asked, “she’s a regular, right?” Apparently this is the kind of place Tea Leaf is: where regulars come and share anecdotes of their life expecting, and receiving, smiles and support.
Who knew? A relatively new addition to Reading Terminal Market, Tea Leaf is more niche than most. It serves tea, either bought by weight, or by the cup. The list is impressive, with a range from green genmaicha to flavored bourbon vanilla black tea.
Not having had it in years, I chose a large cup of Lapsang Souchang, a smoked black tea. Instructed to let it steep for only five minutes, I’m sure in our inability to find a seat, I overbrewed it. Forgive me, tea gods! Indeed, before I even opened its lid, I could smell the campfire flavor seeping through. Which neurologist can explain why smoke tastes so good to humans? Fire bad, intoned Frankenstein, but we educated folk do love it in our cheese, beer and scotch.
Honestly, though, a large cup of the milky, smokey drink was too much. Perhaps some time I’ll go back for a proper cuppa and a chat. Tea Leaf is the ideal place for sampling while searching for the place where everybody knows your name.