Tea Party with Oh How Civilized

A Chat with Tea Sommelier


Tea Party with Oh How Civilized

Article by Sahara Bohoskey
Photography by Jee Choe of Oh How Civilized
Honestly, I can't imagine my life without Tea. Being half English and growing up in Tokyo, my mornings started and ended with tea. About a year ago, I found Oh How Civilized and fell in love with the idea of a whole account dedicated to the art of tea making utilizing teas from around the world. So in honor of National Tea Day, I had to speak to Jee Choe, creator of Oh How Civilized to get to know her and to introduce you all to this very fun account!

Q: How did you fall into Oh How Civilized? How did your love for tea shape your account?

A: I love afternoon tea and I started my blog, Oh, How Civilized, documenting the tea services I went to in NYC. After going to so many, I realized I was becoming a bit of a tea snob after noticing the difference in tea quality. I started paying more attention to tea menus and seeking out tea spots in the city. Over time, the blog and Instagram account evolved to showcase my love for tea. And making tea properly.

From left: Bubble Tea with Matcha right: Creamy Chai Latte

Q: Do you have a favorite Tea Parlor in New York City? If not in NYC, which city has the best attention to Tea?

A: I go to Té Company in the West Village about twice a week. It's a 5 minute walk from my apartment and they have great Taiwanese oolong teas and amazing food. It's a killer combo. If not NYC, San Francisco has great tea spots. I love Song Tea & Ceramics and hope to get to Stonemill Matcha the next time I'm there.

From left: London Fog with Lavender right: Thai Iced Tea

Q: You’re a Certified Tea Sommelier, for those who don’t know, what does that entail?

A: A certified tea sommelier is a person that have been trained in tea. Through my tea course I learned how to taste, identify, properly brew, and pair tea with food. It was a long process and at the end, I got my certification by completing a three-hour test that involved brewing, tasting, and identifying 12 unlabeled teas correctly. It was intense.

Butterfly pea flower latte

Q: Do you have a favorite? What are your top 3 tea recipes?

A: I absolutely love cold brew oolong tea in the summer. I have a constant rotation of different oolong teas in the refrigerator in giant Weck jars.

My top three tea recipes right now are:

Cold Brew Iced Tea

Bubble Tea

I finally took the plunge and tried making bubble tea at home and it was surprisingly easy. I've been going a little crazy making different bubble tea drinks like matcha latte bubble tea and with Thai iced tea.

Iced Earl Grey with Cream Froth

I've been making most of my drinks lately with a cream froth that's just a lightly whipped heavy cream and sugar. It's like a cream cloud that sits on top and makes the drink so decadent.

Q: Ok here are the hard hitting questions - Hot Teas or Iced Teas?

A: Hot tea all year round, iced tea only in the summer months. If I ever want to taste the true taste of a tea, I have to prepare it hot.

Q: Matcha or Black Tea?

A: Matcha. Love the green stuff. And always with something sweet.

Q: What are the tips for brewing better tea at home?

A: Two things will make a big difference in brewing better tea at home. The first is using the correct water temperature for the type of tea you're brewing. Get an electric kettle where you can set the temperature.
The second is buying better tea. Go for whole loose tea instead of tea bags.
Then follow the directions in regards to steep time and I bet you your tea will definitely taste better.