Sometimes success is what's holding you back.
That's what happened to Peter Luong, who, with his sister, Alice, transformed Red Blossom Tea from a small shop into one of the city's best tea vendors.
As the family's business scaled up, though, Luong was not able to bring in small lots of the unusual teas he was tasting on trips to China and Taiwan. So he left to start Song Tea & Ceramics, which has its soft opening in Pacific Heights this week, with a grand opening on Saturday.
To build his new collection of tea and teaware, Luong spent two months traveling this spring. "I started off with a blank slate," he says. Along the way, he sourced 20 teas, all extraordinary.
The most exclusive, Qing Mu Dan ($120 for 2 ounces), is a yellow-leafed green tea from Fujian with sweet almonds and poblano peppers on the nose and a fat, viscous body.
The collection segues into Chinese and Taiwanese oolongs, culminating in a Taiwanese red tea called Twenty-One ($38 for 2 ounces). Each sip starts with honey, then delivers a savory, bitter punch that unfurls into fruity perfume.
The finish on Song's teas is so long that it's common to finish a cup, chat for a few minutes, and realize your mouth has filled with flowers.
A potent reward for Peter Luong's risk.