December 2009 will mark the second anniversary of the original Imperial Tea Court's last day of business. It was heartwarming to see all the people who came to say goodbye during those last days and shortly after we closed. I felt what I thought was a sense of relief; having one less store to worry about should lighten the load, allow me to do more traveling, and continue learning as a tea professional. However, as time goes by I think about the original "Court" more and more. Nearly two years have passed and I miss it more every day.
Last week, I drove by the empty space and memories of the band of old guys who used to bring their songbirds to the original Imperial Tea Court starting in 1993 came roaring back. Those guys are one of the many elements that made Imperial Tea Court unique and different. As the day continued, I simply could not contain myself any further. I called up Mr. King Wong, one of the original bird people, and offered to take him to lunch to talk about old times. I also wanted to invite him and his friends to come to our Berkeley Teahouse with their birds to renew the tradition of tea, birds, and conversation. (Unfortunately, health department regulations won't allow the birds in the Ferry Building.)
Since the original Imperial Tea Court closed the bird group has disbanded, but Mr. Wong promised to try to bring a few together and get the tradition going again. I can't wait until they return with the prized songbirds in our tea garden in Berkeley. I spent the day visiting with Mr. Wong and playing with his hand-reared songbirds in his private tea sanctuary. I've got my fingers crossed...
The birds have a dedicated area in Mr. Wong's backyard.
A peek inside the birds' world: a large cage for special birds.