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Meet Samuel Wang and Lydia Lin of Steep LA in Chinatown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Samuel Wang and Lydia Lin.

Samuel and Lydia, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started drinking tea since I was very little. My dad would host his friends at home over some Kung Fu Tea Ceremony and chat about life, etc. I was too young at the time to fully appreciate that lifestyle. However, as I crept towards 40, I finally realized that the slow living tea life is something I want to strive for.

However, there wasn’t any space in Los Angeles that allowed me to drink tea with some friends in peace, other than my own house. Therefore, I set out to create one for myself. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run this concept alone, so I reached out to Lydia, who I knew had a similar experience with tea growing up. She was onboard immediately because we both have longed for a space for Kung Fu Tea in Los Angeles.

We eventually found our perfect spot in Chinatown and opened up Steep LA. We have been growing steadily and receiving many positive feedback for the concept and the space. We really appreciate the support we have received so far and we hope to continue to grow.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
At first, it was a bit difficult convincing our landlord, who was unsure about our concept because not many (if any) similar concepts exist in Los Angeles. We also had some pushback from the community not knowing what kind of tea ceremony we are planning to present at our shop. However, once the tea room opened, many doubts and worries dissipated knowing that we present Chinese tea ceremony in a modern form yet with respect to tradition.

Steep LA – what should we know? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Our space is dedicated to Chinese Tea Ceremony, also known as Kung Fu Tea (or Gong Fu Cha). We serve a very curated collection of loose leaf tea in 4 major tea categories – Black, Green, Oolong, and Pu-erh. It’s a slow way of life and usually would take at least 1 hour to fully experience.

We also have beverage teas that’s ready to drink and Chinese/Taiwanese small bites and rice/noodle bowls that are made in house.

What sets us apart is our approach to tea – as much as Chinese Tea Ceremony is very traditional, we have set up a space that is minimalistic and bright, giving our customers a modern space to enjoy our tea.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
We define success by creating a positive tea ceremony experience for our customers. Like I mentioned before, Kung Fu Tea is not very widespread in United States, and not very many people have enjoyed the art of tea ceremony. Therefore, whenever a customer is introduced (or reintroduced) to Chinese Tea Ceremony and really enjoyed the process, we take pride in knowing that this traditional way of life can thrive in the modern world.

Pricing:

  • Tea Ceremony – $20-40, includes a set of dried fruits and pastries along with the tea
  • Beverage Teas – $4-5, freshly brewed or cold brewed in house
  • Food – $10-14 for bowls, $3-9 for small bites

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Daniel Nguyen, Toasted Touch

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