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  • Clara Kleindorfer

Steep LA: Slow Living for Everyone

Have you ever participated in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony? Either way, Steep LA is the place for you. A modern take on the Chinese tea ceremony, with perfectly toned wooden tables and meticulously laid spreads of tea and snacks, Steep LA is a haven for tea enthusiasts and beginners alike. A staple in the tea community, Steep LA . If you’re a beginner, the simplified tea menu featuring eight hand selected artisanal teas is perfect for you, and if not, sit back, relax, and enjoy this perfectly LA suited tea program.

Sam Wang and Lydia Lin, Founders of Steep

Created by Lydia Lin and Sam Wang, Steep LA emerged from childhoods full of aromatic leaves and a genuine love of tea. From Chinese and Taiwanese immigrant backgrounds respectively, both grew up around tea and saw something missing from the tea scene in LA. They witnessed a movement toward traditional style tea in San Francisco and New York and wanted to create a similar space that would bring people together as a tea community. Their philosophy focuses on slow living or the idea of “wanting to give a place for people to slow down and have a meaningful experience” in such a fast paced modern world.

Steep LA’s signature is the tea ceremony experience where they curate a small collection of tea from Asia, creating a menu of tea eight teas to choose from. Steep also has a small tea snack menu to compliment the hot drinks where they incorporate their teas into the cooking. The menu changes on a seasonal basis to use the freshest ingredients, so you can find many different varieties of small plates, all suited to your tea. For example, for Chinese New Year, Steep LA served garlic beef tongue, and for winter, they served noodle soup. They always have traditional Taiwanese cuisine like braised pork on their menu and their bun bun noodles (an in house take on dan dan noodles) made with homemade sesame sauce, fried green tea as a crunchy topping, and tea to flavor the noodles, are a fan favorite.

Along with exquisite teas, Steep LA sells artisanal, locally sourced and locally made goods for everyday kitchen and home use. Sam and Lydia hope to inspire people to buy sustainably and reduce environmental damage. Before COVID-19, they served food items in reusable ceramic bowls with bamboo chopsticks and real silverware.

Including having to switch serving methods, COVID-19 has pushed Lydia and Sam to overcome unprecedented challenges. At the beginning of the pandemic, they switched all their services to online platforms, which they didn’t have before. Steep had to quickly adapt to create an online ordering system and an online retail shop while facing strain on their business because of the lack of people able to enjoy tea in person. They have created an outdoor tea garden to try and maintain a relaxing environment outdoors in which to transform their tea ceremony. Aside from COVID, Sam and Lydia recount their apprehension at not knowing whether people would accept their way of doing tea because of the LA boba craze. Thankfully, after opening, customers were accepting and open minded to learning about different aspects of the traditional tea ceremony. Sam and Lydia “really enjoy doing tea ceremony and bring family members to share the experience.”

Regarding building a successful business, Lydia advises to not rush into it and to listen to all the advice you get from people with experience. She enjoys having a partnership with Sam to help her build trust and navigate the business, and says to experiment and slowly build and stick with your ideas even when it’s challenging.

Sam, on an opposite note, tries to listen to others, but do things his own way. First and foremost, he “thinks for [his] customers.”

In October, Steep LA launched Steep After Dark, a dinner series where they collaborated with local chefs and bartenders. They hope to do a version 2.0 in the summer with a potential Taiwanese night market theme and tea mocktails. In the future, they hope to obtain a liquor license to permanently expand their dinner program into a tapas bar style experience with tea cocktails and light Chinese snacks.

Make sure to follow @steep_la on Instagram for updates and message or email them (they respond to all messages and do many events!), and stop in for your first (or not) of many many tea ceremonies to come!

Visit Steep LA!

Address: 970 N Broadway Suite 112, Los Angeles, CA 90012


Instagram: @steep_la

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