It's OUR Cuppa!

Cuppa, Lexington, Kentucky

Cuppa, Lexington, Kentucky

Lisa Samson's tea café, Cuppa, delights, pleases, and cheers its patrons. Yes, caffeine is involved, but beyond the 50 loose teas and -- surprise! -- coffee options, this place is simply tasty in all ways.

Cuppa teas steep at the correct temperatures -- a bit warmer for black than for green -- and for the correct number of minutes. (Cute stopwatches abound.) Each eager sipper chooses from a lovely collection of cups and saucers the very one that seems most perfect for increasing the pleasures of the cup.

Cuppa's visual appeal and beautiful touches sweeten the pot. The white building at 591 Short Street in Lexington, where Jefferson meets West Short, angles come-hitheringly toward the corner. Inside, spacious serenity, perhaps inspired by the teas' Asian origins, soothes the spirit, but this is no boring place. The pretty chandelier, mural, and bay window with the surprisingly forest-like view brighten the sipping experience.

Lisa Samson intends for Cuppa to brew up more sense of community and face-to-face connections in Lexington. For people working solo who need the other kind of connectivity, free wi-fi makes it easy.

I asked Lisa about pu-erh tea, and so began my tea education. I told Lisa I had long hoped to locate a type of smoky green tea, pressed into a hard brick, that a house guest had left behind a few years ago. I did not know the name or type of tea, but since pu-erh is typically pressed into a compact, hard shape, it seemed a good place to start.

Cuppa offers two types or pu-erh. As she shaved and pried a hard button of tea into steep-able leaves, Lisa told me that some types of pu-erh may be aged in caves for years, even decades.

The tea I chose classically involves a first short steep, intended to be discarded, followed by fresh water and a three-minute steep, intended to be drunk. Unlike many other types of tea, pu-erh can be steeped again multiple times without loss of flavor. As part of my tea education, Lisa saved the first quick steeping liquid in a mug so I could compare it with the second, "real" tea, intended for drinking. Both had a brown, earthy flavor, but the "throw-away" tea included a bitter undertone missing from the second steeping.

I am eager to try Cuppa's second pu-erh and other teas. I also look forward to more time in Cuppa's tranquil, lovely space.

This is Savory Kentucky Bite number 10 of 116 Savory Bites created in honor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.