Photography by Pam Zaremba
Woodsy, flowery and herbal scents wafted towards the entrance of AROGYA as I sought shelter from the cold drizzle of the damp, spring day. Part tea boutique, part apothecary, AROGYA is committed to providing the ultimate tea drinking experience to novice and devoted tea connoisseurs alike. There were two contemporary glass teapots filled with steaming liquid on the reception desk. I made a bee line for the golden hued warmth, placed both hands around the handsome ceramic cup that was offered to me and inhaled the deep, earthy flavor of Pu-erh. The knowledgeable and friendly woman behind the counter explained that I was drinking organic Yunnan Pu-erh tea leaves combined with organic ginger. She proclaimed it to be the perfect warming anecdote to the chilly damp day. She was correct.
AROGYA, which means “whole health” in Sanskrit, was founded by Wei Huang in Westport, in 2000, just eight years after she had arrived in CT. at the age of 22. AROGYA is a holistic healing centre which provides integrative Chinese medicine, acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, nutritional counseling and a total tea experience.
AROGYA presents its many teas in neatly aligned, gleaming glass canisters and convenient zip top bags of various sizes and weights. This bright and aromatic shop carries the largest selection of highest grade, lose teas in Fairfield County. There are over 200 premium, hand picked and organic varietals and an infinite number of custom blends available. Arogya’s selection of Green, Black, White, Oolong and Pu-erh teas are well worth exploring. Wei and her knowledgeable and friendly staff will surely offer a cup of tea and will take as much time as needed to explore your taste preference and desired health benefits. Lose tea may include antioxidant powers, is often vitamin and mineral intensive, may assist in lowering cholesterol, and may heighten mental clarity. Some clients come to consult about particular ailments such as indigestion, hot flashes or sinus congestion. Others come to check out new flavors or to seek a new favorite as the season changes. Tea strainers, baskets, and a beautiful array of teapots and presses are available in a range of styles and prices.
Wei is sensitive to flavor and fragrance. As founding Director, tea Master and holistic consultant, she is deeply knowledgeable about the traditions, powers and pleasures of her offerings. She is focused on positive healing energy and loves to share her knowledge with her customers. She will often brew a single cup for clients to taste after she has made her recommendations. Community is of great importance to Wei and while many of the tea leaves come from organic sources in South Africa, China and Japan, she is seeking local sources. Wei has planted lemon verbena, chamomile, basil, hibiscus, mint and spearmint at Wakeman Farm in Westport. She uses these herbs in combination with leaves from far away places.
Among some local restaurants offering Arogya’s teas are Dressing Room, Le Farm, and Fat Cat. Wei personally taught staff members, at each of these great spots, how to brew tea for their patrons. Wei also donates eight different types of tea to the Westport Public Library cafe. She wants to spread the message of warmth and well being to community gathering places so that more people can enjoy the subtleties and pleasures of high quality tea. Arogya also has a regular spot at the Westport Farmers’ Market where 3-4 different teas are sampled and discussed each week. She understands that since most Westerners did not grow up drinking tea, we benefit from education and exposure to new flavors.
“More than for health benefits, even, tea is about taking the time and space to enjoy time with friends or by oneself.” To that end, Wei offers JAPANESE TEA TASTINGS and CHINESE TEA CEREMONY gatherings for groups ranging from 2-15. Although traditional ceremonies may last 3-4 hours and may be conducted in silence, Wei has adapted both the tastings and the ceremonies to include explanation, demonstration and tasting. Behind the front retail space is a comprehensive Chinese healing center. In this back area there are rooms set up for private consults and treatments. One of these pleasant rooms, with windows punctuating the length of the longest wall, may be set up for for these private tea presentations. Prices for TASTINGS AND CEREMONIES range from $150-200. an hour (1-14 people). They may be arranged at private homes and business settings, also.
It was my pleasure to sample a number of teas, inhale unfamiliar and mysterious scents and read labels with Wei. She led me into the brightly lit storage room where she proudly explained that when she renovated her space in 2000, she added 20 windows in order to bring in natural light and fresh air. We were standing in a room that was lined from ceiling to floor with shelves stacked with orderly glass and metal canisters. Each container was clearly labeled and provided four rows of information. They specify flavor (sweet or bitter), the name of the tea in English letters (Dang Gui), then the name in Chinese letters, and finally in Latin (Angelica sinensis). I had entered a unique, vision inspired shop and wanted to leave with something new to incorporate into my daily routine. We’ll see how the WEIGHT LOSS TEA benefits me. Wei has given me all of the inspiration I need to imbibe three cups of this tea each day. Here is what I am drinking: deep, musky Oolong leaves (fat burning), Hawthorne berry (helps with digestion and heart regularity) and orange peel (more digestive soothing). Drinking the smokey, orange tinged tea is the easy part. I guess the rest is up to me.