Drink Me: No boba needed at this new modern tea house in Chinatown

Steep, a new modern tea house in Chinatown, is now open.
(Genesia Ting / Los Angeles Times)

Samuel Wang sips Dragonwell green tea at his new Chinatown tea shop, Steep, on a recent afternoon as he conducts a Chinese tea ceremony. He warms my tea cup with some hot water, then rinses it in a bowl. He pours more hot water into a beaker full of tea leaves, which he and partner Lydia Lin harvested in early spring in Meijiawu, China. The water flows into the beaker from high above, making the leaves dance and prompting some satisfying ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response).

“I want to make tea, like, sexy,” Wang says as we wait for the tea to steep.

Wang and Lin opened what they are dubbing a modern tea house and cafe in the Mandarin Plaza in August. It’s less sexy, perhaps, than it is modern: Khalid is on the stereo; the dishware and tea cups are monochromatic and matchy-matchy; the furniture looks like it belongs in the home of a Danish architect.

It’s a vibe you might expect from a high-end boba shop, but this is not that kind of tea house. There’s a small selection of black, oolong, green and pu-erh teas, all from farmers chosen by Wang and Lin.

And to eat while you sip — whether it’s just a cup or a full-on tea ceremony experience — find rice bowls filled with things like radish pickles; braised pork belly and tofu; and cold sesame noodles.

970 N. Broadway, Ste. 112, Los Angeles,