Friday, April 12, 2013

Tea Adventure at the American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural history is one of my favorite places to visit in NYC. I have fond memories of class trips here to learn about everything from dinosaurs to minerals and gems. I felt a nostalgic child-like awe when I entered the building. This week I was invited to visit the special exhibit, Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture. It is a fascinating exhibit I urge you to see if you can. There is a tasting kitchen where you can experience various categories of food (the schedule is here), and through April 14th you can taste teas!

Green Mint tea
Throughout the exhibit you will find interactive stations, and my favorite included smelling various scents such as ginger and popcorn. Of course, the best part was the tasting room, where we were given cups of tea to taste. Two friendly staff members dole out the tea along with biscuits and basic tea history. There is a chalk board with a tea quiz (picture at left), and a display of teas and tisanes. It was fun to chat and have a little nibble while drinking our samples. We tried a refreshing mint green tea, but other days had black teas, and even Jasmine rice cooked with tea. This weekend they are featuring the Arnold Palmer, one of my favorite iced tea drinks. I appreciated the mint tea, but I would have liked some information related to the tea, such as the cultures around the world that drink it, and the different ways it can be prepared and served. Tasting and smelling tea is of course a wonderful addition to the exhibit, but it could have been taken further. I would have liked to try at least one other tea, in order to fully explore and compare flavors.
The tea tasting setup

Walking around the exhibit I also enjoyed the area showing the diet of various people throughout history. It gives an interesting picture of how cuisine has changed, yet certain basics remain the same. Displays showed the diet of a man from 5000 years ago, one of a Kenyan human rights advocate (who included lots of tea in her diet), and even the immense breakfast of Michael Phelps.

This is a perfect exhibit for foodies, or anyone interested in the social and scientific history of food. Tea lovers, be sure to visit in the next few days in order to catch the last tea tastings! If you go, please report back and let me know what teas you tasted!

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