Tea’s for the Birds

Nov 30, 2011

Bird Pick "Blossoming" Tea

Lan Ong, owner of Bird Pick Tea & Herb, is a third-generation tea connoisseur and an admitted tea purist. Her goal is to bring China’s tea culture to the mainstream—to turn tea novices into aficionados.

In pursuit of that goal, she displays massive glass jars full of teas and herbs imported from estates in China, Taiwan, India and Japan; she only brews loose-leaf tea to preserve its integrity; and once a week she and her employees boil down organic cane sugar to make their own simple syrup. At the tea bar that occupies one end of the shop, they serve a myriad of tea and herb concoctions, traditional and innovative, hot or cold.

We were proffered a Tropical Sunrise that was lovely to behold and smooth and soothing as it slid down our sore throat. The white tea sat on the bottom with the simple syrup, the home-brewed hibiscus tea sat as a vibrant red on the top with a slice of lemon, orange and a sprig of mint. Next time, we might ask for a bit less sweetener, but the flavor was refreshing.

Set on the bar was a glass “madeline” pot (made of special cooking glass) that held one of the many blossoming teas. Floral Crown is made with green tea, chrysanthemum, jasmine and globe aramanth (the small rosettes are individually crafted). When placed in the pot and filled with boiled water, a bouquet of tea leaves and flowers blooms right before your eyes.

Bird Pick is open and inviting, light and creative; Lan’s grandfather’s passion is tea and teapots, which are prominently and respectfully displayed throughout. The store has such an extensive inventory of herbs, teas, teapots and accessories that a visit to the bar might be necessary just to take a break and re-energize for more exploring.

As you enter and exit you encounter none other than the meditative Lu Yu (733-804) who wrote The Classic of Tea, the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea. Lan Ong’s passion for tea, her focus on homemade and home-brewed ingredients, her desire to spread her knowledge of tea and China’s tea culture, and the tasty and varied drinks offered make us believe Lu Yu would break his calm demeanor and beam with pride.

Note: Bird Pick got its name from a legend that Lan’s grandfather passed on which told of an ancient practice of cultivating the finest tea leaves by watching and studying as “extraordinary birds with acute senses” picked the best leaves for their own nourishment.

Bird Pick Teas & Herbs
10 S. De Lacey St., Old Pasadena
Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.;  Sun. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

One of Lan's grandfather's samovar-type teapots


Lu Yu, the Sage of Tea


1 Response for “Tea’s for the Birds”

  1. Janee Smith says:

    I hate piss poor customer service! I had to write their corporate office, facebook them, yelp them, and it looks like I’m going to have to write a letter, go to the BBB, post to my blog, tumblr and YOUTUBE channel about my issue until I am responded to by this company and not just have my comments deleted.

    Wrote on their FB Page for the Second time Bird Pick Tea & Herb

    Looks like my comment and complaint got removed here by mistake so I will repost it again. I have also emailed corporate, wrote a yelp review and sent an email via the Bird Pick Website. I need to have this issue fixed because I am not stuck with 2 groupons that are not being honored at the Culver City Location.

    (Removed comment): The absolute best products but sadly I can only purchase online from now on. I tried to redeem a Groupon from the Culver City Location with Alicia and Delana who were the rudest employees I have ever had to deal with. Normally I come early in the morning and I have never dealt with them before but my mom is sick and I wanted to get here the Ginger Honey Tea that I love so much. I could not get my tea, not because they were sold out, but because the employees were rude. I knew what I wanted when I walked in the store and I told them I have a Groupon. I couldn’t use 2, although I purchased 2, one for me and one as a gift (for my mom) as the groupon restrictions said. Ok I was fine, a little upset that I spent an hour in traffic plus time to find parking in the mall in the cold with my 4 year old son with me. So I proceeded to tell the employee that I wanted the strainer with the handle, to which she didn’t understand. Mind you that I am handicapped and she insisted I trot over to show her which one when I could clearly point to it and I said the one on top. There was only one strainer on top, wow, I was amazed at how she couldn’t understand what the one on top means. Next I said I wanted the Herbal and the Plum with Honey. First she picks up the Plum that was taped to the table, why couldn’t I have a new box and not the display??? Then she proceeds to put everything in a paper bag, NOT the tote I was suppose to get. When I asked for the cup that was suppose to come with it I told her which one I wanted, all black with a top and dish that I saw earlier, again she had no clue as to what I was talking about. Again I told her what it looks like. She then selects a RED cup, white on the inside and starts to box it up. I explained again that I didn’t ask for a red cup, I asked for an all black cup. Her response was “well you can pick a cup over there for around $8”. Mind you I am handicap trying to mind a restless 4 year old boy with me. She then says well I will check in the back. Out comes another employee that says we don’t have any black cups. I asked for my groupon back and for my information to be crossed out of the book. Guess what happened next with Alicia and Delana… They had to find my groupon. So with this experience I will no longer be a customer of Bird Pick Culver City.

    I now have 2 groupons that I can’t use. How will this issue be addressed by the company??? Guess it will be deleted and ignored again.



Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena