Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

Sweet Elixir

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Back when I lived in New York City, I used to make regular visits to a small Korean nail salon just a block away from our apartment in Yorkville. The place was called Jin Soon (there’s also a second location in the much posher nabe of Soho and she has since grown into a mini-nail polish mogul) and unlike most neighborhood nail places—soundtrack: Phantom of the Opera; decor: pastel—Jin Soon was like a Zen haven in the midst of the urban jungle. Quiet to be point of almost being somber, discreet, dimly lit, Asian-chic in every way. Added bonus, on almost every occasion I was there, I sat across from another regular customer—the heavily tattooed New York Knick Stephon Marbury. We both always ordered the same pedicure treatment called Milk & Honey, and then we would do the silent bro-nod, like “yes, Stephon, your NBA pedals and my far less valuable feet both deserve this”.

Although I sort of loathe the process of getting my nails done, in particular waiting for the varnish to dry (is there anything more tedious?), I loved going to Jin Soon, not only because I could pretend to be feet buddies with Stephon, or because it was one of the only calm places in the city where I could truly relax, but because they served the most amazing tea. I had never had anything like it and became completely addicted to it…it was tart and sweet, there were bits of lemon rind floating at the bottom of the cup, and it made the fact that I was spending many dollars to have paint brushed onto my finger nails seem totally worth it. I was always too shy to actually ask the ladies who worked there what the concoction was, but I did spy them scooping what looked like jam from a jar into my cup.

I finally figured out what the stuff was when I asked a Korean-American co-worker at Glamour magazine. She shared that it was Korean honey citron tea and said she’d track down a jar. Just as promised, she told her parents about her co-worker’s tea addiction, and the next time they came to visit, they brought her a jar from their local Korean market. The stuff was heaven. Just one big spoonful added to a cup of simmering water and you have the most intoxicating (non-alcoholic) beverage.IMG_4847I’ve since located citron honey tea at my local Asian supermarket, H Mart (HERE is a link to purchase it from their site) and so I always have a jar handy, especially in the winter when it’s so good for fighting a head cold or general winter malaise. Although I am now far away from Jin Soon and Stephon, whenever I have a cup it takes me back to that quiet little haven.

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