Lang Bei Cha was founded in winter 2016 by Jacke Hui and Alev Gefen. Being travel fiends and foodies, Jacke and Alev also discovered a mutual love for tea. Their thirst for finding and sharing the uniqueness of various teas was fueled tremendously by going out for dim sum on an almost-weekly basis. The delightful ritual involves a leisurely lunch of tea and small plates, dating back to the Silk Road trade; hospitality and abundance welcomed traveling caravans with tea and snacks, thus giving rise to the concept of yum cha (“drink tea” in Cantonese). Although associated with Cantonese cuisine, dim sum is a cherished practice throughout China and is rapidly gaining followers around the world. Jacke and Alev have long been fans of tracking down one-of-a-kind recipes, which inspired Diostar Dumplings, their food and travel blog.
In August 2015, Jacke and Alev launched Diostar Dumplings, after Jacke expressed a desire to start a food truck that would feature authentic Chinese dumplings. While the food truck did not pan out, Jacke was determined to create a blog for foodies (particularly for dumpling and dim sum lovers) and for travelers. The practice of yum cha gave Jacke and Alev a brilliant opportunity to satisfy both their gastronomic curiosity and passion for tea. The combination of savory morsels and aromatic sips is proven not only tasty but also good for you, which is why Jacke and Alev wanted to dedicate their pursuits to distinct platforms: one for unique food experiences (www.diostardumplings.com) and the other for one-of-a-kind teas (www.liangbeicha.com).
Channeling positive energy and maintaining strong health are the values that underpin the attitudes and lifestyles throughout East Asia. Jacke’s heritage-- an upbringing by talented, tea-savvy chefs from Guangzhou-- and Alev’s specialization in Eastern cultures-- became the backbone for their brainchild: a website devoted to all things tea. His journey around Fujian Province in 2005 culminated in Jacke’s dining and drinking oolong with the mayor of Taishan. Alev’s foray into then-exotic teas took off, after she indulged in a cup of velvety matcha at an onsen, following a day of climbing Fuji-san in 2010.
Jacke Hui found his niche in art and food photography at his alma mater, Drexel University. He had long desired to branch out beyond an office job as a Web designer and launch his own business. The idea of marketing tea came to him and Alev in the midst of what one might call a tea revival: More people were expressing enthusiasm for tasting and buying tea than in the previous years, when coffee—and thus coffee houses—dominated the scene. The focus of Liang Bei Cha is to help others find and/or rekindle their interest in tea as a versatile beverage that works as both a booster and a calming agent.
Alev Gefen, a fellow avid traveler, found the perfect opportunity to channel her affinity for Asian aesthetics and cuisine through diversifying her tea palette. A lifelong connection to the histories and languages of Asia led Alev to pursue cultural studies at Temple University and later, international marketing at the University of Maryland. Despite being more of a coffee junkie than a teaholic during her teenage years, Alev was driven to rediscover her own tea-drinking roots. (In Belarus, tea and dessert are must-haves after almost every meal! ☺)
Winter of 2015 marked the beginning of Alev and Jacke’s ravenous hunt for the most unique tastes and sips across America and around the world. You can stay up to date on their latest tea tours at www.liangbeicha.com, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.