|Healing and peace found at The Chinese Tea Emporium|
|Written by Ariana M. Taylor, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Wednesday, 11 April 2012 11:18|
With the end of spring semester quickly approaching, students are beginning to face more deadlines and may soon seek relaxation. New tea shop owner, Joshua Dingler, encourages students to look no further, for the new Downtown Bloomington spot offers a soothing and unique experience.
Dingler, a former ISU graduate, explained that The Chinese Tea Emporium was recently remodeled and was once a clothing store with a tiny, almost hidden section for tea accessories. After one day of merely visiting the store, he asked the owner one question that significantly furthered his interest in tea.
“In 2005, I met the owners Kim and Ken. I was coming in to look for a tea pot … this was like a clothing and accessory female store, but there was a small little room [in the back] where they had their tea shop at. So I walked in and I said ‘tell me about your tea’ and he started in,” Dingler said. “I didn’t leave for two hours. Then I came back the next day and every day that week and almost every day, if not every other day, for the next two months. Then about once every three days for the rest of the year, and I took one week off that whole year because I went on vacation.”
Dingler said that initially he did not know why he was so enthralled by the “whole tea process.” Nevertheless, he soon realized that drinking tea positively affected his well-being.
“I wanted to come back and I couldn’t figure out why. It took me about four months to realize that I’m a martial artist and I’ve been doing martial arts for about 26 or 27 years. In doing martial arts you get to know the body really well … you get to know how it works, how things feel, how people work in conjunction with each other,” Dingler explained. “I found that tea made my martial arts better. I was able to be more in touch with my body and figure out how my body works. It was just one of those kinds of enlightening little moments, and since then I’ve been involved in tea.”
He added that there is not a week that goes by where he does not have copious amounts of tea for it is a phenomenal source for nutrition. Unlike popular-branded teas, Dingler explained that the tea provided at The Chinese Tea Emporium has a more unique taste.
“Each bit of tea has its medicinal value in the Chinese book of medicine. White tea has almost no caffeine in it, very high antioxidant, but they have infused it with the Jasmine flowers. The Jasmine flower also helps with a lot of headache type pressure that helps relieve that. It also tastes wonderful. The bonus is that you get antioxidants in your body to help fight free radicals,” Dingler said.
Dingler originally became the previous owner’s assistant and taught tea classes while he was out on vacation. He quickly became an instructor and demonstrated the proper way to prepare tea, while also introducing new flavors to customers. He explained that after “inner turmoil of the place,” the tea business was not doing well and he pondered ways to improve the relaxing atmosphere.
“[The business] lost its energy and it lost its vibe that really allowed people to come in and sit down, relax, and be calm, and enjoy the company. A lot of us went the other way and some of us only came back when we absolutely needed tea,” Dingler explained. “Ken asked, ‘What would this be if this was your idea?’ He wanted to make this entire space into the tea room, the tea house, and that’s always been in my head.
“To honor some of his and my conversations, and our visions, this has come about. For a little bit of him, for a little bit of me, and then a lot for the community because the rumor mill was always around, ‘we need tea, we need a place.’ Here we are, it’s here … we’re back again.”
On April 8, The Chinese Tea Emporium had its grand opening, inviting guests into the peaceful ambiance. The walls, painted with warm colors, enclosed Bloomington-Normal residents, as they intermingled with one another and enjoyed tea over melodious tunes.
He encourages students to visit the Downtown Bloomington shop and attend classes that teach the proper way to perform tea ceremonies. Dingler also introduces different teas and explains what they do for the body.
Dingler added that he is also a police officer and martial arts instructor; therefore much of his work is exciting and action-packed. Managing the new tea shop provides him with a place to listen to the quietness that is rarely heard.
“This is the calmest place you’ll ever get to work at. The murals, the paint colors, everything in here is to really work with the energy of the room, the energy of the people, and create a place where you can come back and really enjoy and sit down. This place has provided me with phenomenal, stimulating conversations with some people. You find joy when you relax because you’re not worried about all the stressors in life.”