New York nightlife photographer Angela Pham’s smoky breakfast tea and AM routine prove that no one appreciates the morning hours quite like someone who doesn’t always get to see them. She shares her recipe here.
There’s one Angela at night: an outgoing and brightly dressed photographer, snapping away at fashion and art parties and slipping into bed when some of us are waking up. Then there’s another Angela in the morning, poring over literary magazines and brewing a pot of traditional Vietnamese longan fruit tea. These may seem like impossibly different counterparts, much less elements of the same person. But after a few years of focusing on her nighttime identity, Angela found that a calm morning is the key to doing it all.
Where did you learn to brew tea this way?
I first tried longan fruit tea at a friend’s Vietnamese restaurant in Williamsburg and loved the smokiness. The dried longans blossom while they’re steeping. It’s very unique.
Walk us through a regular morning.
If I’m booked for a morning shoot, then I can bounce right out of bed on six hours of sleep. But honestly, I usually get nine hours and take the morning slow. That’s when I have time to make tea and stay in my pajamas for longer than five minutes. I skip breakfast, which I know is bad, and putter around my neighborhood. I love to grab some meaty literary magazine or the newspaper and pore over it. My work hours aren’t conventional and I often don’t get home until midnight, so I really value my time off.
How do you keep it balanced with such crazy hours?
A friend once told me, during a time when I was full of anxiety, “the truth is you can do it all.” We complain and create stress for ourselves, but, ultimately, it’s all mental.
If you could share a morning cup of tea with one person, who would it be and why?
My boyfriend because I wouldn’t feel obliged to converse and we could read the morning paper in silence!
Angela’s 3-Ingredient Vietnamese Longan Tea
A large pot of water
Dried longan fruit (you can find it at most international markets or here)
Sugar to taste (one teaspoon should do it)
Bring a kettle of water to a rolling boil and drop in a handful of dried longan. Remove kettle from the heat and let the tea steep for 20 minutes. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Serve hot (you can reheat it if you prefer) or over ice, making sure each cup has some longan.
See more recipes with five ingredients or less here.
Photography by Angi Welsch.