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Chinatown Tea Leaves

Shot and directed by Huei Lin
July 7th, 2021


For Howard Low, the path from youthful immigrant to confirmed tea master began with multiple fascinations: a passion for traditional Chinese medicine, decades spent mixing cocktails behind hotel bars, a stint at the Chinatown post office. After arriving in Canada from Hong Kong in 1967, Howard worked his way through various industries before settling on a new vocation: tea specialist, healer, and herbal mixologist. Applying his mastery of medicinal Chinese herbs and pulse reading, Howard set out to create an apothecary of tea leaves— a healing centre, seeking to preserve traditional knowledge which is slowly fading in today’s hyper-modern world. At the turn of the new millennium, he opened his tea shop in the heart of Montreal. Since then, his store has become an underground sensation; a cult favourite among the city’s tea enthusiasts and health gurus. Tucked away on a quiet side street in Chinatown, Howard’s shop is famed for its aged Pu’er, herbal formulas, and delicious “pleasure” teas. For the tea master himself, life begins at the intersection of flavor and health— the road to longevity.

“Chinatown Tea Leaves” is a portrait of a tea shop in Montreal, shot and directed by Huei Lin.

Howard Low is the proprietor of longtime Montreal tea purveyor Specialtea, aka Spécialithé, aka Commerce Ming Wah Hong Inc.

(514) 879 1472
1127 rue Clark
Montréal, QC
H2Z 1K3

Huei Lin is a writer, filmmaker and musician from New York City. As a freelance videographer, he specializes in performance arts and documentary, having worked with top Canadian artists and institutions including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Against the Grain Theatre, and L’Opéra de Montréal. He has held positions at documentary studio Eyesteelfilm (Montreal) and branding company Inc Curation (Tokyo), in addition to his consulting work for indie production house Ocean Pine Studio (Hong Kong). In 2013 and 2016, he completed artist residencies at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, which produced the well-received short film “Black Earth” in collaboration with composer Fazil Say, Stoney Nation elder Conal Labelle and American pianist Hunter Noack. In 2020, Huei’s film work for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s “Messiah/Complex” appeared in The New York Times and received worldwide critical acclaim. Additionally, Huei is a published author of fiction. His first full-length release, “Coda,” was published in March 2021 through RCN Media.





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