Sunday, April 30, 2006

Happy Elephant & Brewhaha

No particular reason for mentioning either of these two companies except that I liked their choice of names.

I wasn't able to find a Web site for Happy Elephant Tea, but according to this page at Soft Surroundings they distribute black, flavored black and green and Indian herbal teas, all in high-quality nylon infuser bags.

But my vote for best name goes to Brewhaha Tea, who are based in Glasgow, Scotland. They make a line of nine varieties that are blended from finest Sri Lankan tea. The flavors - All Day Tea, Earl Grey, Rose, Christmas, Ginger & Lemon, Green, Caffeine Free All Day Tea, Loose leaf and "Brews the Daddy".

As their Web site notes, "Brewhaha is stocked in luxury store and fantastic produce stores throughout Britain and Europe". If you're over on this side of the Atlantic and you really want to get some it looks like they can probably accommodate you.

Image: Brewhaha

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Trenton Teapot Festival

That's right, teapot fans. The Jackson Sun reports that the Trenton Teapot Festival kicked off Friday and will run through Saturday, May 6. As the Jackson Sun is a Tennessee publication, I'm going to assume that they're not referring to the Trenton, New Jersey that we all know love. Check your local listings to be sure or read the article here and see if you can sort it out.

For more TGS postings on teapots, look here, here and here.

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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tea Review 68 - Yerba Mate (x2)

Del Cebador Superior
Sara Suave

I've had my say about sample packages of tea. I'm not going to go off on that tangent again, except to say that it's nice to be able to try teas without having to buy a large amount. Ditto for yerba mate.

I recently ordered six quarter pounds of loose yerba mate. As I've been working my way through the pile, I've found a surprising amount of difference between the different brands. Last time around I reviewed Canarias and Amanda, products of Brazil and Argentina.

This time I'm going with two brands from Uruguay, a place where - if I've got my story straight - they drink more yerba mate than just about anywhere in the world.

At first glance these two brands seem quite similar. Both are pretty finely ground, with no obvious traces of stems. Aroma is pretty similar too. Both kind of reminded me of the burnt sawdust smell of a heavily used wood shop. That might sound like a bad thing, but it's not really.

As for the taste, the first time out I liked the Sara Suave and not the Del Cebador Superior. After some more sampling I reversed my position. To my clunky taste buds Sara Suave seemed kind of tasteless, while Del Cebador Superior had a nice smoky overtone - tasting kind of like it smelled, actually. I definitely prefer the latter over the former, but I would take the Amanda over either and probably over the Canarias as well.

Shop For Yerba Mate

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Charleston Tea Plantation

A while back I wrote about tea production in the United States and England, a pretty marginal activity in both countries. One of the few places in the U.S. where tea is grown is at South Carolina's Charleston Tea Plantation. The tea produced there is marketed on a small scale as American Classic Tea.

Because of it's unique nature, the plantation gets some attention every now and then from newspaper travel writer types. The most recent profile appears in the Charlotte Observer. Read the article here and, if you ever get a chance, drink American.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Is Tea The New Wine?

It's a question that's been asked before, but the Portsmouth Herald recently posed it in a fairly substantial two-part article about tea. In the first part, the reporter profiles Portsmouth Tea Company, whose co-owner Marshall Malone discourses on a range of subjects, including food and tea pairings.

Part two takes a look at White Heron Tea, another area merchant, this one with an emphasis on organic and Fair Trade teas.

Earlier this week the Cincinnati Enquirer weighed in on tea with a profile of a pair of local teahouses - Essencha and Kaori.

Last, but by no means least, is a report in the San Francisco Chronicle about spring harvest green tea making its way into area tea shops, of which there is no shortage. Those listed in this blip of an article are Imperial Tea Court, Modern Tea, Ten Ren and Celadon Tea.

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Killer Chamomile Tea

No laughing matter here. UPI reported recently that a 70-year-old patient suffered internal bleeding after drinking chamomile tea and using chamomile lotion while taking warfarin, an anticoagulant medication.

A study, originally published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, flags garlic, onions and ginger as other foodstuffs that shouldn't be mixed with warfarin.

Source: UPI

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

$39,000 Foot Cream

Actually it's $39,302.54 foot cream, to be perfectly precise, but it's not quite as exciting as it sounds. The other day I was doing some research on tea products when I ran across something called Artemis Woman Topaz Foot Butter. It was selling for $39,302.54 at an online outlet called Value Nutrition Store. This is quite a bargain actually, since the regular price is $67,763.00. Check it out here.

At first I thought it might be for real, especially since it contained "finely ground Topaz gemstone crystals". It also contains bergamot and tea tree oil, which is what brought it to my attention in the first place. Sounds like great stuff, I guess, if you want your feet to smell like Earl Grey tea, but I digress.

Alas, this whopping price is apparently a misprint. The manufacturer of this substance sells the very same product for $24.99. For the big savings, go here.

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More On Teapots

Some of our previous teapot-related articles here at TGS include this one, on teapot museums, and a piece on declining teapot sales in the U.K.

About a week and a half ago the Contra Costa Times ran an article that talked teapots, as well as providing a primer on tea. Check it out here.

As for teapot-related events you might want to make note of Time for Tea!: Selections of Teaware from the Winterthur Collection. It runs from now through July 9 at Wintethur, the Delaware estate of the late Henry Francis du Pont. More info here.

Also on the teapot calendar is Teatime: The Art of the Teapot, which opens May 12 at the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. Read more about it in this article from the Grand Rapids Press.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More Tea & Chocolate

Our last exploration into the world of tea and chocolate was a piece from earlier this month about green tea truffles. Since then I've uncovered yet another company that offers treats that blend these two favorite tastes.

Torn Ranch is a California-based maker of gourmet specialty foods that's been doing business for about the last three decades. They make tea-flavored chocolates in the following flavors - Emperor's Ginger Tea, Jasmine Green Tea, Imperial Chai Tea and Orange Blossom Tea.

These delights are packaged in something called an Exotic Tea Trunk, which comes in three sizes. You can view them at this Web page.

Image: Torn Ranch

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Matcha Comes To Starbucks

Matcha may turn out to be the next big thing, thanks to two new drinks that debuted earlier this month at Starbucks. Both use matcha, the powdered green tea best known as a component in the Japanese tea ceremony.

Said beverages are Tazo Green Tea Latte and Tazo Blackberry Green Tea Frappuccino. The former is "a delicious blend of lightly sweetened matcha green tea, accented with hints of tropical melon and steamed fresh milk" and will be available year-round.

The latter is "a creamy blend of the finest quality Japanese green tea matcha powder, lively flavors of real, fresh blackberries and ice, topped off with real whipped cream and a tangy blackberry drizzle". It will only be available through May 16, 2006.

Source: Starbucks

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Tea Review 67 - Anteadote Jasmine

Anteadote Pure Jasmine Tea
Adagio Teas

A while back I finally made my peace with jasmine tea, but it's still not one of the first things I'd reach for if confronted with a variety of teas.

But, having sampled Adagio's Pure Jasmine Tea, I've now realized that jasmine tea is a dish - ummm - best served cold, or at least that's what works best for me.

Like Anteadote's other three bottled teas (black, green, white) jasmine is an exercise in minimalism. It contains only three ingredients - tea, water and vitamin C. And it needs nothing else.

Now, if it were a hot day and I was looking for something cold to drink and I was confronted with a variety of bottled teas I might just go for the Anteadote Pure Jasmine.

Good stuff.

Shop For Adagio Teas

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Room For Tea Bars

Indeed. Here's one of the best quotes I've run across lately - "I think there's room for a couple of tea bars, there's 10,000 coffee bars for God's sake."

It comes to us courtesy of Sae Mickelson, owner of one of two tea bars recently profiled in The Greenville (SC) News. Read the article here.

O-Cha Tea Bar has a Web site here. I wasn't able to locate one for Sip, Mickelson's tea bar.

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Yerba Mate Gourds

Since it's still Yerba Mate Month here at TGS I thought I'd direct your attention to a great page I ran across recently. It's called Yerba Mate Gourds of South America and it's posted at the Arizona Gourds Web site. The site is a showcase for Tucson gourd artist Bonnie Gibson and has some interesting stuff in addition to the yerba mate page.

There's an interesting note here about the correct spelling of mate, which is without the accented "e" that seems to have become common usage. Apparently this accent mark changes the meaning rather considerably. Gibson also relays another great description of what yerba mate tastes like - "drinking grass clippings through a cigar".

A very informative page with some great pictures. Worth a look.

Shop For Yerba Mate

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More Tea Recipes

We've done a number of pieces at TGS about cooking with tea, most recently here and here.

Recently Chicago's ABC affiliate featured a number of tea recipes at their Web site. The occasion is Twinings of London's 300th anniversary and the recipes shared are said to be the favorites of Chef John Fuente, from the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.

Among the recipes listed - Seared Romaine Lettuce with Orange Crouton, Grilled Chicken Breast with Lemon Tea Asparagus, Green Tea Shrimp and Barbecue Sauce. Also included is a capsule history of Twinings of London. Check it out here.

Graphic: Twinings

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Boston Tea Tour & Tea Gadgets

Talk about your coincidences. Boston's two big newspapers ran articles on tea on the very same day. That would be yesterday, if you're scoring at home.

In the Boston Globe we discover that tea is becoming the "hottest drink in town" and our intrepid reporter takes us on a tour of a few of the city's tea spots and merchants. Among those covered are Licorice & Sloe, White Heron Tea, Portsmouth Tea Company, Special Teas, Wenham Tea House and Signature Estates Teas. Read the full article here.

Over at the Boston Herald they ran a brief piece on tea gadgets, some of which I've mentioned in these very same pages. Among them - Sunbeam’s Tea Drop Hot Tea Maker, Adagio's triniTEA and the Cuisinart Traditional Cordless Electric Kettle. It's a quickie, but you can read it here.

Tea also made it into at least one other newspaper's Sunday section yesterday. The Express-Times, of Easton, Pennsylvania, also ran a tea article, reporting on the popularity of tea and taking it's readers to a few local tea spots. Read it here.

The paper also reprints Celestial Seasonings' Tips for Brewing the Best Cup of Hot Tea here.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Perfect Water

Water. It's a topic of no small importance to tea drinkers and one that that's come up several times before here at TGS. Back in September I wrote about water harvested from icebergs, bottled and sold by Canada's Original Iceberg Water Corporation, who also make vodka using iceberg water. Then there was this overview type piece on bottled water and mineral water from October. And most recently a piece on H2Om Water, "the world's first vibrationally charged, interactive, bottled water".

So as we bubble on along here I thought it was as good a time as any to make mention of Cirqua Customized Water. Cirqua is a company that apparently makes filtration systems for coffee and tea houses. They also offer The Formula, a brand of bottled water that's supposed to be formulated to make a better cup of coffee or tea. Whether or not it's really the perfect water, well, I'll leave that to you to decide. Here's their site.

Photo: Cirqua

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Biodegradable Natural Tea Pouches

A pat on the back to Mighty Leaf Tea Company, who recently won a Best New Product Award for their biodegradable natural tea pouches. The award was presented at the Specialty Coffee Association's Expo held in Charlotte, North Carolina from April 8-10.

More on the pouches at Mighty Leaf's Web site.

Source: Gourmet News
Photo: Mighty Leaf Tea Company

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Celebrities Drink Yerba Mate

Or so a recent article from the Columbus Dispatch would have us believe - and it's actually not the first yerba mate article to drop this particular bunch of names. The celebs in question are Matt Dillon, Madonna, Viggo Mortensen and Alicia Silverstone, who are all credited with raising the profile of yerba mate.

The rest of the article is pretty much the standard Yerba Mate 101 type piece, but with this still being Yerba Mate Month here at TGS I thought it was worth mentioning. It's especially interesting to note that yerba mate seems to be pretty readily available around the Columbus area. I don't think we can boast such a degree of availability in my part of central Pennsylvania, but it might be that I just haven't looked hard enough.

Here's the full article, if you're keen to take a look.

Here's a short article that the Dispatch ran the same day, which has even more of a Yerba Mate 101 feel to it.

Shop For Yerba Mate

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Britain's Best Tea

Where's the best place in London to go for afternoon tea? How about the best place in all of Britain? If the U.K. Tea Council has any say in the matter, then the answers are Claridge's and Hazelmere Café & Bakery, in Cumbria.

For more info about the London award, see the Council's news release here. The release announcing the overall award is located here. Don't forget to look at the Council's home page, by the way. It has this nifty gizmo that supposedly shows how many cups of tea the British drink in the course of a day.

As for the best place in India to go for tea, that's anyone's guess. Some might suggest Calcutta's Subodh Brothers, who were recently profiled in the Calcutta Telegraph. Read that article here.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Grow Your Own Tea Plants

Back in December I wrote about my experiment with growing a tea plant. It was not a whopping success. Nor was it even a moderate or slight success.

To recap, I attempted to grow tea plants from seed, starting them indoors in little ceramic containers. About a month later I finally gave it up and pitched everything - ungerminated seeds and dirt and, well, I kept the containers. So much for my green thumb. Though I still have a few seeds and I haven't completely given up hope yet.

What caused me to revisit all these traumatic memories was a Web site I ran across the other day - It's run by a Florida family - the Behnckes - who speculate that it might be the only tea nursery in the United States.

If you're going to dabble in growing your own tea and your thumb's anywhere near as brown as mine you might want to let the Behnckes give you a leg up on the process. Just a thought.

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Tea Review 66 - Yerba Mate (X2)

Canarias Yerba Mate
Amanda Yerba Mate

I know - yerba mate is not tea, at least not in the strictest sense of the word. But, as you've probably noticed, we take a pretty loose approach to semantics here at TGS.

Canarias yerba mate was the first "real" yerba mate I ever tasted. Real, in this sense, referring to loose yerba mate, consumed from a gourd (mate) using a filtered metal straw (bombilla).

Though I'd tasted yerba mate in tea bag form before, my first experience with Canarias almost caused me to spew a huge mouthful of it across the room. Given the fact that, since then, I've worked my way down to the dregs of a one kilogram bag, I guess you could say I've developed a taste for the stuff.

Canarias is apparently a product of Brazil. It's a mix of smaller leaves and what I'll refer to as dust - I'm not sure of the correct terminology. It's got a pretty strong flavor, compared to some of the other yerba mate I've tasted since, and it's got more than a hint of bitterness. That's not necessarily a bad thing, at least not as far as I'm concerned, and I think I actually prefer it to some of the smoother yerba I've tasted.

Amanda hails from Argentina and it's one of those smoother varieties of yerba mate, though not by much. It's got less dust, larger leaves and some light colored stems. I gather that the latter are not considered a desirable quality when it comes to yerba mate, but I could be mistaken about that.

Amanda was not nearly as pungent as Canarias and it had a fresher taste, kind of "greener", you might say. I don't know that I preferred either of these over the other. I think it's just a matter of what you're in the mood for.

There are a quite a few yerba mate merchants on the Web nowadays. Do a little snooping around to see which one you like the best. I ordered the Canarias from Natural Latitudes, who were kind enough to provide me with my mate and bombilla, and the Amanda from Yerba Mate Cafe. Also noteworthy are Yerba Mate CC, who claim to have "the most complete inventory of Yerba Mate Tea from South America, available anywhere!"

Shop For Yerba Mate

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Tea Paintings

Add one more item to your list of things you can do with tea - aside from drinking it. The Malaysia Star reported yesterday about Soh Mok Tan, an artist who paints guessed it.

Tan uses Chinese black tea and thus the paintings are all very heavy on the brown hues. But they're nice to look at all the same.

The article includes images of three of the paintings. Check it out here.

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Really, Really Expensive Tea

A while back I wrote about Silver Tips, a tea from India's Makaibari Estate. Some claim that it's one of the world's most expensive teas, but it pales in comparison to two cups brewed up on an EasyJet flight a few years back.

London's Telegraph reports that a British woman was awarded compensation of £25,000 following a 2002 incident in which a flight attendant dumped two cups of hot tea in her lap. Which works out to £12,500 per cup of tea. I didn't figure the conversion to dollars but suffice to say that these were two very expensive cups of tea.

If you're thinking this might be a good way to pick up some spare cash, think again. Hot tea is not recommended as a career strategy. Read the full article here.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

World Tea Expo Report

Ever wonder what goes on at one of those World Tea Expos, which, as far as I know, is one of the world's largest trade shows for the tea industry? Here's your chance to find out.

Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times, put together a report on World Tea Expo and posted it to her Web site. You can read it here. The Tea House Times also has a bunch of interesting articles and interviews archived at their site. Check them out here.

For even more information on World Tea Expo - next year's is going to be held in Atlanta - check their Web site.

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Teapot Museums

If you get all worked up over teapots and the like you'll probably be happy to know about the Sparta Teapot Museum, in Sparta, North Carolina. The museum, which isn't open yet, is expected to show off thousands of teapots, including - presumably - the colorful one pictured here.

You can read about the museum in this article from World Magazine. The tone's not upbeat, since the article's about wasteful government spending, but it's informative nonetheless.

If one teapot museum isn't enough for you, then try the British Twining Teapot Gallery, which boasts more than 3,000 pots, or the Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware, located in Hong Kong.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Weight Loss & Acne Cures

A while back I put together a list of the wonderful things tea can do for your health. I guess it's time to update that list. The Daily Yomiuri reported recently about a "fat-busting oolong tea" to be released next month by Suntory Ltd.

The trick here, or so the makers say, is that the Black Oolong Tea OTPP contains twice the amount of polymerized polyphenols, which are thought to reduce fat. It's a very brief piece, but you can read it here.

Of course, all the "fat-busting oolong tea" in the world isn't going to do squat for your acne, which is why you should be drinking green tea - or taking it in pill form or rubbing it on your face in a topical cream. Or at least so saith this article - Green Tea And Acne - in an Indian newspaper. The article is written by a gent who runs a Web site that sells acne prevention products, so make of that what you will.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Free Tea Books

A few days ago I wrote about Boston Tea Campaign, an offshoot of a German company who specialize in selling Darjeeling tea. I also mentioned that they have a rather informative Web site that includes an impressive bibliography.

I was looking over this last item again and I thought it was worth another mention. There's quite a big list of books in English and, if you're a German speaker - or at least a reader - there's another sizable list of those.

Best of all is that you can actually access five free tea books in electronic form. There's The Story of the Tea Leaf, by Montfort Chamney; Yasunoke Fukukita's 1937 work Tea Cult of Japan; The Tea Tavern, by Peter Macrae; David R. McGregor's The Tea Clippers and Kakuzo Okakura's classic Book of Tea.

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Hot Tea Beauty Tips

From Simple Pleasures Tea, by way of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here's yet another use for tea for those who are not satisfied with just drinking it.

Brew up a mix of chamomile and peppermint tea using three cups of boiling water in a bowl. Let it cool slightly and then put your face over it and steam away. Do not doze off.

It's a short article, but you can check it out here.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Tea Eggs & Easter Bunny Teapot

The subject of eggs has been on my mind today. I can't imagine why, but I'm just going to go with the flow.

Speaking of eggs, let me point out this recipe for Tea Eggs from's Chinese Cuisine area.

Looking for something more pungent? See my earlier post on Century Eggs, a stinky Asian delicacy.

Oh, and here's the Easter Bunny teapot.

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Tea Pouring Acrobat Photos

Unless you happened to be in China's Zhejiang Province recently, you missed the Hangzhou Qinghefang Folk Tea Ceremony.

This, according to the People's Daily Online, "included tea contest, tasting tea, tea demonstration, frying tea and various other tea-related activities". If you weren't able to make it, don't despair but instead check out these photos of a rather spectacular looking tea pouring demonstration.

Don't try this at home, friends. These are trained tea pouring acrobats.

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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tea Review 65 - Pixie Mate Limon & Lush Tropics

Lush Tropics Mate
Mate Limon
Pixie Mate

My last experience with Pixie Mate was their Chai Mate Latte and Dark Roast Mate Latte, which I reviewed here. These are boxed concentrate type drinks, but Pixie Mate also sells yerba mate in tea bag form, as well as the loose stuff.

Mate Limon and Lush Tropics Mate both fall into the tea bag category. Lush Tropics is made from all organic ingredients, including yerba mate, hibiscus, roasted chicory root, licorice root and the ever popular "natural flavors".

I'm not averse to some herbal teas, but I have to admit that I have limited patience for the rosehips and hibiscus type. Having said that, I'll also say that Lush Tropics wasn't so bad, as far as this sort of thing goes. I think the problem is that I'm just not the right audience for this stuff. So I'll shut up about it.

Mate Limon worked better for me. Although I'd never dream of ruining tea - or yerba mate - with lemon I do have kind of a weakness for lemon flavored stuff. Mate Limon's got kind of a sweet flavor and really only the vaguest hint of lemon, or at least that's what my taste buds told me. There's also an equally subtle undertone of yerba mate going on here, but it all adds up to a nice taste. I could see myself drinking this one now and then.

As for ingredients, Mate Limon is composed of yerba mate, lemon verbena, black tea, lemongrass, licorice root, natural flavors and ginger - and all of it organic.

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Green Tea Chewing Gum

Yes, green tea chewing gum. Who knew? According to my brief and informal research project there are at least three varieties of this product on the market and I'm betting I've missed some others.

From the claims put forth by the makers of these goodies, I'm gathering that they're not targeting tea fans, but rather are zeroing in on those who want to shed pounds. Pretty tough to go broke if you're focusing on that market.

Here's a Chinese company that makes a product called Tearrow Green Tea Chewing gum. More info here.

Nutrisystem makes something called T-Green Gum, which comes in a package of 60 and "is a fun way to get the benefits of green tea extract, without having to drink tea all day long". Hmmm.

Nutrisystem also makes T-Green Mints. Maybe that's for those who don't want to have drink green tea or trouble their jaws with the dreadfully inconvenient act of chewing. Here's an report on the latter product from a Philadelphia-area TV station.

Then there's Mega-T Green Tea Chewing Gum. I didn't manage to locate their Web site, but you can check them out here at Amazon. Here's a little snippet from their product description - "Unlike brewed green tea, there's no water, no wait, no bitter taste". Alright then.

For a tea-related treat that doesn't really make any claims regarding health or weight loss (now that's refreshing) check out these Tea Candy Lollipops from Verithe.

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The Real Tea Guy

Unless you're involved in the tea or coffee industry, you probably don't read Fresh Cup, which bills itself as a "specialty coffee & tea trade magazine."

From a tea fancier's perspective, the April issue of Fresh Cup is an especially interesting one. A Life in Tea: James Norwood Pratt’s (Not So) Mad Mission is a profile of a genuine, honest to goodness tea guy - one who is worthy of the name. As luck would have it this is the only one of April's articles that you can read online. Check it out here.

If you happen to get your grubby little mitts on an actual printed copy of the magazine then you can also read articles on organic tea growing in China and articles on teahouses in Taiwan and New York. Good stuff.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Gadgets - Sunbeam Tea Drop

Earlier this week, I mentioned a few noteworthy tea-making gizmos - Tea Spot's Tea Maestro and Adagio's triniTEA. Next up on the list is Sunbeam's Tea Drop. Once again, I should mention that I haven't had a chance yet to take this one out and kick the tires.

Tea Drop, as you can see, looks pretty much like a drip-type coffeemaker. Apparently you load bagged or loose tea into a basket in the top and fill the reservoir with up to 28 ounces of water. Set the "brew strength" setting, which actually controls how long the steep time is.

The tea, of course, runs down into the carafe, which sits on a warming plate. Which all sounds well and good to me, with the possible exception of water temperature. While the brewing strength/time setting is useful, obviously something has to give way here. Either the Tea Drop brews with boiling water, in which case your green tea is going to suffer or it uses not quite boiling water, which is not adequate for the majority of black teas.

Or so it would seem. As I said, I haven't actually used this one, so I shouldn't make any real firm conclusions.

Tea Drop is available in two models. It appears that all the pricier one has over the other model is "Brushed Chrome Accents", but I may be missing something.

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Tea Tourism - Ceylon & Taiwan

Tea tourism is becoming an increasingly popular concept in the major tea-producing regions of the world. Outside Magazine recently reported on just such an opportunity in Sri Lanka, the country once known as Ceylon and, of course, the country still known for producing Ceylon tea.

Tea Trails is a collection of four bungalows formerly used by managers of the tea estate on which they are located. The best thing about this location is that it's still a working tea garden. Thus, anyone with an interest in tea can get a pretty good eyeful of how the process works.

The Outside article is located here. You can find additional information at the Ceylon Tea Trails site, located here.

If Taiwan's more your speed, you might want to check out the Chu-Lung Resort, in the Wulai region of Taiwan. Among the attractions there are soaking in tea-scented hot springs and tea-themed menu items that include such delights as oolong smoked chicken, pouchong freshwater prawns and pekoe venison.

For more information, look here.

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Green Tea Soda Guys

I was nosing around recently, looking for information on tea - as I sometimes do - when I came across a profile of the Healthy Beverage Company in a Philadelphia-area paper. Healthy Beverage Company are the makers of Steaz Green Tea Soda, which come in a variety of flavors and which I've reviewed here, here and here.

The piece is not quite hot off the press. But, as the old saying goes, it's better than poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Seize The Kombucha

I haven't had much experience with kombucha. What little exposure I have had is to Kombucha Wonder Drink, bottled flavored kombucha drinks that I found to be quite tasty. For more information, check out my reviews here, here, here, here and here.

There's a new kid on the bottled kombucha block these days - or at least I'm assuming it's new. That would be Carpe Diem Kombucha. It's available in two sizes, but as for availability on these shores (they appear to be a German company) I'm not sure about that. Anyway, you can check out their Web site here.

For more on kombucha, you might want to give the Kombucha Journal a try.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gadgets - triniTEA

One of yesterday's entries was about Tea Spot's Tea Maestro, a gizmo that actually removes your tea leaves from the pot when they're finished steeping. I declared it to be a nifty gadget, but when it comes to clever tea gadgets that do most of the work for you, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Adagio's triniTEA.

This one doesn't come cheap and I haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it's apparently quite a piece of work. You can get all the info on it at Adagio's site here and you can even watch a little video.

One thing you can't do, at least not at the moment, is buy one, as demand has apparently outstripped supply. But if you really need one you can sign up to be notified when they're back in stock. Adagio speculates that this will happen in early summer.

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Boston Tea Campaign

The other day I caught a few seconds of Billy Crystal on TV blabbing about a children's book he'd written. It's always kind of bugged me when actors and other entertainers play on their celebrity to move into areas where they may or may not be so talented.

I like the notion of finding what you do well and sticking with that. I'm also fond of companies who find a really narrow niche, excel at that and do nothing else. A little while back I wrote about a few tea companies that occupy such a niche. One sells only Darjeeling tea and another only Japanese greens. I also mentioned an Australian company that specializes in oolong.

To this list let's add Boston Tea Campaign, an offshoot of a German company called Teekampagne. The latter is said to be the largest single importer of Darjeeling loose tea and they claim to offer "top-quality Darjeeling teas at unbeatable prices". Which sounds good to me.

Check out their Web site and see what you think. Even if you don't end up buying, there's a lot of interesting info, including a list of tea museums, an extensive tea bibliography and even a few ebooks on tea topics.

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Choice Guide To Tea

If you haven't visited the Choice Organic Teas' Web site lately it might be time to check in. They've just done a complete overhaul and added some interesting stuff - in addition to their usual array of organic teas, that is.

The Choice Guide To Tea is a nice primer on tea. Among the articles included are ones on organic tea from various points of origin, as well as info on brewing a proper cup of tea and tea tasting tips and terminology. There's also information on creating organic tea and building better tea bags and elsewhere on the site you can briefly visit a tea garden (three different ones, actually).

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Gadgets - Tea Maestro

There's certainly no shortage of tea gadgets nowadays, nor in the old days, for that matter, as I mentioned here recently. But here's one you've just gotta love - assuming that it works as promised. I haven't had a chance to test drive it yet.

Said gadget is called the Tea Maestro and it's marketed by a company called The Tea Spot. Tea Maestro looks to be a small teapot with an infuser for brewing loose tea. According to Tea Spot's Web site you simply brew a pot of loose tea in the normal fashion. But when you pour the water in you adjust a timer to the appropriate setting for the tea you're using. When the timer goes off the infuser lifts the leaves from the water.

Now that's progress, friends. I don't know about you, but I could have prevented numerous crappy cups of tea with a nifty gizmo like this. And while it doesn't quite go through enough machinations to qualify it as a proper Rube Goldberg device, I think old Rube would certainly have approved of it in principle.

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Tea Review 64 - Anteadote Pure White Tea

Anteadote Pure White Tea
Adagio Teas

Now this is the way bottled tea was meant to taste. If you ask me, that is. Not that you did. But I'll inflict my opinion on you anyway. Toss those sickly sweet tea-like beverages in the bin and give Anteadote a whirl.

Adagio Teas makes four different flavors of Anteadote bottle tea, including black - which I reviewed here - jasmine, green and white. Each contains nothing more than purified water, tea and vitamin C, which works for me just fine. What else do you need?

What surprised me the most about Anteadote White was just how strong the flavor was. I admit to not having a real wide experience with white tea, but those that I have sampled - both hot and bottled - have always been very subtle. Anteadote White has quite a bite, kind of a like a robust green without quite so much of the greenish flavor, if that makes even the least bit of sense.

Highly recommended. Down with sugar.

Shop For Adagio Teas

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Hot Pepper Green Tea Nasal Spray

The weight loss industry seems to spawn an inordinate number of unusual notions. Nothing new there. But is there anyone so desperate to lose weight that they'd resort to squirting hot peppers up their nose? I guess we'll see.

What's this got to do with tea? Glad you asked. Apparently SiCap Industries, the "company famous for inventing the world's first hot pepper nasal spray" is gearing up to release "the world's first weight control nasal spray also made with natural pepper extracts". This elixir also contains licorice root, green tea and grapefruit seed extracts.

The way Sinus Buster Weight Control Formula works, according to its makers, is by the capseicin in the peppers acting as an appetite suppressant, not to mention the licorice regulating blood sugar levels and the green tea giving your metabolism a "jumpstart". No word on what the grapefruit seed extract does.

Which makes sense, in a warped sort of way. I'm thinking that if I took a good snort of hot peppers up into the old sinus cavities the last thing I'd want to do is eat something.

I think the real trick though - and those of you with delicate sensibilities should not read any further - would be to squirt some up your ass. Just think about how many calories you'd burn while you're running around the room screaming and rubbing your big old butt on the carpet.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Earl Grey Farmers

Okay, bit of an oversimplification there. But the BBC News ran an interesting piece last week on bergamot growers in the Calabria region of Italy. If bergamot isn't ringing any bells then you're probably not an Early Grey drinker, for it's the essence of this citrus fruit that gives this particular flavored tea it's distinctive taste.

In addition to being used in tea, bergamot is also used in perfumes, though in recent times it has tended to be replaced by synthesized versions of the real thing. But if Calabria's bergamot growers have anything to say in the matter that will change.

Read the article here.

For a site that features a big heap of reviews of Earl Grey teas and more, refer back to my earlier post on the subject. Also check out this brief bit on some possible health risks from consuming too much Earl Grey.

Who was Earl Grey? Look here.

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World of Tea 1

Time to take a trip around the great wide world of tea. I've been collecting these little bits that don't quite merit a post of their own, but I hate to waste them so here we go.

Starting in China, here's a wee little piece, originally from Xinhua, about a tea culture school that's getting underway in Zhejiang Province.

From there it's on to the Darjeeling region of India. This piece has been out there for a while (2004), but it's worth taking a look at. Magical, Mystical Darjeeling, by Amelia C. Levy, appeared in two parts in the Tea and C***** Trade Journal. Since it originally appeared in a trade publication it's geared more toward that audience, but still makes for good reading. Check it out here and here.

The Wooster alumni magazine features a great article by Caroline Morrell - Rare Water, Thunder and Figs - on tea in Iran.

Over at the Wine & Food Forum at Strat's Place you'll find another off the beaten path tea article/forum posting by Aeyal Gross. He posts some information about tea in Israel that's composed of outtakes from an article he wrote for Wine and Gourmet Magazine, an Israeli publication.

Tea drinkers in Malaysia are apparently fond of loading their brew with condensed milk and sugar. An article in the Malaysia Star - New Ways of Enjoying Tea - looks at the tea scene in this neck of the world and at alternatives to this ghastly practice.

Last, but not least, is a piece on the growing popularity of tea in the Middle East. It's from a publication called ITP Business, so it's filled to the brim with all manner of fact and figures and whatnot. But it's worth a glance all the same.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Green Tea Truffles

Got a hankering for green tea truffles? No problem.

If you're in Manhattan, head to East 43rd Street and Sakagura, which specializes in "sake and authentic Japanese cuisine". Their dessert menu offers Green Tea Truffles, as well as something called Black Sesame Cream Burly. Oh, and their sake cellar boasts about 200 varieties, if you find that you're feeling a bit parched.

If the Big Apple's out of your range, you're still in luck. Bissinger's, a Missouri-based confectioner, also offers green tea truffles. While yours truly hasn't had a chance to sample one, they do get points for looking nice. Have a glimpse right here.

If you'd rather take a shot at making your own green tea truffles, you might want to try out this recipe from Recipezaar. It only uses four ingredients and the process looks to be relatively simple. One also suspects that you could safely substitute for the decaf green tea bags, perhaps with a green tea that's a little more upscale.

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World's Most Expensive Tea?

Well, maybe so and maybe not. Who's to say? But that's what this feature that's been turning up in some of the Indian papers lately would have us believe.

It's a profile of Darjeeling's Makaibari tea garden, which turns out some topnotch teas and which has set several records for priciest tea. The most recent of these was in 2003 when their Silver Tips brought a price of Rs. 18,000 per kilogram.

I've done the math for you and, assuming I've worked it out right, that's about about $11.50 per ounce. Which is pretty pricey, but not all that astounding.

Check out the full article at Web India here.

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Yerba Mate Mania?

Is yerba mate the next coffee? Nope, sorry. Green tea was the next coffee. Then white tea was the next green tea. But maybe if we wait long enough, yerba mate can can take a crack at being the next white tea. Or it can just be yerba mate and not the next anything and we can stop all this foolishness right now.

But, if we're to believe the smartypants types who make it their business to know these things, yerba mate may be poised for a breakthrough. The Center For Culinary Development decreed, in a recent trend mapping report, that yerba mate is about ready to go bonkers. I'm paraphrasing, by the way - smartypants types don't generally use words like "bonkers".

Over at the International Association for Culinary Professionals they're also keeping an eye on yerba mate. They've decided that it's one of the top five cutting edge ingredients worldwide.

If you need to brush up on your Yerba Mate 101, take a look at this recent report from London's Financial Times.

Tea and c***** trade journal Fresh Cup did a piece on yerba mate in their February issue. I couldn't find it at their Web site anymore, but maybe you'll have better luck.

As for some of those overzealous claims for yerba mate and other "healthy" products, here's an ABC News report - Energy-Boosting Supplements: Myths and Facts - that might help bring everyone back to Earth. Among the myths it addresses is that lingering one about yerba mate not having caffeine.

Shop For Yerba Mate

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Pure Chamomile...Book Him

Do you ever wonder if we allow researchers too much time to sit around and dream up new projects? Should someone perhaps gently suggest that they go out and get real jobs?

Canada's Saanich News reported recently on the response of local health food store types to a new study that suggests a possible link between herbal products and hard drugs.

If you actually read the article you'll find that the attention-getting headline (Herbal Tea and Heroin) is a wee bit misleading. The study finds that teens who used "herbal or natural products" - referring only to supplements, apparently - are X number of times more likely to move on various incarnations of the hard stuff, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. Herbal tea doesn't really seem to be an area of concern, though I haven't read the actual research document and can't say for sure.

The study appears in this month's issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, if you're really itching to have a go at it.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Nifty Tea Gadgets & Aardvarks

Never let it be said that the Internet is a place where you can find really, really specialized information. But if it was such a place you might run across an entire Web site devoted to...oh, I don't know, something like "bedside teamakers with an alarm function".

Now, if there were actually an entire Web site devoted to "bedside teamakers with an alarm function" - not that there is, mind you - I'm thinking that it might look something like this. It might have an entire page that lists a dazzling and bewildering variety of such gadgets, kind of like this. You might be able to find an entire page devoted to geeky technical stuff and you just might - in the best of all possible worlds, that is - be able to find more information than you'd ever dreamed of about the Samuel Rowbottom Gas Tea Maker, which was devised by none other than Samuel Rowbottom, circa 1891.

Speaking of off the wall tea sites (and I think we were), let me once again direct your attention to the Tea with George and His Aardvarks site. I've mentioned it before, but a tea-drinking gent who claims to be "an ardent advocate of aardvarks" deserves more than one plug.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Mathematics Of Tea

Or something like that. If you missed the latest newsletter from Honest Tea, then you also missed a little mathematical exercise a college professor put together using a graph that appears on the back of Honest Tea's Green Dragon flavors.

I'm not exactly math-impaired, but alas, it's all Greek to me. Honest Tea has a Word document version archived at their site, if you're really itching to see it.

While we're at it, here's profile of Honest Tea that appeared in Forbes' Small Business section. It's also archived at the Honest Tea site right here.

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Occupational Hazards

The next time you're tempted to moan about your job, stop for a moment and be thankful that you're not working on an Indian tea plantation. While you might have to contend with such hassles as a pain in the ass boss or a loudmouth boring you at the water cooler, chances are you'll never have to worry about being attacked by a leopard.

Which is exactly what happened to a worker at the Kalchini tea estate recently. The man is in the hospital with back and chest injuries after being attacked by the leopard, which was scared off by other workers using "crackers".

Credit to the Indian papers for this one, as well as the Tea News From Darjeeling Area site, a good resource for tea news from this part of the world.

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Snapple Does White Tea

If you keep up with what others have to say about tea - and I guess I sort of do - then on more than one occasion you'll run across someone idly wondering if tea is the next coffee. Well, I don't know. Maybe it is - maybe it isn't.

If you wanted to apply that same line of thinking to categories of tea you could muse on whether white tea is the next green tea. Once again I don't have any answers for you, but if you look around you'll see more than a few companies trotting out new lines of white tea and promoting them as the healthiest damned thing since...well, since green tea.

But I digress. The point of this particular exercise is to briefly muse on the fact that Snapple, the 800-lb gorilla of bottled iced tea and the official iced tea of New York City, has moved into the white tea game. The company calls the debut of Snapple White Teas - available in nectarine, green apple and raspberry flavors - "the most ambitious product launch in Snapple history."

It should probably go without saying that much is made of the alleged health benefits of white tea, but there I went and said it already.

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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

How To Drink Yerba Mate

We could sum this one up lickety-split and be done with it - toss a yerba mate "tea" bag into a cup and add hot water. Done!

But if you really want to enjoy your yerba mate to the fullest you should try drinking it in the traditional manner, with loose leaf steeped in a gourd (mate) and sipped through a filtered straw (bombilla).

This is a time-honored ritual in South America, where yerba mate hails from. While it's not quite rocket science, there is an optimum way of going about things in order to get the best results. Tea Guy's hardly an expert on the topic, so I'll point you in the direction of some people who are.

How to Make a Great Cup of Unsmoked Yerba Mate, from the EcoTeas' Web site, is a pretty basic look at yerba mate preparation, as is Mate for Life's Preparing Yerba Mate.

For a slightly more involved look at how to go about things head over to the Natural Latitudes site and check out The Art of a Perfect Mate.

The Traditional Method, from the site, presents both simple and more detailed explanations of yerba mate preparation and even throws in some helpful visual aids.

Over at My Mate World they've put together a similar explanation - How To Brew Yerba Mate - in the form of a nine-part slide show. This one is helpful for novice users who are having trouble visualizing one or more of the steps.

Yerba Mate Information, at The Yerba Mate Tea Gourd site, offers up links to a number of good informational resources, plus recipes and several helpful explanations on curing your mate and preparing the drink in various "styles".

For an intricate and detailed description of how to to prepare and drink yerba mate, plus some assorted and sundry facts, check out the Yerba Mate entry at Wikipedia.

Of course, if you don't have a bombilla, a mate or anything to put in the latter all this information is worthless. Fortunately all of the sites listed here - except Wikipedia - have a wide selection of all of the above. Enjoy.

Shop For Yerba Mate

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Landing Delayed By Tea Break

Here's a guy who's got his priorities straight - though if you were waiting for him to get back from his tea break so your plane could land you might not agree.

The Glasgow Evening Times reports that a plane returning to Britain from Tenerife was left circling the airport for about 25 minutes until an air traffic controller finished his tea break.

As expected, the important details (what type of tea, how did he take it) were omitted.

Apparently this is an unconfirmed report, but you can read the whole thrilling saga here.

Two bonus points to anyone who can point out Tenerife on a map. No cheating.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Shiny Happy Water

Perhaps I'm straying off-topic a bit with this one. After all, this is not Water Guy Speaks. Then again, try imagining what your tea would taste like without water. A bit dusty, I should think.

So the next time you brew up a cup you might want to try making it with H2Om Water. It's "the world's first vibrationally charged, interactive, bottled water" and it comes to us from none other than the great state of California. At this point, I'll pause while you emit an appropriate wisecrack.

Here are a few highlights from a recent press release issued by H2Om LLC:

"H2Om is a crystal clear natural spring water infused with the power of intention. It resonates with the highest vibratory signatures available."

"When I awoke I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful to create a bottled water that could inspire people to think positive, live healthy, experience gratitude, and absorb all the positive energy that the water itself could hold?" After two years years of research and development, the first ever H2Om infusion process was created...As you imagine pure love or perfect health energy being absorbed by your body, you've created an energetic interaction with the very element that sustains your life."

To enjoy the press release in it's entirety, check it out here.

Visit H20m's site here.

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