Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's Your Desert Island Tea?

Your three-hour tour didn't go so well and you're kicking back on the island, lashing tree trunks together with vines. You've got good quality water, a way to heat it and something to heat it in. So what one tea would you want to have on the island with you and why? If you'd like to weigh in on this important question, leave your response in the comments section.

Since I'm the one that brought it up, I'll start things off. I find that when I drink too much black tea I crave green tea and vice versa. So ideally, I'd like to have a green tea and a black tea with me on my desert island. But since that's against the rules I'll narrow it down.

While I think I probably would get less tired of a Chinese green tea than any black tea, the prospect of drinking a really great Assam for a good long while is quite appealing. So I'll go with the Nahorhabi Estate FTGFOP1 SPL CL, that I ordered from Upton Tea Imports a few years back. For more thoughts on this one, check out my review.

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Confessions of a Reluctant Yerba Mate Drinker

Here's another one from the archives. It's a piece about yerba mate that I wrote some time back for Epicurean.com.

My first encounter with yerba mate was a less than auspicious one. In fact, if you'd told me then that one day I'd be drinking copious amounts of the stuff I surely would have scoffed.


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Friday, May 27, 2011

June is National Iced Tea Month

Cool off this Summer with Refreshing Iced Tea
(from a press release)

June is National Iced Tea Month and what better way to celebrate the warm weather and get into shape than to reward yourself with a refreshing and healthy home-brewed glass of Iced Tea?

Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. In 2010, Americans consumed well over 65 billion servings of tea, or over 3 billion gallons. Of that, approximately 85% of tea consumed in America is iced. Iced Tea is a hydrating alternative to sugary beverages like soda, and might help boost weight loss efforts, along with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise.

A new research study on the effect of green tea catechins published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showcases epidemiologic evidence that routine tea consumption of an average of about two cups a day is associated with a lower percentage of body fat and weight control than in those who are not drinking tea.

For consumers who want to follow the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend eating a diet with less sugar, tea is the recommended beverage of choice.


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Agony and Ecstasy of Tea

From a few years back, a piece I wrote for The Gilded Fork, called The Agony and Ecstasy of Tea:

People who tend to wax a bit on the overly lyrical side about the pleasures of drinking tea sometimes talk about “the agony of the leaves.” This refers to those moments just after you’ve poured boiling water on your tea leaves (can’t do this one with tea bags, friends) and they’ve begun to unfurl and contort in what some have supposed to be like the contortions of one in great pain. Well, maybe so and maybe not.

Read more

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Monday, May 23, 2011

National Jukebox Recordings: Tea For Two

For those who may not have heard, the Library of Congress recently introduced the National Jukebox. Here's what they have to say about it:

The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives.

To check out two versions of Tea For Two, both recorded in 1924, click here. There's an instrumental version by the Benson Orchestra of Chicago and a vocal rendition by Helen Clark and Lewis James.

If that's not enough Tea For Two for you, click the video to hear a better known rendition by Doris Day.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tea Review 114 - Mellow Monk Crimson Grove

Crimson Grove Black Tea
Mellow Monk

Given that Japanese tea and green tea are pretty much one and the same, the chance to taste a black tea from Japan is one that I couldn't pass up. Black tea has been produced in Japan since the late nineteenth century, but typically on a very small scale, much more so than green.

The chance to taste any tea from Mellow Monk is also one that I'm not likely to pass up, given the experience I had with some of their Japanese greens a while back. Here's what they have to say about their Crimson Grove variety of Japanese black tea:

Crimson Grove is black tea (kocha, or "crimson tea" in Japanese) made from the leaves of green tea varietals grown in the pristine foothills of Mt. Aso. Gently harvested leaves are lightly fermented, for a smooth, smokey taste uniquely combined with a mild sweetness not found in ordinary black teas.

Crimson Grove is a special presence in the world of tea — a black tea made with lightly fermented leaves from the same tea plant varietals used to make traditional sencha. The flavor is brisk and clean, with a green-tea-like sweetness and a black-tea-like smokey, nutty taste, finishing with overtones of nutmeg.

Well said. While this is definitely a tea I'd be more than happy to revisit I'm not quite sure what to compare it to. The closest I can think of would be one of the better, more full-flavored Ceylons I've tried. But even though words have failed me somewhat I'd recommend it nonetheless.

Sample provide by Mellow Monk
TGS Review Policies

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rishi Tea Wins Packaging Award

Rishi Tea Wins Best New Packaging
(from a press release)

Rishi Tea is Winner Best New Product – Packaging from for its line of Organic and Fair Trade Chai at the 23rd Annual SCAA Event in Houston. Rishi Tea’s line of Chai retail tins was launched at the Milwaukee Public Market in October 2010. The line consists of five flavors: Masala, West Cape, Green Tea, Chocolate and Vanilla. The Specialty Coffee Event hosted over 8,000 people April 29 - May 1 this year. Coffee roasters and retailers, tea buyers, culinary professionals, and many more gathered in Houston, TX to view the newest innovations and trends in the coffee industry. Judges in the
packaging category based their “Best New Packaging” decision on innovation, design and value to the industry.

The Chai line was the beginning of an ongoing process to upgrade designs and continuously minimize the environmental impact of Rishi Tea’s retail packaging. All of Rishi Tea’s tins are now printed on “easy-peel” labels that can be removed, thereby allowing the tins to be reused or recycled efficiently. The labels feature hand drawn illustrations of the actual ingredients used in each of the chais. The colors of each tin are inspired by the vibrant hues found in Indian culture, giving these tins instant shelf appeal. Customers are also allowed a sneak peak of what’s inside each tin with the signature tea circle photograph on the side of the label.

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fly Free to Beautiful San Diego

Fly Free to Beautiful San Diego & Become a Certified Tea Master
(from a press release)

Join the elite to become a Certified Tea Master and receive up to $500 for round-trip airfare, fuel surcharges, and baggage fees for attending the next Tea Mastery Certification Course starting June 20th in San Diego.

The course is being offered by the American Tea Masters Association. The training includes the initial 3-Day Comprehensive Tea Mastery Course held on-site at the Courtyard by Marriott, Liberty Station in San Diego, followed by the 12-Week Tea Master TeleCourse involving home study, tasting and evaluating 38 different teas, and weekly group online discussions to share experiences.

The training contains all the educational requirements an individual needs for achieving the association's prestigious Certified Tea Master designation and lapel pin once the program, blind tea tasting, and final examination are successfully completed.

Participants at the 3-day on-site training in San Diego will get to experiences some of the most exquisite and often rarest loose-leaf teas from around the world. The third day of the training also includes: Health Benefits of Tea; Pairing Tea with Cuisine; Starting or Expanding a Tea Business; Attracting and Retaining Customers; Effective Use of Social Media and Press Releases; Web Site Concepts that Work; and Valuable Guest Service Skills.

Additional information is available on the association's web site at www.TeaMasters.org.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Teadrop - For The Perfect Cup Of Tea?

If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, it's a community where you can go pitch in to help fund various creative and design projects. Like the Teadrop, for instance, which combines a timer and filter to help simplify the process of making loose tea.

We're not necessarily endorsing this one, just passing it along. If it looks like something that floats your boat perhaps you'll want to toss a few bucks into the can.

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Monday, May 09, 2011

Virtual Tea Tour With Seven Cups

If you didn't get a chance to take part in the Seven Cups spring tea tour of China this year, you'll have to wait until next year. In the meantime, head over to the Seven Cups web site and experience the whole thing vicariously - it's the next best thing to being there.

There are a total of six posts that cover the expedition through tea regions of China, complete with plenty of great photos. Start with day one, here.

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Teavana Files For IPO

Is Teavana the 800-lb gorilla of the tea world? Or dare we even say it, the Starbucks of the tea world? Yeah, whatever.

But there's no doubt that Teavana is one of the larger brick and mortar and Internet tea dealers out there. And if the $100 million IPO they recently announced has anything to do with it they're about to get a lot larger.

For some additional insight into what this all means, check out this article from the Wall Street Journal or this one from the TeaRetailer site.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Ajiri Tea - Kenya

From the description:
Photographs and video of scenes in western Kenya providing an overview of the Ajiri Tea Company and the Ajiri Foundation. See the women's groups, tea farms, the lively town market, and orphans and children in the Kisii region.

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Monday, May 02, 2011

Tea Business Spotlight 9 - Culinary Teas

Culinary Teas
Milford, Indiana

Welcome to the ninth of our Tea Business Spotlights, in which we allow tea people to share insights on running their business. If you're a tea business owner and you'd like to take part in an upcoming spotlight, please contact us.

How long have you been in business?
We have been in business for ten years. We started the company in April of 2001.

What is the size/scope of your business?
We sell only to the United States and Canada. We did just over $200k in sales last year so we are still a small company.

Why tea?
Tea has always been a love of mine and when my favorite vendor went out of business I decided I could take my job skills and use them for myself instead of others and make sure I would never run out of my favorite tea again.