Friday, June 29, 2007

Samples: My Green Tea

No, it's not MY green tea. It's a sample from the Expo called "My Green Tea." (It's like "Leggo my Eggo!" and "Nut 'n Honey" commercials wrapped into one magic little name. To bad it's not a breakfast food aimed at obese suburban children.) Let me tell you up front: My Green Tea is fancy for a bagged tea. It comes in a hemishperically-sealed (I don't even know what that means) laminated foil pouch that has been filled with a shot of nitrogen to remove any active gases. That way it's extra fresh when you open it. The bag is decent-sized and made of polyester mesh and the tag is pH neutral and ulrasonically welded to a polyester thread. All that for one little bag of genmai-matcha. Wait, did I just say "genmai-matcha?" That's what the package says, but . . . that's not what I just drank. Genmai-matcha would be toasted rice with matcha (fine, powdered, shade-grown green tea). What I drank was toasted rice with broken-, dust-, and fanning-grade green tea (perhaps shade-grown, perhaps not). So . . . basically it's a cheap tea pretending to be a good tea and overcompensating for the fact that it ISN'T by having absurdly teched-out packaging.

I will give it this. It said, "enjoy our tea with your soul," and that made me laugh. A lot. Not only is it a mediocre tea at best, packaged in a way that is (dare I say) soulless, but you just said that it's MY mediocre, soulless tea and mow you're trying to say it's YOURS. Unh-unh, I don't think so! (OK, OK, you can have it back. I don't REALLY care that much.)

Yeah. That laugh was the best part about it. It came from My Soul. Er, I mean, my soul.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Samples: Tzu The T-Bag

Tzu The sells a type of bagged tea that is labeled as "100% Natural Full Leaf Green Tea." I got a sample of it at the World Tea Expo. The packaging looks good, until you actually read it. It touts the EGCG content of the "green tea" (What kind??? I don't know!!!) and includes brewing instructions that call for boiling water (learn about appropriate water temperatures for brewing tea) and suggest steeping for 10-15 minutes (Why would you want to do that? Too bad they didn't read How to Brew Tea.). The tea itself isn't bad. It comes in a pyramid-shaped silk mesh bag and it is (as the packaging says) full leaf. It wasn't gross, but I wouldn't serve it to anyone.

I hope that this kind of marketing and misinformation isn't as common as I fear it may be.

PS--OMG. As I went to post this, I decided to check out their website. I realized that NOT ONLY is it printed incorrectly on their packaging (they left out a dash between "Tzu" and "The"), but they sell energy bars with green tea and "beer" (actually just brewer's yeast, but they say "beer"). They also provide information like this, "The secret of green tea lies in the fact it is rich in catechin polyphenols, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is a powerful natural anti-oxidant only found in Green Tea. Green tea contains more catechins and vitamins than other fermented tea, such as oolong tea and black tea." The secret? I thought it was the thing that was discussed the most about green tea on AM talk shows. When will people realize that EGCG is not the only good thing about tea? I wish people would stop with this fad diet junk. Besides, white tea probably has more of it than green tea*, "fermented" is not the correct word (it should say "oxidized"), and, anyway, Oolong is only semi-oxidized. I am so afraid.

*There are more health claims about green tea than white tea because it has been popular for a longer period of time. For this reason, scientists do more research on green tea than white tea. We'll have to wait and see for sure if white tea has more EGCG than green, but white tea is higher in most other catechins, so I wouldn't be at all surprised.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Samples: Nuwati Herbals' Cloud Walking "Tea"

Last night, I tried my first sample from the Expo. It was Nuwati Herbals' Cloud Walking Tea (which is actually a tisane). It's for sleep and tension. (As I said before, I guess it's for aiding in sleep and easing tension.)

When I went to prepare Cloud Walking "Tea" shortly before my bedtime, I have to say that I was a little worried. The smell of the unbrewed blend of Catnip, Chamomile Flowers, Hops, Kava Kava, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Passion Flower, Rosemary, Skullcap, St. John's Wort, and Valerian Root was not the most pleasant aroma I've ever encountered. Also, the catnip smell reminded me of a former roommate's cat. (As a yarnoholic, this is not something I find to be a relaxing scent-association.) However, once it was done brewing, it smelled great. The lemon balm and rosemary really came out. It also smelled vaguely minty to me for some reason, though I'm not sure why. The taste was OK, but the taste isn't really the point. What you really want to know is whether it worked or not. Yes, it worked. I don't know if it's because I thought it probably would, or if it just really works. The FDA isn't so sure either. Still, I felt mellow after drinking it and I went to sleep easily (a rarity unless I'm exhausted--perhaps THAT's why I'm such a workaholic).

I still have two more samples from Nuwati Herbals to try. First, I'm going to give some of the other companies a shot. Check back soon for more of my adventures with tea in small packages!

PS--I am feeling the music from Nuwati's website. "Awakening" in the morning was a good call. I should start my day by tapping into my Cherokee heritage more often.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Internet Oddity, Tea Samples

I was doing some research for an article and found this internet oddity. I have to say that it's one of the ways I doubt I will ever drink tea.

I've decided to start reporting on my tea samples from the Expo tomorrow. Tonight I will drink Nuwati Herbals' "Cloud Walking Tea," which is actually a tisane. It's for sleep and tension. I presume it aids in sleep and prevents/eases tension. We'll see!

Monday, June 25, 2007

New Article: Tisane Listing, Part 3

There's a new article up on VeeTea! It's the third and final installation of the Tisane Listing Series (which started here). Here's an excerpt:

Sarsaparilla (Sasparilla) Root
Though you may not have heard of sarsaparilla root, if you’ve ever tried root beer, you know what it tastes like. Yes, the “root” in root beer is sarsaparilla root. It is traditionally taken for skin conditions, impotence, headaches, weakness, rheumatism, various STDs, and blood purification. It has been shown to be effective for some skin conditions, syphilis, and liver protection, but I strongly suggest talking with an herbalist before using it to treat any of these conditions.

Sassafras Root
Sassafras root has long been used to make candies and tisanes, and it is said to act as an antiseptic and painkiller. I vaguely remember from my college days that sassafras contains a rather large amount of a chemical that is used in the synthesis of many hallucinogenic drugs, including MDMA (“Ecstacy”). You can still buy artificially flavored sassafras tisanes, but these days the “real thing” is outlawed in the U.S.

Skullcap (“Scutellaria”) has around 300 varieties, some of which are used in herbalism and tisanes. One variety has been shown to cause programmed cell death in cancerous breast and ovary cells in vitro. Another acts as a sedative and prevents seizures. A third is used for menstrual cramps, insomnia, fevers, and other problems. Consult an herbalist for more information.

Slippery Elm Bark
The slippery elm’s inner bark has many traditional uses dating back to early Native American cultures. It is said to aid in bronchial/respiratory, menstrual, digestive, and heart problems, among other things. The FDA has approved its use for sore throats and respiratory problems. Slippery elm bark tisane is made from a powdered form of the bark. Technically, slippery elm is not a drug, but a nutrient-rich food.

Sobacha is Japanese buckwheat “tea.” (“Cha” translates to “tea,” though this is a tisane.) It is high in minerals and has a pleasant, mellow, malty taste. It is also high in rutin, an antioxidant which may reduce hemophilia and edema, and which is traditionally used as an emmenagogue/abortifacient.

Check out the rest of the tisane listing and enjoy your tisanes!

Better, More on the World Tea Expo

I'm feeling much better today, thanks to lots of sleep, tea, and antibiotics. (I feel kind of bad using antibiotics, but it has been years since I used them last and I was very sick.)

I wanted to mention some more companies from the World Tea Expo. Two focus on Indian teas/tisanes and the third focuses on Native American tisanes.

The first one is a very new company. They're called Sesa Tea and they offer herbal blends, vetiver (similar to lemongrass, but harder to find in the U.S.), organic teas, and a few other things. Cool people with a good philosophy.

The second is not a new company, but its tisanes and teas are new. They're called Organic India and I wish there were more companies out there like them. Their tea/tisane line is made up of tulsi (Indian holy basil, a healing herb) tisanes and tea blends. I tried two at the Expo and they were both good. The really cool thing about this company is that they treat their workers very well and their products are all organic. Finally, more companies are taking the cue from Makaibari Estates! (Oh, I can't wait to visit them this summer!!!)

The last company is Native American Tea Company. They are Native American owned and operated and they sell herbal blends for a variety of medicinal purposes. I spoke with the owner for a while. Turns out he's also a Reiki master who blesses the tisanes before packaging them. Far out.

There are a lot of companies worth mentioning that I haven't really gotten around to talking about yet. Not that I'm getting better, I'll tell you about more of them. In the meantime, enjoy your tea!

Friday, June 22, 2007


I slept 11.5 hours last night. I awoke feeling somewhat better than last night, and with less of a fever. I went to the doctor, who was wonderful. (It is SUCH a relief to find a good doctor in NYC.) He says that I had a virus several weeks ago and that I never fully healed (because of travel and whatnot), so I ended up with sinusitis. Fun. Well, now I know what's wrong and can start to fix it. First, I'm off to pick up antibiotics. Then, I think it's time for some ginger tisane and a nap.

(I swear my life didn't revolve around sleep before I moved up here. It's just that I don't get enough of it, and then I get sick, and then I need a lot of it to get better. Perhaps I should just be a little less of a workaholic. Hah! Not likely.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tea, Sick Again

Today, I had tea in a lovely little tearoom in NYC with Sebastian Beckwith of In Pursuit of Tea. Unfortunately, I am sick again. Not sure if it's allergies or what, but I am very fuzzy (mentally) and congested and just generally not feeling well at all. In fact, I had to come home early today and sleep for a long period of time, only to awake and find that, yes, my entire body DOES still feel like it was hit by a truck today. Also, I now have a fever. Fortunately, I was able to get an appontment with a doctor who is not only NOT a quack, but actually quite good. The problem is that my insurance doesn't cover him. At this point, I feel it's worth it to pay (much) more for a doctor I know won't try to give me entirely unnecessary exams, sell me flax seed oil for migraines, or any other ludicrous thing under the guide of "medical science." I seriously need to get a new insurance plan.

Anyway, I got to have tea with Sebastian. Though my allergy/illness haze, I remember that he's a cool guy and we had a good converstation. Oh, and I drank a nice Dimbula Ceylon. The details left about when the fever arrived, so I can't really say much more than that. I'm going back to sleep now.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scariest Tea on the Market

While I was at the World Tea Expo, I saw one of the scariest things I have ever seen. Yes, really. I understand that many people want tea and convenience in one. However, there HAS to be a better way than THIS. I mean, this makes even the worst bottled teas look good. Besides, bottled teas are getting better all the time. (For example, Ito' En's new line of canned teas and tisanes are great. When were bottled teas ever "great" before?) I just don't understand why anyone would subject themselves to THIS. (Seriously, click the link. It's so scary. You HAVE to see it. Just don't get sucked in to the animation at the top that displays the "SpoonTea" in action. It's eerily hypnoitic, and it may brainwash you and convince you to actually try this stuff.)

If you've seen anything on par with this or (God forbid) worse, please let me know. I'm considering keeping a list of "creepy teas" on my site, a la the CandyBoots 1974 Weight Watchers' Cards. If there are enough things like this on the market, then somebody needs to do it!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

World Tea Expo: Best New Teas

While I was at the World Tea Expo, I got to try some new teas that I really enjoyed. Here are a few.

Ito En had some very nice new bottled teas. I had tried two before, but the one that stood out to me at the Expo was their turmeric infusion. In Okinawa, people drink turmeric infusions before a night of heavy drinking to protect the liver and prevent hangovers. Added bonus--it tastes good.

Newcomer Art of Tea not only had the coolest packaging of the Expo (seriously, check it out), they had a tea that won "Best Iced in Show." I've been wondering when people would make teas like theirs. They are compressed (like pu-erh, but not secondary oxidation), so they are easy to package, transport, and use.

A company that has been around in Europe for a while but is new to the U.S. also stood out to me. It's called Keiko. They have very fresh Japanese green teas, some taste matcha candies, and the coolest teamaker I have ever seen. The machine grinds the leaves on the spot, then whips them into a perfectly foamed matcha, matcha latte, matcha soy latte, matcha with OJ, matcha colada, or just about whatever other kind of matcha-based drink you might want. Very fresh. Very cool. (Their site's not in English, but you can still see their teas and their crazy matcha machine.)

Over the next week or so, I'll be posting more about the Expo that I didn't get to cover before. Check back for more!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Back to Work

Now that I'm back in NYC, it's back to work again. The time change is a little rough, but I think I'll be reacclimated to the city soon. I heard from Sebastien Beckwith of In Pursuit of Tea today. A little while back, a friend told me that we'd get along very well and have lots to talk about, so I sent him a letter to introduce myself and see if he'd like to meet me. It occurred to me that he might think I'm crazy ("Hi, I like your teas and my friend said we'd get along. Let's hang out!"), but that's OK with me. At any rate, he called and we're going to meet up later this week for tea. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back in NYC

Back in NYC. Exhausted. Need . . . sleep . . . now . . .

SF: Day Five

Today was my last full day in SF. I'm going to miss it when I'm gone.

Tajee and I began the day with a trip to the Ferry Building to visit Rona Tison, the "matriarch of Ito En." We arrived in a taxi. In the square across from the Ferry Building, there were people selling jewelry and t-shirts and that kind of thing. Right out front of the building, there was a farmer's market that was doing a lot of business. (It looked good, but I hear there's another one that is less expensive with just as good quality food across town.) Inside, it was even more packed and busy. (Ah, tourists!) Though it felt crowded to me, I realized after a few moments that it was NOTHING compared to NYC's subways. I am getting spoiled out here! Tajee and I found Rona quickly amidst the bustle. She showed us around a Japanese prepared food market where she was training her goddaughter to run a sample table for Ito En bottled teas. Then she walked us through part of the Ferry Building, introducing us to people as we went. We visited a food specialty shop (where they carried Savannah Bee Company's Tupelo Honey--my favorite for tea!) before settling in to another of Imperial Tea Court's shops. It was less traditional than the original, but quite lovely in its own way. (See SF: Day 4 for my visit to the original location.) Over our gaiwan-served teas, we had a great chat about tea, blogging, tennis, Ito En, SF, NYC, and more. Sadly, Tajee and I had to run--we were late for our brunch reservation!

We arrived fashionably late to meet my friend Justin. My friends Kevin and Austin arrived, well, fashionably later. The food was divine, but once again there was the tea issue . . . (If I move to SF, the first thing on my agenda is convincing the best restaurants in town to carry teas that are worthy of their menus.) We all laughed a lot over the meal. Tajee is from Japan, where there are very few drugs. She asked us which drugs in America are the worst (most addictive and most dangerous), which meant we all got to tell her why and how "crack is whack." I suggested she just stick with tea. I also got to learn more about coffee (aside from being a tea fanatic, I'm also allergic to coffee and know very little about it) from my friends (Kevin, Austin, and Justin are all coffee addicts . . . I don't know why I hang out with these people!).

After brunch, Tajee left for a tennis match. The rest of us headed over to Ritual, which (though it's a coffeehouse) has some good teas (supplied by Red Blossom, also of SF). Kevin and Austin both work for Google. They ran into a coworker (who Austin knew before he joined Google, from UT Austin, where he's in school (yes, really, Austin goes to Austin)) named Joe, who joined us for a while. When everyone went their own ways, it turned out that Joe's way was the same as mine. He ended up joining me on a trip to the Asian Art Museum.

The Asian Art Museum is pretty solid. I prefer NY's Ruben Museum of Art and Asia Society and Museum and I wouldn't have minded visiting SF MoMA and the de Young Museum while I was in town, but I'm glad I went here instead. They had two current exhibits (one of Tezuka and one of Japanese woodblock prints) and the permanent exhibit was pretty impressive. My favorites were the teaware, the Japanese tearoom (an actual tearoom behind glass--rad), and the Hindu sculptures.

Actually, a funny thing happened. About a month ago, I had a dream about Ganesha, a Hindu god who is also worshipped by some Jains and Buddhists. He is commonly considered to be the "remover of obstacles." In my dream, there was a beautiful painting-in-progress that had an elaborately designed geometric layout. Ganesha was sitting in the center of the painting and there were other elements (including lotus blossoms and fire) around him. There was a strong triangular shape with a rectangular base supporting him in the composition. The whole painting was moving and evolving, more like a video installation than a painting. It was incredibly beautiful and I awoke feeling refreshed and ready to face just about anything.

When I was at the Asian Art Museum, I saw that the visitors' guides had Ganesha on the cover. I started thinking about my dream. As soon as I reached the top floor of the museum, I saw a large Ganesha sculpture. (Actually, there were three, but I was immediately drawn to one of them.) There was a slot where you could place donations to Ganesha. (This was the only donation box I saw for an individual piece/deity the whole time I was there.) I reached into my wallet and pulled out a dollar bill, which I gave to Ganesha in thanks for the dream. (A small price to pay!)

Later, when I was waiting for the bus to take me back to Tajee's place, I realized that I had given my last small bill to Ganesha and that I would have to scrounge up enough change for my $1.50 bus ride. (This never happens. I am usually very aware of what kind of bills I am carrying.) I saw the bus approaching and began to scramble to get the appropriate change together. Unsure of whether or not I had enough, I boarded the bus last. As I started to feed the coins I had gathered into the bus' money slot, I realized that someone before me in line had given one extra dollar. After I fed in 50 cents, my fare was paid. As I walked to my seat, I glanced into my palm--there wasn't enough to have paid my fare alone. Ganesha had repaid my dollar and removed my obstacle! Pretty cool, huh?

I arrived at Tajee's place to meet her friend Kristopher (who runs Zooomr) and go get groceries for a party she was throwing for me. (She's so sweet! I heart Tajee!!!) We picked up some fresh fruit, ingredients for Japanese udon soup, sorbet (which we forgot to eat), crackers, and red pepper hummus. (Normally, we make our own hummus, but we didn't have time. Actually, Tajee is obsessed with hummus! I taught her to make it years ago and something clicked. For her, hummus is as essential to life as air and water.)

Over the next few hours, guests (my friends and hers) came and went. We talked about all kinds of interesting things, ate tasty food, and drank pu-erh (from Imperial Tea Court's--I was amazed at how popular this was with everyone, considering that most people consider pu-erh to be an acquired taste) and Eight Treasures Tea (from Teance--a delicious blend of dragon's eye, red dates, goji berries, green tea, rock sugar, gensing, and two other things I'm forgetting at the moment), both made by yours truly. It was a lovely end to my time here in SF.

Well, I have to be at the airport at 6AM, so I had better get to sleep.

Friday, June 15, 2007

SF: Day Four

Today was great. I hope I'm not getting too spoiled out here in SF or it will be tough for me to get back into the groove in NYC!

First thing today, I got caught up on my blog a bit. I've been writing them down, and then typing them up. (If you're viewing them on Vee Tea and the order seems weird, that's why. You can read them in the correct order, with the correct dates on the Vee Tea Blogger Page. Sorry for the inconvenience.) So today, I got a little more caught up to where I should be.

After writing/typing for a bit I left the apartment to meet my friend Tajee at the oldest Chinese tearoom in the U.S. It's called Imperial Tea Court and it's out on Powell St. in SF (though they have two more locations in town, this one is the original). We had the pleasure of experiencing a formal gaiwan presentation and a formal gong-fu cha ceremony. We tasted their Imperial Silver Needle white tea for the gaiwan presentation and their Monkey-Picked Oolong (which they fire in-house) for the gong-fu ceremony. The accompanying tea lecture/talk and the atmosphere (ornate surfaces and pots, caged songbirds, calm music) made it all the better. Afterward, I bought a sample pack of pu-erh for myself and a few other teas as gifts for friends. If you ever get the chance to go to Imperial Tea Court for a formal presentation, do it! You won't regret it. I say that no matter how much you know about tea, there's always more to learn. Tajee learned a lot, and even I learned a thing or two.

After the tea presentation, we met my friend Justin for (yup) more tea. We took the BART out to Berkeley (BTW, is it just me or is Berkeley a weird town?) and walked over to Teance. Let me just say that it was well worth the trip. I'm not even sure if I mean from SF or from NYC, but, yeah, it was totally worth it. I am in love with this place. It is incredibly tranquil and beautiful. There is an overall impact in the design (tall waterfall by the entrance, swooping curved teabar, elegant displays) that doesn't let you down when it comes to the details (inlaid fossils and stones in the teabar, for example). The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and skilled in making tea. Tajee had the White Peony Longevity Brow (delicate, floral, mild), Justin had the Golden Buds Keemun (rich, mellow, earthy), and I had the Luu Shan Clouds and Mist (highly vegetal, with strong notes of asparagus). The teas were almost alarmingly fresh and the focus on customer education is (I think) enough to leave me grinning for days. I also got to meet the owner, Winnie, who sources the teas herself and (not surprisingly) is a very cool person. On the recommendation of the people next to me at the teabar (a charming couple, high on tea and affection), I picked up a bag of Teance's unusual "Eight Treasures Tea." I'll let you know how it is when I try it. Next time I'm in SF, I will definitely be returning to Teance.

After all that tea, it was time for some food. I wanted Tajee to try Absinthe, so I ended up going a second night in a row (not that I minded!). Justin and Tajee's friend/"trial boyfriend" (I think they should just date already! They're adorable together!) were there, too. We all got loads of food and had a blast. This time I decided to give in to the Might Leaf and had a Ginger Twist (although what the twist was comprised of was unspecified). It was OK. (The twist turned out to be lemongrass and mint.) The conversation was the real winner this evening. We talked about all kinds of interesting things, from music to politics to the internet and media to travel . . . so much fun.

I'm turning in early tonight. Tomorrow is my last full day in town, so I want to make it count!

SF: Day Three, Part Two

On to part two of my wonderful day in SF!

As I was saying, I was on my way to see a tea wholesaler. Actually, it was much more interesting than that. I was on my way to drink high-quality teas with a tea importer/teaware designer, who happens to be an artist on the side. Exciting!

I met Chongbin Zheng of Red and Green Company at the World Tea Expo last weekend. His company is based in SF, so when I told him I would be visiting SF this week, he was kind enough to invite me to enjoy some of his fine teas with him. I already knew through my friend Beau of Ito En that Chongbin is a Chinese calligraphy painter who shows his work around the world. Tea and art are two of my favorite things, so I was more than glad to accept Chongbin's invitation for tea.

As I walked from Samovar to Red and Green Company, I wondered what the office would be like. I was surprised by what I found. It was tucked away in an unassuming building. Inside, there was a small, dim meeting room, with two chairs, a low table, and some shelves. The focus of the room was clearly on what filled the shelves--hundreds of gorgeous Yi Xing pots, jade bowls, and carved wooden serving trays. I was pleased to learn that Chongbin used his art background to design the majority of these beautiful pieces of teaware. After I spent some time looking at the teaware, Chongbin offered me some of tea. Over the next few hours, we drank three exquisite Chinese teas. My personal favorite was the King's Wild Forest Oolong, which is harvested from the wild only once a year in remote regions of China. It made me want to plan a trip to China as soon as I get back from India. Delicious. Over tea, we talked about the ethics of tea buying and growing, trends in the tea industry, and all kinds of other tea geekiness. I'm glad to report that Red & Green is a very ethical company with some excellent teas, beautiful teaware, an intelligent and thoughtful owner, and (as I already knew from my days at Takashimaya) packaging that people love. It was great to get to talk with Chongbin and I look forward to seeing him at the Fancy Food Show next month.

After tea, I took a walk around the Castro, then hopped on a bus to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens. After exploring them a bit, I moved on to my real target: The Japanese Tea Garden. I had read about Japanese tea gardens before. I knew that they were very carefully designed so that each path provided the visitor with a range of visual plays/surprises throughout. What I didn't realize is JUST HOW BEAUTIFUL this is. You round a corner from one direction and you see a simple tuft of bamboo next to a Japanese maple. You might see bamboo leaves give way to a bridge, which (as you walk further) reveals more trees, and then (further yet) a pond with stepping stones, statues, and koi. Hidden in the greenery, there are rocks and statues that you may only be able to see if walking from one specific place to another. Walk a different path and you'll have a completely different experience. It's more witty (in the sense that it is intelligent and in the sense that it is amusing) than most of the supposedly witty art in SF MoMA. (And I love SF MoMa. Just not as much as NYC's MoMA.) At $4 admission and $3 for (OK) tea, (tasty) crackers, and (decent) cookies, I'd highly recommend it.

When the tea garden closed, I took a bus through Haight-Ashbury into town. I visited a cool used bookstore (where I found a copy of All the Tea in China for $9!), then walked to a restaurant to eat dinner.

This restaurant isn't just "a restaurant," it's Absinthe, quite possibly my one of my very favorite restaurants. It also happens to be where my good friend Justin works. I was seated in his section, so I got the lowdown on all the best veggie options. The meal began with the basics--bread and butter. The bread was fresh and whole grain, but the butter was divine. I don't even LIKE butter most of the time, but I was loving this. Then, I had a refreshingly frou-frou non-alcoholic beverage from their famed "bar chef" staff. It was a layered concoction made with ginger beer, lemonade, and cranberry juice. Yum! Next was the soup, a chilled English pea soup with mint oil and cream. It was perfect after being out in the sun all afternoon. The soup was followed by grilled portabella mushroom slices, grilled to the point of charring with balsamic vinegar and a parsley/garlic puree. Very nice. My favorite dish was the camembert with black truffle oil. It was a small plate with warm camembert, toasted walnuts, and a fresh, in-house-baked fruit and nut bread drizzled with black truffle oil. So simple, but SO GOOD. I ended the meal with a pot de creme with creme fraiche. It was made with Scharfen Berger, which is not my favorite chocolatier, but it was still excellent.

Sounds great, right? But I know what you're thinking. "No tea?" Nope. They have tea on the menu. From the description of the food, you'd think they might have a fresh shincha, a malty second-flush Assam, a full-flower chamomile, and some other tea goodies but, like most restaurants, their tea does not match their food. They have a few selections from Might Leaf. I don't have anything against Might Leaf--they make good quality bagged teas--but after a camembert and black truffle oil small plate, you really want something a little more, you know, special. I decided that I'd had enough tea for the day (Wait, what am I saying? Is that even possible?) and walked to a park near my friend's house to read some of All the Tea in China.

Despite the tea let-down at the very end of the day, today was really amazing. It left me wondering how my travels ever revolved around things other than tea.

Tomorrow, I get to see formal gaiwan and gong-fu cha ceremonies. Yes!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

SF: Day Three, Part One

Today was even better than yesterday. I love SF.

My first event of the day was a walk. My friend Tajee and I walked for about 45 minutes, exploring SF's hills and winding streets, passing by beautiful parks, cool apartments (including one with pet parrots in the window), and chic shops, and then finally arriving at our destination: a tearoom.

We met my Uncle Brad at Samovar, a gorgeous, tranquil tearoom in the Castro district of SF. We sat by the front corner of the restaurant, where the sun was filtering in through the window and the music (a refreshing blend of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French, fusion, and Aphex Twin) was at just the right level. Samovar has a great menu, so deciding what to order was a big deal. After sending the waiter away three times, we had finally decided. (OK, OK, I had finally decided. It was my fault.) We each chose a tea service: British for me, Russian for Brad, and Indian for Tajee. We figured that this way we could each sample each other's tea and food.

When the tea and food arrived, we knew we had made the right choice. The array of dishes was almost dizzying, especially since I hadn't eaten breakfast yet. Tajee had a tofu curry, a spiced pulau with raisins, a raita, coconut rice pudding with pistacios, and a huge carved ceramic cup of masala chai. Brad had salmon blinis, a boiled egg with caviar, a phenomenal muffin drizzled with warm honey, a hunk of bittersweet chocolate, fresh fruit, and an "endless cup" of Russian caravan tea. I had sliced grapefruit, apple, and strawberry, a divine lemon tartlet with a sprig of mint, a savory wild smoked salmon/whole grain (I think, anyway) crumpet, a perfectly balanced cherry oat scone with Devonshire cream and jam, and (of course) a breakfast blend black tea with milk and sugar. The presentation was gorgeous. The vast majority of the food was absolutely incredible. That's enough to make me return, but it's the atmosphere that makes me love this place. It is so calm and warm and peaceful . . . . If I ever live in SF, I'm sure that this is where I will seek refuge from the many stresses of life.

After our wonderful meal, my uncle left for Napa (where he is vacationing for a while) and Tajee and I left for the yarn store across the street. (You see, I am a bit of a yarn addict.) After chatting with all the staff and geeking out over the color palates and textures of their exquisite yarns, I decided on three (mostly black) yarns, which you'll be able to see when I post a video blog about my trip.

Oh, whoops! Did I just say that? Yes, I guess I did. I'm making a video blog about my trip to Atlanta and my trip to SF. After I return to NYC, it will just be about tea in general. And when I'm in India, it will be about the meaning of the life, the universe, and everything . . . err, I mean . . . it will be about tea. And . . . other things.

Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes, the yarn shop. Very cool. Afterwards Tajee split off for work for the rest of the day. And me? I began another long walk, this time to a tea wholesaler. Alas, this is a whole other story and I will have to resume my telling later. Suffice it to say, it was a marvelous experience, a feast of the senses, even, and that I will tell you about it soon, in "Day Three, Part Two." For now, enjoy your tea, and check back for my video blog in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

SF: Day Two

Today was, as my friends and I say, effing amazing.

My day began by not beginning--that is to say, I slept in. Sleeping in is something I very rarely get to do, so it was a real treat for me. I've been traveling quite a bit, but this was my first taste of a vacation. I got to wake up slowly (and how I savored being able to do that) and read the rest of "Dry" (which I recommend--it's smart, funny, and unabashed). Then, I took a nice, long, hot shower. (I used a shampoo by Aveda with, among other things, green tea extract. It smelled great.)

Once I was ready to face the day, I worked on my site for four or five hours. I use the word "worked," but I love working on Vee Tea so much that I should say "played." Actually, when I was a kid, I wanted to be a professional researcher. With my site, I get to devote a large amount of time to research and (another joy) writing. How can I possibly consider it to be work? It's just more vacation to me.

Late in the afternoon, I headed into town. I met up with Tajee at the Apple store for her presentation. It focused on video blogging (something she is well-known for and I am just starting on). I got to meet a number of other "vloggers" and learn a lot about this emerging form of expression. Very cool!

Afterward, there was a party. Like the event, there was a great turnout. They seemed to all be having a great time. Justin and I don't really drink, so we headed out to a restaurant (The Globe) to meet up with my old friends Kevin and Austin, who both work for Google. The food and atmosphere at The Globe were decent (I expect a lot from SF restaurants!), but the company and conversation were what it was all about. We laughed about all kinds of things, talked about NYC, SF, Google, the Tea Expo, food, life, travel, zoos, aesthetic, and all kinds of other things.

Soon enough, I headed "home," very pleased with my day. I adore SF. If/when I move away from NYC, I think that this is where I'll end up. I love the hills and the trees, the weather, the food, the tea, the geek factor, the architecture, the museums, the big city culture, the small town feel, and the overall vibe of the place. (I even love the fact that I feel comfortable using words like "vibe" here.)

Tomorrow is devoted to tea. SF has a LOT to offer in this arena, so it should be very exciting. I'll tell you all about it!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

SF: Day One

I arrived in SF after a smooth trip that was filled with reading (rather than sleeping). I'm most of the way through "Dry," and enjoying it thoroughly. After claiming my luggage and making some calls, I boarded BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to head into the city.

I met my old friend Justin in the Mission District, which I suppose is somewhat vaguely equivalent to the Lower East Side. We went to a coffee (I know, I know, I said the "C-word") shop, where I had some lovely Wuji Oolong (steeped with the Teastick) and tasty vegan zucchini bread. We caught up for a while, then walked back to his apartment, where I took a much-needed nap and he played some kind of online football draft game that is completely alien to me.

After my nap and his game, we headed over to the Apple store to meet my friend Tajee and her boss. I've known Tajee since college, when she was studying abroad from Tokyo. We are close friends, but we rarely see each other, so when she asked me to visit her in SF to help out with a lecture she was giving for Apple, I jumped at the chance.

The four of us met up and took a cab to Japantown to buy sake for her Apple event's after party. While Tajee and her boss perused the sake at a few grocery stores, I was running around looking at all the tea. After they found what they wanted, we headed back to Tajee's place (a beautiful, spacious apartment near the heart of the city) so she and her boss could work and Justin and I could chat.

Later, after her boss left, we went out to dinner at a restaurant called NoPa (named for the neighborhood, North of the Panhandle). We shared some pomme frites and I had a delicious baked great white bean dish and succulent sauteed Swiss chard with pine nuts. Yum!

Afterward, we took a walk through the neighborhood (I love the architecture, the hills, and the greenery!), then chilled out at Tajee's place. Tajee prepared her Apple presentation while Justin and I talked about philosophy.

Despite the short nap, I'm still pretty tired. (Ah, jetlag.) I'm off to bed now. Check back tomorrow for more on my trip!

Ah, Travel

Somehow I decided it was a GOOD idea to fly from ATL to NYC last night, the split for SF this morning. (Right . . .) Apparently, the airport gods disagreed with me on this. My flight was delayed 3.5 hours last night, which meant I got to run around like a crazy person doing laundry and packing and reserving a taxi when I got home. I slept for maybe 2 hours (not nearly enough to recover from the insanity that was the World Tea Expo, or from the flight, or from the remnents of my illness from last week). Then, at 5:30 AM, it was off to the airport (JFK this time) to fly to SF. I am SO glad my flight is not delayed (yet). The weather looks nice, so I think it will be OK. I hope I can sleep on the plane. (JetBlue has large seats, but no pillows or blankets. I wish I had thought of that in my packing frenzy.)

While visiting the various kiosks and shops in the airport during my wait for the plane, I was impressed with the range of bagged and bottled teas they offer. I was also glad to see that the bookstore had a copy of Augusten Burroughs' Dry, which I picked up. (A month or so, I decided that my college days are finally over, and I pretty much stopped drinking alcohol all together. (Tea is so much better, anyway!) It should be an interesting and amusing read.)

I'm going to take a quick nap before they start boarding. Suddenly, I find myself wishing when I packed my carry-on bag I decided that I really DO need easy access to a large quantity of down feathers at all times. I have the feeling that my video camera, cell phone, palm pilot, and wallet won't make the most comfortable pillow ever.

Monday, June 11, 2007

New Article: Tisane Listing, Part 2

The new article for the week is up! It's called Tisane Listing, Part 2 and it picks up where Tisane Listing, Part 1 left off. Here's an excerpt:

Ginger root makes a delicious tisane that is useful for colds, flu, sore throats, and nausea. The "kick" in its flavor can increase heart rate and circulation, and aid in draining the sinuses. It’s most effective in fighting fever-related illnesses if drunk without sweeteners, but lemon juice makes a nice addition in terms of taste and nutrition.

Ginkgo Leaf
Ginkgo is best known for its memory-related functions, which have to do with an increased peripheral circulation in the brain. (These effects are best achieved in conjunction with the intake of ginseng.) It is also used as a strong antioxidant, a treatment for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and a treatment for a range of other circulatory and nerve conditions.

Ginseng Root
Ah, the famed ginseng root. High-quality ginseng can fetch enormous prices in Korea and China. It is known to have adaptogens (which aid the body in dealing with emotional and physical stress), to regulate the immune system, and to prevent some types of disease. In Asia, it is also used as a treatment for heart conditions, fever, and other conditions. There is some evidence that it may benefit type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and asthma, but more research is necessary in these areas. Ginseng is marketed in men’s sports drinks and other energy-related products as a means of activating male hormones, but this is not supported by clinical evidence. Chrysanthemum blossoms or rock sugar may be mixed with the root to mask its bitter taste.

Goji Berry
Goji berries are one of the hot "new" herbs on the market. They have been used for thousands of years in China, Tibet, and India to improve circulation, improve eyesight, increase sexual function, protect the liver, and promote longevity. Many marketers claim it is effective in fighting cancer. Little research has been done on these claims and uses, but it has been shown to be high in antioxidants. The juice is marketed heavily in the U.S. health food "scene," but it is incredibly expensive and makes numerous unsubstantianted health claims. The dried berries are commonly brewed into a tisane in Eastern medicine. Before shelling out loads of cash on the juice, I’d suggest trying the infusion. If nothing else, it tastes good.

Greek Mountain Tea
Also known as "Tea of the Mountain" (pronounced TSAH-ee too voo-NOO), Shepherd’s Tea, and a handful of other names, Greek mountain tea is a very popular cold remedy and cure-all in the Mediterranean. It is cultivated in parts of Greece and proliferates in the wild. Outside of Greece and in tourist areas, it can be expensive, but it is very well-priced in Greek grocery stores, markets, pharmacies, and herb shops.

Check out the rest of the listing in the Vee Tea articles section!

World Tea Expo: Day Three

Today began with a focused tasting of Sri Lankan teas. Even though Sri Lanka is a small country, it has an enormous range of elevation and climate, so it has a good range of flavors in its teas. The format of the tasting wasn't the best (there wasn't much focus on the taste of the teas in the lecture, the tastings themselves were very rushed, and we didn't get to see the dry or wet leaves), but it was good to learn more about Sri Lanka and taste some teas I hadn't tried before. Overall, it was an OK class.

My second class of the day (and final class of the conference) was a focused tasting of teas from Zhejiang, China. Of the tastings, this one had the best range of flavors and types. Also, they served a wonderfully complex Keemun, which I loved. The speaker was quite nervous, but very knowledgeable and well-organized. The teas and information were great, but I hope the speaker gains confidence from her feedback and returns more self-assured next year. I'd recommend the class if it's offered again.

Before I left for the airport, I got visit the exhibit hall to say goodbye to my new (and old) friends at Ito En, Red and Green, ITI, Adagio, Keiko, Urbana Cityspa and Teabar, the Tea Board of India, and more. Over the last few days, I have met some amazing people, tried some incredible teas and tea products, seen many beautiful things, and had a wonderful time. I'm already looking forward to next year's convention, even though it's in Vegas (NOT my favorite city in the world). If you read this and you plan on going, drop me a line--I'd love to meet you!

I'm off to NYC this evening. Tomorrow, I leave for San Francisco . . . but that's a whole different story!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

World Tea Expo: Mary Mac's Tearoom

Atlanta has a number of up-and-coming restaurants vying for the status and attention afforded to NYC's culinary attractions. While some of them are quite good and much easier on the wallet than NYC restaurants, one of my favorites is an old Atlanta institution called Mary Mac's Tearoom. It's been around since 1945, when it was opened by (you guessed it) a woman named Mary Mac. In that regard, the name is fitting. However, you may be surprised to learn that Mary Mac's Tearoom is NOT a tearoom. In fact, the only serve four types of tea: sweet (a.k.a. "Southern Table Wine"), "unsweet" (iced, no sugar), hot (black, with or without sugar and milk), and herbal (I dare not guess which kind). "Mary Mac's Restaurant and Bar" would be a much better name NOW, but when it opened in 1945, very few things (not just businesses, but houses, pieces of land, etc.) were owned by women. To soften the blow of opening a woman-owned business, Mary Mac decided to call it a "Tearoom," because tea was deemed ladylike in the South at the time.

Despite the misleading name, I love Mary Mac's and I visit whenever I visit Atlanta. They provide me with the necessary dose of friend morsels and sweet tea for a southern expatriate visiting the South. This evening, I decided to allow myself every indulgence, and to forego the traditional meal structure in favor of sweet tea, bread, an appetizer, and dessert. This is a decision I do not regret in the least. I started with the sweet tea, which was in perfect southern style--flavorful, powerfully sweet, icy cold, and served with a large wedge of lemon. Next I sampled from a basket of breads: tiny yeast rolls (soft, flaky, and mildly sweet on the inside, firm, buttery, and salty on the outside), a mini-muffin of cornbread (mildly sweet and mealy), and a small sticky bun (cinnamon-honey deliciousness spiraled in soft, doughy goodness . . . with pecans). Then I had the fried green tomatoes, which are a southern staple. They were crunchy and savory on the outside and delicate and perfectly done on the inside. I wasn't a fan of the mayo-based horseradish sauce (despite my southern heritage, I despise mayo), so I opted for their homemade pepper vinegar instead. Delicious! I finished with the peach cobbler and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Between that and the sweet tea, I'll probably be on a sugar high for the next two hours. It was great, though, in that overly-sweet southern-cookin' way--exactly what I needed from my southern food fix.

If you're in Atlanta and you want to know how things are done down South, this is definitely the place to go. It's at 224 Ponce de Lyon (right across from the hostel) and it's open from 11-9 daily.

Between the classes and the exhibits, it's been a long day. I'm going out on the town for a bit, but as soon as my sugar high is over, I'm going to sleep!

World Tea Expo: Products and People

The exhibit hall is full of two main things: products and people. Most of the people are great. Some of the products are great. Here's a shortlist of the booths I skipped and the booths I'll be back to see again tomorrow (or, in other words, my person best and worst of show).

I skipped anything involving country-home-style products, faeries/wings/glitter, children, instant teas (especially the tea that comes in a spoon with a filter over the end--you stir it in hot water to brew it . . . I can't even begin to tell you how disturbing I find this product to be), cold-water-brewed iced teas, and MOST of the bottled teas. Other people may love these things, but they are decidedly NOT for me.

The booths that I loved and will be back to see again tomorrow include (though I'm sure I'm missing some) Art of Tea, Bodum, ITI, Ito En, Keiko, Red and Green Company, Rishi, and Tao of Tea. I know I missing most of the teaware people and I'm pretty sure I'm leaving some other worthwhile companies out, but I'll go back and list the for you later. In the meantime, these are the ones that I felt the most excited about. I'll tell you more about each company over the next few weeks--they have a lot of things going for them! If you get the chance, check out their sites!

I desperately need a nap, so it's off to the hostel to take one! After my nap, I'm going to a southern-style tearoom to get my fried food and sweet tea fix for the trip. (It is impossible for Southern expatriates to visit the South without eating at least one fried food and drinking at least one glass of "Southern table wine.") I can hardly wait!

World Tea Expo: Day Two's Classes

I just finished three more classes at the World Tea Expo. It's barely noon and I've already learned so much! Here's a quick rundown on each class.

The first class was "Pairing Tea with Chocolate." It was very amusing because most of the students were middle-aged women who felt very comfortable making extended metaphors involving chocolate and sex. What a way to start the day! We all laughed a lot, ate delicious chocolates, tasted some very nice teas, and learned about how to taste and pair tea and chocolate well. The seminar was well-organized and the speaker was clear and thorough. Overall, I'd say it was a solid class.

Next, it was time for "Romancing the Leaf," a lecture on using tea myths to increase sales. I was hoping for the focus to be on the tea myths. There were some interesting myths in the lecture, but a large segment was on the selling aspect. The selling bit wasn't terribly useful to me, but I could tell most of the other audience members got exactly what they wanted out of it. It didn't hurt that the speaker was very entertaining; he even went so far as to change costumes as he changed myth origins to set the tone and provide visuals. I'd highly recommend this class to anyone who sells tea, but it wasn't the right fit for me.

The last class was unplanned (for me). I knew someone who didn't feel up to attending their class, so I took his place. It turned out to be the best class yet! It was presented by Anupa Mueller (whom I adore) and it was all about how to conduct a successful tea tasting. She was thorough, precise, funny, and obviously very experienced in holding tastings. Though many people in the class had conducted tea tastings before, the general consensus was that Anupa is the queen of tea tastings and that we all had a lot to learn from her. I am so glad I got the chance to attend this seminar! It may just be the highlight of my trip.

Well, it's time for me to return to the exhibit hall. I have a lot of booths and people to visit! Check back for more on the Expo!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

World Tea Expo: Keynote Address and 11:11

The first day is over and I am wiped out. I want to sleep for about a day and a half. However, I'll be getting up at 6 AM again for another early class. Not that I can complain too much--I'm having an amazing time here!

The keynote address was very informative and entertaining. It was all about market trends. I found it interesting that a large segment of the presentation was about age demographics and, though various age groups were asked to stand, the youngest generation asked to stand was still older than me. I guess I'm one of the babies of the group. Other major areas of the speech covered perceptions of what is healthy, what types of tea people prefer to buy, how often they buy tea and other products, and how the internet and other technologies play roles in people's purchasing habits and styles.

After the keynote address was over, I was welcomed into a really cool place called 11:11 Teahouse with one of the other "babies" of the conference, Christine Rillo of Adagio Tea. I was thrilled to meet the owner, Penney Sue Balmes, a strong and intelligent entrepreneur just a bit older than myself. She serves and sells a wide array of tisanes, which was of particular interest to me because I am working on a series of articles about tisanes right now. The place is very laid-back and the tisanes and food are phenomenal. I hope to return the next time I head down South!

World Tea Expo: Exhibitor Hall

The exhibitor hall is enormous. There are 250 booths. Think about that for a minute. That is INSANE. This afternoon, I decided to separate the the leaves from the fannings. I browsed through the entire exhibit hall to see where I should return later. This seems like it will be a good strategy, because I will be able to spend as much time and energy as I can on the places and products I am the most interested in learning about. I have already met some wonderful people here. My favorites from today are Anupa Mueller of Eco-Prima (and a relative of the Makaibari Estate family) and the folks from Ito En. They're so knowledgeable and friendly! There were many other people and products worth noting, but I'll have to get into detail with them later, when I have time. For now, it's on to the keynote address!

World Tea Expo: The First Two Classes

Despite the fact that I am running on tea alone, the World Tea Expo has been great so far. In my first and second classes, I tried 12 wonderful teas from Nepal and India. These were tastings that covered the countries' general information and geographies and the teas' origins, growing conditions, processing, aromas, and tastes. I found the Nepalese teas to all be very mellow, but the Indian teas were quite varied. The Indian tea tasting was lead by the Tea Board of India. The speaker was an administrator, so his tea knowledge was limited, but he was a great public speaker and the tasting was very enjoyable. I had the pleasure of speaking with the director of the Tea Board afterward. He was very friendly and has offered to help me plan my travels to the tea plantations of India. Now it's time for me to check out the exhibitors' booths! Exciting!!!

In Atlanta

I just arrived at my hostel in Atlanta. My flight was delayed by 7 hours. (LaGuardia: great mayor, terrible airport.) I'm exhausted and I need to be up at 6 AM to go to my first class (a focused tasting of Nepalese teas), so I'm off to sleep now!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Off to Atlanta!

My voice has finally returned and I'm about to leave my apartment for my 3-ish flight to Atlanta. I'm so excited about the World Tea Expo!!! I can't wait to meet new people, reconnect with friends, try new products, take classes, visit some of ATL's tearooms, and learn as much as I can about tea while I'm there. I'll tell you all about it over the next few days, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tisanes/Illness/Spa Stuff

So, the tisanes seem to be helping. The ginger seems more effective than the fennel, but that could be because I dislike fennel. My sore throat has calmed itself enough that I can get a sentence or two out every five or ten minutes, and I feel less wiped out than I did before. I just hope I'll be ready for the World Tea Expo by Saturday!

Working for Urbana Cityspa & Teabar, I got some wonderful little spa product samples. Yesterday, they were calling my name as I slept off this virus, so I decided to pamper myself a bit between drinking tisanes and sleeping. I tried a peach face masque (it's the southern girl in me!), a yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) body wash (lovely), a ginger/bamboo body exfoliator (divine), and a green tea leg cream (which was creamy and luxurious, but it's supposed to be "for tired legs," which I found odd because caffeine absorption is not site-specific like that). Tomorrow, I think I'll take a green tea bath to wake myself up before my flight down to Atlanta.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


So either I have allergies from hell or I am very sick. Last Friday, I had typical allergy symptoms in the morning, but by 6PM my throat had closed significantly and I desperately needed to sleep. The symptoms were not like allergy symptoms any more and my lymph nodes had swelled immensely, but I still didn't have a fever. I slept most of the weekend, waking to ease my sore throat and clogged sinuses with hot tea, hot tisanes, salt water, vegetable broth, etc.

I haven't been able to speak for more than very brief periods of time since Sunday afternoon because of my throat. My sinuses are feeling beyond gross. Although I don't have a fever, I think it's a virus. Perhaps I just hope it's a virus because I don't want it to come back every year!

Now I have enough energy to go out to the store. I plan to buy fennel and ginger, for tisanes for my throat and sinuses. I would also go to an herbalist or doctor, but I think I quite possibly have the worst insurance plan in the world. I'll let you know how the tisanes work!

(Seriously, though, always consult an herbalist or doctor unless you really know what you're doing! Herbs can be dangerous if used incorrectly!)

Time for me to go to the store, while I still feel up to it. 'Til tomorrow!


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

World Tea Expo

The World Tea Expo starts this weekend. I can't wait!!!

While I'm there, I will:

Attend four intensive tea tastings
Learn about tea & chocolate pairing
Learn more about tea folklore and culture
Visit some of Atlanta's top tearooms with some of my colleagues
Check out tons of companies booths and products
Talk with loads of tea professionals
Go out to dinner at my favorite tapas restaurant with the owners of Urbana Cityspa & Teabar
Start a new, yet-to-be-announced dimension of Vee Tea

Exciting!!! More news later.

Monday, June 4, 2007

New Article--Tisane Listing 1

I posted a new article on Vee Tea today. It's part one of a series of Tisane Listings. Here's an excerpt:

Black Pepper
Black peppercorns (and their green and red relatives) are used on their own or in blends (especially in masala chai). For centuries, they have been used in Ayurvedic/alternative medicines for reducing free radicals, increasing circulation, reducing joint stiffness, easing sinus pressure, weight loss, and balancing the body’s water content.

Though blackberry can be used to treat diarrhea, I recommend it for the taste.

As you’ve probably heard, blueberries are very high in antioxidants. As an added bonus, they taste good! The leaves are said to decrease kidney inflammation and aid in increasing urine flow.

Burdock (Gobo)
Burdock (known in Japan as “gobo”) is a Japanese root that tastes like a blend of potatoes and celery. It is used as an anti-inflamatory, antioxidant, liver-cleansing/stimulating, blood-cleansing, and blood-sugar-regulating tisane. Results typically start within three weeks of use. (Consult an herbalist before use. DO NOT use if you have ulcers, IBS, or excess stomach acid.)

Cannabis is best known in its marijuana and hashish forms, but it is also used to make a drug called bhang, which is popular in India and is often consumed as a tisane or mixed with tea. (This herb is illegal in the U.S. and many other countries. Check local laws before use.)

Follow the link to read the rest of this tisane article. Enjoy, and check back next week for part 2!

Friday, June 1, 2007

National Iced Tea Month/Celebrate NYC

June is (you guessed it) National Iced Tea Month. Cool! (Hah . . . OK, that was a really bad pun.)

For all you New Yorkers looking to escape the city's stifling heat without actually leaving the city, join me for an iced tea tour. For the month of June, all NYC residents get 10% off all "iced" tours, whether they are custom tours or "ice-able" package tours (Tea and Sweets and The Vegan Tea Tour).