Thursday, January 31, 2008


There's a new product called Spun Matrix that uses microencapsulation to make terrible tea taste almost drinkable. I quote, "Spun Matrix is also a great tool to mask off flavors and can be used to incorporate particularly harsh ingredients with the chosen flavor system." It's basically granulated flavor particles that are mixed into low-grade teabags for a stronger not-tea flavor to cover up the already-present bad-tea flavor. Wow, I am SO unimpressed. I'm sure the bulk of the tea industry will love it, though. Sadness...

Read more on this depressing innovation here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Health Benefits of Honey

A recent international syposium in California addressed new research on the health benefits of honey. Their findings indicate that potential benefits of honey include:

improved chemotherapy-induced neutropenia

improved wound healing

restorative sleep

cough suppression

improved cognitive function (mental performance and memory)


improved blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity (compared to other sweeteners).

Additionally, Spanish scientists found that the antioxidants in honey can be doubled by feeding bees on honeydew blossoms. Cool.

Personally, when I sweeten tea, I use tupelo honey, because it doesn't overpower the flavor of the tea and because it helps keep my allergies down when I visit my home state of North Carolina. More on sweetening tea. More on the honey symposium.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Filter Cup

There's an interesting new filter teacup on the market. It is a little more convenient than most in that it has a flipable flat filter that allows you to add the leaves without removing the filter from the cup. It's also easier to clean than most filter cups. However, it has no mechanism for stopping the leaves from brewing (unless you count pouring the tea into another cup, which defeats the purpose of the convenience of a filter cup). You win some, you lose some, but it's always exciting to see innovation in the tea world.

Monday, January 28, 2008

NYC recycling

Great news for New Yorkers and the environment! "In a bid to curb the environmental impact of nearly 1 billion plastic bags used by New York City consumers annually, the city's council passed a bill on Wednesday requiring large stores to set up recycling programs." Read the full article here.

In Darjeeling, there is a complete ban on plastic bags. Goods are wrapped in paper parcels and tied with twine. It's a very political issue there, as the environmental damage due to littering was very visually apparent. In NYC, the problem is not so much the littering, as the massive scale of consumption and the extremity of our particular brand of "culture of convenience." However, I'm very pleased to see that this type of recycling will become significantly easier for New Yorkers in the near future.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Vegan Matcha Ice Cream

Last night, something very special happened. My roommate made vegan vanilla-matcha ice cream with a recipe from the much-praised vegan tome Veganomicon. If you're questioning the sanity behind vegan ice cream, don't. The vanilla and the coconut milk cream gave it a rich sweetness that set off the matcha's astringency perfectly. Delicious! Next time, my roommate will teach me how to make it. Yum!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pricing All the Tea in China

In an effort to control inflation, The Chinese government has decided to freeze prices on many food items, and to reduce prices on foods that is considers to be unreasonably priced. (Full article here.) In light of coffee's rising prices, this development in such an enormous producer of tea (and one with such a high trade surplus, due in large part to the peg of the yuan) may have a substantial impact on the world's drinking habits. Hmm...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coffee Prices

Coffee prices are on the rise. Since January 2001, coffee beans have risen 363% in price, with the sharpest increases over the past few years. What does this mean for the tea world? The "tea is expensive" arguement may soon go out the window. We shall see...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tea Theives

We all know that tea is hot, but have you heard of tea being hot merchandise? Last month, theives stole about $32,900 in Tetley teabags from a warehouse in England. That's 7,000 boxes of teabags. The press hasn't said how many bags are in each box, but according to Tetley's UK site, their smallest box size holds 40 teabags, making the theft at least 280,000 teabags. Crazy! It seems like they would be very difficult to resell, given the publicity around the crime. It would take 77 people drinking 10 cups a day could finish that much tea in a year. I wonder what they'll do with all of it (besides getting caught looking daft)?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Record-Setting Teapot

Famed Bauhaus designer Marianne Brandt has set a new record in the world of tea. Her 1927 ebony and silver-plated brass teapot sold at Sotheby's for a whooping $361,000 in December. Theodor Wende's 1927 Bauhaus tea set was also sold at the auction for $180,000.

Read more on the sale or a criticism of the design's dance between functionalism and formalism. If you're interested in female designers with relation to teaware, check out the Women Ceramicists exhibit, which includes a few very interesting teapots and tea sets, as well as a good deal of flatware and coffee sets.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Tea Lip Balm

New York winters can be tough on your skin. I always like to carry lip gloss to protect my lips from the inevitable winter chapping. I recently found a line of tea lip balms that are all-natural and vegan. Cool! Anyone tried them yet? Thoughts?

On a side note, I noticed that they contain natural tea FLAVORS, but not actual tea. This means they don't have any caffeine. However, if they DID, then lip balm would be one way to get it. Caffeine is easily absorbed through the skin, giving rise to a niche market of caffeinated body products like this Shower Shock Caffeinated Soap. Interesting...

PS--For your die hard coffee fans, there's also a line of coffee lip balms.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Coffee Pinkberry

Pinkberry, the mysterious yogurt-like substance of recent fame has a new flavor: coffee. Reports say that the bitterness of the coffee is balanced by the sweet tang of the "yogurt." Interestingly enough, tea beat coffee to the punch: it was already on the menu.

The healthy/unhealthy switch with this stuff is fascinating to me. It's frozen yogurt, so it's healthier than ice cream! (But's not healthy because it's still a sugary dessert.) Yogurt is good for you! (But it's not yogurt.) Let's make it "more healthy" by adding green tea! (And then we'll make a coffee flavor a few years down the line.) Perhaps is just another part of the allure of the infamous "Crackberry."

Anyone in SoCal or NYC tried it yet? Thoughts? Addictions?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Taste of Tea

There's a wonderful, quirky little film called The Taste of Tea that will be showing in Williamsburg (Brooklyn) today at 8:30 and Friday at 10. Though tea is not featured as much as the title suggests, it's an integral part of the film. Showing details.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cooking with Tea

Although Boston isn't known for its love of tea, The Boston Globe recently put out a brief article on tea as a culinary ingredient.

"Tea, used as a cooking ingredient, adds depth and subtlety to a variety of dishes. For instance, the delicate but distinct taste of green tea can be used to beef up a tender cut of beef. Hard-cooked tea eggs, often included in Chinese celebration feasts, are stained with a strong, aromatic black tea blend. And Earl Grey tea imparts its beguiling citrus flavor, obtained from the bergamot orange, to prune-laced applesauce."

Read the full article >here.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Pantyhose Tea

Though tea is typically drunk without milk in China, Hong Kong has one big exception: "pantyhose milk tea." It is a Sri Lankan or Indian black tea brewed in a "tea sock," strained repeatedly, and blended with milk. It is served in milk tearooms, somewhat similar to the more rowdy diners of NYC. According to a recent Reuters article:

"'You can talk as loud as you like (in the tea-diners) and no one will complain,' laughed Pallas Ng, a bank clerk.

'Starbucks is too quiet. We prefer louder places,' she added."

It sounds like quite a contrast to the US sterotype of tearooms filled with ladies and lace! Read the full article here.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sustainability & Food Purchases

Lately, sustainability has become a much larger factor in food purchasing decisions. Organic, fair trade, biodynamic, low-waste/eco-friendly packaging, and local products are all receiving more and more attention from customers in their shopping habits. According to a recent survey "approximately 50 percent of U.S. consumers consider at least one sustainability factor in selecting consumer packaged goods (CPG) items and choosing where to shop for those products." That's quite a jump from ten years ago, when most people were just learning what organic produce even means. Possible implications for the tea world: more sustainable (reusable, recyclable, minimal, eco-friendly) packaging, more organic/biodynamic estates/gardens, more fair trade companies, and more local estates (which, sadly, goes along with global warming). Read more about the survey here. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tazo Profile

When I worked at Whole Foods, Tazo was a customer favorite. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed when they were bought out by Starbucks. However, when I was India, I saw the extensive nonprofit work they were doing on fair trade tea plantations in Darjeeling and decided to rethink them a bit. Here's an interesting company profile I came across in my research. Enjoy!


"...tea is making a comeback, with U.S. sales of $3 billion in 2006, up from $2 billion in 2001, excluding restaurants, according to the market-research firm Mintel.

The U.S. market is dominated by three brands — Lipton, AriZona and Snapple — with smaller players like Stash and Numi growing fast.

Specialty tea companies had trouble with rapid growth in the past because tea growers were not producing enough high-quality tea for them, Jage said. That is changing, with more growers providing top-quality teas now that they see sustained demand for it."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Scissor Sisters

I don't usually post about music or celebrities, but this is pretty cool. Honest Tea recently posted about the Scissor Sisters drinking their tea in an NYC visit. Fun!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On/Off Mug

Charles and Marie has done it again! I've posted about some of their hot teaware before, but here's their new fun toy: a mug that operates on binary. Cool.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Resolutions/National Hot Tea Month

One of the most common New Years resolutions in the US is to lose weight. Studies have shown that drinking tea aids in weight loss, but perhaps an even larger benefit to weight loss than the ingestion of tea is the REPLACEMENT of sugary sodas and "juice drinks." Either way you look at it, it makes perfect sense that between the weight loss benefits and the cold spell, January is National Hot Tea Month. If you haven't already, take this month to drink to your health and make a healthy habit of tea!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Makaibari Eco-Tourism

Soon, Makaibari (a fantastic estate which I visited last summer) will have a luxury eco-tourism resort.

Harsh Neotia, chairman of India's famous Ambuja Realty said, “We have finally decided on our partner for tea tourism. We could not have found a better partner than Makaibari, which is globally renowned for its tea. Now we will decide on the scale of the project and the investments involved along with the nature of the partnership."

Exciting!!! Read the full story here.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Honey for Coughs

Apparently, your grandmother was right. According to a recent study, honey is a better way to treat children's coughs than dextromethorphan (DXM), the most common active ingredient in cough medicine. "The results were so strong that we were able to say clearly that honey was better than no treatment and dextromethorphan was not," said Dr. Ian M. Paul of Pennsylvania State University in Hershey. Personally, I love a dollop of honey in a good Hot Toddy when I have a cough. Yum!

Read more about the study here.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! May it be filled with peace, happiness, and lots of tea.