Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eat Out Awards: T Salon

T Salon is in its third NYC incarnation. After opening and closing in The Guggenheim and Lower Midtown, it has settled into Chelsea Market, home of the famed (and past-its-prime) Buddakan and a variety of gourmet and foodie-friendly shops. It is the kind of tearoom that aims for greatness on many levels and succeeds on some. It has eco-friendly policies (soy-ink packaging, potato-based cutlery), a generally pleasing ambiance (great color scheme, gorgeous upholstery, soothing music), and an exceptional variety of flowering teas. There are some wonderful things going for T Salon, but somehow it falls flat of expectations. This is, perhaps, best summed up by the scones, which are served with fantastic Devon cream and raspberry preserves. The scones themselves are decent, but their mediocrity is only highlighted by their superior accompaniments. If it weren't for the incredibly strong potential for such a place, I would not bother being so disappointed. I am glad it was nominated for "Best New Tearoom," but can see why it did not win. It is my hope that someday T Salon can live up to its aspirations. If it does, it may just be the best tearoom in NYC (new or otherwise). For now I will remain (mostly) unimpressed.

T Salon
75 9th Ave. (Chelsea Markets, toward the back), evening entrance at 459 W. 15th St.
Monday-Wednesday 8:30AM-8PM
Thursday-Saturday 8:30AM-10:30PM

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Eat Out Awards: Tafu

As I said in yesterday's post, Time Out's NYC readers nominated four new NYC tearooms for their annual Eat out Awards. I'll be talking a bit about each, starting with TAFU today.

TAFU is a major tea company in Japan. Their NYC tearoom is their first venture into the US market, and a welcome addition to the local tea scene. Their tea selection is exclusively Japanese, which means it's all green tea (maccha, genmaicha, houjichaa, kukicha, sencha, and ryokucha... but, strangely, no gyokuro). They carry hot and iced teas, plus four kinds of maccha (or "matcha") lattes. My personal favorite of their offerings, though, is their sweets menu. They get their sweets (most of which have tea as an ingredient) from Kyotofu, a Hell's Kitchen dessert restaurant known for their tofu-based sweets. (If you are, for even a moment, doubting the deliciousness of such a place, read this NY Times review of Kyotofu.) The houjicha daifuku (mochi-wrapped sweet) and the maccha chocolate both get my seal of approval. Next time I visit, I'm trying the Uji maccha cheesecake. Yum!

TAFU New York
569 Lexington Ave. is the address, but the storefront is on 51st between Lex and 3rd
9AM-8PM Monday-Saturday

Monday, April 28, 2008

Time Out: Best New Tearooms

NYC's Time Out recently printed the "Eat Out Awards," their "Best of"s for food and drink in the last year. The Reader's Choice for "Best New Tearoom" was listed right after "Best New Bar" and right before "Best Beer Bar," which is a good indication of tea's current status in NYC. The nominees were:

Amai (winner)
Sanctuary T
T Salon

Over the next few days, I'll be doing a quick set of notes on each of these new additions to the New York tea scene. For now, I'm off to do some more research. (Yum!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

Investing in Tea

These days, it seems like everything's a commodity... even tea. From Dubai launching the world's first tea futures contract to the growing world of pu-erh investment, tea is hot despite the economy's general cooling. The World Tea Expo is getting in on the action with a new specialty tea rating system, which will be listed in The World Tea Buyers Guide^TM.* I think of tea investment in a few different ways:

Investment in myself--Tea is healthy and delicious alternative to many other beverages and it makes me feel good.
Investment in the planet and the future--Organic, fair trade tea is sustainable and benefits the land and people who produce it.
Investment in companies I appreciate--I think of each dollar I spend as a vote of sorts. Which companies do I prefer to support? These are the ones I spend my money on.
Investment in VeeTea--Obviously, I need to learn more about tea every day in order to educate my clients, whether they are companies or individuals. I think of my tea purchases are a business investment.

I was never one for collecting or for investing in particular assets. (Mutual funds are just fine by me!) However, I can see why tea could be (and is) an alluring investment for many. Although I prefer to think of tea as something much, much deeper than a money-making opportunity, it's exciting to see the love of tea spread through new businesses and investors. Happy investing, and enjoy your tea!

*Of course, just like wine rating systems, the scores depend very much on the preferences of the tasters, which may or may not be in line with our own preferences (or our clients'!).)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Planting Tea Seeds

Soon, some of you will be receiving (China variety micro) tea seeds from me. When you get them, here are the planting instructions. If you want a tea seed or two and haven't requested one yet, I have some left. Feel free to ask me.

Make a mix of 50% sand and 50% acidic soil.
Put the soil into containers that are about 7" tall by 5" in diameter. If the container is plastic (like, say, a yogurt container), be sure to poke lots of holes in it so the soil can breathe.
Plant the seed about 2" deep with the "eye" facing the sky. (You'll know what I mean when you see it.)
Place in medium sunlight.
Water very lightly every two days.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tea Stains on Cloth, Accidental and Intentional

Though not as bad as coffee stains, tea stains can be unsightly accidents. If you spill some tea, don't worry--it's not too difficult to clean up. Here's how:

1. Fold a paper or cloth towel and blot the stain immediately.
2. Use a sponge dipped in cold water to lift off the stain and dampen the fabric. (Do not use warm or hot water, as that will set the stain.)
3. There are three options for step three. Pick one and run with it.

a. Apply a small amount of stain remover. (It doesn't take much.) Wait five minutes and proceed to step 4.
b. Combine one teaspoon white vinegar and 1 quart cold water. Spray onto the stain until it is saturated and then blot it up with a towel. Proceed to step 4.
c. Moisten a cloth towel with cool water. Sprinkle a teaspoon of baking soda onto it. Rub into the stain. Rinse. Proceed to step 4.

4. Follow the cloth's washing and drying instructions.
5. If the stain remains, blot it with a combination of 1 tbsp ammonia and 2 cups water.

If the stain is on a rug or carpet, try this:

1. Blot thoroughly with a towel.
2. Dampen the area with cold water and blot again.
3. Apply a carpet stain remover OR a mix of 1/2 tsp mild detergent and 1 pint cool water.
4. Rinse and blot thoroughly.
5. If the stain remains, spray a 50/50 mixture of cool water and white vinegar, let sit for 8 minutes, and then remove with a damp sponge and a dry towel.

Things to avoid:

1. Heat (it will set the stain)
2. Rubbing (it will push the pigment into the cloth)
3. Taking your time (the sooner, the better!)

However, if you WANT to create a tea stain, er, to dye with tea, it's quite easy. You'll need natural fibers (synthetics won't take the color), a strong black tea (such as Assam CTC), hot water, and buckets or other containers to hold the tea. Steep the tea so that it is very strong (5 minutes or more, about 2 teabags/tablespoons of tea per cup water, and about 4 cups water per yard of fabric). Fold, bind, or scrunch the fabric as you desire, or stir it constantly as the dye soaks in. Soak about an hour for a pale color, or leave the fabric in the dye longer for a darker color. Set the stain by drying the fabric on high heat or by ironing it on a high temperature. After setting the stain, launder your creation by handwashing it in cool water with a mild detergent. You can also selectively remove your tea stains with bleach for an interesting effect. Here's a fantastic tea-stained vest by a young designer I recently met on the subway:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

So, it's Earth Day. Do you know your carbon footprint? After you've taken the quiz, check out a few sites with ways to go green for today and from now on:

World Watch

Tree Hugger's Guides to Going Green (My favorite: How to Green Your Coffee and Tea)


CNN's 22 Little Ways to Go Green (These ones are really easy)

If you're interested in making a change in your diet that is healthy for you AND the environment, read about reducing your carbon footprint by eliminating beef from your diet.

Take some time for yourself and the planet to drink some fair trade, organic tea and do a little something (or big something!) to lessen your environmental impact. Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Local Food, Tea Plants

Local food co-ops have issued a challenge to their customers: eat local produce for 80% or more of your diet during the summer months. Excerpt from The Progressive Grocer:

Although "local" is a buzzword used by many retailers, the NCGA maintains that its member natural food co-ops cultivate "truly reciprocal, long-term relationships with local growers and producers."

Participating NCGA member stores will host Eat Local America challenges within their communities, encouraging individuals to visit their store, learn when their local challenge is taking place, commit to participate, and collect information on eating local foods. Because peak harvest time varies throughout the nation, the challenge duration may vary from a one-week to one-month period, according to NCGA.

Read more here.

Personally, I'll be getting most of my grocers from a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). As for my tea, I'll always love teamaster-made green tea from Japan, first flush black from Darjeeling, oolong from Taiwan, and white and green teas from China, but I'll also get to try some VERY local tea soon.

Soil from Darjeeling, kindly sent to me by a tea professional in India

Chinese-variety tea seeds, kindly sent to me my a tea educator in Japan

Planting of the tea seeds, for uber-local, "fresh from my apartment" tea

If anyone in the US would like a tea seed or two, email me with your address and one way you plan to go greener this year. Have a great Earth Day tomorrow!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Coffee & Tea Festival: Misc.

Today's post: Coffee & Tea Festival miscellanea I haven't covered already.

Cup for Education is doing some great not-for-profit work in coffee-producting regions. It reminded me of a tiny, independent version of The CHAI Project in India. Starbucks' Tazo and Mercy Corp. joined up for the CHAI Project in India, and it is currently the largest not-for-profit agency in the country. I wonder when this type of program will spread to other tea-producing regions.

Ceylon Treasures had some cool handmade elephant-covered metal tea caddies from Sri Lanka. (Due to a very strange experience with a Ganesh statue in San Francisco and my visit to India last summer, elephants are one of my very favorite animals.)

There were Himalayan Salt Crystal Lights at the Festival. They don't directly relate to coffee or tea, but I found it interesting that they were there because Urbana Cityspa & Teabar (where I used to manage the teabar and still hold events sometimes) carried them.

The Hudson Healing Wisdom School had a long line for tea leaf readings the whole time. I wish I hadn't waited for the line to die down, as I missed my chance for a reading. Oh, well. Maybe next year!

Harshita Designs had some lovely block- and screen-printed textiles with tea motifs (leaves, pots, etc.). The georgette and charmeuse were very good quality and the colors were very vibrant. (My textiles background leaves me thinking it was dyed with acid dye.)

Tay Tea's "Better than Sex" rooibos blend was a big hit again this year. With a name like that, everyone made sure to stop by and try it. Although I don't usually sweeten my tea, I was a big fan of Tay's saffron rock candy. Yum!

Tea and alcohol seemed to be matched often. Between the Coffee & Tea Infused Cocktails, Chris Cason's remarks on the future of tea drinks, and Zen Green Tea Liquor (by the Japanese company that makes Midori), it was well-represented. I'm looking forward to seeing where this trend takes us.

Tea Classics/Hancha Tea focused on Korean tea, which is much bigger on the West coast than it is here in NYC. They also put on several demos of the Korean tea ceremony. Although traditional Korean "teas" are usually tisanes (herbal), there are some fantastic Korean green teas produced in Korea. It is my hope that they will be more readily available in the US soon.

Georgia's Bakeshop (located here in NYC) had some fantastic sweets (French macaroons, mini walnut souffles, etc.). I took a few home with me, and I can't wait to visit their shop!

Harrisons & Crossfield had a variety of types of tea in both pyramid and flat bags. I was saddened to see that they are one of the (way too) many companies carrying pomegranate white tea. I am so over this trend. When will it end?!?!

SerendipiTea carried a variety of tea blends (City Harvest was a favorite, and a portion of the proceeds go to City Harvest), tea soaps, Bodum pots (I love their designs), and Amai cookies (Amai's tea/bake house just won Time Out's "Best New Tearoom" award!). Cool.

Don't forget to celebrate Earth Day over the weekend and on the 22nd. Do something more sustainable--plant something, buy organic/local, try an alternate means of transit, or . . .

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Coffee & Tea Festival: More Lectures

Today I'll run through two more lectures of note that I caught at the Coffee and Tea Festival, Green Tea 101 and The Future of Tea.

Green Tea 101--Tafu Tea (NYC staff and visiting Japanese teamaster)

Although this presentation was a bit heavy on the advertising of Tafu, it was interesting to attend. Most of the information was a very basic rundown on Japanese tea. Chinese tea and other green teas were not addressed. However, the teamaster clearly knew his tea extremely well and there were a few gems doled out in the lecture. My favorites:

Notes on brewing sencha included the saying, "If you are sweet to it, then it will be sweet to you."

An emphasis on the aroma of houjicha and genmaicha (Americans are rarely taught to focus on the aromas of their foods and drinks)

Information on cooking with tea and pairing foods (especially desserts) and teas from Kyotofu... yum!

The Future of Tea--Chris Cason (Tavalon)

Somehow, I had never been to an event by NYC's Chris Cason before. I was glad to see he lived up to his reputation of delivering lively and fun lectures. After covering some of the basics of tea, he discussed ways in which tea can be integrated into mainstream American culture. These methods of "making tea accessible" included:

Educating peole about tea (Obviously, I'm a big advocate of that!)
Baking and making candy with tea
Cooking with tea, and doing so in unusual ways, like poaching halibut with brewed chai in lieu of water, or using lapsang souchong leaves with wood chips to smoke foods
Making tea cocktails (which I talked about yesterday)
Incorporating tea into the spa (I used to manage a teabar at a spa, so this is an area of interest for me, too)

Chris is working on a book about his ideas on new approaches to tea and tea trends in the US. Exciting! Maybe you'll get to see an interview or book review on Vee Tea before it comes out.

Tomorrow, I'll be wrapping up a few loose ends with the Festival. Don't forget that it's Earth Day this weekend! Do something to make your life a little greener, and enjoy your tea!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Coffee & Tea Festival: Lectures

Here are some notes on a few of the lectures and demos I caught at the Coffee & Tea Festival this year. I won't be giving away TOO much, as I'd hate to see my many hours of work distrubited on someone else's website without my consent. However, this should give you a "taste" of the tea events at the Festival.

Coffee & Tea Infused Cocktails--Kara Newman (food and drink writer and lecturer) and Beniot Cornett (of Sanctuary T, NYC)

Obviously, both of these lecturers know their stuff when it comes to making tea cocktails. They discussed the trends of "extreme cocktails" (those with Red Bull and other energy drinks), sweet/savory blends, super-fresh ingredients, and pairing cocktails with desserts. They listed some major considerations in creating your own tea cocktails: whether it should be hot or cold, what its caffeine and tannin levels will be, and how to balance the flavors. They went on to please the crowd by mixing (and distributing) several tea and coffee cocktails. Unfortunately, there were only enough samples for those who REALLY wanted them (which a lot of people did!), so I didn't get to try them. However, my bartending experience, previous experiments with tea cocktails, and reading of The Art of the Bar by Absinthe's fantastic bar chef Johnathan Raglin told me that they were solid recipes. A few more hints they gave and I stand by: vodka and gin infuse well with tea, and homemade flavored symple syrups are one of your best allies at the bar.

Afternoon Tea for Fun and Profit--Ellen Easton (Afternoon Tea Consultant)

Ellen Easton's approach to tea is VERY different from mine, however, I have the utmost respect for her expertise in the tradition of afternoon tea. She delivered a fascinating lecture on afternoon tea from its rules of ettiquite to balancing a tea menu to tea's relationship to the suffragette movement and, finally, the "fun and profit" aspect of afternoon tea. She dispelled myths (The most controversial: "A raised pinkie is a sign of arrogance." Not true!) and even dipped into the oft-overlooked realm of the politics of tea. I'll be reviewing her book some time in the next few months. Look out for it.

Tea Blending: An Elusive Art--Nini Ordoubadi (Tay Tea, NYC)

Nini is a professional tea blender and I can tell that she is one of the rare few who loves her job. (We can sense our own!) She discussed the art of tea blending as an almost spiritual endeavor. "Think of it as a meditation," she advised. The basic steps (examining the dry elements, adding hot water, watching the elements infuse, "drinking the tea with your nose," decanting into a clear container, tasting the isolated flavors, blending, tasting, and evaluating) are simple enough, but it is an understanding of the essence of the tea that is complex. She maintains that it is something that everyone can do, provided they do three things: be completely honest in your evaluation of each blend, be patient, and keep a notebook. I have the feeling that at least a few members of her audience will be following her advice in the near future.

Tomorrow, I'll continue this train of thought with a post about two more lectures, Green Tea 101 and The Future of Tea. Right now I'm off to brew some tea and write some tea descriptions!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Coffee & Tea Festival: Ito En & Tafu

Two major Japanese tea companies were represented at the 2008 NYC Coffee and Tea Festival: Ito En and Tafu.

Ito En was unveiling two new products, Mint Green in their Teas Tea line and Oi Ocha, which is the #1 selling RTD (Ready-to-Drink, a.k.a. "bottled" or "canned," depending on the packaging method) tea in Japan and was only available in specialty stores in the US until now. The Mint Green seems like a good tea for soothing the stomach or for a new tea drinker. The Oi Ocha is a robust tea, best-suited for more serious tea drinkers. It is double brewed for maximum catechins and a strong umami (astringent) taste.
Oishi! <--Japanese for "delicious."

Tafu was promoting their NYC tearoom, which serves a variety of teas and tea sweets. Their tea sweets are made by Kyotofu, which (of course) serves their tea and uses their tea to make delicious tea sweets (think white chocolate matcha cupcakes, black sesame sweet tofu with houjicha green tea sauce). They also flew in their 7th generation tea master, who spoke at several events and freshly roasted houjicha especially for the event. (I bought some. It's fantastic.)

Matcha cupcake with lecture notes and some sequins on one of my salwar kameez (tunic, pants, and scarf outfits) from India

Tafu's 7th generation tea master roasting houjicha

Tomorrow, I'll talk about some of the lectures at the Coffee and Tea Festival. Until then, drink up!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Post-Coffee & Tea Festival: General Notes

Today: General Notes. Upcoming: More specifics on booths and presentations, plus a few photos.

The 2008 Coffee & Tea Festival was a success. There was a solid turnout and an interesting and varied representation of tea in the booths. The lectures were informative and entertaining and the industry turnout (outside of the booths) was decent. The partons I saw and spoke with seemed pleased with the event, and my friends who attended loved some of the products they sampled (and bought). My only complaints were the noise interference during the lectures and demos and the fact that a large number of the booths had little to do with tea, coffee, and their usual accompaniments (bottled water, beer, olive oil, etc.). Lynda Calimano assures me that the sound issues will be resolved next year and I have the feeling that the booths will get filled with more and more coffee and tea people as the festival grows. Although the Coffee and Tea Festival is nowhere near as large as the World Tea Expo, it is well worth checking out if you are in NYC or the surrounding areas (or if you just dislike Vegas!). I'm looking forward to attending (and maybe even speaking) next year!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Coffee & Tea Festival, Day 2

Sadly, the 2008 Coffee & Tea Festival has ended. Over the next week, I'll be filling in the details of this year's Festival. That way, if you didn't make it there this year, you can still know what to expect next year. For now, here's a quick rundown on today.

There was a bigger crowd here than yesterday. And, of course, there were lots of people to meet and products to taste, smell, and see. Here are my personal highlights of the day:

Hearing Tafu's "Green Tea 101", complete with matcha white chocolate cupcakes and chilled sencha
Tasting BiscotTea's Earl Grey biscotti, which was made with Makaibari Estate's Tea
Listening to Chris Cason's (Tavalon) "The Future of Tea" to learn more about one of my current fascinations--tea trends
Buying "From the Ground Up" and talking with filmmaker Su Freidrich (I'll be reviewing the DVD in a few weeks, and interviewing her soon thereafter.)
Sampling SerindipiTea's teas (my friends adored the City Harvest Black Tea with vanilla and orchid) and talking with their manager (Sonam) about Tibetan clothing (I was wearing a Tibetan/Nepalese chupa/boku yesterday.)

More tomorrow! Check back soon!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Coffee and Tea Festival, Day 1, Post 2

Day one has ended, and it was wonderful. I'll be filling in more details over the next week, but in the meantime here are some more highlights from today:

Tea Blending (and the infamous "Better Than Sex" rooibos) by Nina Ordoubodi of Tay Tea
Tafu Tea's freshly master-roasted houjicha and house-made matcha cupcakes
Tea Classics' Korean gourd strainers and Korean Tea Ceremony (They showed great poise despite audio issues--very admirable!)
Georgia Bakeshop's incredible French macaroons and mini souffles
Talking with Yoshie Yano-Pennings of Ito En about the company history and the Umami Festival
Talking with Elin Headrick (whose writing you've probably seen in TeaMuse) about tea, Chicago, and NYC

Tomorrow I'll check out SerendipiTea, Tafu's presentations, Chris Cason's "The Future of Tea," and the short film "From the Ground Up." Exciting! If you see me there, come say hello!

NYC Coffee and Tea Festival, Day 1, Post 1

The Coffee and Tea Festival is off to a great start! There's
a big crowd and there are plenty of vendors and events to keep them entertained. A few highlights from my visit so far:

Ito En's new teas, Mint Green and Oi Ocha (the latter was available in Japan and in Asian specialty stores in the US, and is now available in mainstream US stores)
Meeting the lovely owners of Harshita Designs, a tea-themed textile line (my background is in textile design) and members of the family who owns Chamong, a fair trade estate in Darjeeling
Coffee & Tea Infused Cocktails presentation (with fantastic creations from Sanctuary T) and Zen Green Tea Liqueur (made by the same company, more astringent and less sweet than their Japanese-market version)Catching up with Chris Cason of Tavalon (and formerly of Adagio) on Tavalon, tea liqueurs, and (random) hot peppers
Learning a few new things about afternoon tea from Ellen Easton
Chatting with Christine Rillo of Adagio

More soon!

Friday, April 11, 2008


Umami, the Japanese "fifth taste" (after salty, sweet, sour, and bitter), is a term often used in tea tasting. It is roughly translated as "astringency," and it creates a feeling of the tongue's surface shrinking when you experience it.

This week, there is an Umami Festival in NYC to celebrate food and art. Tonight there will be a salt tasting. Tomorrow's focus is on food and art. Next week, there will be several chef's panel discussions and a wine tasting. Perhaps next year, it will include tea.

Don't forget that the NYC Coffee and Tea Festival is this weekend! Congrats to those who won tickets through my blog! For everyone else, don't forget that you can get half-price tickets with the promo code "VEETEA." Perhaps I'll see you there!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Record-Setting Tea Party

Clearly, I am on a "post all the old drafts" kick with my blog as of late. Soon, I'll be back to more of the regular blogging style. In the meantime, here's an odd story I've been meaning to post for a while: The world's largest tea party! Excerpt:

As more than 30,000 people on Sunday (February 24, 2008) raised their designer cups and took a sip of tea, Indore city of Madhya Pradesh set a new record for hosting the largest tea party.

Citizens responded with enthusiasm to the novel event and started arriving at a stadium, the venue for the function, well ahead of the scheduled time of 3.30 p.m. and within an hour all seats were taken.

Cool! It broke the previous record, which was 14,718 people in Nishiao, Japan in 2006. Read more on the world's largest tea party on Sify News.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Two NYT Tea Articles

Here are two articles from last year that I've been meaning to link for some time. They are both from The New York Times and they cover very different aspects of tea. The first is similar to my recent Tea Muse article on tea in Austin. Its focus is Portland and it is written by the talented Ceil Miller Bouchet. The second is about the owners of a specialty foods store who, like me, love to teach tea and who, unlike me, recently published the wonderful book “The Story of Tea: A Cultural History and Drinking Guide."

Excerpt from Beyond Tea and Crumpets in Portland:

"... that's why I came to Portland: to connect with this moist metropolis through my favorite brew. Building on the success of established Portland tea businesses like Tazo Tea, Stash and Oregon Chai, the city is host to one of the most distinctive tea scenes in the country. Locally owned tea spots have sprouted throughout the city, supported by an epicurean population that travels miles for the perfect cup. From mushroom tea to tea paired with sake, these citizens of the Pacific Rim are thinking way beyond tea and crumpets. And no tea bags allowed."

Excerpt from Lessons From the Professors of Tea:

"In Shanghai they visited a bustling regional wholesale tea market that was featuring first-of-the-season teas from the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui. (Cramped in the back of a van full of Chinese passengers, no officials saw them as they rode through the checkpoint into a Chinese-only wholesale section of the city.)

On a boat ride on the Lake of a Thousand Islands, in Zhejiang Province, a woman named Wei Cui Lan, one of China’s leading tea authorities and one of the last women to graduate from tea school before the Cultural Revolution, showed them the methods required to brew at least 30 different varieties of green and oolong tea."

PS--I still have two free tickets left for the Coffee and Tea Festival. Email me with your name and a comment or suggestion for Vee Tea to win them.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Alice's Tea Cup

A little while back, The Daily News did a story on Alice's Tea Cup, which is one of NYC's best-known tea businesses. Excerpt:

Their concept was born a few years ago, when the women - native West Siders - were living in Los Angeles. Haley worked in film production, while Lauren was, and still is, an actress. They frequented a tea house, and wondered how such a place might fare back home.

"We didn't understand why you had to go to a hotel to get afternoon tea," Lauren said.

It's an interesting glimpse into a tea business in one of the most competitive cities in the world for food businesses. Read more on Alice's Tea Cup, and enjoy your tea!

Monday, April 7, 2008

NYC Coffee & Tea Festival

Exciting news! The NYC Coffee & Tea Festival is this weekend! Don't forget that you can get half-price tickets with the promo code VEETEA. Also, the first four people to email me their full name and a comment about Vee Tea (it could be a post idea, a comment I can add to the testimonials on my site, or a suggestion of some kind) get a free pair of tickets to the Festival!

PS--I recently got to interview the Coffee & Tea Festival's organizer, Lynda Calimano. You can read the full interview on Vee Tea.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Teaware Sale

NYC-based home shop Clio is having a sale starting today. Check out their teapot collection (the quirk award goes to their "iron" teapot, the Mirza) and other cool tea products ("shattered" cup, tea towels, and more). Have a great weekend!

92 Thompson St., b/t Prince & Spring Streets

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Food Blogs, Tea Blogs

The Associated Press recently released an article industry trends with food blogs. The trend of sending merchandise to food bloggers has become very popular amongst major food companies. "Courting one blog with a couple of thousand daily readers may not have a huge impact, but marketers can easily reach several such blogs with little effort, said Debbie Weil, a corporate blogging consultant based in Washington, D.C."

The same trend can be seen on many tea blogs across the net. So far, it is mostly limited to tea samples, however, some companies are now sending out teaware and other tea-related merchandise. In this era of splitering media and a return to tribalism (in terms of ideas and information) through new media, I think that this shift in corporations' (and smaller companies'!) attitudes toward marketing reflects a significant change in how information is disseminated and received. After all, how many people still buy a particular tea or tea product because they saw an ad for it? And how many people buy a tea or product because someone whose opinion they respect raved about it?

Lately, a lot of tea companies have been starting their own blogs. This is due to blogging's overall rise in popularity, but I'm sure the recent New York Times article on business blogging didn't hurt. I've been lucky enough to work with a few companies as a tea blogging consultant, and I have to say that it is a very exciting trend in the tea world! It personalizes the companies for the clients, and it ensures that clients will check back regularly for new products, events, and other updates. Just as the NYT article says, it can be a major marketing tool at a low cost to even small businesses. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next, and to being a part of it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

NYU on Tea

NYU's paper, Washington Square News, recently published an article on tea spots near their campus, and included my top picks for a quick cuppa in the area. Excerpt:

"As The New York Times recently reported, tea shops are on the rise and have become increasingly popular places to wind down. We chose some of our favorites and asked Lindsey 'Vee' Goodwin, owner of VeeTea and licensed New York 'tea tour' guide, to help us compile a list of the best tea spots near NYU."

They go on to talk about Tea & Sympathy (which I recently blogged about), The Adore (which I reviewed a few months ago for TeaMuse), and Tea Spot, and to list some other "Vee-recommended" tearooms for tea near NYU. Read the full article here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

New VeeTea Article on TeaMuse

There's a new Vee Tea article on Tea Muse this month! It's a two-part article that covers my recent tea excursions in Austin and trends in tea in the US. Excerpt:

"In order to learn about tea trends in Austin, I started where coolness often originates-near the college campus. On Guadalupe near downtown ('The Drag,' as the locals call it), there are two boba tearooms on the same block, Tapioca House and Coco's Cafe II. Boba tea, for those who are unfamiliar, is a sugary concoction which is, as Douglas Adams put it, 'almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.' It is a frothy drink made of tea, sugar, milk, and (often, but not necessarily) tapioca flour spheres, it comes in a variety of flavors, and it is also known as 'bubble tea' and '(tapioca) pearl tea.' I jokingly refer to it as a 'gateway tea,' because young people try it, get really into it, and then move on to the more serious stuff. Although the two tearooms (and the boba teas I sampled from each place) are remarkably similar, they are both popular enough to be supported by a steady stream of college students seeking their sugary fixes. In many ways, this is indicative of the nascent stages of tea culture in the US-a sugary something for when you're on the go, like a cola but 'better for you.'"

Read more on tea in Austin on Tea Muse!