Thursday, July 31, 2008

iTunes U

iTunes has launched a very cool new feature: free educational podcasts from major educational, research and cultural institutions like MIT, CMU, NASA, MoMA and Asia Society. My current playlist:

Water for Tea (NASA)
Sustainable Business (CMU) (Great quote... "It's completely consistent for self interest to be aligned with the public interest and where doing good is synonymous doing well. There's no contradiction between doing something that is good and making money.")
The Myths of Innovation (CMU)
Launching and Building an Entrepreneurial Venture (CMU)
Interaction Design (CMU) (This one has a bit about ordering coffee in a coffee shop. As you can guess, these concepts apply to tea as well!)
The Role of New Technologies in a Sustainable Energy Economy (MIT)
Eva Hesse (MoMA)
Arshille Gorky (MoMA)
Living in a Global World (Research Channel)

They have fascinating, illuminating podcasts on a wide variety of topics. As a consultant, I LOVE this kind of thing. It's a great way to get the best information from top experts from many fields in a condensed, hassle-free and clear manner... which is what I always try to do for my clients. If you're a business owner or just interested in learning more, I highly recommend you check it out!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Tea in the City

So... I waited in line from 8:30AM to 1:30PM to get a new iPhone today, having had my older model stolen on Monday. I'm writing this as it syncs, so I'm a little distracted.

However, I wanted to note that I've been seeing mentions of tea everywhere these days, and I don't think it's just because I'm obsessed with it. :) In line, a number of people were sipping RTDs (mostly Snapple, but still...) and I read a New York Times Article about female artists in China that mentioned an artist who wrapped household objects, including (you guessed it) teapots, with yarn. (Being both a female tea-lover and a former textiles artist, I loved that!)

Afterward, I walked one block up from the 14th St Apple Store to Chelsea Markets for tea and a fantastic veggie lunch at T Salon. I have to say that it was one of the best lunches I've had in Manhattan for under $10 in ages. The veggie pate was soooo tasty and I even liked the vegan cheese (it's not usually my thing). It was a pleasant perk after the long wait, especially because it had somehow slipped my mind that the Apple Store was so very close to T Salon, and because I had the chance to chat with T Salon's fabulous Miriam Novalle.

How do you stumble across tea in your daily life? Do you feel that it's showing up more and more places these days?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Cute Teaware

I'm feeling a bit down today because someone snatched my phone on the street last night as I was carrying groceries home. What better to cheer me up than cute teaware?!*

I recently saw Peek Keep's collection of cute teaware, including a Finish tea set and a felt bunny tea cozy (currently on sale). Fun! (BTW, felt is an exceptional insulator. It was accidentally discovered by ancient humans when their wool garments bunched and thickened in heat and humidity, and was made in cold climates as a top-notch form of protection against the elements. Functionality aside, the felt bunny tea cozy is, as the title of this post suggests, cute.)

If you want to get your bling on while you sip, you'll love Charles and Marie's 2 Carat Mug. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but fair trade, organic tea is a way better friend to workers and the earth!

Green with Glamour also has some cool teaware, including
Grandma's Tea Set
, which is a handmade ceramic tea set cast from an original tea set and glazed with non-toxic, natural glaze, and a
Fair Trade Ceramic Elephant Teapot
for a daily dose of tea and whimsy.

*I think of this as the tea world's equivalent of Zoolander's Orange Mocha Frappuccino. I just hope it doesn't result in my friends exploding in a tragic gasoline fight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Moldy Brain Begets a Moldy Teacup

Surrealist design team Death By Drone recently designed this little number, "A Moldy Brain Begets a Moldy Teacup." Although it's not stated in the title, the image implies that a moldy teacup begets brightly-colored balloons. Cute.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Nuclear Tea Shortage, Heavy Metal Tea

Here are two tea news oddities I recently stumbled across:

British Feared Nuclear Tea Shortage

Egyptian Tea Contained Heavy Metal

How odd! Have you seen any weird tea stories out there on the internet lately? If so, please link them!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

UK Day

For some reason, I feel like talking about the UK today. Perhaps it's because I recently saw this funny little Cultural Guide to the UK that features tea (and is by the guy who did the Radiohead dot matrix printer remix). Or maybe the BBC tea documentary I saw in a fellow blogger's post the other day. Or the British dim sum menu (complete with hot tea, iced tea and tea cocktails) that my Londoner sister sent me last week. Or even the fact that I keep meaning to update my articles on afternoon tea and high tea with information from helpful British readers and from Ellen Easton's NYC Coffee & Tea Festival lecture and book "Afternoon Tea... Tips, Terms and Traditions." (Soon, soon...) Or the responses from people who read my recent Tea & Sympathy tearoom review, saying things like "I totally LOLed" (which I find to be a very humorous cultural juxtaposition in and of itself). At any rate, I suppose I've talked about it now. Readers, care to add anything? Interesting links? A story or two?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

New Vee Tea Article

There's a new Vee Tea article up on World Tea News! It's part two of the American tea palate series. Excerpt:

Despite the shift toward “pure” teas, blended teas are holding strong. Most sources linked flavored teas’ popularity to palatial accessibility, but Pratt offered a more practical reason: “Flavors are essential in places like most of the American West, where the water is so bad, real tea flavors are undetectable.”

Flavored specialty teas are here to stay, but sources said they are undergoing radical changes. According to Harrison, “In the past, low-quality black tea was a carrier for an artificial fruit flavor. Now, there is an understanding for intelligent tea blending that goes way beyond fruit and fannings.”

Read the rest on World Tea News!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tea and Robbery

Recently, I happened to see two articles about tea and, of all things, robbery. How odd! I thought it warranted a post.

The first article I saw was during research for my recent review of Tea & Sympathy Tearoom. It's a profile of a businessperson, but it tells a story about his father's experience with tea, sympathy and robbery. (You need to log in to the New York Times to read it.)

The second item was something I ran across while researching iced tea for a company's blog I work on. It was a recent news item about a woman in Japan who stopped a robbery with iced tea.

It's amazing how tea can serve as such a strong way of recognizing the humanity in others. Of course, this is part of the theme in Samovar's Passage to Peace video podcast series, but that's another story!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Healthy Summer Drinks

Tea is making a lot of "healthy" lists of Summer foods and drinks. Here are two recent articles on Dr. Weil's Summer drink suggestions and how to cut 100 calories with tea. Of course, if you're replacing soda with tea, you'll cut a lot more than that, but that's another story... If you want to learn more, you can read my article on iced tea. Enjoy your Summer teas!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Iced Matcha Lattes

Over the weekend, I went to a Brooklyn barbecue (Don't worry--they had veggie kebabs!) and made one of my favorite Summer tea drinks: Iced Matcha Lattes. All it takes is matcha, a bit of sugar, milk/soymilk, ice, and a whir of the blender. They're quick and they tend to go over very well at barbecues, parties, etc. (in part because they can be mixed with alcohol easily, but, hey, it's a party). One friend usually refuses to drink tea ("I just want coffee") and loved it. Another, a chef, liked it so much that he wants to make matcha ice cream later this Summer. Cool! How do you get your friends to love tea?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tea at Google

Last week, I had the pleasure of eating lunch and drinking tea at the NYC Google office. For those who haven't heard already, Google takes exceptional care of its employees and includes fantastic meals as a company perk. A Google friend was kind enough to invite me for a meal (incredible raw beet-cabbage puree with cranberries, tasty polenta-crust pizza, fresh berries, raw vegan Swedish meatballs) and tea. Most of the food was local and they give employees the option of joining a crop share with a local farm. It was very interesting to see their tea offerings, as they are thought of as a more "energy drink and espresso" kind of place. They offered: ITO EN's Fruit Tea, ITO EN's Teas' Tea, Honest Tea, yerba mate, brewed tropical black tea (not actually very good), Mighty Leaf pyramid bags, and kombucha. Good selection! They used to carry ITO EN's Sencha Shot, but my Google guide said she hadn't seen it around in a while. Too bad--they're very good and they parallel the whole "energy drink" thing well. Perhaps they'll pick up Oi Ocha now that it's widely available in the U.S. They also offer a casual afternoon tea service with finger sandwiches, sweets, and Mighty Leaf. I think it would be really cool if they did cross-cultural afternoon teas that introduce employees to foods and teas from around the world! Apparently, they discussed it, but it hasn't come to fruition yet. I'll let you know if I hear any more on the topic.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Silver Tips Tearoom Blog

You may have noticed that I added another new blog to my blogroll. It's by a friend of mine, Anupa Mueller, and it's about her fantastic NY tearoom, Silver Tips Tea. She posts about going green, tea events, tearoom stories, tea recipes, Makaibari Estate and all kinds of other goodies. Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

World Tea News'' Vee Tea Article

World Tea News just put out a new Vee Tea article. Yay! Excerpt:

As RTDs capture a larger share of the beverage market, they shape the palates of a new wave of tea drinkers. Today's RTD trends can give us a glimpse of what's on the horizon for hot tea.

The shift toward RTDs

Seth Goldman, TeaEO of Honest Tea, said, “The single biggest thing feeding RTD growth is that people are moving away from sodas.” The primary reason: high fructose corn syrup.

Not sure if I mentioned it, but I am now a features writer for WTN. Part two (loose tea) will be out in a few weeks. Meanwhile, you can read up on RTDs and the American palate and
check out my profile. If you'd like me to write for your publication or company, you can contact me at vee (at) veetea (dot) com.

I'm off to have lunch and tea at Google today. More on that next week!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Slow Tea

The Slow Food Movement (kind of the opposite of fast food, with a focus on local, sustainable produce and the enjoyment of food as an essential element of culture and communion) has recently embraced tea, even when it is not grown locally. As you may already know, sustainability is an issue close to my heart, so this is a big deal to me. In my opinion, if a quality product can only be grown far away and it is a beneficial component of your diet and lifestyle, it can be OK if offset by other things (especially if it is fair trade and organic). I'm thrilled to see that tea will be included in the upcoming Slow Food Nation event in San Francisco this August-September. If you're in the area or planning on attending, they're looking for tea volunteers. From their latest post, "Tea People Needs: We need to work out a schedule with 5 tea enthusiasts plus 5 facilitators at each of the 5 sessions of the Taste Hall." If you are (or know) someone who can help, check it out!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Frozen Tea Treat

Wise Acre has launched a new line of frozen tea treats for adults called Frosteas.
The company's aim--"Take back the frozen dessert isle and make products for adults." For each recipe, they sweeten organic, fresh-brewed teas and tisanes with molasses or honey remember their mottos, "No fruit!" and "It must taste great in gin or vodka." Yum! In addition to the taste appeal, New Yorkers are instant fans of the company's "smart ass" attitude. Their president, Jim Picariello, says, "What other food companies call 'Quality Control,' we call 'Taste each batch and make sure it tastes awesome enough'." Hah! They are currently available primarily in East Coast chains like Whole Foods, Wegmans, and Hannafords, though they are hoping to expand to the Midwest soon. Unfortunately, their website is down (too popular?) but you can read more about their Frosteas here. Perhaps I can get my hands on some soon... I'll let you know how it is!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cool Tea Blog

I recently got an email from a fellow tea blogger and wanted to share her blog. It's called My Tea Cups and it has some great content. The blogger herself is actually starting a tea tour in Philadelphia. Cool!

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Sorry for the late post today! I just sent off a new article on the American tea palate and RTDs to my editor. What do you think about the future of the American tea palate? And the proliferation of new types of RTDs available on the market? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

PS--Happy Fourth of July!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

New Vee Tea Article

TeaMuse just put out a new Vee Tea tearoom review. Excerpt:

Tea & Sympathy is a small and perpetually crowded tearoom in the West Village's so-called "Little Britain" district. It has been serving up classic British fare such as bangers and mash, Welsh rarebit, treacle pudding and, of course, an abundance of (mostly flavored black) teas to British expatriates and Anglophiles alike for nearly two decades. At first taste, Tea & Sympathy is enough to make you wish the States hadn't caused that whole "Boston Tea Party" fuss and simply let the British carry on with their whole "world domination" bit unchallenged. However, by the end of the meal, you'll be glad to walk outside and know you are on American soil (or sidewalk, as the case may be).

You see, when the denizens of Boston decided to throw tea overboard ships as a symbol of rebellion against the British, they set off a chain reaction spanning down the East coast and resulting in the voluntary end of tea drinking for many a proud soon-to-be American. Tea was still consumed in some areas, notably in the form of iced green tea punches in the South, but lost its former status and was no longer culturally ingrained in the same way. An unseasonably hot summer at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis led one Mr. Richard Blechynden to mix a batch of iced tea, get (erroneously) named the "inventor of iced tea," and spread the consumption of iced tea across the US. (The numerous free samples he distributed outside NYC's Bloomingdale's later in the summer didn't hurt, either.) Still, it took a wave of new tearooms, often opened by immigrants from Asia and Europe, in the US in the late 20th century to help the custom of hot tea reach anything near its former glory. Tea & Sympathy is one of those tearooms.

You can read the rest of my new tearoom review on TeaMuse. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tea Art

I recently had the pleasure of meeting a talented artist named Michele Brody who incorporates tea into her work. Some of her recent pieces include a copper-pipe Japanese-style teahouse and a roving tea cart. In each, she serves tea to guests in an interactive performance/installation piece. She makes an audio recording of her conversations and then writes excerpts of the conversations onto the tea socks in which the tea was brewed. The conversations often deal with people's personal tea memories, and can be quite profound.

If you'd like to get involved with this fascinating, ongoing piece of art, now's your chance. You're on a computer right now, and my guess is you're pretty handy with a keyboard. If you're also a good listener and you have a bit of time to spare, Michele needs your help! She's looking for people to help transcribe the teacart conversations from her most recent performance so she can use excerpts from the conversations on the tea socks. Here is a quilt made from previous conversations:

To get involved, call Michele at 646-522-9924 or email her at michele at michelebrody dot com for more details. Tell her Vee sent you and you want to help!