Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chamomile Pudding

I recently saw this tasty recipe for chamomile pudding. (Puddings are so hot in the NYC dessert world right now. Cocktails and desserts alike are headed to the creamy, comforting side of the spectrum -- lots of milk and eggs, with classic flavors like vanilla.) If it didn't have gelatin in it, I'd be sure to make it! If any of you try it, please let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teas for Colds

Like many of you out there, I have a cold right now. I'm drinking fresh ginger tisane and my Witches' Brew (recipe below) to combat it. What do you drink to fight off a cold?

Vee’s Witches’ Brew

1 cup water
1 teaspoon green tea leaves
1-2 tablespoons honey
1 lemon (the juice and some of the grated rind)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
Optional (if you care more about feeling better than drinking something that tastes good):
1 tablespoon unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste
Black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and/or hot sauce (as much as you can stand)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 shot whiskey (I prefer Jameson, personally)

Brew the tea as you normally do. (Optional: Brew garlic with the tea leaves and strain it out. It was done for hundreds of years in ancient China, so it’s not THAT weird.) Return the drink to your heat source and stir in everything else (except the whiskey-- that goes in at the last second) until it's hot. Pour into an oversized mug, breathe the vapors, and sip slowly. Feel better soon!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cha An

I recently visited Cha An with a classmate from Urasenke Chanoyu (where I'm learning the Japanese tea ceremony). Here are some photos of their fantastic tea and desserts.

Sake sorbet with black sesame crisp and sencha tea

Wild berry sorbet with sesame crisp

Assorted desserts

As you can probably tell, I adore Cha An's desserts. It was the first time my new friend had been there, and she enjoyed them, too. We had two kinds of sencha, both of which were delicious and paired very well with the lighter-tasting sweets. Yum! What are some of your favorite spot for tea and sweets?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tea Plants

A quick update on the tea plants: They're growing very nicely. Three have sprouted, with a fourth on the way and two more in limbo. The largest of them is getting really big! I'll need a new pot for it soon. Tey're enjoying the company of heirloom tomato sprouts, a gift from Nini of Tay Tea. Exciting!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tea Sales

More tea sales! If you have any to add, please let me know.

ITO EN Oolong Shot
Regular Price $45/case of 30 cans, Introductory Price $36/case
Through Dec. 15th
(Anybody tried this yet? What do you think?)

Elmwood's Tea Lovers' Gift Set
$10 off
"Fall Sale"

Elmwood's Bodum Cast Iron Teapots
25% off (scroll down to the bottom)
"Fall Sale"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Vee Tea Article

Due to a recent dearth of internet access in my life, I somehow managed to not tell you that I have a new article out until, well, it's over a week old. Whoops! Here it is. Better late than never, right?

Who's the Right Tea Vendor for You? is, as the title indicates, a guide to finding the best tea vendors for your business. It was fascinating to research, as each vendor has completely different offerings and practices. The article covers areas as diverse as quality, customer education, stability during growth, custom blends/private labeling and green business practices. Read more on World Tea News.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tea & Stress

While eustress (the "good stress" that motivates us) can be invigorating, distress can be very draining. WebMD recently posted methods for reducing stress through diet, and for keeping your energy levels steady in times of stress. One of their top suggestions: drinking tea! From their article:

"A recent report found that pairing caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine, both present in tea, decreased mental fatigue and improved alertness, reaction time, and memory. What's more, black varieties can help you recover from stress, according to researchers at University College London. In their study, adults who drank tea four times a day for 6 weeks had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after a tense moment, compared with those who drank a tealike placebo."

I'm not sure how a "tealike" placebo could ever compare (I'm reminded of The Hitchhiker's Guide), but I do feel that tea is excellent at moderating and reducing stress. If I am remembering my biochemistry properly, high cortisol levels can encourage weight gain/retention and cortisol levels are raised when sleep levels are too low. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know), they are highest in the morning. No wonder a cup of tea makes us feel prepared to go out and face the day!

You can read more on stress reduction through diet on WebMD.

Monday, October 20, 2008


I'm off on a long weekend at a cabin upstate. I'll be back tomorrow. How do you take your tea on the road? Pyramid bags, flat bags, tea socks, The Teastick, RTDs, travel infusers, or ... ?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mighty Leaf Review

I recently received two new teas to sample from Mighty Leaf. They're coming to a Whole Foods year you soon, so look out!

The first is "Organic Detox Infusion," a blend described on the package as "basil and mint." The thing is, if that's all you know about it, you can only HOPE it's as detoxifying as it tastes, not only as detoxifying as it sounds. It actually contains other traditional detox herbs like burdock, but you wouldn't know that from a glance at the packaging. It tastes very good for detox tea, but if you're expecting a pleasing basil-mint tisane with no medicinal value, skip it. It seems like Might Leaf is trying to tap into the Traditional Medicinals market a bit. I say the more the merrier!

The second tea was " Organic Green Dragon," a basic everyday Dragonwell. It's the kind of thing I would definitely drink without complaint if I were out and wanted tea, but didn't have loose tea and an infuser on me. It's not my new favorite, but it's not bad at all. Drinkable, basic, enjoyable.

I'm very pleased to see that both of these new offerings are organic. It's wonderful to see so many tea companies responding to customers' desires for more sustainable products.

Have a great weekend!!! Who out there is doing something fun? I'm going to a cabin upstate with some friends, so I'll be away on Monday. What are you up to?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Tea Sales

Here are some more tea sales for you lovely readers...

October 11-17: All teas are 20% off
October 18-24: Purchases over $75 are 20% off
October 25-31: Purchases over $100 are 25% off

Urbana Teas & Tonics:
half off all rooibos through Oct. 31st

Imperial Tea Court:
Huoshan Huang Ya Yellow Tea 15% off
Gunpowder Green 30% off
Mao Jian 30% off

Know of any others? Post a link, or send me a message!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tea for Longevity

Prevention recently listed 14 surprising reasons you'll live a long life. Number two on the list? You're a tea lover. More:

Both green and black teas contain a concentrated dose of catechins, substances that help blood vessels relax and protect your heart. In a study of more than 40,500 Japanese men and women, those who drank 5 or more cups of green tea every day had the lowest risk of dying from heart disease and stroke. Other studies involving black tea showed similar results.

You really need only 1 or 2 cups of tea daily to start doing your heart some good—just make sure it’s a fresh brew. Ready-to-drink teas (the kind you find in the supermarket beverage section) don’t offer the same health benefits. "Once water is added to tea leaves, their catechins degrade within a few days," says Jeffrey Blumberg, PhD, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University. Also, some studies show that adding milk may eliminate tea’s protective effects on the cardiovascular system, so stick to just lemon or honey.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tea A Magazine Goes Digital

Exciting news for you internet addicts and eco-conscious readers out there. Tea A Magazine went digital! Those who prefer print can still get their paper issues through their website. Otherwise, let's welcome Tea a Magazine to the digital world!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tay Home Visit

My man and I recently had the pleasure of visiting Nini Ordoubadi and her fabulous tearoom, Tay Home, upstate. As much as we love NYC, it's wonderful to get away every now and then, especially if it happens to be somewhere both beautiful and tranquil. (Bonus points for lots of tea and changing leaves!) Here are some photos of our trip:

The leaves. Stunning! It was strange to see them go back from red, orange and brown to green on the return trip. Who would have thought that going to NYC would make one feel as though traveling back in time!

The view of changing leaves and pumpkins from Nini's charming (and gorgeously decorated) farmhouse.

Amazing heirloom tomatoes from Nini's garden. They are sweet, with no acidity.

Nini, the woman behind the beauty of Tay. She's drinking Better Than Sex, one of their most popular blends. Note the joss paper on the wall -- beautiful!

Checking out the single-note teas at Tay. (Those of you who know me but haven't seen me lately will notice that my hair has changed drastically. I'm going back to my natural hair color. It's more sustainable!)

More of Tay. Can you tell Nini's background is in interior design? She has a great eye, and has collected a wonderful array of items in her shop from beautiful handmade candles (some cast after a statue of Buddha) and soaps (I picked up the white jasmine soap) to vintage teapots to soapnuts (natural alternatives to laundry detergent) to handcrafted jewelry.

My man and I checking out Tay's line of blends. They specialize in rooibos, but also blend other botanicals, as well as black, green and oolong. On the right, you can see their cool sampler boxes. The tea tins are also very well designed.

Tasting teas with Nini. Yum! On the right are a few soon-to-be-introduced teas. More on them later!

Persian Rose, my personal favorite from Tay -- sweet and complex, with a phenomenal aroma.

Me just enjoying Tay and good company.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

SNL "Tea Break"

Saturday Night Live recently had a skit about an "Extreme Activities Competition," during which two contestants battled in tasks like balancing a hat on his/her head and pinning a chair down by sitting on it. Of course, this is humorous because there are so many absurd "extreme" shows out there, and this skit is pitting people against each other in activities like "acting casual." In the middle of the competition, they take a tea break. To me, this says a lot about tea in American culture. It's the antithesis of the extreme sport lifestyle, a way to relax and notice the everyday things, like acting casual and even walking. The obvious internet counterpoint to this is Powerthirst: Energy Drinks for People Who Need Gratuitous Amounts of Energy. Why do you need to win at yelling, anyway? Win at contemplation, or happiness, or observation. Win at TEA.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Vampire Weekend and Tea

So, at this point, everyone has gone completely nuts over Vampire Weekend, and there has been indie backlash (as there usually is in the cases of meteoric rises to fame in the "indie rock" world). Many have noted the obvious Paul Simon influence (I think they took a cue from Mark Mothersbaugh's solo work, and Wes Anderson's directorial influence can be seen in their video for Oxford Comma -- very appropriate given the similar cultural milieu that produced Anderson and his usual scorewriter, Mothersbaugh), but have any of you dear readers noticed their connections to tea?

These preppy Columbia-educated rockers seem to partake of the stuff rather regularly, but still seem to be lacking in their knowledge about it. In the video for "Mansard Roof," they relax and play music on a sailboat, taking time out of their navigation around Manhattan and New Jersey for tea in their Brooks Brothers casual wear.* They are clearly enjoying the salty air and the (most likely) tannic brew, but do they even know what they're drinking? (OK, OK, yes, tea... But beyond that!)

In the lyrics for "One (Blake's Got a New Face)" they actually say, "English breakfast tastes like Darjeeling." What?!?! No, it really doesn't! Sure, both are black teas, but beyond that there isn't much similarity. English Breakfast was traditionally a blend of Assam and sometimes strong Ceylon teas (later on), but now is generally a strong, astringent brew that most enjoy with milk and sugar. Darjeeling teas, on the other hand, are typically either delicate and floral (first flush) or complex, with muscat notes (second flush), and neither benefits at all from milk OR sugar (in my strong opinion). They are not similar at all. (This goes way beyond the Coke-Pepsi debate, I tell you. It's a whole other level of difference, more like Coke-Sprite.) Perhaps they're overbrewing the Darjeeling? Or overpowering both with milk and sugar? (Maybe they should take one of my tea classes!)

Of course, on the positive side, their fans are looking more into tea when they look into the lyrics. included comments like, "english breakfast and darjeeling are both teas! i just learned that today." I wonder if any of them will actually try the Vampire Weekend-endorsed teas, and perhaps even notice that they do NOT, in fact, taste all that similar. We can only hope... :)

*The Guardian has an amusing take on the video.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lipton Event

I'm off doing an event with Lipton today. Sorry I've been so brief in my posts. Extremely busy with writing, classes and events these days. I'll be back soon, I promise! In the meantime, the first person to email me with two changes I made on Vee Tea in the last month (outside of new blog posts, of course) gets a one of the following (your pick):

Five boxes of assorted Lipton teas (including their newer pyramid bags with larger leaves and more refined flavors)
Assorted samples sent to me by various companies (I've tried them and reviewed them or taken notes for reviews and no longer need them.)
A tiny sample of Makaibari Reserve Silver Green (Incredible!!!)
A tiny sample of a fantastic First Flush Taiwanese Oolong
Two of my tea seeds

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cool Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is getting a makeover in London hotels. Please ignore the tragic confusion between high tea and afternoon or "low" tea and enjoy this otherwise informative article on London tea trends.

Which London hotel's "tea with a twist" would you most like to try? I'm leaning toward The Metropolitan or The Athenaeum. Last year, during my tea visit to London, I visited Laudree at Harrods. (The Athenaeum also offers their products at tea.) Such beautiful cakes and sweets!!! It makes me want to write a whole new article on tea and sweets pairings about London's approaches to the sweet tooth during tea time. Perhaps...