Tuesday, October 20, 2009

East/West Tea Tour: House of Cha

Part two of my East/West Tea Tour is up on World Tea News. The trip may have ended, but the reviews go on! Here's an excerpt of the article on House of Cha in Lawrence, Kansas:

Perhaps it is this combination of college-town surroundings and international influence that resulted in the tea room’s unusual dichotomy of tea: bing cha puer cakes line the walls, shelves are filled with large Chinese-style canisters of oolong from the owner’s in-laws’ tea farm in Taiwan and Yi Xing tea ware adorns the counters, yet bubble tea is heavily featured on the menu and the store signage.

It’s rare that a tea business crosses the line between “serious” and “fun” so boldly, so I inquired about it. Freeman informed me that the claim of “the best bubble tea guaranteed” on the banner outside isn’t just ad-speak. Forget artificially flavored syrups – at House of Cha, they brew fresh tea concentrate for their boba three times a day and cook imported, raw Taiwanese tapioca pearls daily.

Even I was temped to try it (despite having sworn off bubble tea forever after a particularly terrible experience), but I opted instead for some of their directly sourced Snowy Moon Oolong (from the last picking of winter in the Chinese calendar), a bowl of house-made soup and a side of matcha-dusted pumpkin seeds.

It was a lovely visit. If you're ever in the area, be sure to check them out! In the meantime, you can read the full article on World Tea News.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

East/West Tea Tour: French Broad Chocolate Lounge

During my move across the country, I had the pleasure of visiting a number of tea businesses. I'll be chronicling my visits to six of them in World Tea News. The first visit was French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, NC. Here's an excerpt from my article:

French Broad Chocolate Lounge is on Asheville’s artsy Lexington Avenue, just south of the vintage clothing stores and eco-chic boutiques. It’s named for the local French Broad River, aptly, since the lounge focuses on the flow of liquid – “liquid truffles” (drinking chocolates), more than a dozen teas and tisanes, and various coffee drinks and local beers. Its specialty is chocolate, which it serves in liquid form and as solid truffles and other confections.

Walking into French Broad Chocolate Lounge from the street, I was struck by how fitting the title “lounge” is. Lush surfaces, low lighting and a laid-back vibe permeated the atmosphere. The shop was crowded even thought it was about 3 p.m. on a weekday; the day after I visited, the Lounge opened a second level to accommodate the burgeoning patronage.

Hand-written chalkboards listed the gourmand-centric food offerings, including local cheese plates and vegan options, but what had drawn me to there was the tea. Like other more adventuresome gourmet chocolatiers, the Lounge’s owners have opted to use “trufflefy” (as the menu put it) tea as a culinary ingredient for chocolate. Its tea truffles are White Jasmine (white chocolate and jasmine green tea ganache covered in dark chocolate), Earl Grey (Earl Grey-infused dark chocolate covered with milk chocolate and topped with Earl Grey tealeaves) and Masala Chai (milk chocolate ganache infused with traditional masala chai spies, vanilla bean and Darjeeling black tea).

It was a really fun visit! You can read the full article on World Tea News.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

PDX Update

I'm getting settled into Portland. Exciting! Here are a few highlights:

The move was rough (drove across the country in 5 days, unloaded the truck and unpacked with some assistance from my cousin, but otherwise it was just me & hubby), but we are mostly settled in now.

The first things I unpacked were my water kettle and Yi Xing pot (of course). The tea collection and remaining tea ware followed soon thereafter. Got an order from Jing Tea shortly after my arrival, complete with gorgeous tea glasses. Win!

I am in love with Voodoo Donut.

My visit to Tao of Tea will be on World Tea News soon. Updates later. :)

My cousin took us on a bike tour of a few fun spots, including some food carts, the famous Doug Fir, the "vegan mall" and a cute little Japanese restaurant.

This weekend, we're going to check out a local distillery. We're looking forward to checking out Imbibe's top Portland beverage picks, too. (As I mentioned, people are all about their drinks here!)

Elin from Teafolio sent me a fantastic list of PDX places to visit. Thanks, Elin!

Planning on hanging out with a few tea people here soon. Always a pleasure!

So far, the weather has been good (although the hubby and I didn't fare so well on the way here -- there was a snowstorm in Idaho, complete with power outages).

Overall, everything is great! Looking forward to getting to know Portland better. :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Moving to Portland

As a foodie and as a person, I am thrilled to be moving to Portland. Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to most:

Urban planning done right
Bicycling (especially after living in the not-so-bike-friendly cities of NYC and Charlotte, NC)
Eating at awesome restaurants (and the availability of great veggie/vegan food at most of them)
Exploring the thriving food cart scene
Enjoying locally grown food and the riverside market
Partaking in Portland's love affair with beverages -- Imbibe Magazine, Stumptown Coffee and Tao of Tea are all based there; there's an abundance of local breweries; many California wines are readily available there
Checking out all the tea places Elin recommended on Teafolio.com
Utilizing Portland's proximity to San Francisco (my favorite U.S. city for tea)

Have you lived there/visited? What do you love the most?

Friday, October 2, 2009

East Meets West Tea Tour

I'm in the process of moving to Portland. My husband (Marko) and I are driving across the country in a moving truck. Along the way, we're making a few stops for tea. Right now, I'm discussing the particular s of tea and travel, as well as chronicling every cup of tea I drink during my trip, on Twitter (@LindseyAtVeeTea). Later, I'll write more detailed accounts of several cross-country tea spots for World Tea News.

So far, I've stopped for amazing masala chai drinking chocolate. Tonight, I hope to stop at two Kansas City tea shops. From there, it's on to Denver, (hopefully) Boulder and Salt Lake City. And, of course, after I've settled into Portland, I'll be visiting local tea businesses ASAP!

There's always something very exciting about making the journey as important as the destination. I doubt I can achieve that goal, given that I'm making a cross-country move, but I can always try. :)

What's your favorite tea travel memory? Have you ever happened upon a great tea spot by chance while traveling?