Thursday, November 26, 2009

Black Friday/Cyber Monday Tea Sales

Looking for an awesome deal on tea and teaware for the holidays? Check out this list of Black Friday & Cyber Monday Tea Sales I wrote for It includes deals from Adagio, Rishi, Samovar, Teance, teas, Etc. and more. If you have a tea company that's offering a deal for the holidays, please add it to the list! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tea & Cheese Pairings

If you're reading this, you probably love tea and, more likely than not, you're a foodie. If you're a foodie, you probably love cheese. Lately, tea and cheese pairings have been a fascination of mine. I think there's no better time to share them than the holidays -- they're perfect for parties and meals as an alternative (or addition) to wine and cheese pairings. Whether you're a tea business owner looking to spice up your events or a host/hostess looking for a new culinary path for your guests, I think you'll enjoy this approach to pairing.

I recently wrote about the topic for World Tea News. Here's an excerpt from my article, with pairing advice from David Barenholtz (Le Palais Gourmet/American Tea Room), Cynthia Gold (Boston Plaza Hotel, lecturer at the World Tea Expo and other venues) and Mim Enck (East Indes Tea Company, lecturer at the World Tea Expo and other venues):

*Pair opposing flavors – the salty, fruity flavor of Taleggio with the peppery, chocolaty notes of Risheehat First Flush Darjeeling (Barenholtz), or sweet Lychee Black or Pouchong and with salty Gorgonzola or Shropshire Blue (Gold).

*Play on similarities – the grassy-sweetness of Nevat with grassy-sweet Japanese greens, or the herbaceous Vento d’Estate with the honey-hay notes of Golden Needle Yunnan (Barenholtz).

*Consider texture – the fat of a rich Brie with a brisk, palette-cleansing Darjeeling First Flush (Gold).

*Bring out sub-tones and sub-textures – well-aged Comte emphasizes the cleanliness and chestnut tones of Dragonwell (Gold).

* Follow the seasons – seasonally available Irish whiskey cheddar with cold-weather teas like Lapsang Souchong (Enck).

Yum! What are your favorite ways to pair tea and cheese? Interested in doing this with your tea business? Read more on World Tea News.

Friday, November 20, 2009

East/West Tea Tour Ends: Tao of Tea

My last stop on my East/West tea tour/move was my new home, Portland, Oregon. I visited Tao of Tea's gorgeous location in the Portland Classical Chinese Gardens. Here's an excerpt from my review on World Tea News:

The buildings, plants and pond interacted in a distinctive way, completely unlike Western gardens (which often come across as more rigid and controlled) and classical Japanese tea gardens (in which tenuous structures play up a Wabi-Sabi sense of impermanence, while ponds and plants may appear more manicured).

The garden was bustling with visitors, yet a sense of tranquility permeated the space. Peeking into one pavilion, I saw Verinder Chawla, Tao of Tea’s owner, instructing two-dozen people how to grow, process and brew tea. Outside, people gazed at the lake, crossed covered bridges and observed the plants. On our way to the tea house, Marko and I stopped to shake Chinese fortune sticks with other visitors. Mine said something about being tempted; it must have foreseen where I was headed!

It was a lovely end to my journey, and a great beginning to my new journey of tea in Portland. You can read more about Tao of Tea and my visit there on World Tea News.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

East/West Tea Tour: The Tea Grotto

My next-to-last stop on mt tea tour/cross-country move was in Salt Lake City at a charming place called The Tea Grotto. Here's an excerpt from my review:

The Tea Grotto is located in Sugar House, a suburb dating back to the 1850s. From inside and outside The Tea Grotto, it was evident that small business culture was an integral part of the neighborhood. The large space was shared with a small gelateria, which increased the patronage and indie business cred. Tisanes included Ayurvedic and medicinal blends formulated by a local naturopathic doctor. Local regulars streamed in for tea to go, lively discussion with the staff and food that ranged from vegan sweets to a Brie plate paired with Dragonwell.

The food and tea were good, but what really set The Tea Grotto apart was its vibrant warmth. The space – large with high ceilings, whimsical aesthetic touches (including an enormous, colorful tea menu and a lighting fixture made of stemware), free WiFi, local art and plenty of nooks for customers to burrow into – was certainly a factor in the sense of community.

It's rare that I see a tea business that has cultivated such a sense of community. Congrats, Tea Grotto! You can read more about them (and my visit) on World Tea News.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

East/West Tea Tour: Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

On my trip across the country, I stopped mostly at smaller tea businesses filled with charm and community. My visit to Boulder included a larger, glossier tea house with the potential unrealized for greatness on an international scale. Excerpt from the review:

After visiting Seven Cups in Denver, my husband Marko and I drove to the famed Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder, Colo. I had read rave reviews of it, and I do not disagree with them. However, Dushanbe wasn’t what I expected. While I would recommend it to others, I doubt I will return.

I can sum it up this way: People are sometimes surprised that the World Tea Expo is in Las Vegas. They say, “Vegas isn’t a tea town,” but they mean, “Vegas seems too glitzy and hollow to capture how I feel tea should be.” Boulder feels more like a tea town, but if there is ever a tea house on the Vegas Strip, it will be something like the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse.

This was a rather controversial review. Personally, I think it was balanced and that the tea industry is grown enough to handle reviews that do more than pat backs, but, hey, to each his own! Read more on World Tea News.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

East/West Tea Tour: Seven Cups

My cross-country tea tour continues with a trip to Seven Cups Denver! Excerpt:

Walking toward Seven Cups, my husband Marko and I noticed that the Platte Park district where it is located had some of the traits that had attracted us to Portland and started our cross-country move and tea tour in the first place: smiling pedestrians, cute shops and restaurants, a moderately high population density, alternative medicine practitioners’ offices and the like. Tea house owners often say neighborhood characteristics like these contribute to their success, and Seven Cups indeed appeared to be the kind of business that thrives on the foot traffic these neighborhoods encourage.

This was a lovely stop on our way to Portland. If you're in the area, I recommend checking it out! If not, you can still read more on World Tea News. Up next: Boulder, CO.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yay! I'm the New Coffee / Tea Guide

Quick announcement:

I'm the new Coffee / Tea Site Guide! Right now, I'm building up a lot of new content. Soon, I'll be editing some of the recipes, articles, etc. from the previous writer, cleaning any spam out of the Forums and otherwise sprucing the site up. Here are a few new things I've been working on:

Tea, Tisane, Coffee, Cocoa & Apple Cider Recipes
A Guide to Pairing Hot Chocolate with Food
Hot Drink, Hot Drink Equipment & Hot Drink Media Reviews (Side note: If you want to contact me about reviewing one of your products, you can email me at vee (AT) vee tea (DOT) com.)
A Coffee / Tea Blog (The current topic is Tisanes vs. "Herbal Teas" -- it leaves the tisane/herbal tea nomenclature debate up for a vote.)

I'll periodically post updates on the site's progress here, but if you want more info, you can sign up for a weekly newsletter in the top right of the site and follow me on Twitter @AboutCoffeeTea. BTW, if you have any suggestions for new content, I'd love to hear them!