Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Tea Content

Lately, I've been developing quite a bit of content for Although I've never been much of a coffee drinker, the chance to discuss tea on such a popular forum has been an exciting opportunity for me. Most of the tea content is geared toward beginner tea drinkers, but I have been able to sneak in a few more advanced pieces of content, too. Here are some of the pieces I'm most proud of:

* An illustrated guide to tea & breakfast pairings
* Image galleries of Japanese green teas and white teas from China and beyond
* A guide to the tea-producing regions of India
* An intermediate-level tea quiz
* Hubs of content about kombucha, yerba mate and common tea drinks

Being a visual person, I find the illustrated guides and image galleries to be the most exciting and rewarding types of content to produce for About, so I'll probably continue to develop more of those in the near future. If you have any suggestions for content to add, I'd love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Japan Trip

My trip to Japan was a success! I'm still catching up, both from the two weeks away from my usual tea work and with writing about what I learned during the trip. For now, here are a few tea highlights from the trip:

* Learned to brew super-premium gyokuro & sencha the old-school way.
* Hung out with organic tea farmers who market directly to clients (a rare thing in the Japanese world of tea agents, wholesalers, retailers, etc.). Harvested bamboo shoots, wild mountain herbs and tea with them.
* Tasted Japanese kocha (black tea, also very rare).
* Went to a tea museum in Shizuoka. It left me far more impressed than my visit to London's tea museum.
* Tasted more tea-based foods than I can even remember. Learned that if it's a greenish pastry, it probably has matcha in it.
* Saw what I'm gonna go ahead and call the most beautiful tea shop in the world. Three floors of dizzying caffeine highs and absurd attention to design detail. Drank delicious koicha (thick matcha), usucha (thin matcha) and ocha-presso (sencha brewed like espresso) amongst the gorgeous sights there.
* Interviewed a tea researcher whose institution discovered theanine, an amazing sado (Japanese tea ceremony) specialist from one of the revered (but lesser-known outside Japan) tea families, multiple tea farmers (one of whom started a collective to fight for fair tea prices and increase organic production), a chanoyu museum curator, a famous tea production expert, people from one of Kyoto's most famous tea shops and other amazing tea people.
* Got my mind blown on multiple occasions, including a visit to a tiny tea shop in Kyoto (it looks humble, but was amazing enough to be featured in the French Michellin Guide) and a chic Tokyo tea cafe (where the tea sommelier is perhaps geekier than me about tea -- he even designed a custom tea brewing vessel for his cafe that's unlike any I've ever seen).

And here are a few non-tea-related highlights:

* Visited "Okonomiyaki Street," where most of the restaurants serve pizza-like okonomiyaki or its gooier relative munja. My friend Yuka (who works for one of Japan's top restauranteurs) and I ate at one of those you-make-it kinds of restaurants. She brought her okonomiyaki-making skills on in full force. Sooo good...
* Made new friends and reconnected with old ones. Had a great time hanging out with a long-time tea penpal (who makes an iced tea that tastes like a gin gimlet) and with several close friends from high school/college.
* Saw a massive protest in the yakuza part of Tokyo. Apparently this kind of thing is quite rare in Japan, so it's unusual that I saw it during such a brief trip there.
* Ate raw egg, natto and other crazy (and often slimy) foods.
* Talked food politics with farmers, tea retailers, a bottled drink blender, tea auction buyers and various restaurant industry people.

One of the things that struck me the most about this trip wasn't actually the trip itself. It's the uniformity of the response from almost everyone I've mentioned it to. Almost every person said something along the lines of, "I'm so envious!" To that, my response is this:

Japan is not that difficult of a travel destination. Most signs are in English. It's very safe and clean. If you're connected in the tea industry, you can meet enough people to make the trip very educational and enjoyable, and relatively inexpensive. If not, you can still have a great time. Also, if you live on the West coast, there are some very reasonable deals for flights. (I got a direct flight to and from Portland for about $800.) And, if money is an issue, there are deals to be had through youth hostels, work-live experiences, sales and the like. Honestly, the most difficult thing for me was the jet lag, and even that was OK on the way there. So if you really want to go to Japan, stop wishing you could do it and make it happen!

Side note -- You can see some of the treats I picked up on my About Coffee/Tea blog. I've posted about green tea caramels, green tea yokan (a gift from my tea penpal friend), green tea bath salts (which I gave to my mom) and three kinds of tea toothpaste. Other tea finds included all kinds of wagashi, green tea Kit Kats (which I'll review on About) and some new crop green teas that were harvested during my visit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tea in Japan

I'm about to fly out to Japan for first flush. Trip highlights include visiting tea farms, drinking lots of fresh tea, tasting fresh wagashi and visiting a dear friend in Tokyo. I'll update on Twitter (@LindseyAtVeeTea) whenever possible and write more when I return. For now, sayonara!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Developing Your Tea Menu - World Tea Expo

Just wanted to post a quick note that I'll be speaking at the 2010 World Tea Expo about how to create mouthwatering tea menus. The presentation spans from early development (like tea selection and signature drink development) to final touches (like menu design and tea description writing). I've worked with companies including Samovar Tea Lounge, urbana cityspa & teabar, Narien Teas, Tula Teas and Takashimaya in these areas and I look forward to sharing what I've learned over the years about how to set your tea menu apart.

The session is intended for those who are developing their tea menu, making changes to their tea selection or developing printed materials or web content to showcase their products. You can read more about it (and sign up) on the World Tea Expo site. If you know of others who may be interested in attending, please pass this information along!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tea in Seattle

I recently had the opportunity to explore Seattle's tea scene with a fellow Portland tea person who has been kind enough to show me around. It was a day trip, but we managed to check out quite a few spots:

Jade Garden - A dim sum place in Chinatown/"The International District" known for its delectable shrimp dishes. The jasmine pearls wasn't bad for a restaurant.

New Century - A charming tea shop, also in The International District. They have a gorgeous tasting area, complete with a carved old-growth tree tea table. I was impressed with their selection of teaware and picked up a basic gong fu boat while I was there.

The Teacup - A cafe-style tea shop with lots of regulars hanging out and plenty of people stopping in for a quick cup of tea. Good blended tisane selection. I've heard The Teacup's owner speak at The World Tea Expo, so it was fascinating to see in person what she had spoken about. Bonus - Brett (who is, I believe, the manager there) just got back from Taiwan and brought some of his finds with him. Awesome!

Floating Leaves - Not much to write home about in terms of ambiance, but my favorite in terms of tea selection. Very impressive Chinese and Taiwanese teas ranging from flowering teas to artisan oolongs. Bonus - The owner, Shiuwen, is extremely knowledgeable and has a great sense of humor. She also offers tours to Taiwan... and I have to say that I am seriously considering going on one soon!

Miro Tea - A cute, trendy tea cafe that, at first glance, reminded me a bit of Soy in NYC (across from Tea & Sympathy). I can't say much about it, as I was famished when I stopped in and ended up heading over to Root Table for dinner instead of teasing my appetite with Miro's crepes, etc., but I hope to visit again next time I'm in Seattle.

Speaking of next time... I hope to have time to sit down with Elin Head (who also writes for World Tea News) and Michael Coffey (of Tea Geek) and to stop by a few more tea places (Recommendations welcome!). I'll probably be in town for the Northwest Tea Festival, but perhaps sooner. We shall see!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Another Year in Tea

Today is my 28th birthday. Age 27 was an eventful year! Here are a few highlights:

* Got to work with some great tea companies! From staff training to events to copy (mostly copy), I loved learning about what makes each tea business successful in its own, unique way... and helping them do better within their niche. It's incredible to see such a diversity within the growing world of tea in North America. I'm thrilled o be a part of it.

* Continued to work with World Tea News. No one else is taking a look at the tea industry the way they are, and it has been a joy to be a part of the team.

* Started writing for as their Coffee.Tea guide. Figured devoting time to coffee is worth it if I can spread the love of tea. (I'm kidding! Kind of...) Continued to work toward my goal of exposing more people to great tea.

* Left NYC. Temporarily relocated to Charlotte, NC to help my mom open her second location of Urbana Cityspa & Teabar. When my work was done there, my husband and I traveled across the country to Portland, OR, a city much more suited to our lifestyles. (You can read about my journey, mostly my many stops for tea, on World Tea News.)

* Tasted some amazing teas. Got deeper into oolongs. Had a month of focused tastings. Sipped entire collections of tea from multiple vendors. Subscribed to Teance's teas of the month. Realized that, even if I tried, I could never get tired of tea.

* Worked hard. Lived well. Late last year, I realized that I was verging on burnout. After re-evaluating some priorities, making a commitment to only taking on clients I really want to work with and getting back into a regular exercise routine, I'm happy to say that burnout is no longer on my horizon. Might sound like a small task, but those who have been there will likely agree with me that it is not.

I hope that this year will be as much of an adventure as the last one (though I wouldn't mind moving less!). There are a few exciting projects in the works, including writing a book (the topic of which is currently secret), writing copy for several promising new clients and maybe even taking a trip to Japan and/or Sri Lanka. One of my goals for the year is to blog more, so I'll do my best to share news of these projects (and whatever else may come along this year!) here as it comes up. Until then! ~Lindsey Goodwin, Age 28

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Month of Tea

January is almost over and my adventure of drinking a different tea every day for the whole month is also ending. It has been quite the journey! Here are a few discoveries from along the way...

* Tea has so many amazing aromas and flavor profiles to offer... it dizzies the mind. I knew this already, of course, but there's nothing like a month-long reminder of the fact. :)

* Changing caffeine levels in my diet was harder than I thought it would be! I went from drinking four cups of white tea, to one to two cups of green tea and oolong (depending on the type), to one to two cups black tea (depending on how overloaded my work schedule was at the time -- one was more my tolerance level by the end), to two to three cups of pu-erh (depending on how aged it was). Despite the changes in quantity, it was still a challenge finding that caffeine sweet spot between not enough and too much.

* Sometimes, you're simply in the mood for a certain type of tea. I thought I could overcome my tendency to be inordinately particular about my tea selections by the end of the month, but no... I still found myself craving teas that were not in my tasting routine.

* For me, different tea types are conducive to different activities. White tea is great for chilling out. Chinese green teas are good for before or after yoga and stretching. Japanese green teas are better for mental and physical tasks that need to be completed quickly. Oolongs are perfect for writing (which is part of why I drink them so often). Black teas are better for physical activity and gut decisions. Puers are more introspective and reflective. This exercise was a firm reminder of which teas help me the most in my daily life.

* This kind of exercise really does improve your palate. I was a doubter in the beginning. I thought, "I could just taste everything in a day..." but tasting one each day is like that "eat a single Oreo and truly enjoy it" thing they do for food addicts. It forces you to concentrate, to savor, to exist in the moment. Tea becomes far more profound when viewed in these discrete moments over time. It's a singular and a cumulative effect that's completely different from the many cuppings (and casual cuppas) I've enjoyed over the years.

* Planning a trip during my oolong tasting week was not the best decision I've ever made. (Still, the Fancy Food Show and time with friends and tea people in SF was worth it!)

* Sometimes, one tea a day is just not enough! I'm not talking about caffeine, here -- I'm talking about the need for different teas for specific reasons. I didn't make any rules about sticking to the one each day, but if I had, I would have broken them for three reasons: 1. Oolong really does help me write (and I swear it's not just a mental thing). 2. Sometimes, the cravings for specific teas can get out of hand. There is nothing quite like pu-erh by a roaring fire or watching the sun rise over a cup of Genmaicha. 3. I write about tea for a living. I can't exactly tell clients, "I'll get to cupping all these teas next month." (Well, I suppose I could, but it would be a really bad business decision.)

Writing this over my second cup of Imperial Tea Court's Imperial Pu-erh for the day, I am thoroughly satisfied with this "month of tea" experiment. Of course, for me, every month is a month of tea (this is just a different KIND of month of tea)... and I'm looking forward to drinking a wild-crafted white sage and mint tisane for focus after I finish the pu-erh (After all, I have serious deadlines and can't exist in a pu-erh-induced introspective state all day!)... but I'm really glad I did this and would definitely consider repeating it next year. Maybe by then, I'll have a few more people to actively share the adventure with! (Marilyn? Steph? Jan? Am I sensing potential for a Portland group here?)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off to SF Tomorrow

I'm headed out to San Francisco for a week starting tomorrow. Planning to meet with a number of tea people, which is always a treat. I'll also be checking out a few more coffee places for my work with's Coffee/Tea site. If you have any suggestions for places to visit, I'd love to hear them!

Happy sipping!

PS -- If you want to follow my SF coffee/tea adventures, you can check them out on the VeeTea Twitter page.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Celebrating Tea in 2010

Happy New Year! I hope that your new year, like mine, has gotten off to a great start!

One of the things I look forward to each year is the idea of getting back to basics in January. I like to take the opportunity to simplify and clarify things in my life at the beginning of each year. I step back and look at my life and my business. I make goals and strategize on how to reach them. While looking at the big picture, I try to appreciate the little things.

This year, part of my simplification for January involves celebrating Hot Tea Month. Each day in January, I'm focusing on a different tea. For example, on New Year's Day, I drank a silver needle from Teance. The next day, I drank a silver needle from American Tea Room. Today, I drank a Bai Mu Dan. During the next week, I'll drink a different green tea each day... and so on it goes. Each day, I'll take on the simple act appreciating a different tea, but there's an overall goal to the exercise -- to re-educate my tea palate in a very straightforward way by reacquainting myself with a range of teas.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate hot tea month. (In fact, I came up with a list of 31 ways to celebrate hot tea month for How are you celebrating Hot Tea Month or using January as a time to rekindle your love of tea?