Pre-Tea Fast Jitters
2 Days Prior to Tea Fast
Oh my gosh! What was I thinking? The big day is just around the corner. In preparation for my fast I have been enjoying some of my finer teas that I have been saving for a special occasion.
~ Note to self – Stop saving teas no matter how rare, costly, or special. There is no time like the present so enjoy them while you can.~
I am trying hard to get my game face on but the reality of time is sneaking up on me. I know I can do this but I fear the only reason I will give in to temptation is missing the flavors and routine of my regular teas I have now been drinking for years.
Sure I am a little jumpy right now. Perhaps even more as I have just finished a rather large pot of Puerh. I probably should not have done that. Perhaps the proper and more responsible course of action is to slow my consumption before the big day. Let me be perfectly honest I have never been that good at making the rational choices. I follow my heart more often than my brain. If I had used my brain I probably would never had even concocted this ridiculous notion of “quitting tea for a week!”
On that note I need to make a list of teas I want to be sure I drink before the fast and then a second list of teas I want to drink as soon as the fast is over. Perhaps I should consider a little tea shopping during my fast so I can having something to look forward to post fast.
Wish me luck!
A little something I experimented with today. It turned out amazing. It was so good I had to do this little write up about it. Although I didn’t froth the milk I am sure you could. Hope you enjoy it.
Tea Magazine Has Gone Digital!
Why does this matter?
Simple, in this world of multi-tasking I would like to peacefully sit down to a magazine and a cup of tea but truthfully it just does not happen as frequently as I’d like. In reality I am typing away, searching something on online, responding to tweets, reading blog posts, updating Facebook and Google+, all the while updating my sites on Tea Trade of course. One would image that I would have had my fill of tea and tea accessories, but lets be honest us diehard fanatics can never get enough.
Now that the Tea Magazine is available in digital format it allows me the opportunity to sneak in an article or two in between the number of other activities that keep me busy throughout the day.
Convenience – Convenience is a huge factor for me and keeping up with modern technology is another. Don’t worry, I still enjoy unplugging like the rest of us. I cherish the feel of a paper in my hands while comfortably reading on the sofa, periodically gazing at the falling snow out my window. Though, this is an activity so far and in between.
Embedded Links & Video – I appreciate the ability to click on a link and have it directly navigate to my selected destination without the need to open a separate window and preform a manual search. The additional video links available in the digital version are a great addition if you would like further information on the presented topic.
Image Quality – The clarity is unmatched especially when you are viewing it on a device such as an iPad with Retina Display. The image is incredibly crisp as is the text. I appreciate beauty in art and photography and when laid on a digital canvas it only flatters the subject matter.
Why “Tea Magazine?”
Current Information – Of all the tea magazines I have thus far been exposed to I find this one a bit more cutting edge and a whole lot less filled with “frills” and “doilies.” I don’t have anything against “frills” and “doilies” as there is a place and market for just that. I find Tea Magazine’s publication brings more value because they are helping to bring tea into the future with more modern, mainstream, and unique information with style.
Value & Flexibility – I found the yearly subscription a great value for its content. The tablet edition is just $24.95. You get 6 issues for the year and can view it on as many mobile device as you prefer thus making it flexible and accessible to your lifestyle. Here are the benefits as listed on their website…
• Password protected security
• Videos & photo galleries
• Social media sharing
It is like “tea on the go” when you’re waiting in line, at the doctors office, or even relaxing on the sofa. No more having to being subjected to tabloids and outdated waiting room magazines.
Great Staff – If you have a question or need some help the staff is always available, kind, and courteous. I prefer to only do business with those I know take customer service seriously. I can confirm from personal experience that the fine people of Tea Magazine to in fact do make “Customer Service” one of their main priorities.
Bonus: Often times Tea Magazine has various experts contribute to the magazine. I appreciate the diversity of the information provided and also often being able to recognize said contributors from time to time.
Like many of you, I go through moods where I drink a particular tea constantly and then when the wind blows just right I switch to something new a few weeks or months down the line. These days I am just gaga over green tea.
A few of my favorites are…
1. Oi Ocha Dark (RTD) from ITO EN – I have been drinking this for years and do not plan on giving it up anytime in the future. It is my in between a freshly steeped cup beverage of choice. A water substitute if you will. Those who see me frequently would not recognize me without my bottle by my side. I am proud of this and would help pedal this beverage to all that gaze upon its glory with eyes of curiosity.
2. Sencha Shot (RTD) from ITO EN – The first time I had this was at the World Tea Expo 2012 in Las Vegas. I regret not writing about it then but it might have been for the best as I have really started to appreciate this more just these past few months. It is magnificent chilled and the flavor is truly authentic. I am extremely impressed with the manufacturing of this product and its ability to preserve the authentic flavor of Sencha. My only complaints would be price as it is a bit above what I would be willing to spend on a regular basis and size of the can. I would like to see this released in large quantity vessels, although understand why this may not be what ITO EN may have envisioned with this particular beverage
3. Asanoka Sencha from @AGiftofTea – The very same Sencha I have been cooking with and eating. My dear friend and fellow @TeaTrade Blogger and seller Jo Johnson was kind enough to send me some of this tea over the holidays. It is because of her that I have found a new respect and appreciation for good Sencha. It isn’t that I hadn’t been exposed to better quality Sencha in the past but rather I had fallen in with a bad crowd. It seems the majority of the Sencha as of late was of poorer quality making me forget about what could be. So many times I had been exposed to Sencha that was lighter in color, a bit longer in leaf, wider, and flatter than what you would expect in a better quality Sencha. Jo was my savior when she introduced me to this gorgeous specimen and now I will never look back. Keep in mind I was a lucky girl since she sent this to me out of the kindness of her heart. She has not officially posted this item up for sale yet. If you are interested in purchasing it, please contact her directly through Tea Trade.
19 Lessons On Tea
I was lucky enough to find out on Twitter that this book was available for free on the Kindle but only temporarily. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. Who wouldn’t, it is all about tea after all.
Once I got started, I quickly found the book to be a nice quick read with great introductory information about tea. Some of the little things impressed me most. Each lessons starts with a quote; tea related of course, and ends with a small history lesson on tea. I felt these small details made the book more unique and fun to read.
Tea has been a part of my life as a child and I still found I learned a few new pieces of information. Mostly I felt this book took on a more modernized approach. Iced Tea, Bubble Tea, Kombucha, and other “speciality” teas were covered briefly. Often times I do not see these types of new more recently made popular beverages discussed in books about tea. Even though herbal tea isn’t technically tea it also had its own lesson in the book.
I found this book to be well written, organized, and concise. I was thrilled that it addressed many different types of teas, tea blends, tea customs, preparation techniques, and talked about the value of a proper tea tasting and how to hold a tasting of your own.
I was also pleased “yellow” tea made it into the list of different tea types available. Yellow tea is mentioned so rarely and since this book is marketed to those newer to tea it is a great way to bring attention to this tea variety early in their education. Early awareness may result in additional demand making this harder to get tea more readily available.
Like others have mentioned my only concern is the discussion around how to reduce caffeine intake by allowing the tea leaves to steep for about thirty seconds and pouring out the liquid. The idea is that the second steep would have only trace amounts of caffeine remaining as most would have been washed away. Without enough evidence I felt this part would have been best omitted.
With only that mention I would still highly recommend this book. Again, it is a nice easy read. Well put together and organized thus making it easy to reference areas when needed. I believe it would be most beneficial to those getting ready to take tea to the next level and a great refresher for the seasoned tea drinker.
If you didn’t already know, I enjoy experimenting with tea. My current fascination is with fresh, aromatic, and vegetal green tea such as Sencha and Gyokuro.
It started not long ago when I sat down to enjoy some of the most freshest, emerald green, Sencha I had ever had the pleasure of drinking and eating. The Sencha was a thoughtful holiday gift from a friend and has now turned into something of an addiction. Click on this link “It’s True…I Ate My Sencha” for the full story.
Today I am talking about that very same Sencha and this time I am cooking with it.
1 cup sliced white button mushrooms (I like a lot of mushrooms, feel free to adjust as desired)
3 cups fresh baby spinach
¾ cup of fresh baby broccoli
½ freshly shredded Creamy Toscana cheese (Pick a cheese you like such as Feta, Romano, and Parmesan)
1 Serving of freshly steeped Sencha leaves (Just the leaves once they have been steeped making a single cup, not the liquid)
1 or 2 cloves finely chopped fresh garlic cloves
Pinch Kosher Salt
¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
¼ teaspoon Smoky Black T-Dust (Optional: From Sanctuary T)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
TIP: Experiment – Don’t feel as if you have to follow this recipe exactly. I am always changing things and keeping things exciting.
In a medium frying pan heat up some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Use just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. While that’s heating up quickly steep a cup of Sencha. You get to enjoy drinking the tea while you cook and use the steeped leaves in your dish. Once the olive oil has heated up add in the mushrooms. Allow them to sauté for a few minutes. Next, add in the Sencha, broccoli, and garlic. Stir, sauté, and allow the ingredients to caramelize. At this time you may need to add more olive oil over the ingredients in the pan. Next add a pinch of salt. Don’t stir the ingredients too much but keep an eye on the pan, especially the garlic since it is most likely to burn. What you need is for the mushrooms to cook down and brown. The broccoli will not cook down but you will see some browning. Once you see the browning slowly add the spinach, stir, add a bit more olive oil, a pinch more salt, black pepper, and optional Smoky Black T-Dust stir and allow the ingredients to cook down. It may seem like a lot of spinach but don’t worry it will dramatically reduce in size quickly. Once your ingredients have come together and are full cooked down plate it and add freshly shredded creamy Toscana cheese or cheese of choice.
You can eat this as is or add it to pasta. If you decide to add to add to pasta I suggest adding a bit of olive oil to the pasta after it is cooked and some garlic and onion seasoning. Mix and add the “Sautéed Sencha with Spinach, Mushroom, and Broccoli” mixture on top of the pasta and enjoy.
This is my first time writing up a recipe like this. I hope you have the same success making it as I did. Please share with me your outcome if you decide to create this wonderfully delicious, healthy, flavorful dish.
Serving: 2 or more with pasta
It has been brought to my attention that this year the World Tea Expo will be uniquely special to me both personally and professionally. There will be some especially amazing tea people attending this year, aside from me of course. I will have the pleasure of meeting so many of my social network friends this year that it has made me just plain giddy.
I’ll have to pleasure of seeing @Jopj again and if you are attending this year and never met her before I highly suggest it. She is super sweet, a Tea Trader of course, and incredibly knowledgable. If you didn’t already know she is a terrific children’s tea book writer. My now six year old daughter has been a fan of hers for two years now. She is even pictured on my friend Jo Johnson’s website.
Don’t be jealous, I even get to meet the infamous @thedevotea and his lovely wife Lady Devotea, which I can only assume has the virtue of a saint. He too is a Tea Trader and has some rather amazing teas too. Check them here: The Devotea
If I remember correctly I’ll get to see my friend @AmazonV again too. It’s not my first time meeting her but it will be my first time at the Expo. She is such a fun person everyone should make a point to meet. She also has a great tea blog. Check out her work here: AmazonV
Just a warning, I am maybe gushing when I meet the talented @lazyliteratus. He is an incrediably gifted writer and all around nice guy. You can check out his tea blog here… Lazy Literatus and judge for yourself.
Lastly, I will have the honor of meeting Michael Coffey, the Tea Geek himself. He is brilliant and can answer even the toughest and most obscure of tea questions. You can count on his accuracy and if he can’t answer your question immediately he will find out. I plan on bringing a list of questions for when I see him.
I am sure there are many more attending that I am unaware of but as for now these are my tea friends I am most eager to meet. I hope I don’t embarrass myself.
Not only am I excited about meeting my tea friends live and in person I am also most intrigued with the new shared venue. This year World Tea Expo will be sharing space with the Healthy Beverage Expo.
I think the combination will be beneficial to both Expo’s. I am full of curiosity and enthusiasm especially when two somewhat similar yet different worlds collide. Often times those in the healthy drink industry cross paths with the tea industry and visa versa. Exposure to both sides should prove beneficial to both industries. Having both equally compatible venue in one place has the potential to build new relationships and more opportunity to learn. For me the two Expo’s marry perfectly. I love my cup of tea but lets be honest, it isn’t the only drink I consume. Shocking, I know. In actuality I probably consume 90% tea and 10% other healthy beverages on a daily basis. Although, I know I am not the norm. I imagine for most the percentages would be closer to 50/50. I am not a pop drinker but I do enjoy coconut water, coffee, unique drinks like Kombucha, but only rarely. I even occasionally like vegetable juices. With that said, I can only suspect that we will see a higher turn out with a lot more fresh and exciting products and information available to view. I will be sure to share with you my impressions once I arrive in Las Vegas. This will be my second visit and can’t wait for the festivities.
My first impression when I unboxed this teacup was just how large it was. I didn’t expect to be as large as it was. Of course, I did not pay any attention to the dimensions that I am certain were clearly stated on Amazon’s site. Nevertheless, once I got over the initial shock, I decided to give my new teacup a whirl.
First thing first, I ran it through the dishwasher. A huge benefit for me as I do despise having to wash dishes by hand. The cup isn’t microwave safe but to me it is neither here nor there as I never use the microwave with regard to tea.
Once clean, I had to decide on what tea to drink first. I decided Coconut Pouchong would be my first choice. I realized quickly that I needed to make sure the leaves I used for steeping were not too large and wouldn’t expand much during steeping. The area designated for steeping leaves is not adequate for those leaves that need a great deal of room to expand. I found this cup is best reserved for smaller tea leaves that don’t require the space. Though not too small like rooibos but perhaps honeybush would be acceptable.
Once I placed the leaves within the cup and started the steeping, which is pretty cool. The way the teacup works is by tipping the cup in the direction of the filter when steeping. Once you have steeped the leaves you tip the teacup towards the opposite side of the filter and watch the water drain away from the leaves thus stopping the steeping process. Now you are ready to drink.
I waited my usually time for the tea to cool and then proceeded to drink. The first thing I was reminded of was how small my hands were. I needed to quickly find the best way to take hold of this cup. If I didn’t hold it properly I could see it potentially slipping out of my hands as the plastic used to make this teacup is rather slippery despite the slight texturizing done to its finish. After a few fumbles, success. I took a sip and found it to be a lot cooler in temperature than it normally would have been in a traditional teacup. The reason must be a result of the large cup opening and the plastic material the teacup is made from.
Despite the cooler than average temperature, which can be easily remedied by simply waiting less time than usual to drink the tea, tasted sublime. The sheer ease of use only made the experience that more enjoyable, once I figured out how to hold the cup.
I would HIGHLY recommend this teacup. Not as a primary cup for all teas but more for a cup of convenience while at work or one that is mainly used for finer teas like Sencha, Gyokuro’s, even some CTC’s, and simple black teas. I think I will be mainly saving it for my green teas. I found this teacup a perfect and welcomed pairing to my favorite green teas.
Overall Pros and Cons…
Easy to Clean
Convenient to Use
Steeped Tea Looks Beautiful in the Cup
Produces A Delicious Cup
Filter area too small for all types of teas
Not Microwave Safe
Cumbersome for those with smaller hands
Does not retain heat well
For me the “Pro’s” outweigh the “Con’s” and I am glad I made the purchase. I hope you find this post helpful. If you do decide to purchase one of your own please do share your experiences.
Please don’t cringe. It all sort of happened by accident and because of my inability to restrain myself. Yesterday during our bi-weekly “Ladies of Tea Trade” Google+ Hangout I decided to finally partake in an indulgence so graciously provided by @Jopj. It was a vibrant, deep emerald green Sencha. The leaves were thin and almost silky in appearance. Just looking at it I knew I was in for a treat. I should mention the tea was from “Sara’s Tea Caddie.” I had never had the opportunities to try any of her teas until now and I am sorry it took this long. It is as if I had been punishing myself from what could have been bliss all this time. Without a doubt this Sencha was fresh, vegetal and in a “BIG” way which for me is the only way to go.
I decided to steep this beautiful specimen in my new white Magisso Teacup. I place one level teaspoon into the side with the filter. I found this particular leaf works very well with this cup as it does not expand beyond the space allowed in the teacup. At the same time adequate space is available for proper steeping, no leaves cramped in here. On the other side of the cup I placed boiling water. I waited for the water to cool just a touch before tipping the cup over to the steep side and beginning the process of brewing the leaves. Once I got started it was truly a beautiful sight to see. The leaves bled a golden hue into the water. There was a small stream forming where the leaves first made contact with the water then slowly dissipating into the remaining pool of water. Gradually you could see the liquid take on a greenish tinge and then final the water was taken over and transformed into a gorgeous, aromatic, pungent Sencha.
Here is where the eating comes in. As I looked at my steeped cup of Sencha and took a sip all I could think was how deep and rich the flavors were. The leaves were looking back at me in this cup and I feel if I hadn’t used the teacup I had I would have never taken the plunge and eaten my Sencha. At first I played with the leaves siting atop the filter. They were for a lack of a better words, squishy and mushy. I thought, “you know I could eat this.” It look like fine spinach, I do enjoy spinach. What could be the harm in that right? I took a pinch in between my fingers and tossed it into my mouth as the ladies watched. My eye grew wide and my mouth smiled happily and with purpose. The leaves were amazing, delicious, but most of all addicting. I kept on eating them. I couldn’t stop myself. I bet you can guess what happened next. Before I tell you, I should mention that I felt like I must one day cook with this tea. Trust me I will, and I’ll write about it of course. For this Sencha I have planned some good clean tasting olive oil, touch of salt, pepper, sautéed mushrooms, and thin spaghetti. I asked the ladies if they had eaten their Sencha before and @teaformeplease and @jopj said they had. They had cooked with it too which is where I got the idea to sauté the Sencha in olive oil and salt, thanks ladies.
So here is what happened to me at roughly 10pm last night. I had great conversation over my favorite beverage, with my favorite tea friends @Jackie, @Jopj and @TeaForMePlease and discovered eating tea can be an amazing experience but please only in moderation. I ate through half my steeped leaves and I started to experience anxiety and a strange all around sensation. So please only a pinch here and there. Don’t let your addition take hold of you as it did me. I decided to laugh it off and the effects soon wore off. Keep in mind. I am the girl that can drink Matcha before bed and still fall asleep like a little baby.
Moral of the story, experiment with caution.
Ever find that sometimes it is better to just write out or talk out some of your thoughts and ideas for a little mental order? I am at the point where I think my best outlet for order is to write it out here.
As many of you already know I run my own modest business called iHeartTeas which is of course hosted right here on Tea Trade. It started out as a fun distraction and a way for me to flex my creative muscle. I’ve learned long ago that I successfully use both sides of my brain. I am both creative and analytical which does cause some internal feuding from time to time. As of late I feel like maybe I have found some accidental success in what I have been doing here on Tea Trade and Etsy. It is that success that has brought me to these crossroads. I need to decide my next step. Do I continue my current strategy by taking things slowly or do I get more aggressive and business focused? You know what they say, “if it isn’t broke why fix it.”
For one I absolutely LOVE tea and I doubt the heavens nor Earth could ever change that. Of course, my tastes evolve as I am sure they do for many here as well. It has been established, I have “passion” which for many running a business can be an issue. It has been in my experience when going into anything purely for the money you are destined to fail. Let us be honest everyone has the desire to make money. What’s important is you find what you love and you are fairly confident you will never grow tired of and then start a business, but only if that is something you have a desire to do. I have the passion and I have the desire.
Now the why? While I have never discussed this nor has anyone asked. The question is “why” do I want to run a business. Lucky for me it isn’t for financial gain, at least not primarily. I have such a need and desire to create and share with the world what I have made that the best way is to create, sell, and make just enough to create some more and start the cycle again. Is this a “good” business model? My gut says “no” but since I am not in fear of bankruptcy it may just be alright for now. However, in reality I need to make a decision and have clear reasons to continue. I have romanticized the notion of running a business as just a creative process when I know there is so much more to it than that. If I have goals written out that are clear and concise I will know what I am driving to do and aim hard to achieve them.
Remember the crossroads I mentioned earlier? Here is my dilemma. I have recently taken an important step regarding my career path. First and foremost I am always a mom and wife. Family is more important than anything. Even tea, please don’t judge me. I have been for the past four years working a part-time job that does occupy my time in between home life, hectic schedules, and of course iHeartTeas. My sweet husband one day said if I so desired I can give up my “day job” and focus on whatever else my heart desires. Obviously this meant just about anything. I could focus primarily on being a stay at home mom, business owner, go back to school, or just continue working. It has been a tough month trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Here is where I am today…
1. Work an extremely reduced workload at my current job. Arrangements have been made.
2. Go back to school while my daughter is in school.
3. Focus on the business.
What would you do? If the same offer were presented to you.
It’s funny. I went into the business as something fun. Something more of a hobby. I can’t believe it has the potential to be something more. As some of you already know I am terrible at self promotion. I always feel like those “Mary Kay” or “Avon” girls selling door to door. My biggest challenge is me and I know this because so many of you have said such wonderful things about my products. I need more faith in myself but until I work those kinks out I hope I can rely on you for the occasional kick in the right direction. I have had many people tell me to take my tea-inspired beauty products to WholeFoods and even talk with Oprah’s people about her new organic line. I just can’t believe some of you think my product is that wonderful. You know who you are and you have no idea how wonderful it makes me feel. Thank you.
But… you know what they say, “you are your worst critic.”
What an exciting experiment. Let me give you a little background. I was recently inspired to make this concoction with slight variation of course when I heard about from Nicole Martin also know as @TeaForMePlease during a Ladies Tea Trade Hangout on Google+ with @Jackie and @jopj.
~By the way, if you are interested in joining a hangout contact @Jackie I’m sure she would be happy to help get you started. We hold them everything other Thursday night at 8pm CST with the next one scheduled this Thursday the 15th. Hope to see you there. ~
Now back to the tea infused wine. I’m enjoying a glass as I write and with every sip I’m finding it more and more difficult to put into words just how interesting the flavor profile is. Please be patient with me as my command of the English language isn’t as skillful as perhaps some other amazing bloggers on Tea Trade such as @Lazyliteratus and @theDevotea. I’ll do my best to muddle through and hopefully I’ll paint an accurate picture.
The Golden Monkey Infused Merlot Experiment
Estimated .75oz of Golden Monkey from Teas Etc.
Estimated 2 glasses of Merlot from Village Vintner (Local winery, brewery, and restaurant)
Combined tea and wine together in a glass jar, closed the lid, and placed in the refrigerator for roughly 16 hours.
Strained tea leaves out
Aroma: At first impression the wine took on a new sweeter aroma with a distinct chocolatey scent. The orginal aroma of the merlot prior to infusion was lighter, brighter, and fruitier. After the infusion you get an obvious bolder scent.
Flavor: While I was hoping the obvious chocolate aroma would translate in flavor it unfortunately did not. No matter though as it didn’t disappoint in flavor. You can clearly taste the Golden Monkey and I found that it married very well with the Merlot. It was interesting, as the completed infusion appeared to capture the best qualities of each ingredient to make this a wonderful glass of ”tea wine.” The flavor had a reminiscent fruity flavor of the merlot but far more subtle than it would have traditionally tasted. Now it was distinctly more earthy, rich, robust, and heady. The two components complemented each other very well with none of the included ingredents drowning out the other.
Since I still don’t feel I did this post or this new beverage justice with my discription here I promise if I am ever to meet you in person I shall make a fresh batch so that we may share a glass together and compare notes.
Thank you to EPI Tea for sending me several samples of teas to review. I have decided to start with Irish Breakfast this morning. The biggest reason is because it is still fairly early in the morning and who am I kidding, I could use a little wake up call.
Tea: Organic Irish Breakfast (Black Tea) - Pyramid Bag
Steep Time: 4 min 30 secs
Water: 6 oz at 208F
Review: I found this tea to be rather smooth and well rounded. Not at all strong and “in your face” as I have most often experienced with Irish Breakfast teas. Still it has the appropriate amount of astringency. I would recommend this particular tea as a gateway tea. Start here and move up to more complex flavored Irish Breakfast teas. Since this tea is a perfect calmer representation Irish Breakfast tea, I would suggest all tea newbies try this. The from here you can decide if you like it or not. I am certain it will be enjoyable to the palette for those new or more experienced with tea. For those who don’t prefer the stronger bolder versions of this tea will find this one will work for them and find you will still be able to accomplish that much needed early morning nudge to get you moving. I find nothing at all offensive to the palette with this tea, meaning it is a very safe tea especially for those who are more sensitive in nature to overly flamboyant teas. I personally have a fondness for stronger, richer, bolder teas. However, I must admit on those days I just want something more soothing with a less obvious kick, this may be just what I’ve been looking for.
EPI Tea has not yet launched but you can see their blog in the link provided.
Back from a rather long trip visiting family in Maine and I am eager to start refocusing my energy back to iHeartTeas. I have so much planned before the end of the year and want to share my excitement with you.
I have plans to add new products, that I am sure will get the attention they deserve. I am currently in the process of testing those products which only reinforces just how much “I love My Job!”
Before I share what’s new I want to share my direction for iHeartTeas, other than tea of course. I want to introduce iHeartTeas as a website offering unique products, most of which are limited in nature. It is my intension to keep a small number of handcrafted teas on a permanent basis including select tea-inspired beauty products. The remaining offerings would be made available in small quantities and once sold out, they are gone. As a result, keeping my site stocked with new and exciting products always. Just remember if you see something you like you had better jump on it. If you don’t, you may miss your one time opportunity.
Some of the changes will include several opportunities to customize tea-inspired beauty products. I will be offering relaxing “Spa Bath Salts”, “Emulsifying Sugar Scrubs”, “Perfume Oils”, “Bath Bombs”, “Lip Balms”, and so much more. Many of these products will be prepared to order based on the fragrance you select. Be careful when you make your choice, you wouldn’t want to smell like onions would you? I will provide a wide range of options, thus making it fun and unique to you. For select products you will be given the option to select up to three different fragrances. If you want your bath to smell like Apple Pie, I would combine apple, vanilla, and cinnamon fragrances, yum!
Next, tea! I already have a selection of tea handcrafted by me. They are listed below…
These teas have become a part of my permanent collection. So many of you have been enjoying these far too much for me to retire any of them. In the future I may add more to my handcrafted selection however for now this will be it.
*NEW – Tea Blends & Orthodox Teas
I have decided to add new teas that I have sourced for their unique qualities. I am in the process of testing them all right now. I will be releasing them soon, slowly, and on a limited, small available quantity basis so that I may find more gems to offer in the future.
*New – Tea Accessories and Wares
I’m so excited to announce that I will soon offer Yixing pots and cups on an EXTREMELY LIMITED basis. I also have a couple of other unique items but will only announce them once I have them listed. Don’t want to give away all my secrets.
I hope you’re as excited as I am. Working on streamlining iHeartTeas and what I want is so much fun. Pretty soon I’ll even have a small panel of testers for my beauty products. Once everything has been tested and tweaked as needed I’ll start to slowly roll out the new products. I will even be coming out with my first newsletter with many of you already subscribed. If you are not yet it’s never too late. Go over to iHeartTeas and head to the bottom right corner to sign up.
Lastly but never least, I just want to thank my amazing husband. He is my behind the scenes supporter. He has encouraged me to reach for the stars and is always there for me. I even need to thank my five year old daughter who now has been touched by tea her entire life, who helps me whenever she can. Breeding the next generation of tea drinker and lover.
It’s my goal to cultivate an affinity of tea and all tea-inspired products. Finding ways to incorporate tea in a multitude of ways thought out our daily lives. That’s why “I Love My Job!” That’s why I started iHeartTeas.
Let’s paint a picture. Two hour drive from Bangor, Maine to Portland with husband driving about 75 mph, me in the passenger seat. Hanging on with a few white knuckle moments. Mother in-law and five year old daughter in the back seat. I’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks there.
First stop is Dobrá Tea in downtown Portland, Maine. Originally I was to meet a friend there for tea and lunch. His name is Chris, aka @VtKnitBoy on Twitter. He lives in Vermont and had planed to make the trek to Maine to visit me but fell ill and couldn’t make it. I was utterly devastated as was he. It was the one and only plan I had made that was just for me. I’ll explain, my daughter is attached to me at the hip. If she could have that surgically happen she would. Husband was only for the weekend and that left me with his mother for two weeks. Basically never a private moment. I so wanted to meet with Chris over a cup of tea, some hummus, and baklava. Unfortunately, this was just not meant to be this time around. After all being a mother you do get a little used to plans changing. As for Chris he is doing much better now, our plans to meet will just have to be rescheduled for the moment. There is always next time, right?
Back to the tea. What started as just an adult tea outing with those interested in such things ended up including my daughter and mother in-law. My daughter loves tea but lacks patience, with her biggest challenge remaining stationary for more than ten seconds. Not exactly the best way to enjoy a cup if you ask me. My mother in-law prefers her Red Rose bag tea and Lipton bag teas so despite the large selection she decided not to order anything off the menu including the delectable treats and savory items. Instead she sat quietly back with arms folded and minimal convention. Not exactly the chit chat I was expecting whilst having a cup of delicious Shui Xian with my amazing husband with whom I shared the tea.
In addition to the tea I indulged in a buttery, flaky, honey soaked piece of Pistachio Baklava.
Since only I enjoy baklava there wasn’t any sharing going on, with the exception of one bite I gave to a curious little girl.
This was my second visit to Dobrá. My first was in 2011 and it was once again not the ideal visit. At my first visit I didn’t even have the opportunity to sit and enjoy a relaxed cup. This time I not only enjoy a delicious cup of Shui Xian oolong I also had a “to-go” Wulong Bubble Tea and enjoyed a little of my daughters Vanilla Black Tea and even dessert. My second visit was far more enjoyable than my first. Reminds me to always give things a second chance. Would have loved to enjoyed Chris’s company but I suppose that will just have to be on my third visit.
Oh and if you are wondering, “Yes, I bought some tea” not as much as I did on my first visit. I purchased Sheng and Shou Puerh and a couple ounces of Bi Luo Chun.
Perhaps my next visit will go according to plan. I should have checked with the Tarot Card Reader that had there but then where would the mystery be?
Highlights, all of our tea was prepared in traditional fashion. All pots and cups were Yixing and warms prior to pouring. If you need something a little bell is provided. This way you can have your cup and drift off into contemplation without interruption. The tea room is beautifully decorated in Moroccan style. Even has a private room with low tables and cushions for sitting on the floor.
As much as I wanted to sit in that room I was concerned about standing up when it was time to leave. The place is dimly lite to help set the mood, they have beaded curtains and gorgeous lantern lights hanging from the ceiling.
Dobrá has a huge selection of teas and a nice menu of editable items.
If you are in Portland, Maine I suggest you stop in for a visit. They have free parking in the back but you are limited to an hour so make the most of your visit while you can or park on the street if you can find a space.
Here is a video of the World Tea Expo that was aired on a popular Asian laugage TV station LA 18. I’m sure those who understand Korean will get the most from this video. For the rest of use you’ll be able to see the show floor, listen to interviews of people attending, and running the show in English. For me I am actually in the video for a brief moment towards the ends. Looks like I’m famous. LOL
It’s been about a week since we have been back from the Expo. We meaning myself and my husband Ralph. It’s been an interesting week at that just trying to see if I can’t put my thoughts together onto virtual paper. This was our first exclusively tea Expo and I feel we saw and learned so much that the idea of putting together a blog post became a bit overwhelming.
On a personal note, many of you know that the week prior to actually departing for the Expo was a bit mentally and physically challenging time for us. Fortunately things are getting better on the family front. What I mean by that is my dad’s health is improving dramatically every day. As a matter of fact my dad was released released from the hospital the day prior to our leaving for Las Vegas and because he was doing so much better it made our trip that much more pleasurable.
Let me set the scene, a week before leaving my dad had a massive heart attack but now is doing much better. Next, this was also the first trip that both my husband and I were taking out-of-state without our five year old daughter. Another huge obstacle for me and her considering I’m a stay-at-home mom and being always around was sort of my thing. It was hard for me to let go. Not so much my husband since he travels a great deal for work anyway. For example, he’s in the Bahamas right now as I type this. So anyway I just wanted wanted to lay down a foundation so you knew my mental state prior to leaving, that’s the end of that and now off to the World Tea Expo.
I think my husband would best describe my attitude as extremely giddy. I was about to come face-to-face with what I would call utopia. Just imagine a microcosm comprised entirely of tea, tea accessories, tea education, tea fanatics, from all around the world. Reminds me of that daydream where you are wandering through streets of candy, where the houses are built of chocolate but in my case, steeped in tea.
I knew once I arrived it would just be a whirlwind adventure full of meeting new friends and old, learning new things, seeing new products, a veritable cornucopia of tea goodness.
I will say I was on a mission to find some really good friends of mine. Friends that I’ve made through social media, such as Twitter, Google+, Tea Trade, and Steepster. Funny, I remember as a child I used to have pen-pals. How times have changed, still my friendships through social media are just as strong if not stronger than those that I’ve made by way of traditional methods.
It was an extreme pleasure to meet Jo also known on Twitter as @agiftoftea. It was like in the movies. Our eyes met and in slow motion we ran to each other as I imagined Chariots of Fire playing in the background. Truly an epic moment. No, wait dare I say it… “Legend…wait for it…dary” – Barney Stinson from “How I Met Your Mother” moment. Similar moment happened yet again when I got to meet Katrina also known as @TeaPages on Twitter. We had near chance meetings on several occasions and I finally we had the opportunity meet in person, it was just like meeting an old friend.
By this time it was still earlier on Friday, the first day of the expo and what a way to start. However, even before then I went to my first lecture regarding how to “Find Gold In Green Markets” by Dan Robertson Owner/Director of The Tea House & World Tea Tours. The lecture covered key points on how to best be successful at farmers markets, what to look for, how to pack, how to present, and more. I felt reassured that much of the information being covered was what I had already known. Still it does make me feel better hearing that from someone as experienced as him.
After getting a good start to my morning I spent the rest of the day on the show floor. I got to see many of the vendors I’ve been wanting to see including some very unique vendors. I will get more into more details about the specifics of exactly what I saw, what I found intriguing, and what I would like to get involved with in my next blog post. Right now I just wanted to be able to set a foundation as to what this Expo has been for me.
So far I can say this Expo for me was mostly about networking. Of course, included in that is learning about new products. Plus a rather pleasant surprise, I learned what sort of footprint I’ve left within the community without even realizing.
In one of my other blog posts I’ll go more into detail about those wonderful tea education courses I was able to take thanks entirely to Beth and Neumann of Teas Etc. I was one of two lucky winners that won $400 to spend tea education courses. Thank you so much again Beth and Neumann.
After a long day on the Expo floor and many tea samples later, it was time for our Tweet-Up that was so graciously put together by Jo. It was such a great experience meeting all the people that I’ve been talking to on Twitter for such a long time including Naomi from Joys Teaspoon @JoysTeaspoon and her two other friends and associates Sarah @oolongofficer, and Audrea @EarlSteeper. Also, had the pleasure of meeting Chris Giddings @Teaity and @chrisagiddings, Lisa @LisaBraithwaite, and of course Jo and Katrina as mentioned. I do hope I didn’t forget anyone. My husband Ralph @ralphcarterii also joined us. He was kind enough to make sure we had hot water and tea during our meeting. Tea was provided by Teas Etc. Beth and Neumann were kind enough to come to rescue with some delicious Oriental Beauty oolong, a Zojirushi that Ralph guarded with his life, and T-Sac’s when we found out Lochan Teas supply of teas never arrived at the Expo. Thanks again for everything. The best part of the tweet up is that we finally got a chance to sit down have general conversation regarding our likes and dislikes at the Expo, some interesting finds, and just general catching up. I was meeting everyone face to face for the first time so there was a lot of catching for me. Towards the end we had great conversation about what we should do as bloggers at next years Expo. I feel confident we are going in the right direction with some of these ideas but until I can confirm we are going forward with the plan I won’t be sharing the details. Just know it is a great idea, includes the collective powers of bloggers and retailers and hopefully in the end will bring forth a cornucopia of new rich information.
Once the tweet up was over we all decided to head back to the expo floor and witness the Wu-Yu Tea Ceremony. It was a beautiful ceremony where the person who prepares the tea is to be silent and the person receiving the tea is also silent during the entire ceremony. There were many participants and from what I understand all spots for the ceremony were filled. It was so beautiful to see all these people who didn’t even know each other, maybe some did but others didn’t, just graciously offer a stranger a cup of tea with sincere smile.
Now the day had ended I was ready to head back to the hotel with sore feet, sore knee and a full bladder. Totally worth it.
I suspect I will have many entries regarding the Expo some more technical and some more personal I hope you enjoy them all.
I just have have to share with a new matcha bowl that I had painted and had glazed. I also put into it a message that saw on Pinterest on another mug that really spoke to me, “No Tea…No Work” and to that I say a rousing “Heck Yay!” I plan on making more and will share them with you as I go along.
I wish the front was a bit clearer but I did want to mention it is a dark green and light green mix in drip like streaks. Just gorgeous.
Recently, I have been seeing Gaiwan’s used more and more. Plus, I see more Gaiwans available for purchase in retail stores and online. All of the sudden I see them popping up everywhere. It is this reason I had decided to find out, “why all the rage?” Maybe I am missing out on something? Clearly, the way I went about using my little 2-sided Gaiwan, flowers on one side, writing on the other was probably wrong. How could it be so many enjoy using theirs and not me. So rather than blaming myself, I decided perhaps it was the Gaiwan. Good old fashioned blame someone or something else. (I know it was me)
There I was back in the market to purchase new tea ware. Imagine my excitement. I love buying new tea ware. Heck, I love buying anything tea. Clearly I am a fanatic with slight obsessive compulsiveness towards tea. I am sure none of you could relate. Tea-he.
I purchase the ones you see here. One has a dragon pattern and the other a crane. These are larger than my original one and the material it is made from is much thicker and clearly sturdier. I feel with these I can make a good cup of tea. Best part… I don’t burn my fingers.
Anyway, I know I am just blathering on about how cool my new tea ware is and I know your jealous, perfectly understandable but I promise there is a purpose to my back story.
I now understand why people love their Gaiwans… They produce amazing results! The teas I have tried so far are a Ben Shan and a Milk Oolong. Both of these I enjoy making in my traditional fashion and would have never complained about the flavor. After preparing it in my new pieces I feel like I am experiencing these teas in a new light. I can’t believe these could taste better than the best. I am not certain what magic these Gaiwans possess and I am certain I don’t care. Although, I am almost certain it has something to do with the shorter infusions.
I promise you from now on I will be frequently including the use of Gaiwans when preparing teas. I encourage everyone to give it a try. Plus, when you start working on your technique you will find a way that best works for you. You will no longer burn your fingers and experience little to no spilling. I can’t wait to invest in some more accouterments for the complete Kung Fu experience and report back.
Two thumbs ups for Gaiwans, I’m just sorry I was so late to the party. Fashionably late I hope.
Just recently purchased two new Gaiwans for my rather lacking collection. With the addition of these two I now have three. I particularly like these because they are larger than the first one I have a the material is thicker and stronger making them better for everyday use. The one I have always had is a bit more dainty and made of fine bone china. I am always worried I will break it, plus it is much to small for a proper cup. Below the first two pictures are of my two new pieces, the dragon and crane. The other two pictures are imagines of my first Gaiwan on either side as they have different imagines on both.
The ever so kind Erin of Erin’s Tea has done a review of iHeartTeas and I couldn’t be more excited. Check it out and tell me what you think?