Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where did the time go?

I can't believe it's October! Where does the time go? It seems like it was just a few weeks ago that we were celebrating "Teas" 10th anniversary.

Much has happened since August. We have hired 2 new great staff members, Suzanne Bailey and Matthew Papera. Both bring with them lots of experience and more importantly great energy!

In September we received our USDA organic certification through QCS, as much a personal goal as a professional one. Along with the certification we have launched a new line of 100% organic teas and a new "organic" section on the website.

We have sourced some fun new products and some exceptional teas! Our new line of vibrant citrus teas will become available next week. The grapefruit is fabulous.

Interestingly enough when I was at the Fourth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Health in Washington, DC last month one study indicated that the combination of citrus and tea may increase the antioxidant absorption in the body. I will write more about that in Novembers newsletter.

Many cool things are happening and this a great forum to share them with you. Until next time, Beth

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Teas Etc Celebrates Nine Years

I can't believe it, nine years, it seems like yesterday that I began my "tea" journey.

I could have never imagined what was ahead when I started Teas Etc. I did not understand how it would enrich my life, the friendships I would gain and how many life lessons I would experience. And there is so much more in store!

We celebrated yesterday with tea, chocolate cake, many "remember when" stories and lots of laughs. I was glad that Melissa was in town for the celebration. She has done all of our product photography, as well as working in the office for the last four years. We were also pleased to have two new staff members with us yesterday, Suzanne who will be overseeing office operations and Carole our new wholesale sales person.

We have had wonderful employees over the years and I would like to say a big THANK YOU to them all!
Tiffany now in law school in Michigan and still working as a proof reader for Teas.
Emily who is still local and teaching middle school.

Brain, Melissa's brother now married and a new Dad.
Jason, Melissa's husband, responsible for the entire renovation of our offices and when he is not playing, excuse me "working", on his drums (with his band 10th Avenue North) we are still able to get him in to fix things once in awhile.

Didi who has gone from selling tea to selling shoes.
Kathy who so deligently awoke every Sunday for two years and told everyone she could how great Pu'erh is.

April who is still selling tea even though she is now in Montana living her own dreams, happily ever after with Newman's brother Mark.
Mark how could I forget Mark, our very first "reluctant" tea bagger in 1998.

Our son Christopher who began selling tea at 10 years old just because he was so cute and because I really needed help. The ladies loved him and could not beleive how knowledgeable he actually was. I remember the day when Chris was talking with a young lady and I asked if I could help she said "no I'm buying a bunch of stuff and I dont drink tea?"

Our adopted son Nathan who while he still works as site administrator is now telecommunting. We miss our favorite oolong enthusiast.

My mother in law who is always singing my praise and telling me what a success I am, thanks Dolly.

My personal favorite helper, Spring Leaf for all of her creativity, endless energy, staying until the job is done, making sure I stretch, eat, cry and keep going when it matters most. Who's better than you? Oh and Bill thanks for letting her play.

And who could forget all of those dedicated, tea drinking friends and family who have filled in along the way; Betsy, Priscilla, the Black's Dennis, Anita and Chris. Katie, Loraine, Mela, Barbara, Dawn, Riza, Nicole, Shannon, David, Candice and Cynthia.

Most importantly I want to publicly thank my husband Newman who while he thought I was crazy let me open Teas anyway. Who has become my biggest supporter, cheering me on even when I wanted to quit and helping me stay the course even when I became distracted and who has been working by my side at Teas for the last five years. Our company has gained so much from your web expertise and level headed style. I am grateful and owe you more than I could ever repay.

I would never be where I am today without all of the support, love and help of these incredible individuals, thank you.

See the party pictures below. Next year will be a big party and I hope you all are there!

Love and gratitude, Beth

From Left to Right; Melissa, Beth, Suzanne, Carole

From Left to Right; Newman, Beth, Suzanne, Carole

Thursday, July 05, 2007

World Tea Expo Photos

Teas Etc booth

World Tea Expo, Atlanta June 2007

The show floor, Teas Etc booth is on the right in the 700 aisle. Great lighting Barb!

Mr. Liao joined us from Taiwan, white shirt center back.
Ankit was in town from India and stopped by for a visit. We met many people and talked tea non stop!

Our custom designed table drew a lot of attention. A honeycomb within the table top held some of our favorite teas.

The other, tall, half of our table that was made completely of sustainable maple. Peter Waldock is the talented woodworker who brought this one of a kind design to life. Completely hand crafted the design was a collaberation between myself, Barbara aka Spring Leaf and Peter.

Flowering Teas are Hot!


Until next time, Beth

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

2007 World Tea Expo

I am sitting here with an incredible cup of Darjeeling White tea, the perfect way to unwind and relax after almost a week of non stop tea!

We spent a lot of the last 3 weeks preparing for and finally attending the 2007 World Tea Expo (WTE) in Atlanta Georgia. The WTE is the worlds largest trade only tea expo. The energy of the show was amazing! We could not be more pleased with our results, far beyond our expectations.

We are excited by the many people we met that are new in or transitioning into the tea business and the overwhelming response that we as an organization received at the show. You could not get near our booth 99% of the time and for 2 of the 3 days we had people come back 3-4 times until they had a chance to talk with us.

One of our Taiwanese growers flew over for the 3 day show too talk with customers about the Golden Dragon Aged oolong, a Teas Etc exclusive. Our booth was so busy that C.H. ended up being adopted by our next door neighbor, a Puerh grower from Yunnan province in China.

We introduced our new travel mugs and our new "Tea Temp" tea thermometer both a huge success. Both are going to be featured in Gourmet Retailer magazine along with our new tea sampler gift packages, due out in August/September and our new 2 cup Ceremony side handle teapot, scheduled to hit the US by the end of July.

My Saturday presentation was also well received and I am glad that I had the opportunity to share some of my personal marketing successes and mishaps with those who attended.

I was interviewed on on Monday morning and I am scheduled to do an interview on a Korean radio station.

I had a great time meeting the members of the Southern Association of Teas Business an organization that I have been a member of for sometime but finally had an opportunity to meet the awesome members Friday evening at the dinner, which featured Jane Pettigrew as the speaker. I was really glad to hear that one of our members won the trip to Nilgiri! How exciting.

We have taken tons of pictures which I will post over the next few days. I will also share some of the cool businesses that we became newly acquainted with and if they are in your area stop in and visit them and tell them we sent you. But enough for now, I am settling in with my soothing cup of tea

Until next time, Beth

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Chestertown Tea Party

We had a great time at the 2007 Chestertown Tea Party which takes place every Memorial Day weekend on the banks of the Chester River in 18th century Chestertown Maryland.

This fun filled two day event has is a full range of activities like; bike and foot races, a Colonial parade, walking tours, music, shopping, sailing, and terrific regional cusine all in a beautiful quaint small town atmosphere.

The highlight of Tea Party is the tea tossing reenactment which takes place Saturday at 2pm. The reenactment is based on the 1774 Chestertown "Resolve" which forbid importing, selling, or consuming tea in Chestertown set forth in response to the British Parliament's closing of the port of Boston. According to local legend, residents gathered at the town center, marched down High Street to the brigantine Geddes, which was anchored in the Chester River, and tossed her cargo of tea overboard.

As the colonials march down High Street to board the Sultana, which takes the place of the Geddes, and toss the tea those attending tea party get into the event protesting right along with them. We look forward to the group passing our booth as we yell back reminding them that we are not the kings men!

Another highlight of tea party is the wacky river raft race taking place on Sunday in Wilmer Park. Locals build rafts out of anything that is not related to sailing, floating or otherwise sea worthy. The range of ideas and creativity is great and watching most of them sink is hysterical!

If you are ever nearby during Memorial Day the Chestertown Tea Party has something for everyone and is great fun not to mention having terrific tea.

Until next time, Beth

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Rest of My Favorites

My final "favorites" begin with the the Organic Fiji line of skin care products. Delicious aroma is what drew me to the booth and then I experienced the Pineapple Coconut Scrub which I used to exfoliate my hands. I was left with a lush layer of moisture and a subtle, natural scent, I am very finicky when it comes to scent especially too much scent!

The scrub adhered to my skin (my biggest complaint with scrubs is many slide right off especially sugar based types) and the texture was good. Made with organic Fijian cane sugar and virgin coconut oil, which is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and antibacterial properties, helping to protect against environmental stresses. Coconut oil also acts as a natural pour decongestant with exceptional moisturizing ability while helping to relieve minor skin irritations.

As an added bonus the company uses all of the left over coconut husks as an energy source helping to power the local community where the product is made. I briefly visited the website where I will be back to buy in the not so distant future. Learn more at .

My next favorite was Tenfold Organic Textiles. Now I must admit that I am nuts about fabrics and paper, I just love textures. This company, started by a young woman named Leah, has incredible quality fabrics that are not only organically grown but also naturally plant dyed which differ from low impact dyes. The companies website is easy to use and you will find fabric by the yard, sheet sets, duvets, towels and napkins. The most impressive of their products was the Peace Tree Quilt and it was a work of art. The hand craftmanship was obvious and this impressive quilt is also available online. Tenfolds textiles are grown and produced in India where they employ fair trade standards for the workers.

Lastly I want to mention a delicious olive oil that is not yet available in the US but when it is you will want to get some. Intense flavor that was different from other oils I have tried ACUSHLA extra virgin olive oil is a product of Portugal and one that will hopefully find a US outlet!

Until next time, Beth

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My Favorites from the All Things Organic - Fancy Food Shows in Chicago

The organic show was by far my favorite, the energy, the exhibitors, the products there was a great feeling of community. Don't get me wrong the Fancy Food show floor was good, lots of new and existing products, an international section (small but fun) and tons of sampling. There are more distributors showcasing products at FF and you don't get the same high energy feeling from a distributor as you do from the product owner.

Subsequently all of my "favorites" are from the All Things Organic show floor where I met lots of young people who have passionately created products that are conscious of the environment and that they are excited to share.

The first of those is a start up company by the name of Organic Fred. What caught my eye was the fun, fresh designs of their organic t-shirts and baby clothing, I am wearing the pink "biodegradable" t right now. The soft 100% organic fabric is fabulous and the art is created to "Fred-ucate" consumers on the importance to live, eat, wear and be organic.

The companies products, which include apparel for adults and children, accessories for baby and re-usable shopping bags, are made in a factory certified to ensure the human rights of the workers and are printed using solvent free water-based ink with no synthetic additives. Their website is super easy to navigate with plenty of educational content so I strongly encourage you to experience Organic Fred for yourself at

The second company is an established group that has great organic oils, Assured Organics and sister company Nature's Approved. This NY based group promotes the benefits and versatility of different organic oils one of which is coconut oil. Used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, coconut oil is ideal for cooking and can be used just like olive oil, on salads or to saute with. Coconut oil can also be used topically and in your hair. The butter texture is easily warmed in your hands for easy application and the natural aroma is delightfully tropical. I have been using Camellia oil on my skin for a while so I know that oils are great and don't cause break outs or clog pours.

Dr. Bruce Fife, the companies founder, seemed even more excited to tell me about the benefits of organic Rose Hip oil "it has remarkable skin healing properties and can help diminish and in some case even remove stretch marks and old scar tissue caused by acne, cuts or burns when used over time". I had some sun damage removed from my upper lip a few years ago so I have started using the sample of Rose Hip oil they gave me at the show. The oil is a transparent light orange, virtually odorless and feels great on my skin. You can find our more about these cool products on the companies web site

I can't leave out chocolate and while there was a ton of terrific chocolate at the show I especially enjoyed one of Dagoba's latest bars "lemon ginger". With a cacao content of 68% and only 13 grams of sugar this delicious, dare I say healthy, bar is one you should definitely try. It would even be great with a cup of our organic Lemon Ginger green tea!

Chicago is one of my favorite cities. The weather was perfect and this very clean city looked especially pretty with tulips in full bloom everywhere you looked. We stayed at the Omni where the service was impeccable. We had a terrific meal at an Indian Latin fusion restaurant named Vermilion on Hubbard St., the atmosphere was fun, the service was great and the cuisine interesting and delicious. Vermilion is a restaurant I would definitely visit again.

I will showcase the rest of my "favorites" in my next blog, until then, Beth

Monday, May 07, 2007

All Things Organic Show

I am in Chicago attending the All Things Organic & Fancy Food Shows. We arrived yesterday, I am with my girlfriend Riza, and went directly from the airport to the show and decided we were most interested in the organic portion.

It's huge with so much to see; sustainable packaging, baby clothing, new herbal products, lots of chocolate (Dagoba has a new lemon ginger dark chocolate bar that is yummy) but not much in the way of tea. Stash is here and another newer company, can't remember the name, with a new fangled tea bag but other then that just herbal stuff. Tons of great food products and incredible fruits and veggies.

We are heading back this morning to begin where we left off yesterday, we did not finish the organic portion of the show and I understand that the Fancy Food section is even larger. I will check in with my favorite finds after covering as much ground as possible.

Until next time, Beth

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I Wish I Had A Camera!

My 17 year old son, an avid baseball player, plays for his high school varsity team. What does this have to do with tea? Well when your kids are involved in sports the parents are always called on to volunteer.

Our team was hosting a barbecue for an out of town team about a month ago. We were feeding 50 teenagers so everything was being made in large quantities including the sweet iced tea that was being served, we live in the south and no matter how hard I try....

I am the brunt of all the "tea" jokes and this day was no exception we were sharing a lot of laughs. As we set up for the guys to eat I turned around and saw Marianne, my personal tea maven after this, filling one of those industrial size coolers with a garden hose! Yes that's right a garden hose, she was making the tea! I thought I would die, I was in hysterics!

This has to be my funniest tea moment ever and one of those times when I wished I'd had a camera because no one is gonna believe it.

Hats off to Marianne and the Suncoast Chargers, big time tea drinkers, Beth

Sunday, April 29, 2007

First Flush Darjeelings Are Here

In all of my excitement about my trip I failed to blog about a couple of new tea arrivals, some first flush Darjeeling's. While I am still disappointed about having to reschedule, life goes on and I am reminded of this by the exceptional character of these early spring teas from a region other than China, India.

As I enjoy my cup of white tea from the Thurbo Estate, Darjeeling with crisp, bright fruit tones, smooth body and subtle lingering I am reminded of the Darjeeling white teas of 2003-2004 that I was so fond of. It was these magnificent teas that helped reshape my thinking about white tea. Cup by cup I realized that my narrow opinion (I once considered only Chinese whites as "real" whites) had kept me from really enjoying these delicious teas and what a pity that was.

While there is no doubt that China is the birthplace of white tea many other regions have taken some of those traditional processing methodologies and fashioned their own style of white tea a viable part of the specialty tea market in my estimation.

Since that time we have always sought out the finest white teas available from this renowned region and look forward to experiencing each harvests unique nuances. This year was no exception. While this year's selection is reminiscent of 03 & 04 it has a special taste that sets it apart and we selected it over numerous other samples including some silver needle varieties.

While China is certainly the birthplace of white tea many other regions have taken some of the traditional production methods and fashioned their own style of white teas

Another exceptional first flush tea we have sourced is Makaibari Bio Dynamic, Fair Trade certified black tea. While I am not a big black tea drinker I have been known to partake in a good first flush every now and then. This traditional style Darjeeling has all of the character and body inherent to a high quality first flush tea; astringency, full mouth feel and bright cooper colored liquor.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

No Smooth Landing

As I waited for my flight in New York I was overcome by a stomach virus that was relentless. Needless to say I did not board my 19 hour flight overseas and here I am sitting at home disappointed that I am not in the mountains of China!

I will be rescheduling the trip after we attend the World Tea Expo in Atlanta in June and while I am very unhappy about the delay I believe everything happens for a reason and cant wait to see whats in store for me when I do eventually arrive in Asia.

Until next time, Beth

Sunday, April 22, 2007

A Long Way to Go

I am in NYC waiting for my flight, the beginning of my annual trip thru China and Taiwan. I am looking forward to seeing Amy again and can't wait to begin sampling teas and finding new products to bring back!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

2007 Dragon Well and a trip to Asia

I am loving the new 2007 Dragon Well! This first grade green tea is straight from the source in Hangzhou and is delicious. As beautiful as it is tasty, this flat leaf tea is bright yellow green in color and has a rounded leaf shape.

I am frantically preparing for my trip to Asia and am beginning to get excited! Travel with me (I leave Monday 4/22 & arrive in Guangzhou on 4/23), through China and then Taiwan and visit tea gardens, cities and more. I will be blogging the trip every day or two complete with photographs and our various adventures.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Teas are Arriving in Shanghai

Due to unseasonably warm whether in China spring teas are already being harvested, much earlier than usual. Zhuyeqing green tea, from Sichuan Province, and Wenzhou also a green tea, from Zhejiang Province are already being sold in Shanghai.

While early spring teas are often the highest in quality the best is yet to come and will go on the market in early to mid March.

The highly anticipated Longjing, aka Dragon Well, green tea from the village of the same name in Zhejiang Province is one of China's most famous green teas. The buds are already sprouting on these plants and the first of 2007 from this renowned village will be available for purchase soon and I will be the first in line! The early spring Dragon Well is superb and every year I cant wait to try these harvests in the highest grades.

Experts predict if the warmer weather continues tea production will be up this year in China and prices should remain almost unchanged, good news for us all!

Until next time, Beth

Friday, February 23, 2007

It's All About the Boar, aka Pig

Its All About the Boar a.k.a. Pig

This year's celebration is all about the Boar, the twelfth sign in the Chinese lunar calendar.
A person born under this sign is courageous and sturdy with a strong "stick to it" attitude, willing to patiently stay on task giving 100% until the job is done. A strong sense of duty is balanced by an equally strong pursuit of desires which can lead to trouble.

Somewhat naive when it comes to judging others, the boar has a tendency towards blind trust. This naivety may be driven by the boars own strong character traits of loyalty and trustworthiness, an exceptional quality leading to mutually beneficial friendships. With a calm, cool demeanor this popular, diplomatic sign is often the moderator between opposing sides wishing for harmony among all beings.

The ability to let bygones be bygones allows this peacemaker to let go and surrender in confrontational situations, making it almost impossible to hold a grudge. The big hearted, charitable boar would rather give then receive and can be somewhat offended when not met with the same giving attitude. For the boar "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" with little ability to understand why it should be any different.

Always the giver, the boar is a good listener with limitless sympathy and a willingness to do whatever possible to help out, making this sign well suited for social work, either as a volunteer or a career. The Boar is a social animal, so to speak, belonging to associations and clubs of many types. But more than anything the boar loves to party and party and party some more.

With a tendency toward overindulgence and a taste for the finer things in life the enormous appetite of the boar can lead to tremendous guilt and remorse a strong emotion that will emerge with even the slightest transgression. The boar exhibits tremendous energy and is known for putting his heart and soul into his career, working tirelessly throughout life.

This outwardly jovial character may have somewhat of a rough exterior, speaking his mind openly making him a poor match for more public positions. The boar is either super tidy or super messy, rarely falling in the middle.

Ms Boar is personable and modest and is a devoted wife and mother. For her it is a labor of love and if the rare occasion arises that she does complain it's brief. She expects nothing in return for her industrious efforts and makes the finest of hostesses.

For the thick skinned, but big hearted boar the inability to say no will prove to be his biggest weakness and his overgenerous and overoptimistic nature will cause him the most problems in life. The boar will receive the greatest benefit out of life working unselfishly for the benefit of the majority as his generous instinct requires.

The best suited relationships for a happy life would pair the Boar with the quiet and sagacious (discernment and good judgment) rabbit, gentle sheep or possibly the tiger. Secondary possibilities are the rat, ox, dragon, horse, rooster and dog. And while he can tolerate the company of another boar he will actually be bored? The snake and the monkey are not a good match for the boar.

There are other elements that influence what type of boar you may be. These elements are water, metal, earth, wood and fire. Every sign in the twelve year cycle has a fixed element that further details personal characteristics. Additionally the time of day you are born influences your boar type with all twelve signs ruling a specific time of day. It can become complicated, but equally interesting and fun.

Metal Boar - 1911, 1971
This is a more dominate boar who is proud and passionate but may lack refinement. He underestimates his enemies and overestimates his friends and will never concede graciously. With unbelievable endurance this boar is never a quitter.
Famous Persons Born in the Year of the Metal Boar- Hubert Humphrey - Ronald Regan - Lucille Ball - Rosalind Russell - Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.

Water Boar - 1923, 1983
This more diplomatic boar is resourceful and believes strongly in miracles, which can work against him. A great party-goer this boar loves to be among people and has tremendous goodwill. Be careful water boar because when you are negative you have a tendency to overindulge and can't seem to get enough of anything.Famous Persons Born in the Year of the Water Boar - Prince Rainier III of Monaco - Henry Kissinger - Maria Callas - Lee Kuan Yew.

Wood Boar - 1935, 1995
This boar is a master manipulator and has a greater concern toward personal gain. With a gift for bringing people together this boar is a great promoter who gets along well with everyone. Willing to help all he comes in contact with this boar will likely devote a great deal of time towards charitable efforts. As a persuasive talker this boar will succeed in ambitious corporate ventures. With the cheerful, positive demeanor this boar will have everyone supporting his efforts good or bad.Famous Persons Born in the Year of the Wood Boar - King Hussein - Julie Andrews.

Fire Boar - 1947, 2007
This is your year! Powerful and intensely emotional this heroic boar can be in for a life of tremendous achievement or tremendous despair depending on how tightly he controls the overwhelming energy he possess. Pigheaded determination and a firm belief in his own abilities this boar will try anything once and will probably succeed. However if unhappy, this boar can be a guilt ridden, willful bully. The all important family will drive this boar to achieve great wealth to support a lavish lifestyle for loved ones. This boar is giving and can become infamous amongst friends for his generosity. Famous Persons Born in the Year of the Fire Boar - Andrew Jackson - Hillary Rodham Clinton - Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery.

Earth Boar - 1899, 1959
This peaceful boar is devoted to both work and family and believes that charity begins at home. Motivating others thru personal actions this boar is patient and steadfast with a strong sense of financial responsibility and is poised for material success. Geared toward harmony and tranquility this boar will steer clear of negative situations and be a reliable, thoughtful friend. A great love of food and drink this boar needs to be cautious watching out for overindulgence.Famous Persons Born in the Year of the Earth Boar - Ernest Hemingway - Humphrey Bogart - Alfred Hitchcock - John D. Rockefeller.

I thought somebody might like to read this for fun so instead of rewriting the whole thing for the blog I just posted the published article, hence the legal jargon at the bottom not normally included in my blog posts.

Until next time, Beth

© 2007 Teas Etc., Inc ABOUT THE AUTHOR Beth Johnston, a tea importer and noted tea expert, publishes an informative monthly newsletter on tea, tea history, health and lifestyle enhancements.

Chinese New Year Article and Open House

The Chinese New Year open house was a blast on Sunday with an estimated 150-200 people stopping in to celebrate! The food was good, the tea was excellent but best of all was the company, thanks to all who attended to celebrate with us.

For those of you who attended the open house I am working on gathering the recipes and photos to post here on the blog asap.

As promised, although a few days behind schedule, here is the links to the Chinese New Year articles.

Read about the history and traditions of the Chinese New Year -

Read about Amy Zhang's personal experiences growing up in China and the traditions celebrated by her family during the Spring Festival -

What's your sign, find out what your lunar sign is and some of the characteristics associated with it -

Until next time, Beth

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tea is Mainstream

This post has been in my head for weeks and while it may be a bit dated I thought it was great news for tea in the US.

Tea is definitely gaining popularity and becoming more mainstream which was never more apparent then when I was sort of watching the super bowl (I know it was February 4th but I did say this was dated) and saw an ad for Snapple tea RTD's!

O.k. it was an RTD (ready to drink) and if you don't already know it RTD's have minimal benefit(check out my January post on the US News & World Report article), certainly not like a quality, freshly brewed tea. But it was tea and not beer (this is the super bowl after all) and this broad exposure may get people thinking about the choices beyond, and much better than, soft drinks and lattes.

Just a note for anyone in the south Florida area, we are hosting our annual Chinese New Year Celebration - The Year of the Boar- this Sunday, February 18th, at our shop in Lake Worth. For directions, time and more info click on the link

Amy Zhang wrote an article on her personal experiences celebrating the New Year with her grandmother and how traditions have evolved in China, which will be posted here in time for the start of the New Year this Sunday, check it out!


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Shanghai Teahouse Must Change Name

About a week ago I came across and interesting story on a teahouse in Shanghai, China. The name of the teahouse, roughly translated, is "Frog Keeps a Mistress", which according to a Shanghai newspaper, is brewing up some controversy, pardon the pun.
The shop, according to the paper, was said to be violating Chinese advertising law and the name goes against common ethics and social morality. Officials have asked the tea house to change the name to "purify the city's markets".
Curious, I asked Amy, in our Shanghai office,to visit the teahouse and tell us what it was like.
She had never heard of the teahouse but located it and while there enjoyed some bubble tea, "the tea with pearl and milk there is good". She also took a couple of pictures of the now infamous teahouse and I thought I would share them with you. Until next time, Beth

Monday, January 22, 2007

Ceylon Tea Prices May Rise

Over the past couple of months the tea idustry in Sri Lanka has been plaugued by striking workers, bad weather and upheaval among tea board officials.
The reduction in overall tea production caused by the recent round of bad weather may have the biggest effect of all, not only on price but also on quality, almost certain to impact our cups in the US.
Ceylon teas are delicious hot or iced and are moderately priced making them a great tea choice.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Flowering Teas are Everywhere

Last Tuesday, January 9th, I was engaging in mindless relaxation with my husband watching Law & Order SVU, it was a pretty good episode so I made it to the end.

I was thrilled when in the final scene both detectives where sitting on a stoop drinking what I would have guessed to be coffee when Elliott said "is that a flower in your cup?" and Olivia replied, "no it's tea."

To me this is a big indicator on specialty teas growing popularity in the US. Personally I still see a lot of resistance to loose tea; its too hard, it takes too much time, I am too busy, which leads me to wonder sometimes if the speculated industry growth is really substantiated.

But I have renewed hope after seeing this on SVU. While this is certainly not my first "tea sighting" during prime time most others have been the quick shot of a cast iron or glass teapot or someone requesting tea in a restaurant. This reference made it clear to me that specialty tea is poised to continue growing at a strong pace in the years to come and I am excited to be a part of this whole leaf revolution!

What about you, have you had any tea sightings during prime time or anytime? If so share them. What about flowering teas, has anyone had anything blooming in their cup? If so why not share your experience here. For anyone who is not farmilar with flowering teas I have a picture below.

Monday, January 08, 2007

White Tea One Way to Improve Your Life in 2007

This past Saturdays green market, the first of 2007, was dry, the only one this season I have attended that it hasn't rained! The unseasonably warm, wet weather has put a damper on this seasons market, for vendors and shoppers alike. But the start of 2007 combined with good weather brought out the crowds Saturday and the market was brimming with activity.

We had a higher than usual number of requests for white tea so when I was catching up on some reading later that day I was not surprised to find "Drink Some Cups of White Tea" listed in the U.S. News & World Reports December 25th issue article titled "50 Ways to Improve Your Life in 2007".

The article cited an animal study and linked the results to potentially positive benefits for humans as well as pointing out the differences between white tea and other teas like green and black.

More importantly however the article talked about the difference in benefits between bottled ready to drink (RTD) white teas and the freshly brewed variety.

Hats off to the author Adam Voiland for taking the time to look a little deeper into not only white tea research but the differences in how it is packaged and consumed, important for anyone wishing to obtain the potential healthy benefits. Voiland writes "But listen carefully: White tea is not a cure-all. The studies are still preliminary, and the ready-to-drink, bottled white teas actually seem to eliminate some of the health benefits."

RTD's do not have the same potential health benefits as a freshly brewed cup of tea whether its white, green, black or oolong tea and definitive research has shown that freshly brewed teas deliver the highest levels of benefits. If the buyer is trying to get the most benefits out of their tea drinking this piece of information is important in allowing them to do so. Voiland closes the article by writing "So, if you do drink white tea, brew your own.".

As someone who is in the industry I am constantly reading the latest tea research and various news articles on the benefits of tea. It is very frustrating when high profile articles are presented in a way that provides only part of the facts and is void of the details necessary for consumers to make a fully educated choice when it comes to tea, and I would venture to guess other things as well. Half information is sometimes worse than no information at all, intentional or not.

My contribution to overcoming the sea of misinformation about tea, the way you make/drink your tea is only one of many, is educating whoever I can, whenever I can. Every time I speak to a group, teach a tea class, hold a workshop or tea tasting and even talking to people one on one I cant resist pointing out the differences in what we buy, what we hear and read, what we think and what is really true when it comes to tea and its potentially healthy benefits.

Brew fresh, drink and enjoy all the benefits tea has in store for you from antioxidants to the relaxing qulaities brought about by doing something nice for yourself. Beth

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Holiday Update

I can't believe that it is over! It seems as though every year the holidays go by faster than the last. We had a great holiday both personally and professionally. The web site kept us busy right up until the 22nd, wrapping, making bows and shipping lots of holiday cheer. We even fit in the green market on the 23rd, another rainy one, before leaving for a little r & r with family on the eastern shore of Maryland. We visited, enjoyed the cool weather, bowled duck pins, shot skeet and just relaxed, something that we have vowed to do more of in 2007.

Not so different from everyone else we ate and ate and then ate some more! Thank goodness we had plenty of tea to wash it all down. No coincidence we drank mostly oolongs, keeping high metabolism and flushing fats is critical to that kind of over indulgence. Every time we start drinking a lot of one particular tea category I always develop a favorite or two, my new oolong favs are the Shui Xian dark Chinese oolong and the new Fanciest Formosa Bai Hao Dong also a dark oolong but Taiwanese.

O.K. since I am mentioning tea I have to tell you about the incredible Golden Dragon Aged oolong from Taiwan! Not previously familiar with this type of oolong this was an awesome new discovery. The tea has a amber hue in the cup, large leaves and twigs and a finish that I can only describe as golden raisins, wow.

One of the highlights of our trip was an evening in Baltimore for dinner and the theatre. We discovered a wonderful Afghan restaurant "Helmand" where we ate some more. They served a black tea with cardamom which my sister-in-law enjoyed, a little late for me to be drinking caffeine so I had to trust her palate, delicious traditional foods and a scrumptious vanilla ice cream with cardamom, what a treat.

I started reading a great book while away Untangling My Chopsticks by Victoria Abbott Riccardi. It is an insightful, easy to read book about Victoria's culinary experiences during her year long stay in Kyoto studying tea kaiseki, the traditional meal served prior to the tea ceremony. I am really enjoying the way Riccardi gives a glimpse of the history and richness of tea and food cultural in Japan and intertwines details of preparation and tastes.

I am going to share some of the things I found interesting in the book via the blog and may even do some cooking, because Riccardi shares recipes in the book I may try my hand at some. I am definitely going to need a second copy for myself and am sure that this will be a gift for friends in 2007.

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, prosperous 2007! Beth