Tea is a wonderful way to show your love, appreciation, respect or that you are thinking about someone. Perhaps the universal gift, as age, gender, geography, time of year, relationship status or any other boundary can be crossed safely, without confusion. While the gift of tea can be personal, the truth is everybody has a tea they like or love, some just don’t know it yet.
We recently added a Tea of the Month program, either 3 months or 6 months. That got us thinking about “gifting” tea. Here are a few thoughts to consider when giving the gift of tea…
1. Caffeine or Herbal (caffeine-free)
Caffeine is an important consideration, especially sensitive as we are here in Florida. Caffeinated teas are a great way to begin the day or a superb lift in the late afternoon, but to the novice or the beginning tea drinker, caffeine can create problems. A wonderfully flavored black tea like our Organic Strawbango might not be the best tea to drink after dinner. I always ask the server for their home number, when ordering herbal or caffeine free beverages, so if I am awake at 2:30 in the morning, I know who to call. When in doubt, go with an herbal, rooibos or fruit tea. You can’t go wrong with our Organic Peppermint, Selby Select Rooibos or Siesta Tea (fruit tea)
2. Loose leaf tea or teabags
We are quite partial to loose leaf tea at Local Tea Co, tea lovers and experienced tea drinkers tend to prefer a loose leaf tea. The tea typically will be of a better quality, fresher and a much better value. It cost money for the convenience of bagging tea! Loose leaf teas also provides more flexibility in how much tea you might want to brew; tea for two or three or a big pot for your sewing circle. That said, teabags especially biodegradable ones we offer, SOILON sachets, are very convenient for anyone traveling or those interested in trying a new tea. Check out the many options of our tea samplers available in loose leaf or in sachets. If they don’t love the tea, it can always be served to guests when they come over for a cuppa.
3. Flavored tea or and pure blends
Would you rather a gift of Organic Sarasotan Breakfast blend (an unflavored pure blended tea) or our Organic Earl Grey (flavored with the oil of Bergamot), this may be the easiest comparison. Though there are so many spectacular blended teas from our Goji Green or Jasmine green tea with flowers to our Cochin Masala Chai or our many rooibos blends. What is better than a strong cup of pinhead gunpowder green tea or a pure Organic Sencha. Maybe a pot of our ruby Organic Red Berries that you can share with the kids or enjoy as an iced tea later in the day. Tough one, but that is why you are an expert gift giver, and you really can’t go too wrong!!
Is the gift for a serious tea drinker, someone loaded with tea accessories? Do they really need another tea ball with an elf Fob? Go with an expensive porcelain mug with painted flowers. Our cat mugs sold incredibly well at our Selby Gardens Tea Shop, and they still sell floral mugs in the Garden Shop. Or for a more modern gift, one of the newer steep-in-one traveling mugs. There are lots of options for tea lovers, and for the newbie just starting their tea journey, a box of tea bags or a few mesh balls of different sizes or tea spoons will spark a conversation. Or get them an inspired gift, maybe a bamboo tea basket and challenge them to figure it out! And there is also the whole category of things that can be added to tea that make for a wonderful gifts, honey or jams are always welcome.
Most important is not to overthink your gift. The person you are gifting is going to appreciate the gesture you are making, and the thought behind this gift. They will love it as much they love you. Find a clever and creative tea, we recommend our Mable’s Rose Rooibos or the tropical fruity Mote Beach Tea. Find a tea that has some meaning, or to be realistic, something that can easily be ‘Regifted’.
We typically use this space to write about tea, but Local Coffee + Tea has created three new coffees we are very proud of and want to share with you. Also, Glynis is on holiday in the UK (see post from Harrogate Yorkshire), and so she is not around to protect this sanctuary of tea from coffee contamination. If you are a tea purist, please do not read any further.
We love Sarasota and have been searching for coffees that might capture the essence of this very special place. We have found three and they make up our SRQ Collection of Coffees. We have been brewing all three coffees at the Selby House Cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and our Siesta Key shop with great results. The collection includes Bee Ridge Blend, Siesta Decaf and Fruitville Flavored Coffee. Here is a bit more about each of our new coffees…
Bee Ridge Blend – Named after one of the main thoroughfares in Sarasota, Bee Ridge is a bold, breakfast style coffee with a bright, natural sweetness. A very drinkable coffee and especially delicious with a drop of honey. Medium city roast.
Siesta Decaf – Siesta Decaf is a decaffeinated Colombian coffee and will not interfere with those afternoon naps in a hammock on Siesta Key. Medium acidity for a rich, balanced and smooth taste.
Fruitville Flavored – A perfect blend of fruit and nut flavors for a slightly sweet treat. Named after an important street in Sarasota running from near the bay to the bush, and was formerly lined with citrus orchards.
All three coffees are locally roasted by Java Dawg Coffee and available every Saturday at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market from the Java Dawg Coffee bus as well as their shop at 4615 Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.
Our sister company, Local Catering has seen an increased interest in tea parties at Selby Gardens including an intimate wedding last month. I hear the term “High Tea” used as a reference, when in actual fact; “Afternoon Tea” is a more accurate description.
I will attempt to explain the differences between “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea”, as well as a bit of history on how these very different meals got their specific titles.
“High Tea” does not refer to fancy sandwiches and small cakes served with elegant table settings, but rather a meal served in working class households as the main meal of the day, usually early evening.
At the height of Victorian times lower and middle class families were only able to afford one meal per day. Served at the end of the working day, the meal typically consisted of bread and cheese, potatoes, vegetables, maybe cold meat and pickles or for the more affluent, fish. Black tea would be served along with the food. This is the meal most families would now refer to as dinner.
Growing up, this was the main meal at house and was called “tea”. Today, I still refer to our evening meal as tea and often ask myself “What are we having for tea today?” As I am more sensitive to caffeine, we now will drink Rooibos or Honeybush or another herbal tea.
Why is this meal known as “High Tea”? Very simply, the meal is served on a dining table, in contrast to the much lower table on which “Afternoon Tea” is served.
Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) is credited with creating “Afternoon Tea”. The evening meal was often served after 8pm, and the Duchess would get a ‘sinking feeling’ (low blood sugar levels associated with hunger!) in the afternoon hours. She instructed her staff at Belvoir Castle to make up small sandwiches and cakes, and invited friends for tea and conversation. The meal was served on lower tables in the drawing room, allowing for intimate conversation. The tradition of “Afternoon Tea” is still very popular.
There are many variations of “Afternoon Tea” with small sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and a huge variety of teas to choose from. “Tea” can be a sophisticated, dressy and special occasion or a simple, casual and relaxed meal at the end of the day.
Whichever “Tea” you choose, the idea remains a wonderful way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones, enjoying some food and conversation. We should all do this more often!