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’.
January is National Hot Tea Month and all over the country we are experiencing some chilly weather, even here in Florida. As everyone is much more appreciative of the benefits of drinking a nice hot cuppa, I can think of no better way to celebrate hot tea month than drinking the hottest of teas, Masala Chai.
Chai is the generic word for tea in much of the World. The British adapted the word as slang and ‘cha’ or ‘char’ became the meaning for a cup of tea. So what is true Masala Chai?
This is a beverage from the Indian subcontinent made by brewing tea with a mixture of aromatic spices and herbs. The traditional process of making chai involves actively boiling the tea leaves over sustained heat with spices. Whilst there are many variations of preparation today (some not too good either!) there are four components which remain true to the original idea of chai tea.
- Strong black tea, usually Assam but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong so spices and sweetener do not overpower the flavor.
- Sweetener, usually white sugar, palm or coconut sugars. A large quantity is required to bring out the flavor of the spices. You can use honey or agave also. Condensed milk can be used which also adds sweetness.
- Milk, usually whole milk for richness but alternatives like Soy can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.
- Spice, usually warm spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, star anise, peppercorn and cloves with cardamom being predominant flavor. Other possible additions are nutmeg, rose, liquorices root, almond and saffron.
At Local Tea Company we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai which is authentic and gives a warm traditional flavor. It bears the name of a busy port which also has a long history in trading spices. We like to drink it without anything added and have been sampling our chai in the Tea Room at Selby Gardens, and probably one of these Saturdays at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. Go ahead and try the different options and see which one you like the best. Then put your feet up, stay warm with a cup of Cochin Masala Chai and celebrate Hot Tea month!
Summer is here!
In case you have not visited us at the Sarasota downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, we have had some stunning teas available.
White Mischief – a beautiful China tea which is flavored with Guava,
Cochin Masala Chai – a very traditional, authentic chai which has superb iced,
Selby Select – another bush tea honoring Selby Gardens with juicy orange peel and a creamy finish ($1 off in August at our online shop),
Organic Strawberry Smile – strawberry, lychee, rosehips and jasmine blended to perfectino with a sencha style green tea. (also $1 off in August at our online shop)
Every week we brew three teas and make them available for samples or for sale iced to beat the heat as you shop locally.
If you are making iced tea using our premium loose leaf teas or any other tea for that matter, do not be alarmed if your tea goes cloudy. This is a natural occurrence due to the high flavanoid/polyphenol levels in the tea. It will still taste delicious!
Happy sipping and don’t forget to ‘sip locally’.
the tea lady