I listen to podcasts. A lot of podcasts, but mostly current events, politics, comedy and golf.
The first podcast I ever listened to was Malcolm Gladwell’s “Revisionist History” in 2015. My friend, Matt Turck turned me on to podcasts, actually taking my phone from me while we were at the Corner Bistro in NYC, and downloading Gladwell’s first episode that had launched that very day. Thanks Matt.
My preference is the long form interviews especially while driving my Tea Wagon around Sarasota. Always on the lookout for new podcasts, though I don’t usually listen to podcast about Tea. There are a bunch, I just don’t find them as interesting as the ones I like.
I’ve moved on from Revisionist History. I still subscribe, but don’t really listen. That is, until I noticed ‘Tempest in a Teacup’. I read the overview and then listened. Fantastic!
Gladwell tells his tale, in this case revisiting the Boston Tea Party. The episode was released on July 4 and while I am a bit behind, I learned a few things…
The ‘Tea Party’ was actually the culmination of a colonial drug war. And the colonial drug of choice was tea. Really?? I always thought the Patriots dumped tea into Boston Harbor to take a stand against taxation without representation. Not so, says Gladwell.
The Patriots were smuggling tea from China into the colonies. This ‘Bohea Tea’ was cheaper and turned into a very profitable business by undercutting the British taxed tea.
Great Britain found out about the smuggling and passed the Tea Act of 1773 lowering the price of tea. This was not good for biz. So, the Patriots dressed up as Mohawk Indians and dumped the British taxed tea into the harbor. As the Canadian Gladwell points out, our Founding Fathers were a criminal enterprise, drug dealers defending their turf. Cool!
Apparently, lapsang has become popular with guys, and the smokier the better. As a result, tea companies have been upping the smokiness of lapsang souchongs. And, in the opinion of Tony Gebely of Tea Epicure, ruining lapsangs by over smoking them.
Gladwell, also a lapsang drinker and unaware of the scandal was deemed part of the problem by Gebely. Thanks Malcolm. Tea Epicure is a wonderful tea blog that rates “the world’s most exciting teas” and goes deep into the tea world. Thanks Tony.
Our lapsang souchong has a subtle smokiness, and not nearly as smoky tasting as it smells in the tin. And there is there is great story about the origin of lapsang or caravan tea posted in our Lapsang Souchong product description.
More disclosure, I was thinking I might like a smokier version for my morning lapsang. This podcast stopped me in my tracks. I don’t I believe our lapsang has gotten any smokier over time? But please tell me if you think it has.
Anyway, an interesting podcast having to do with tea as the colonial drug of choice, and over smoked lapsang souchong that I thought I would share here.
And the Tea Journey continues.
For this episode of “Cuppa Tea in Sarasota”, now available from our YouTube Channel we go back to our roots. We visit the Selby House Cafe at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The cafe is now operated by Michael’s on East and they do a fantastic job, and serve an incredible cuppa tea!!! Selby Select Rooibos, Secret Garden Green and Little Monkey fruit tea to name a few.
The annual holiday Lights in Bloom celebration starts December 14 and when we visited, the gardens were humming in anticipation. Millions of lights in the trees, Santa Claus, reindeer games, live music, and much more.
Local Tea Company previously operated a tea shop, the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens, as well as the cafe. It is always nice to come home for a visit.
Each episode of Cuppa Tea in Sarasota we do a ‘Video Visit’ with one of our Serving Partners. It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East
Our latest episode of “Cuppa Tea in SRQ” is now available from our YouTube Channel. We visit Cafe in the the Park in downtown Sarasota in Payne Park. Each episode we do a ‘Video Visit’ with one of our Serving Partners.
It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.
Please subscribe and after that, let us know what you think.
Episode #3 – Cafe in the Park
We are having a bit of fun with our new YouTube Channel and thought you might be interested in “Cuppa Tea in SRQ”. A weekly series visiting our wholesale Serving Partners, in addition to having a ‘video visit’ with them.
It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.
Episode #1 – Oasis Cafe & Bakery
Episode #2 – Lila
When I got to work this morning (if you call going to Selby Gardens, sipping, talking tea all day work!) I decided to crack open our Young Pu-erh. Pronounced Poo-Air, a special broad leaf tea, pu’er tea takes its name from the Pu’er county in the Province of Yunnan of China.
This is not a tea I reach for often. Maybe I should not call myself a dedicated tea drinker because of this, but I was given a newspaper article about an area called Menghai in China. NYTimes Jan 2009
Farmers and citizens got rich investing and selling the bricks of Pu-er tea produced in Menghai. Some buyers promoted it as liquid gold and when the value hit record levels they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price and the tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
What is Pu er tea? Let’s talk about this tea that people are willing to pay huge amounts of money for. Pu Erh goes through an additional oxidation process much like composting where bacterial and fungal fermentation takes place. Many refer to it as pu erh fermented tea.
The tea can then be aged for many years. Aged Pu Erh tea leaves are often compressed into cakes or bricks and then wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are then left to mature in dark, dry places enhancing the already earthy flavor.
Pu Erh is said to lower cholesterol, cure hangovers, help with digestive problems, aid metabolism and tends to be low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy, smells like a compost heap and looks like tar so I know it’s going to be good for me!
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. I like the later steeps better than the initial steep and find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon I am thinking Pu Erh should be brewed more often by me and shared with visitors to Selby Garden as well as the Sarasota Farmer’s Market. I’m not sure I would invest pots of money in Pu-erh but it is definitely worth experiencing. What a fascinating thing this drink called Tea!
the Tea Lady
On the label of Goji Green tea from Local Tea Company, after sharing the ingredients and describing the subtle sweetness of this glorious tea, the label states, “live a long healthy life drinking this tea.”
Recently someone asked me about the phrase. I mentioned the story of the Chinese herbalist Li Qing Yuen who was said to have consumed gojiberries daily and lived to the age of 252. I smiled after sharing these minor details and moved on with my day. Later, I thought about the idea of living that long and it got me thinking more about this story. What would I look like at 250 years old?
His birth year was either 1736 or 1677, though his true date of birth has never actually been confirmed. Li Qing Yuen was born in the Sichuan province, in Qijiang County. He was an apprentice to elders who gathered herbs in the mountains. He went on to have a military career and then returned to life as an herbalist on Snow Mountain.
A New York Times article from 1930 mentions Imperial Chinese Government records from 1827 congratulating Li Qing Yuen on his 150th birthday. And then again in 1877 on his 200th birthday! An earlier correspondent reported many older men in his village claimed their grandfathers knew Li Qing Yuen as a grown man when they were boys.
The 1933 Time Magazine article asked for his secrets to a long life. Li Qing Yuen is quoted as saying,
“Keep a quiet heart,
Sit like a tortoise,
Walk sprightly like a pigeon, and,
Sleep like a dog.”
He spent most of his life in the mountains collecting and selling ginseng, gojiberries and other herbs. Along with his diet, Li Qing Yuen mentions drinking rice wine as another secret. He claimed to have survived 23 wives and had more than 150 children. He died in Kai County in May of 1933. His 24th wife said he died of natural causes.
No mention of a daily dose of gojiberries could be found in the official reports, and I really don’t know what sitting like a tortoise might look like.
I am going to leave the story in our product page because I think our Goji Green tea is phenomenal. As phenomenal as the legend of Li Qing Yuen.
Enjoy Goji Green as a hot tea to start your day, or as a refreshing iced tea (or try it as a Cold Brewed Tea) as it is served most days as Secret Garden Green Tea at the Selby House Café operated by Michael’s on East at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.
While you are savoring a cuppa this wonderful green tea, contemplate your secrets to a long life. And then please share them with me 🙂
This week one of our glorious customers ordered some Garden Grey Black Tea. This is a tea we blend ourselves with organic lavender grown in the wilds of Tibet. What an aroma! While this is not one of our more popular teas, it did get me thinking about Earl Grey in general.
Most tea lovers are familiar with Earl Grey. One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.
What about the man behind the tea?
Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall and was educated at Eton and Trinity College and Cambridge. He became the 2nd Earl of Grey, was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats) and he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22! His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France, to which he was very opposed. He was involved in four years of political reform, the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons) and had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,
‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’
Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed the life! He was said to be tall, slim and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife and fathered at least one illegitimate child! Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.
There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure! According to the most popular legend a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men, first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. This legend seems to have little basis as the Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China. Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.
While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world. Many people who I chat with over the years claim not to care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea and the quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.
When brewing a hot cuppa Earl Grey, we infuse for only 2 minutes or so, and then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves. It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too. ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.
Along with the Garden Grey, we offer two version of Earl Grey Black tea, one is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey. Our Organic Earl Grey is the tea we offer in the silk tea sachets and can be found served from nearly all of our serving partners.
You may be surprised to find you like the Earl, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.
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’.
Honeybush or Cyclopia intermedia is indigenous to the cape of South Africa and I like to think of it as a sort of cousin to Rooibos! Like Rooibos, we make an herbal tea with a pleasant, mildly sweet taste. Honeybush is very popular here at the Local Tea Company Carriagehouse at Selby Gardens, and we are pleased to offer 2 varieties; Organic Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush. I urge you to try them if you are looking for a substitute for ‘true’ tea (Camellia sinensis), though I use honeybush as a compliment to my tea drinking habits!
Like most of the teas, honeybush has a history traced back to the trading of the Dutch and British. Cape Town was established in 1652 as a supply base for the Dutch East India Company trading in Indian tea and Southeast Asian spices. Botanists were soon cataloging the rich flora of the Cape region and the honeybush plant was noted in botanical literature. The native KhoiSan or Bushmen used a tea made from honeybush to treat coughs and other upper respiratory symptoms associated with infections.
The honeybush plant is a shrub of the Fabaceae family and grows in the fynbos botanical zone, a narrow region along the coast bound by mountains. Fynbos is Dutch for ‘fine leaved plantsis’ and is a vegetation type characterized by woody plants with small leathery leaves. The honeybush plant is easily recognized by its sweetly scented, bright yellow flowers and needle-like leaves.
Besides great taste, a sort of woodsy, cedar-like flavor, Honeybush has some very special health benefits. Pinitol is a modified sugar found in the leaves of several legume plants and as an expectorant, it helps with coughs and phlegm. Pinitol can also lower blood sugar levels, and may increase the effects of insulin. I have read honeybush is being considered as a drug for diabetes! It would be good to have something so natural to help with such a prevalent disease. I have also read that Pinitol helps with acid reflux and we have a few customers who have reported relief drinking honeybush. The flavones and isoflavones of honeybush are similar to those in soy, another leguminous plant, and have been used in the treatment of menopausal symptoms. That covers quite a lot of the population who should be drinking this tea!
Honeybush tea is prepared like all other teas or herbal infusions. Use boiling water and infuse for as long as you want, though at least several minutes. The lack of caffeine makes honeybush especially suited for nighttime consumption and has a reputation as a calming beverage, but I love drinking honeybush while at Local Tea Company, too! The tannin content is very low, so you will find honeybush a mild, soft, and very drinkable tea.
And did I mention there is a chocolate version? Chocoholics love our Chocolate Honeybush. Please do not expect a cup of hot chocolate, rather a delicate aroma of chocolate with a definite caramel aftertaste along with a bit of floral balance from the added rose petals. Desert without the calories, SPECTACULAR!
Some customers drink both versions of honeybush with milk. I find a bit of local honey (from the Sarasota Farmer’s Market) brings out a natural sweetness in Organic Honeybush and when iced is very thirst quenching. The Chocolate Honeybush seems to be more popular as a hot drink.
John Greene Webb and his family came to Spanish Point in 1867 where they established a homestead on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay. They planted citrus, sugar cane, vegetables and built a packing house to prepare their produce for market.
All of us who enjoy living in beautiful Sarasota owe much to the hardship John and his family must have endured. At Local Tea Company, we can think of no finer way to celebrate early settlers to Sarasota than with an amazing new herbal tea we have named Pioneer Tea and created for Historic Spanish Point.
Predominantly citrus, Pioneer Tea contains orange and tangerine pieces, blackberry and eucalyptus leaves, lemongrass, beetroot and carrot flakes, apple pieces and hibiscus flowers. Perfect for our climate and caffeine-free, Pioneer Tea makes a stunning iced tea but all you folks who have to brave cold weather for several months can enjoy sipping this tea hot too. (Think of us when you do!)
There are over 600 varieties of Orange (Sweet Orange is Citrus sinensis). Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) is another variety of citrus and both are certainly sweet, juicy and delicious ingredients in this tea. The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste when dried and added to tea.
Suitable for everyone, oranges are rich in calcium, phosphorous, potassium, citric acid and beta carotene. The Vitamin A they contain gives us healthy skin and mucous membranes!
The other ingredients in Pioneer Tea are all equally as sweet and delicious…
Blackberry leaves. (Rubus fructicosus) Steeped (sorry!) in ancient folklore the people of Medieval England believed blackberry would protect them from rheumatism, boils and blackheads! To do so meant creeping under the bush to gather fruit, but only at the right time of the moon! We do not suggest such extreme measures, simply drink the tea. Blackberry leaves bring flavor and harmony to this lovely tea.
Eucalyptus leaves. (Eucalyptus globulus, folium being the leaf) A native of Australia, the Eucalyptus tree is used to make the Digeridoo and is known as the ‘Fever Tree’ because of antimicrobial and bacteria fighting properties! The oil from the leaf is pungent and when taken in tea is recognized as being very effective in de-clogging the nose, fighting throat infections and washing out the mouth.
Lemongrass. (Cymbopogen citratus) Native to tropical climates like Florida, lemongrass lends a lemony taste to our tea along with some Vitamin C for added zest. I like to think of Lemongrass as bringing both harmony and aroma. Native to India, Lemongrass is used in Ayurvedic medicine to help relieve coughs and nasal congestion. Another valuable addition to our tea!
Beetroot. (Beta vulgaris) I was delighted to include beetroot in this tea as it is one of my favorites! Beetroot is full of anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant which supports healthy heart and liver function, is good for blood pressure and cholesterol as well as containing lots of vitamins and minerals (vitamins A, C, manganese, potassium and folic acid)
Carrot flakes. (Daucus carota) Another favorite, the carrot gets its characteristic bright orange color from beta carotene which our body can easily assimilate, store and convert to Vitamin A. Beta carotene is an antioxidant which fights damage caused by free radicals that can invade our bodies causing disease, also helping regulate blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and blood pressure. A bonus benefit is improved hair, skin and nails!
I am sure you will agree that this is a delightful line up of ingredients and perfectly captures the zest for life which early pioneers must have possessed in plenty.
Spanish Point was later acquired by Bertha Palmer and Pioneer Tea is a lovely balance to our Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea, as well as a wonderful addition to our Celebrating Sarasota collection of teas. I hope you will take time to sip all our collection, visit Historic Spanish Point and celebrate the abundance of treasures we are so lucky to have here in Sarasota!