Local Tea is Moving

Local Tea is moving

This is oftentimes a sign that is not a welcome one, but in our case, it brings great news! We are not only moving but moving to larger premises!!

Within the next month, we move our tea tasting room at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens from within the Christy Payne Mansion to the Carriage House, previously known as Wild Things.Payne Mansion at Selby Gardens, the former home of Local Tea Company

The poisonous dart frogs have found a new home, and we have embarked on a cleaning and decorating spree. We will be refurbishing and transforming our new location into a premium home befitting our premium loose teas!

How exciting!!!

The Payne Mansion allowed us to grow so much within the beautiful environs. We will miss the mansion so much (especially the bathroom!!) but can not wait for all the new and exciting tea-things we have planned.

You will hear more about our tea activities at Selby Gardens, along with a few pictures.  Local Tea is moving, but not that far!

the Tea Lady

Talking Tea

Talking Tea

The past month in the tasting room at Selby Gardens, we have had many European visitors, especially British.  When they hear me speak, we inevitably talk about where we are from and the type of tea we drink.  Talking Tea, as I say.

The choices being PG Tips, Typhoo, Yorkshire, Twinning’s, etc., basically all the well-known tea bags available. There was also a gentleman who mentioned Brooke Bond, who was a real blast from the past! He was married to an American and lives in Sarasota.  His wife sourced the tea for him, and he was very pleased.

Brooke Bond

The name Brooke Bond took me on a journey back to the small village in the Yorkshire Dales where I was born and raised.  Our little grocery shop, run by Mrs. Gosney, had a large metal sign displayed outside in black and red advertising Brooke Bond!  Mum sent me to buy tea, and I remember Mrs. Gosney using an old fashioned scale with real weights and putting the weighed tea in a brown bag.Picture of old fashion scales used ot weigh lose leaf tea for Sip Locally Tea Blog by Local Tea Company

When I got home, mum would transfer the tea to our caddy (which I think was a tin that had once stored candy, probably Liquorices’ Allsorts). I can remember inhaling the most wonderful smell of fresh tea in the caddy. I was touched thinking about how we continue such practices, as I use such a caddy even now!

So, where did the name caddy come from?  During the early British trading days in Asia, a language called “pidgin English” was created to facilitate commerce. Composed of English, Portuguese and Indian words pronounced in Chinese, “Pidgin” is actually the word which was used for “do business.”  The term “caddy” is from the Chinese word for one pound, the standard size for a tea container.

We meet such nice people when we start talking about tea.  Great stories and legends are exchanged, and memories are evoked when we talk about this amazing drink called TEA.

Sabdariffa Spritzer or Holiday Hibiscus

Sabdariffa Spritzer or Holiday Hibiscus

Holiday Hibiscus.  Looking for a fabulous iced tea drink for the 4th of July? I have one to share concocted from our hibiscus petals, botanical name sadariffa.

I had some hibiscus tea in the refrigerator, and whilst I love this tea on its own, I cannot drink that much of it. (and for those of you who don’t know me, I am a tea drinker!)

I thought hibiscus would help keep me cool with the summer heat and give me all the other goodies Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Riboflavin, and antioxidant Anthocyanin.  Hibiscus really is a good package of benefits.Holiday Hibiscus petals made into a spritzer from Local Tea Company in Sartasota Florida

I also drink a lot of Seltzer water, so here is what I did. I filled my glass half full with Hibiscus tea, some ice, and topped off with Seltzer. A twist of lime is good too. There you have HIBISCUS SPRITZER!

What a beautiful drink, so refreshing, and I can drink lots more Hibiscus this way.  If you want to go all-out, use a martini glass, it looks brilliant.

Sip on a healthy, vibrant, non-alcoholic cocktail.  Holiday Hibiscus.

Cheers to me, dears.


Margaret Thatcher comes to tea

Margaret Thatcher comes to tea.

Margaret Thatcher Tea.  What a lovely week!   In the Carriagehouse Tea Room, I enjoyed conversations with many visitors from the States and beyond.  Besides, a few fellow Brits.  Everyone is interested in my story and how I started working with tea.  What a great life, making conversation, and drinking tea.

Talking of Brits, I served tea to the ‘Iron Lady’ herself!   However, in case you thought I was serious, the lady was an actor.  Margaret Thatcher Tea was the theme for the afternoon tea benefiting the Women’s Resource Center.  Our gracious hostess has a magnificent penthouse overlooking Sarasota Bay.  The tea and food service was on a collection of exquisite china.

Margaret Thatcher Tea, the Iron Lady herself from Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Iced Peach Paradise in wine goblets looked beautiful.  When the ladies ate sandwiches, our Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling was served.  With dessert, I served Goji Green tea.  Above all, both teas were very well received.  Why do I sound so surprised? All of the loose leaf teas offered at Local Tea Company are delicious!

There followed some discussion about Margaret Thatcher’s time in office.  How different it would be if she were in office today.

If I had been invited, I could have told a few home truths about my experiences during her ministry.  However, I was there to talk tea, so I did my short presentation about tea and ended with a Thatcher quote…

“If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.”

In conclusion, Sip Locally with your very own Tea Lady at the gardens. Stay Cool.


Infusion Confusion

Infusion Confusion

I like the way this sounds, so I am going to blab about brewing. So many visitors to the CarriageHouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens are confused about how to brew tea. I hope this helps with Infusion Confusion.

Tea Tools

Let’s start with the Kettle, used only to heat water. There are some great models on the market which switch off when the boiling point is reached. There is even one with a thermometer to catch the water before the boiling point is reached.  Great for making green or white tea.

A Teapot is a vessel in which the tea is made. You may brew directly in a cup or mug, but I love my teapots. I always warm the pot with boiling water before adding the tea.  After I pour out the heating water, I add the tea to the wet pot.  After a minute or so, I inhale deeply. As the leaves start to open, the aroma from these warm environs is fantastic and hints at the pleasure soon to come.

Use a teaspoon for each cup of tea you want to prepare. My mum used to say, “and one for the pot,” and my husband and I still always add an extra teaspoon of tea when we brew a pot.  A teaspoon is different for each kind of tea, as teas come in many shapes and sizes.  Not to fret; you will soon get accustomed to the amount of tea you prefer as you brew more tea.  Experiment, though it is not an exact science, have fun.


Steep your tea for the recommended time.  White and green teas are 2 to 3 minutes.  Black tea is 4 to 6 minutes.  Herbals and tisanes are 8 to 10 minutes.  Above all, personal preference is the rule.  While I use a timer in the tasting room to bring garden visitors the perfect taste, at home, I just look at the color of the liquor and guess!

Many teapots have Infusers, mesh baskets to hold the loose tea.  Other pots have Strainers to keep the leaves in the pot and out of your cup.  I like to let the leaves move around in the pot, and with glass pots, it can be quite a show.

Loose leaf tea holds a lot of flavors, and I always recommend multiple steeping. Add more boiling water to the leaves and double the steeping time. Your second cuppa will not be as strong as your first, but I cannot bear the thought of throwing away tea leaves with even a bit of flavor. If you don’t plan to drink multiple cups, put the teapot in your fridge, and enjoy the tea over ice.

This afternoon I am brewing my favorite Oolong and will infuse the leaves at least four times before the leaves are laid to rest in my garden, but that’s another posting.

Sit back and enjoy the perfect cup of tea. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination. I hope this helps.

The tea lady

Korean Way of Tea – Panyaro

Korean Way of Tea – Panyaro

The Korean Way of Tea – Panyaro is not as rigid as the Japanese Tea Ceremony [Chanoyu] but more formal than the Chinese Tea Ceremony [Gongfu Cha].  Kim is very passionate in her presentation of the Korean Way of Tea – Panyaro.  She explains tea is an important part of reclaiming the true heritage of the Koreans.

After the Japanese invaded Korea in 1910, many traditions and aspects of Korean culture were lost.  The invaders systematically wiped out much of the history. Some writings survived in remote monasteries, and from these historical relics, the Korean Way of Tea – Panyaro is revived.

Hyo Dang

Hyo Dang initiated the revival and wrote the first full-length study of tea in modern Korea. The ceremony is an expression of the graceful way of life.  Peace and understanding accompany each cup of tea.

As with the previous ceremonies, Kim wears a beautiful costume.  She kneels for the ceremony, and the four guests, myself included, remained in the same position. This is very difficult for all of us!

Each movement is performed slowly and precisely.  Kim returns her hands to her lap after each movement. The tea items are covered with a cloth, red on one side representing the earth and blue on the other, representing the sky.

Tea and Water

Hot water in a large teapot is poured into a bowl. The teacups are filled with hot water to warm them. Each time the bowl is lifted, Kim uses a small napkin to wipe the bamboo scoop before placing the tea into the teapot. The water is removed from the cups and filled with a small amount of tea. Kim keeps going back up the line again until each teacup was filled.

Similarly, Kim places each cup on a saucer with the same precise movements and presents a cup to each of us. After that, when she indicates, we all sip together.

The cloth is placed on the cups and pots after we finished our tea.  We all bow and, with great relief, stretched out our legs!

For instance, here is a photo of Kim and me after the last ceremony.

Tea Lady and Kim Pham after the Korean Way of Tea

Above all, what a great day at Selby Gardens.  The experience is fantastic and very different from the English ritual of taking tea; however, it is very similar in many ways.

In conclusion, regardless of how you take your tea, make it special every time and embrace the moment. Local Tea Company was a proud sponsor of all three Tea Ceremonies at the Asian Cultural Festival.

The Tea Lady

Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony

Chanoyu – The Japanese Tea Ceremony is more complex, absorbing, and meditative than the Chinese Tea Ceremony [Gonfu Cha].  For instance, through tea, every human encounter is a single occasion and is not repeated.  Nothing is permanent, and every aspect of the ceremony is to be savored.  Seek beauty with your mind and your heart.  Cherish each moment. Tea culture is “god-like” and is Teaism in Japan.

The ceremony happens in a designated room, with bamboo mats defining the area.  Guests remove their shoes.  Kim is wearing a simple creamy blue kimono. Up to four guests participate, and on Saturday, Michael is the honored guest.  He enters the ceremony by crawling through an imaginary tunnel, signifying leaving any material items outside the tea ceremony.  All are equal regardless of status or social position. No words are spoken.


Only the host touches the water, which is held in a stone jar. The Yin is represented by water and the heat of the fire, Yang. The container symbolizes purity.  Guests are served a sweet while the host wipes the ceramic jar with a fine silk cloth or Fukusa.   The Fukusa is carefully folded after each movement. In other words, a high level of concentration or state of meditation is required.

The host rinses the tea bowl and whisk. Pouring the water represents a waterfall. The tea, in this case, matcha, is scooped and whisked, then presented to the guest with a bow.

Teaware for Chanoyu – Japanese Tea Ceremony


The teaware does not match.  The tea bowl represents the moon (yin) and is cherished by the host.  The water container is next to the tea bowl representing the sun (yang). After each guest drinks, the host wipes the bowl.  The host does not drink any tea. The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a gift to the guest, a gesture of love or respect.

In conclusion, the crowd easily exceeded 100 people and is part of the Asian Cultural Festival at Selby GardensLocal Tea Company is the sponsor.   Kim answers many questions and is simply fabulous.

Next, see notes from the Korean Tea Ceremony soon.

The Tea Lady

Gongfu Cha – Chinese Tea Ceremony

Gongfu Cha – Chinese Tea Ceremony

Gongfu Cha.  This last weekend was the Asian Cultural Festival at Selby Gardens.  The event was packed with uniquely Asian activities; bonsai displays, martial arts performers, taiko drummers, and other dancers. For instance, on Saturday, the Local Tea Company-sponsored 3 tea ceremonies – Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. I enjoyed all three and participated in the Korean Tea Ceremony.   Here are the details, along with a few pictures.

Kim Pham

Kim Pham presents all three ceremonies in traditional attire.  She uses proper tea accessories and authentic teas. She owns Kaleisia Tea Lounge in Tampa. Kim is fantastic, very knowledgeable, and thrilled to share the history and details with all that attended. Above all, Kim is a true student of tea ceremonies.

I will break the details into 3 posts.

Gongfu Cha

Gongfu Cha, the Chinese ceremony, was first at 11 am. This style of the ceremony is all about the tea, what it tastes like and smells like. After that, the audience asked questions, and Kim talked all the way through, describing the ceremony as “tea with friends.”  Each step is meant to be a sensory exploration and appreciation. Similarly, a tiny unglazed clay teapot, Yixing, is filled a third full of tea for multiple, quick infusions. The pot and small drinking cups get rinsed with boiling water first. Then the tea is rinsed or flushed.

The first infusion is only 30 seconds.

In other words, Kim explains the tea comes from a wild tea plant in the Yunnan Province of China.  She buys directly from farmers.  She calls it ‘No Name’ tea because the family drinks this tea, and it has no name.  Above all, this very special tea is sweet and delicious.  And Kim wears a traditional Chinese special occasion dress of silk, but back to the Gongfu Cha.

No Name Tea

In other words, the tea is poured in a continual motion over each cup.  All are filled together and taste the same.  There are 2 cups. The larger is called the “snifter.”  This is tipped upside down, releasing tea into the small drinking cups, about 2 sips worth. Then the snifter is smelled to appreciate the aroma. Kim moves everything using bamboo chopsticks. Typically up to five infusions are made from the same leaves, adding 10 seconds of steep each time.

Next up, the Japanese Tea Ceremony,

The Tea Lady

Cami to Chamomile

Cami to Chamomile

Someone asked me about Chamomile tea.  This herbal blend is not one of my favorite teas; however, I wanted to find out why it is such a popular beverage.

Well, I found some information that has really piqued my interest.  I might even be contemplating adding it to the pot!

The Chamomile plant (Matricaria recutita) is native to Europe, North Africa, and the Mediterranean region.  I found a long history of use for this mild botanical.  Most interesting, it’s safe to use for long periods of time without any adverse effects.  Be sure to consult your doctor.

Close up picture of Organic Egyptian Chamomile from Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Science Daily cites a study where researchers found over a 2 week period; chamomile tea drinkers experienced increased anti-bacterial activity in their urine.  In simple terms, this means that chamomile can boost your immune system and fight illness.  The study also found an increase in amino acids helping to alleviate muscle spasms and relax nerves.

Chamomile can help people suffering from stress, spasms, and cramps.  Others found relief from intestinal discomfort and the reduction of gas.  Therefore, drink chamomile tea after meals to alleviate these symptoms.

Will I convert to drink Chamomile tea?  Perhaps, now that I know more about this lovely herbal tea.

The Tea Lady