5 Things to Remember when Gifting Tea is a repost with updates and additions.
After spending Thanksgiving at my Aunt’s home, I found a neglected tea cabinet that I immediately corrected. The details are irrelevant, other than to say I started from Square 1.
As I put together a list of teas, I realized it might help others thinking about gifting tea for the holidays. You can find the actual list at the bottom of ‘5 Things to remember when Gifting Tea.’
5 Things to Remember when Gifting Tea
As a gift, tea is a wonderful way to show your love, appreciation, respect, and that you are thinking about someone. That is the point of any gift. While the gift of tea can be personal, everybody has a tea they love. Some just don’t know it yet!!!
Here are a few thoughts to consider when giving the gift of tea…
1. Caffeine or Herbal (caffeine-free)
Caffeine is an important consideration. Caffeinated teas are a great way to begin the day or a superb lift in the late afternoon, but caffeine can create problems for the novice or the beginning tea drinker.
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 at a restaurant, so if I am awake at 2:30 AM, I know who to call.
For my ‘Thank You’ gift, I went with a mixture of both—a few blacks, a few greens, and then an equal number of caffeine-free teas.
2. Loose leaf tea or tea bags
We are quite partial to loose-leaf tea at Local Tea Company. Experienced tea drinkers tend to prefer loose leaf tea. The tea typically will be of better quality, fresher, and a much better value. It cost money for the convenience of bagged tea!
Loose-leaf teas also provide 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 the 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 sachets. If they don’t love it, the tea can always be served to guests.
I noticed a box of tea sacs during my visit, so I’ll send both loose-leaf teas and teas in sachets.
3. Flavored tea or pure blends
Would you rather a gift of Organic Sarasotan Breakfast blend (an unflavored, blended tea) or our Organic Earl Grey (flavored with Oil of Bergamot)? This may be the easiest comparison. Flavored tea or pure?
What is better than a strong cup of pinhead gunpowder green tea or a pure Organic Sencha on the pure side of the discussion? Maybe a pot of our 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!!
For my gift, I erred on the side of abundance and included both.
Is your gift for a serious tea drinker, someone loaded with tea accessories? Do they really need another tea ball with an elf fob?
There are ‘heaps’ of options. For the newbie just starting their tea journey, a box of tea sacs or a few mesh balls of different sizes 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 wonderful gifts; honey or jams are always welcome.
Another void during my visit was honey? So, I included a bottle from Sarasota Honey Company. Yes, this is quite a gift!!!
Find a clever and creative tea. Find a tea with some meaning, or be realistic, something that can easily be ‘Regifted.’
I will be back for another visit in February and plan to take a tea inventory! Here is my complete list of the gift I sent yesterday. The total cost before shipping was $99.
- Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend (Loose-leaf)
- Organic Earl Grey (Sachets)
- Island Mango Black (Loose-Leaf) … Cochin Masala Chai would have worked here as well.
- Organic Sencha Green Tea (Loose-Leaf)
- Goji Green (Sachets)
- Mote Beach Tea (Sachets)
- Selby Select Rooibos (Sachets)
- Organic Peppermint (Loose-Leaf) … Organic Egyptian Chamomile was considered!
- Raw Wildflower Honey from Sarasota Honey Company
***I threw in some printed GolfToons for their cartoon-littered fridge!
Please visit www.LocalTeaCo.com or send us a note in the comments section of 5 Things to Remember when Gifting Tea, and we will help you select tea gifts.
Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Hello Tea Lovers
It may be late in the year for Iced tea (or Iced tea.) Even here in Sarasota, we have the windows open, and it’s great sleeping weather. But I have a story I want to share with you about Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better.
Debbie S is a long time customer who uses our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Tea to make ice tea. I recently connected with her, and she told me she steeps her tea THREE times, with outstanding results.
Cold Brew Iced Tea
She makes large tea bags using the Tea Sacs #4 – Large and 38g of tea. In the first batch, she uses the ‘Cold Brew‘ method; a gallon of cold water in a sealed container, with the Tea Sac in the fridge overnight.
For the next batch, a second steep in cold water, but this time she leaves the container in the fridge for at least 24 hours. Debbie told me the tea is a little bit lighter, but it’s still a nice cup of tea.
For the third steep, she uses the same tea sac in a large bowl and hits it with a quart of boiling water. She lets the tea steep until it cools, adds cold water to make it a gallon, and then puts it in the fridge.
Debbie is a creature of habit and drinks tea all day long. My preference is hot tea, and I like a bit of variety. Above all, this is just one reason why loose leaf tea is so much better. In this case, so much more economical than tea bags. Debbie is an inspiration to anyone, everyone who wants to get the most out of their tea. It is possible, and I thought it was interesting to share it here. Thanks, Debbie.
Tea Station at Home
We have a tea shelf loaded with tea options at our home, and then near the kettle, we keep the teas we are drinking most often. I found this article about creating a tea station at home ( or a coffee station) with tons of details and good ideas.
Correction to Last Month’s Newsletter
Thank you for the emails telling me ’Live from Here’ got canceled. Drag! I need a whole new Sunday Tea routine.
I am a sporadic viewer of the Great British Baking Show, but I found ‘Biscuit Week’ to be especially ”Tea Focused” I don’t bake at all, but the show grabs me with the characters and the vocabulary. I love the way the brits turn a phrase. Hilarious, and they don’t take themselves too seriously, even in competition.
Enter Rowan. He laughs his way through a few episodes, stopping for a cuppa amidst the chaos. For the ‘Showstopper’ challenge, many contestants created variations of tea services made from biscuits. Clever. However, I still have a few episodes to go.
Tea Pairing – Chocolate Honeybush with store-bought biscuits.
Faith Stewart-Gordon, the owner of the Russian Tea Room, has died. She was 88. Obit here. Fun Fact – Madonna was a coat check clerk and was fired for slipping her demo tapes to guests. Stewart-Gordon had a goal “to make the restaurant look the way people remembered it, not the way it was.” RIP, and I raise a cuppa Lapsang Souchong in a decorative glass teacup in her memory.
Sip Locally Tea Blog – recent posts
I am reading ‘Titan’ by Ron Chernow. My ‘big book’ for the year from the author who wrote Hamilton. I don’t see a rap version of this story about John D Rockefeller, but then again, Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius.
Tea pairing – Organic Earl Grey with a splash of Oat milk.
I play more golf since the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens closed. GolfToons is a side hustle I’ve been working on with Dianne’s brother, Marty. Have a look, and please pass along to any golfers you know. Or, you can subscribe and Laugh at the Agony!
Tea Pairing – Organic Strawbango Mushed up words that sound funny!
As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Since the pandemic, sales on our web site have ticked up. I suspect people are drinking more tea, with many new habits formed these past months. Firing up the kettle any time of the day is one of the healthiest habits you can have.
And if you are drinking more tea, the next logical step is to drink better tea. We have many favorites, like Selby Select and Mote Beach Tea or Siesta Tea and Goji Green. All will dazzle you and contribute to that newly formed habit.
This uptick in sales does not cover the drop volume to our wholesale business. So, if you can support our Serving Partners, thank you.
Like everyone else, we have been preparing more of our meals at home. And in the spirit of drinking better tea, I am doing the same when it comes to the spices. So, we are using better spices. Better teas, better spices.
We have used a mortar and pestle for years to grind pepper and kosher salt. And, we use a lot of fennel, especially on salmon. Freshly ground fennel is Magic!!
And now, I have started using really good spices, and the difference is MASSIVE. I have known about the Spice Trekkers (or Epices de Cru) for years. I have even gifted sets of their blends, along with a mortar and pestle as my go-to wedding gift. But like many gift buyers, I bought better for others than myself…
No more. I am hooked. My first order was for two different black peppers (Yupanqui and a Tellicherry) and fennel from Greece. I also found a powerful Chinese Five Spice and a tangy Harissa. I filmed an unboxing video, in case you are interested. Better teas, better spices!
The company is based in Montreal, and they have a fantastic website filled with ‘spice stories.’ I really like the videos they created, especially for the Yupanqui black pepper from Ecuador. Very cool and hard to not order the works!! Merci, Epices de Cru!
Better Teas Better Spices
My Sunday tea is Sweet Orange Mate while listening to Live from Here on NPR. I do miss Garrison, but the music Chris plays is much better. And Tom Poppa always makes me laugh. I drink my cuppa (or mugga) Mate as hot tea. And you may enjoy a recent blog post, “Is it Iced Tea or Ice Tea?”
I had some fun reviewing Yusuf Cat Stevens ‘Tea for the Tillerman’ this summer. I thought the remastered version was his new one. Explained here. ‘Tea for the Tillerman 2’ came out a few weeks ago. The original was arguably one of the best albums ever, and 50 years later, we get another version by Yusuf Cat. I’m working on the final post, but in the meantime, listen and enjoy. Tea Pairing – Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend “brewed strong with a cardamom pod dropped in, taken sweet with a dash of milk.”
We ping pong between Lovecraft Country and The Vow. HBO is knocking it out of the park, though I don’t know which is weirder. John Oliver is back, and Fargo is waiting in the wings. Tea Pairing – Organic Peppermint, for when your breath gets taken away!!
My new favorite podcast is “It Was Said,” A shortish show (45 minutes or less) where Jon Meachum covers a famous speech and provides a bit of context or historical perspective. The Ronald Reagen episode was especially touching. Tea Pairing – Margaret’s Hope Darjeeling, a serious black tea!
And lastly, a farewell to Pat Glass, Dianne’s Mom. She passed away last month. Pat was incredible, a true force in the Universe. Glowing tributes here and here, and an obit with her many accomplishments. With Love!
As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
If someone forwarded this email to you, you need your own!
Thanks for the wonderful response to our first newsletter. Your comments and kind wishes are always welcome. Thank you.
Many of you asked after Glynis. She is well and has been working at Selby Gardens in the Welcome Center. She still helps with all adjustments to our tea line up, and she still drinks a lot of tea. Lately, though, Glynis has been drinking ice tea. Yes, Ice Tea!! I can hear the collective gasp from those who have heard her opine about Hot Tea. It is hot here in Sarasota, so she is making pitchers of Bertha Palmer Rooibos Iced.
Others asked about some of our discontinued teas. I’ll start with our new teas and then list our excuses:):)
Island Mango Black – Created for the Gaugin exhibit at Selby. So popular that we kept it. Black tea with mango and lime.
Black Lemon Ginger – We needed a black tea with ginger and lemon, and we found it! This is an excellent quality black tea, an OP (Orange Pekoe) from Sri Lanka.
* Black Coconut – We still get a bunch of requests each month for this tea. And we are still working on a replacement.
* Sparkling Pineapple White Tea – I liked this one too, but we did not sell enough to keep it. Sorry!
* Flowers in the Factory – This was a tea created for the Warhol exhibit at Selby. We used our Organic Red Berries tea, so the cool packet is not available, but the tea is!
Our other best seller is Mote Beach Tea, and we do contribute a portion of all sales of this caffeine-free gem back to Mote Marine Laboratory. Here is a blog post, More about Mote, with details about the volunteer programs Michael is active with; Sea Turtles and Dolphins.
Our Serving Partners offering Mote Beach Tea include; Bean Coffeehouse, Cafe in the Park, Burns Court Cafe, Morton’s Bakery, Blue Dolphin Cafe, Breakfast House, Mojo Risin, AJ’s Kitchen, Mountain Comfort Coffee, Pastry Arts, Serving Spoon, State Street Eating House, Sunnyside Cafe, and The Reserve. Please support these and any other local businesses you can. Thank you.
We are always looking for tea connections out in the world. Here are a few recent favorites…
Poldark – We binged this Masterpiece Classic on Amazon Prime. Set in the 1790s in Cornwall. Great drama and even more fabulous images of the Cornwall coastline. Demelza and Ross don’t drink as much tea as port and sherry, but the 5 seasons was a great escape!
Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is an Ethiopian piano-playing nun, and she will be 97 in December. I don’t recall how I came across her mellow sounds, but she is easy to listen to on Sunday mornings with a cuppa Yerba Mate. Sweet Orange Mate is my favorite. Her music is fantastic, and her story is even better.
Coverville is one of my favorite podcasts, offering themed cover songs & stories. Loved a recent Blondie Episode, especially ‘The Tide is High’ covered by Dakota Blonde – a country cover of a new wave song originally recorded as a reggae song! No tea connection, but a great listen.
Summer thriller Camino Winds by John Grisham. Not much tea involved, mostly cold beer and wine, but I look forward to a Grisham book every summer.
As ever, we welcome your comments and thanks for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
“And I want a tea cozy. I don’t know what a tea cozy is, but I want one!”
Buffy Summers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I don’t think Buffy is alone. Many Local Tea Company customers and tea drinkers, in general, do not know about tea cozies. Or, they may have heard about Tea cozies but have never seen or used one! They are a straightforward yet amazing invention to keep your tea warm in the POT.
It would seem their popularity has waned since the invention of the teabag, which in turn meant fewer people used a teapot. So, let’s try and get back on track, get the teapots back out, add some good loose tea, and bring back the popularity of tea cozy!
The tea cozy history is not too well documented, though It seems unlikely that they were used when teapots first originated as the pots were small and tea was costly. When William Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister in 1783 at the tender age of 24, he passed the Commutation Act, which lowered the tea tax, making tea more affordable and, no doubt, the teapots bigger!
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Hello Tea lovers – Remember Us?
We are restarting our email newsletter after a bit of a break. Yes, it has been more than 7 years, so more of a hiatus, but here we are.
First, if you would like to unsubscribe, click here.
You can expect an email every three or four weeks with updates and announcements about our teas. We will also share interesting tea-related products you might enjoy, with an inspiring tea quote to go with what we are listening to, watching, reading, and laughing about as we drink our tea.
It’s good to be back! And now, more than ever, the simple pleasures of a calming cuppa tea are crucial to our collective sanity. Organic Peppermint works for us. What tea do you turn to for comfort?
Who are you?
When last we sent our newsletter, Local Tea Co was busy sampling and selling our teas at the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens. And, on Saturday, you could find our ‘Tea Tent’ at the Sarasota Farmers Market. I HOPE you remember us.
Part of the reason we restarted this newsletter is that the Market restarted last weekend, after a few months off. This return got us thinking about all the people we met and spent time with on Saturdays or at the Garden.
We are no longer at the Market, and we left Selby Gardens as well. You can find all the details in our History.
What have we been doing?
We are now focused on our wholesale tea business. We have a long list of Serving Partners that offer our wonderful teas. And if you know of a cafe or restaurant that should be selling our teas, let them know about us.
We also continue to sell out teas online. And Michael has committed to improving his handwriting, though we have our doubts:):)
This ‘TeaMail’ newsletter was titled “Think out of the Bag,” as we are always promoting loose leaf tea. We still promote loose leaf teas, though now offer 20 of our teas in biodegradable SOILON silk sachets.
Our Pinterest Page is probably our most active social page. Have a look and please, follow, like, and comment on any of our pages.
On Instagram and YouTube, we have a bunch of videos visiting our Serving Partners. Have a look and a laugh. And we try to keep up on Facebook and Twitter. What is your preferred social media platform?
As ever, we welcome your comments and thank you for your support.
Your Local Tea Team
Drink Good Tea!
I take a few quick sips. “This is really good.” And I mean it. I have never tasted tea like this.. It is smooth, pungent and instantly addicting.
“This is from Grand Auntie,” my mother explains. “She told me ‘If I buy cheap tea, then I am saying that my whole life has not been worth something better.’
A few years ago she bought it for herself. One hundred dollars a pound.”
“Your kidding.” I take another sip. It tastes even better.
There is some truth to the above passage. You should drink good tea. How much do you pay for tea? I am not suggesting you need to pay 100 dollars a pound for good tea! Price does not always guarantee the quality, but generally, ‘Good Tea’ is a great investment. Your return on that investment is a smooth and pungent flavor. This depth and the consistent flavor are very addictive, and after that, it will result in multiple infusions of the leaf!
Cheap Teabag tea is designed for one-time use! I have heard tales of a second and even third infusion from a single tea bag. What is the point of weak tea? Drink good tea!
Not so with loose leaf tea. You can certainly get great flavor from a second infusion, and with some teas, even a third infusion and beyond. At Local Tea Company, we call this ‘multi-fusion’ or ‘multi-steeping.’ You might be interested in a previous blog post about this subject.
Many customers will only infuse or steep a pot or cup of tea once. They then dispose of the leaves, hopefully in a compost bin. Tea was an expensive commodity during my youth in Yorkshire, and from an early age, my mum always taught me how to get the most value from loose leaf tea! Who would have thought that the term ‘multifusion’ would later describe this process?
Keep in mind these infusions were always at the same sitting. For instance, at least two cups were the norm in my childhood. I have never had a problem drinking two cups or more. If more than a cuppa poses a problem for you, then keep your leaves fresh by placing them in the refrigerator for use later the same day. I do not advise keeping them beyond a day in case of spoilage. Just drink more tea!
Drinking more tea is much easier when you have the right tea!
“You’re kidding,” said the Tea Lady. Local Tea continues to make your ‘TeaLife’ better and better.
Pu Erh Teas
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. Though 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. When the value hit record levels, they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price. The tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
Pu er Black Tea
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 occurs. 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. Then the tea is wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are 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 is low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy. With a deep inhale, the tea smells like a compost heap and looks like tar. So, I know it’s going to be good for me!
How many Steeps?
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. The later steeps are better than the initial steep. I find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon, I think Pu Erh should be brewed more often. I should share samples 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 is called Tea!
the Tea Lady
Kombucha Yorkshire Tea
Thank you to those following my Kombucha side trip on my Tea Journey. And for enduring me when I get carried away with Kombucha enthusiasm! Since my earlier Kombucha posts, #1 and #2, I have been busy brewing. I continue to learn about the variations, the good, bad, and the ugly about this fascinating beverage.
Kombucha Yorkshire Tea
I am not very disciplined about drinking my kombucha when at home. However, during my working days at the Carriagehouse Tea Room at Selby Gardens, I sip during lunch and the afternoon hours. During the ‘dog days of summer, ’ kombucha gives me a boost of energy.
Michael and Tray continue to make excuses for why they no longer brew kombucha. Tray drinks as much of my supply as available. I must be doing something right. So, what’s new?
I have found that black tea seems to work best, especially our Harrogate Yorkshire tea. This is not really surprising; this tea has such strength and character as the people of Yorkshire!! Brewing the tea for 14 days was too astringent for my taste, so I reduced to 7 days. Less fermentation time results in a slightly sweeter taste and more fizz. I also started adding new tea on top of the same SCOBY instead of washing out containers each time. I no longer split the mother and baby as often. The SCOBY has grown really fast, improving my results.
After reading that more fizz is achieved if you leave bottles out for 4 days before refrigeration, I tried this routine. I found the bottles started to grow ‘mini’ SCOBYs (ew!), so I now refrigerate immediately.
I am very much enjoying where this journey is taking me. New converts or fellow ‘Kombuchans’ are found in all sorts of spots. You may have heard of retailers removing the commercially bottled Kombucha from their shelves, so there has been growing interest in home brewing. I have been giving away SCOBYs to anyone who wants to try making their own and hope to have more success stories to share. Stop by Local Tea Company to talk about tea. .Kombucha Yorkshire Tea
Kombucha Black Tea
Welcome to the next installment of kombucha making,
It has been an eventful and exciting period since we last talked, and there are some things I need to share. First, Kombucha making takes some patience and some structure! Michael, are you listening?
After winging the first batch, I got serious and looked for some better guidelines. This led me to a site called getkombucha.com. Dave talks you through all stages in a mini-course, which is brilliant. (I really like the way he presents his experiences, funny too) I have bought a better container and followed measurements more precisely and am hoping for better results.
The first batch (made with Pu-erh) was quite frankly a disaster and ended up down the sink, but I am ok with that. I will nail this kombucha making; after all, I am an expert with a regular cuppa tea. How difficult can it be???
The second batch (made with Kenya black tea) is now bottled and needs refrigerating before consumption. I learned that keeping the bottles out for 4 days helps build up some carbonation before you refrigerate. (A colleague took a crafty sample yesterday and reported that it tasted fantastic! She now wants in on the action too.) I look forward to drinking this daily whilst waiting for the next batch to work its magic.
Kombucha with Black and Green Tea
Another batch, which I started at home, was made with a combination of black and green tea. I brewed for only 12 days. Most guidelines indicate between 7 and 14 days, and on sampling, I liked the taste, so I went for it. In 2 of the bottles, I dropped a piece of fresh ginger (another thing I learned was that fruits need to be added at this stage).
I look forward to drinking to see if I have a success story on my hands. My goal is to continue the Kombucha chain now.
Some important tips I want to share which may have contributed to my first failure are….
- Do not cut down the sugar content (1 cup per 4-liter tea). The culture needs sugar to feed and grow,
- Make sure the mixture is covered with a cloth or paper towel secured with an elastic band. It needs to breathe whilst keeping out the bugs. Or go to getkombucha.com for all the tips!
- Just a word of warning, this kombucha making becomes somewhat of an obsession. You may find yourself very strangely watching your culture for any action. Is the SCOBY rising to the top or still on the bottom? How long do I have to wait till I taste?
BE PREPARED TO CATCH THE KOMBUCHA BUG! Kombucha Black Tea