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Tea Cozies of (P)interest

Tea Cozies

“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

Buffy

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!

Tea Cozies

Snail Tea Cozy posted in the Sip Locally Tea Blog of Local Tea Company in Sarasota, FloridaWe have been ‘Pinning’ tea cozies on our Pinterest page for many years.  Our Tea Cozies Board has 823 pins at last count!  I have added a few here, and check our Pinterest Page to see more.

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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Gladwell Tea Party Podcast

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Gladwell Tea Party Podcast

I listen to podcasts.  A lot of podcasts, but most current events, politics, comedy, and golf.  Gladwell Tea Party Podcast.

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.

Gladwell Tempest in a TeaCup

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 podcasts about Tea.  There are a bunch. I don’t find them as interesting as the ones I like.  And I read a lot of Tea Blogs, as well.

Revisionist History

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.

Patriots

Boston Tea Party Local Tea CompanyThe Patriots were smuggling tea from China into the colonies.  This ‘Bohea Tea’ was cheaper and turned into a profitable business by undercutting the British taxed tea.

Great Britain found out about the smuggling and passed the Tea Act of 1773, lowering tea prices.  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!

Drug dealers?  Okay, anything that makes tea dangerous is good for me. It makes Local Tea Company a bit more interesting!  And if you are interested, have a listen to this podcast.

Lapsang Souchong

I also learned about the Lapsang Souchong smokiness scandal, part of a ‘bro’ thing.  Full confession, I drink lapsang souchong most mornings with honey and oat milk.  And Rooibos most afternoons.

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.

Malcolm Gladwell

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 a great story about the origin of lapsang or caravan tea posted in our Lapsang Souchong product description.

Lapsang Souchong black tea from Local Tea Company

More disclosure, I thought 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.

Gladwell Tea Party Podcast

And the Sip Locally Tea Journey continues.  Since this Gladwell Tea Party Podcast post, I have started drinking Lapsang Souchong most mornings with honey and steamed oat milk.   And Revisionist History is out with Season Five!

 

Cuppa Tea in SRQ #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s on East

Cuppa Tea at Selby House Cafe

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. for a cuppa tea at the Selby House Cafe.

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, and we are always creating new tea for the annual garden exhibitions.  Previously art from Marc Chagall, Andy Warhol, and Paul Gauguin has been on display at Selby Gardens.

Teas at Selby House Cafe at Selby Gardens

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, and 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.

Cheers,

Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East

Local Tea available from Michael's On East at Selby Gardens

Cuppa Tea in SRQ #3 – Cafe in the Park

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Cuppa Tea at Cafe in the Park

Our latest episode of “Cuppa Tea in SRQ” is now available from our YouTube Channel.  We visit Cafe in 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.

Cheers,

Episode #3 – Cafe in the Park

 

YouTube for Local Tea Co.

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YouTube for Local Tea Co.

We are having fun with our new “Cuppa Tea in SRQ” YouTube Channel.  Check out this series visiting our wholesale Serving Partners in and around Sarasota.  We find the owner and have a ‘video visit’ with them.

It’s short, it’s light and above all, tries to be funny.

Please like, comment, and subscribe.  You will see the first 2 below, Oasis Cafe and Lila.

Cheers,

Episode #1 – Oasis Cafe & Bakery

Episode #2 – Lila

Drink this tea every day and look like this?

Drink this tea every day and look like this?

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.”

Li Qing Yuen

en Tea Local Tea Co

Recently someone asked me about the phrase.  I mentioned the story of the Chinese herbalist Li Qing Yuen who was said to have consumed goji berries 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?

And so, I dug a bit deeper into Li Qing Yuen and found this picture, along with more details.  I made myself a cuppa Goji Green and my smile returned as I read on.

His birth year was either 1736 or 1677, though his true birth date 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.”

Goji berries

Li Qing Yuen Local Tea Co Sarasota

He spent most of his life in the mountains collecting and selling ginseng, goji berries, 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 goji berries could be found in the official reports, and I really don’t know what sitting like a tortoise might look like.

I will leave the story on our product page because I think our Goji Green tea is phenomenal.  As phenomenal as the legend of Li Qing Yuen.

Goji Green Tea

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.

Goji Green Tea Local Tea Co Sarasota SRQ

While you are savoring a cuppa of this wonderful green tea, contemplate your secrets to a long life.  And then please share them with me 🙂

Earl Grey for Picard

Earl Grey for Picard

“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot… and whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like a word with him..”

-Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation

 

Life is too short to drink bad tea

Life is too short to drink bad tea.

Life is too short to drink bad tea

 

I like this quote.  When I went to find someone to attribute this quote to, I couldn’t find anybody, so I’m claiming it for myself.  That may be right, wrong, maybe morally questionable, but the truth is, life is way too short to drink bad tea.  And there is no reason to drink bad tea when so many great options exist everywhere.  

Loose Leaf Tea

Perhaps the quote should be, “Life is too short to drink anything except loose leaf tea”  Loose tea is the better tea, fresher, and allowing for the best flavor, the deepest, resonant, complex, and any other word you can think of to describe the awesome flavor.  There are superb teas in bags or sachets. Seek them out and stop drinking bad tea.  The difference is immense.

Life is too short to drink Cheap tea

Tea is an emotional beverage.  What other drink conjures memories, alters moods, and makes you a better person.  Yes, there is a similar quote, “Life is too short to drink bad wine,” but tea is healthy and can be drunk every day.  And you should drink tea every day.  We all want to extend our time on this planet and get the most out of each day.  So drink tea and drink great tea.

Motivating?   I’m not sure. Perhaps I’m just trying to get to the end of this blog post. But how about this?

“Make the most of every day”  I won’t try to claim credit for this adage, but if you are going to drink the world’s most popular beverage after water, make the most of it and drink a great tea.  

Life is too short to drink cheap tea

Black Tea

Drink great black teas—a robust, strong Assam or Darjeeling with a splash of fresh almond milk or a rich cream.  Drink a great breakfast blend like our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend, Or a mild, sweeter Nilgiri. Or, if you want more flavor, spicy chai might be the perfect option.  I almost forgot to mention Oolongs!  Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.

Green Tea

Drink great green teas—Froth a pinch of a matcha green tea, or gently steep a pure Organic Sencha.  Add a touch of flavor, maybe strawberry or goji berries, or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor.  Yes, white teas too. Drink them!

Rooibos Tea

Drink great rooibos teas.  This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. When faced with solving a mystery, drink Rooibos, or Bush Tea is not only a lovely, mild flavor. Rooibos takes on other flavors like vanilla and orange peel (Selby Select) or Lavender or Rose (Mable’s Rose Rooibos).  Drink Honeybush and Chocolate Honeybush, and the list goes on.  

Life is too short to drink cheap tea

Herbal Tea

Drink great herbal teas, peppermint, Yerba Mate, or hibiscus or tulsi.  I just saw this weekend that Roselle blossoms were available at the Sarasota farmers market.  They are they’re blooming in Florida, and they make incredible tea as well as gorgeous jams and jellies.  Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.

Fruit Tea

Drink great fruit teas.  Please share them with a young person.  Introduce a child to the joys of tea.  Start with the kettle boiling’s anticipation, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves, and the flavors release.  This is called the ‘Agony of the Leaf’ what does it conjure in your imagination. Heat the mugs with hot water while you wait for all the flavor to extract, and then pour two mugs full and blow cool air over your brew.  

Start a young person on a tea journey, drinking tea as a part of a ritual, after dinner, before bed, in the morning, later in the day.  There are so many opportunities to drink tea. This ‘Tea Journey’ will last a lifetime, and you will be responsible for the very first steps.  

Life is too short to drink anything but great tea

And then there is the perfection that is Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas.  Make a cuppa of either of these herbal gems before you go to bed. I promise you that your dreams will be finer, they’ll be sweeter, and your sleep will be deeper and richer and better.  I can’t promise that your dreams will come true, but a great cuppa tea can bring hope.

Share Tea

Share that idea with everyone, a life of sound sleep and fantastical dreams.  You are never too old to begin a ‘Tea Journey.’ And what a wonderful community to be a part of, drinkers of great teas!

Appreciate all that goes into a great cuppa tea.  Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the same cup at this same moment.  How many years or decades or centuries have people been drinking this same tea. Or how much progress has been made in heating the water.  Before electricity, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, how did they boil water? What was the mug like or bowl or the cup? There is much to consider in a simple cup of tea.

And be sure to steep your tea for the correct time.  Not too short, robbing yourself from a fully expressed cuppa.  And not too long, for the bitterness or astringency might distract from the beautiful flavors intended for you.  

Give Tea

Life is too short to drink cheap bad tea

Give the gift of tea.  Nothing can be so easy to share, so thoughtful, so considerate for either a tea lover experienced in drinking great tea or introducing someone to your favorite tea.  Tea elevates the idea of a gift to a new level.

Yes, I was hoping you could buy my teas, and we have plenty of options for you.  But find a new place to buy tea, a wonderful loose leaf tea. You will recall the moment later when you are drinking or serving this tea.  Tea comes with its own story. You have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available, and there is a joy to be had.

Life is too short to drink inexpensive teaServe a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer.  Please take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even more or help someone else feel special.  That’s where this big thought started, with living your life to the fullest. Life is too short and so find the moments, the joys to extract a bit more than you may have expected.  Surprise someone, delight them. Give that gift or treat yourself. You deserve it.

So drink up. Life is too short to drink bad tea.

Michael Duranko

Local Tea Company

Yerba Mate – The Drink of the Gods

Yerba Mate – The Drink of the Gods

Yerba Mate (Ilex paraguariensis) is a small tree native to the subtropical Atlantic forests of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. This evergreen member of the holly family was introduced to modern civilizations by the indigenous Guarani.  For instance, the mate drink is brewed from the dried leaves and stems.  Yerba Mate is consumed by millions of South Americans as a healthful alternative to coffee.

Taste

What does this drink taste like?  Well yerba mate lives up to its name ‘cup herb’.  The flavor is very herby or vegetal/grassy but can be very agreeable if made correctly!  Water must NOT be boiling as this can cause bitterness.  Steaming hot is quite sufficient.  This is what Michael drank most Saturday mornings at the Local Tea Company tent at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market.

Yerba Mate tea Tree
Yerba Mate Tree

How to drink Yerba Mate?

The traditional way to drink the infusion is from a hollowed out gourd through a straw called a ‘bombilla’, a reusable straw!  A yerba mate tea set.  The ritual is a common social practice shared with friends and carrying a set of rules.  Usually one person, the host will prepare yerba mate and refill the cup. The gourd is passed around in a clockwise circle and then re-brewed many times. You will say ‘gracias’ and return the gourd to your host only when you have had sufficient!  I talk to many visitors who have enjoyed this experience when traveling in South America.

Yerba Mate tea in Gourd with Bombilla
Yerba Mate in Gourd with Bombilla

I am a fan of our Organic Green Mate, pure clean.  And I have tried to persuade others at the Selby Gardens Welcome center to join me, but my work continues.

Another option is our Roasted Mate.  The leaves are toasted which imparts a slight roasted taste.  The leaf is dark and tastes almost coffee-like, and is a good choice if you are trying to ‘kick’ the coffee habit!

Michael prefers our Sweet Orange Mate, a blend of green and roasted mate along with some citrus and licorice which tends to soften the ‘herbi-ness’ a little. As a reult, you will receive a surge of energy and mental clarity which really gets you on the right track and sets you up for the day!

Health Benefits

Above all, this drink plays a role in many legendary tales.  First discovered centuries ago by the indigenous people in South America, Yerba Mate has become revered as the ‘drink of the gods.’  People survived drought and famine drinking this tea.  Yerba Mate can enhance health, vitality, and longevity and is now becoming an alternative to coffee in many other areas of the world.   This well balanced stimulant has 24 vitamins and minerals, 15 amino acids and is high in antioxidants.

Mate has some amazing qualities which make it a whole body tonic. The stimulation comes to us via 3 components called Xanthine Alkaloids: – Caffeine, Theophylline and Theobromine (found in chocolate!).  This mighty combination along with minerals to support the nervous system and B vitamins to relax the muscles produce a balanced and long lasting physical and mental stimulation!

You may find comments about Yerba Mate having ‘more anti oxidants than green tea.’  Let’s just say Mate contains ‘abundant anti oxidants’ and is low in tannins,  You can brew this tea very strong without any bitterness which also makes it easier on the stomach.  Along with a massive burst of energy, Mate will curb your appetite, raise your metabolism and burn calories i.e. loose weight.  Sounds easy if all you have to do is drink Yerba Mate.

As with all teas you can change the experience to suit you.  People always ask how to make yerba mate without a gourd?  Brew your yerba mate drink your favorite way, whether in your favorite tea pot or a Travel Mug or a Tea Maker or a T sac.  Give it a try and let us know what you experience.

Gracias.,

Tea Team

Tea Quote from Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

Tea Quote from Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero

British Actor, dramatist & Stage Director

(24 May 1855 – 23 November 1934)