The cooler weather is here, and people are starting to order chai tea. We wrote about Chai Tea in a blog post a while back (here is a link) and thought it was time for an update. I was reminded that January is National Hot Tea Month, so I am getting a jump on that important holiday!
Our Serving Partners offering our Cochin Masla Chai include the following; Cafe in the Park, Oasis Cafe, Burns Court Bistro, The Breakfast House, The Bean Coffeehouse, Pastry Arts, The Selby House Cafe at Selby Gardens, and Morton’s Gourmet Market. Thank you for supporting local businesses.
Thanksgiving is next week, and a cuppa Chai before or after your meal might keep everyone awake for the Football games or the Dog Show! This is the time of year for Chai Tea.
Time for Chai Tea
Chai is the generic word for tea in much of the World. The British adopted the word as slang, and ‘cha’ or ‘char’ became the meaning of a teacup. So what is true Masala Chai?
This beverage from the Indian subcontinent is 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. While there are many preparation variations today (some not too good either!), there are four components that remain true to chai tea’s original idea.
- Strong black tea – usually Assam, but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong, so spices and sweeteners 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, Almond, and Oat 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 the predominant flavor. Other possible additions are nutmeg, rose, licorice root, almond, and saffron.
We like to drink it without anything added, though I admit to having caught the Oat Milk craze. Other options include Almond Milk, Soy, and good old-fashioned milk.
Go ahead and try a few 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 the holidays!
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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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.
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.
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 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!
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 a great story about the origin of lapsang or caravan tea posted in our Lapsang Souchong product description.
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 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.
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.
Episode #5 – Selby House Cafe by Michael’s On East
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.
Episode #3 – Cafe in the Park
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.
Episode #1 – Oasis Cafe & Bakery
Episode #2 – Lila
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
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
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?
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.”
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.
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 🙂