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
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.
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 awesome flavor. There are superb teas in bags or sachets, seek them out and stop drinking bad tea. The difference is immense.
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 and every 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.
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, a spicy chai might be the perfect option. I almost forgot to mention Oolongs! Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.
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 gojiberries or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor. Yes, white teas too. Drink them!
Drink great rooibos teas. Drink a lot of rooibos. This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. Drink Rooibos or Bush Tea when faced with solving a mystery ☺☺ This 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.
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 a gorgeous jams and jellies. Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.
Drink great fruit teas. Share them with a young person. Introduce a child to the joys of tea. Start with the anticipation of the kettle boiling, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves and the flavors release. This 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 the very first steps.
And then there is the perfection that are Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas. Make a cuppa 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 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 in to a great cuppa tea. Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the exact 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 up 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 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 want you to 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 just have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available and there is joy to be had.
Serve a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer. Take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even morel, 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.
Local Tea Company
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’.
A favourite book of mine offers an interesting quote or excerpt about tea, and I would like to share it with you. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome was first published in 1889, and was intended as a serious travel guide about a boating holiday on the Thames between Kingston and Oxford. However, it turned out to be a very humorous account detailing the adventures of the three friends Jerome, George Wingrave and Carl Hentschel along with a fictional dog called Montmorency!
When I read this excerpt today, it seemed so clever and witty, evoking powerful thoughts about the beverage I so love…. tea. Enjoy.
‘It is very strange, this domination of our intellect by our digestive organs. We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so. It dictates to us our emotions, our passions. After eggs and bacon, it says “Work!” After beefsteak and porter , it says “Sleep!” After a cup of tea (two spoonfuls for each cup and don’t let it stand for more than three minutes), it says to the brain, “Now rise, and show your strength. Be eloquent, and deep, and tender; see, with a clear eye, into Nature, and into life: spread your white wings of quivering thought, and soar, a god-like spirit, over the whirling world beneath you, up through long lanes of flaming starts to the gates of eternity!”
Jerome K. Jerome, Three men in a Boat.
What type of tea does it take for you to rise and show your strength, be eloquent and deep or indeed spread your white wings of quivering thought? It would have to be a good strong cup of Yorkshire Harrogate for me! Here is a earlier post about Yorkshire. Please share your comments and take time for tea.
I cannot believe it has taken me so long to write about Rooibos tea. Maybe that is a good thing though, as I have now reached a stage where my love of this tea is such that I cannot imagine life without it!
As an orthodox tea drinker, black teas and mostly unflavored green teas, you will have heard me say many times that I just love the taste of tea. However, like many women before me I seem to have reached an age where too much caffeine (even in my beloved tea!!) seems to be disruptive for my body.
Enter ROOIBOS (Aspalathis linearis) a broom like shrub and member of the legume family found in a small area of the Western Cape Province of South Africa. The word rooibos (pronounced roy-boss) is Afrikaans for red bush and has been popular in South Africa for generations.
Rooibos has a huge following all over the world due to the many health benefits as well as Mama Ramotswe, a certain lady detective. If you are one of the few people not to have seen or read the No 1 Ladies Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith then do so soon. Like the tea, these books are compelling, very relaxing and worthy of your time.
So, what does Rooibos have to offer? Rooibos has very high antioxidant levels (aspalathin), in fact some claim that Rooibos has more antioxidants than green tea. And I advise anyone not caring for green tea to drink Rooibos. The tannin levels are low (responsible for causing astringency in true tea) and there is NO oxalic acid which makes this tea good for anyone suffering from kidney stones. Relaxing and restful, rooibos can assist with nervous tension, allergies, dermatological issues and anti-spasmodic properties making rooibos helpful for digestive problems.
In South Africa, rooibos is used to aid infants suffering with colic and is added to baby’s bath water (and yours) to soften the skin. Research continues on possible anti-cancer properties and I think we will hear more about the benefits of drinking Rooibos for some time to come. Perhaps most important, you will find NOTHING about the adverse effects of rooibos, which is quite amazing!
Rooibos is an herb and is NATURALLY caffeine free, which makes it the perfect tea for my sleeping predicament. This tea quite simply tastes and feels so good and I have become a huge fan. I have found many tea lovers dislike pure rooibos, though it blends so well with fruits and flowers.
At Local Tea Company we have a wonderful collection of Rooibos teas. Our best selling (of all our teas) is Selby Select, an orange peel and yogurt blend we created for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. The list continues with Van Wezel with black and red currants (see post), Lemon Sunset with lemongrass and lemon peel, Bertha Palmer with licorice, peppermint, verbena and fennel, and finally Mable’s Rose with cherry and rose. I hope you agree that is quite a line up and if you are an iced tea drinker, do not despair, all are beautiful iced!
One of our rooibos teas is especially nice too share with a loved one. Sweet Sin combines raspberry with vanilla and is always popular around Valentine’s Day.
What a versatile and special tea this is and if you haven’t discovered Rooibos already then I hope you do so soon.
I want to share with you a new tea created for the “Lights in Bloom” holiday celebration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Every year Selby Gardens comes alive with brilliant lights, festive displays and a spectacular Christmas tree made of bromeliads. Guests stroll through a magical garden filled with sparkling lights, live holiday music, and children’s activities.
Festivi-Tea will conjure up all your favorite yummy smells and tastes of this time of year. A blend of sencha and bancha green tea with dried orange, cut almonds and cream of caramel, perfect for any evening, especially a night at Lights in Bloom.
Sencha (‘Sen’ meaning green and ‘cha’ meaning tea or ‘infused tea’) is a style of tea. Harvested leaves are heated in a wok to prevent oxidation giving the leaves a slightly mellower ‘roasted’ flavor and characteristic thin, cylindrical shape.
Bancha, or ‘common’ green tea is harvested from the second flush of leaves in late summer/autumn. The larger leaf gives a very mellow flavor and contains less caffeine.
Then we have the Holiday factor! Citrus peel, for me is synonymous with Christmas. I remember when I was a little girl how thrilled I was to get a bag of Oranges in my Christmas stocking. Oranges were expensive and hard to come by in the heart of Yorkshire and were such a special treat! The peel of citrus fruit can be bitter and not very appetizing, but adds great flavor and health benefits when dried and added to tea.
Almonds are something I try to eat all year round for their healthy heart benefits (they contain monounsaturated fats responsible for lowering LDL cholesterol) and almonds conjure more Christmas memories. We always had nuts in the shells and it was difficult to eat many as they were so hard to crack open. My sister and I usually lost interest after a short while, but we had such fun and very rosy cheeks from sitting by a roaring fire!
Cream of Caramel is a very tasty ‘concoction’ of sugars and milk, dried and added to enhance this tea. I try to bring you teas with all natural, healthy ingredients, but sometimes exceptions must be made at this is the time of year.
Festivi-Tea is easy to drink with subtle notes of all the ingredients as well as a smooth finish. Best hot, I think, though we have sampled iced Festivi-Tea at the Sarasota Farmer’s Market with wonderful results.
Please join us at Selby Gardens this year for Lights in Bloom starting December 17th (details at www.selby.org) and visit the Local Tea Company Carriage House to see our complete selection of tea and tea accessories.
I hope you enjoy Festivi-Tea as much I have enjoyed sharing my Christmas past with you.
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!
Our sister company, Local Catering has seen an increased interest in tea parties at Selby Gardens including an intimate wedding last month. I hear the term “High Tea” used as a reference, when in actual fact; “Afternoon Tea” is a more accurate description.
I will attempt to explain the differences between “High Tea” and “Afternoon Tea”, as well as a bit of history on how these very different meals got their specific titles.
“High Tea” does not refer to fancy sandwiches and small cakes served with elegant table settings, but rather a meal served in working class households as the main meal of the day, usually early evening.
At the height of Victorian times lower and middle class families were only able to afford one meal per day. Served at the end of the working day, the meal typically consisted of bread and cheese, potatoes, vegetables, maybe cold meat and pickles or for the more affluent, fish. Black tea would be served along with the food. This is the meal most families would now refer to as dinner.
Growing up, this was the main meal at house and was called “tea”. Today, I still refer to our evening meal as tea and often ask myself “What are we having for tea today?” As I am more sensitive to caffeine, we now will drink Rooibos or Honeybush or another herbal tea.
Why is this meal known as “High Tea”? Very simply, the meal is served on a dining table, in contrast to the much lower table on which “Afternoon Tea” is served.
Anna, Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) is credited with creating “Afternoon Tea”. The evening meal was often served after 8pm, and the Duchess would get a ‘sinking feeling’ (low blood sugar levels associated with hunger!) in the afternoon hours. She instructed her staff at Belvoir Castle to make up small sandwiches and cakes, and invited friends for tea and conversation. The meal was served on lower tables in the drawing room, allowing for intimate conversation. The tradition of “Afternoon Tea” is still very popular.
There are many variations of “Afternoon Tea” with small sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream and a huge variety of teas to choose from. “Tea” can be a sophisticated, dressy and special occasion or a simple, casual and relaxed meal at the end of the day.
Whichever “Tea” you choose, the idea remains a wonderful way to spend quality time with friends or loved ones, enjoying some food and conversation. We should all do this more often!