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Tea Newsletter #5 – Supporting Local, Thank you

Supporting Local, Thank you

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Happy Holidays Tea Lovers

Last week was Small Business Saturday and then Cyber Monday.  We had record sales at our online shop.  I am massively grateful and sincerely appreciate all the support AND the many kind notes received with your orders.

This year more than ever, supporting local businesses is vital.  And it’s wonderful to see so many people finding clever ways of support.

Before we opened in 2007, we established our three operating tenets

  • Buy local products and services, 
  • Celebrate local treasures,
  • Protect local environments.

We still use these ideals for how we operate today.  And, while no tea is grown in Sarasota, we consider our teas ‘locally inspired.’

Thank you for supporting our Serving Partners.  This month I am thrilled to add three new locations offering our teas; Cheesecake CutieCremesh Coffee & Bakery, and Vernona Gourmet.  While you have every reason to doubt my neutrality, all of our Serving Partners are the BEST!

Onto the Holidays in Sarasota…

Places

The Selby House Cafe is one of our Serving Partners; they sell a lot of our tea at Selby Gardens.  What is better than walking around this botanical waterfront oasis with a hot cuppa?

Lights in Bloom starts on December 12th when Selby Gardens is transformed into a holiday celebration.  The Bromeliad Tree is lit, so grab a cuppa and enjoy the splendor!
Tea Pairing – Selby Select Rooibos was our first locally inspired tea and still our best seller.

Sip Locally Tea Blog – recent posts

5 Things to Remember when Gifting Tea

The Time of Year for Chai

GIY – Grow it yourself

I found this article about creating your own Herbal Tea Garden filled with great tea details, and the wonderful quote below.
Tea Pairing – Organic Egyptian Chamomile

                     “We often think that drinking anything without caffeine is innocuous,
but herbal tea has power.”         Timothy d’Offay

Places

Recently, Dianne and I visited The Ringling Museum to check out the Kabuki exhibit.  Fantastic.

Every visit to Ringling is special.  The Gallery with the enormous Rubens is my favorite spot in Sarasota, absolutely transportive.  It feels like Firenze!

We revisited the Japanese Tea Room, then walked to and along the waterfront near the Ca d’Zan, back past the newly filled wading pool and the Mable’s Rose Garden.  We are lucky to have this treasure in Sarasota.
Tea Pairing – I’m going with the Big Top Tea, and next time we’ll go into the Circus exhibits.

TV

Every version of Fargo is a blend of suspense and odd humor.  Always a twist and filled with surprises.
Tea Pairing – Pinhead Gunpowder Green Tea a dangerous-sounding tea!

Books

It is a short one, but I started ‘The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle’ this week.  Growing up, I wanted to be a veterinarian because of both Dr. Doolittle and James Herriot’s books.  And now I sell tea!
Tea Pairing – Little Monkey or DragonFruit Green Tea!  Both good choices:):)

As always, your comments are welcomed, and thanks for your support.

Your Local Tea Team

The Time of Year for Chai Tea

Cochin Masala Chai

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!  What tea has the most caffeine?

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.

  1. Strong black tea – usually Assam, but can be Ceylon. The loose leaf tea is strong, so spices and sweeteners do not overpower the flavor.
  2. 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.
  3. Milk, usually whole milk for richness, but alternatives like Soy, Almond, and Oat can be used. 1/4 to 1/2 parts are required.
  4. 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.

Cochin Masala Chai

At Local Tea Company, we offer an outstanding Cochin Masala Chai, authentic and warm traditional flavor. It bears the name of a busy port, which also has a long history in trading spices.

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.  What tea has the most caffeine?  Then put your feet up, stay warm with a cup of Cochin Masala Chai, and celebrate the holidays!

 

Tea Newsletter #3 – Better Teas, Better Spices

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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.

Better Teas

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.

If you are interested in learning about healthy teas, here is a post Glynis wrote a few years back and a more recent post about consuming goji berries every day.

Some of our more unusual teas include Lapsang Souchong (my personal favorite), our Young Pu Erh, or perhaps our Aronia Oolong with chokeberries and passion fruit.  Lots to explore in our online shop.

This uptick in sales does not cover the drop volume to our wholesale business.  So, if you can support our Serving Partners, thank you.

Better Spices

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?”

Music

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 PairingOrganic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend “brewed strong with a cardamom pod dropped in, taken sweet with a dash of milk.”

TV

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!!

Podcast

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

Ice Tea or Iced Tea?

Ice Tea or Iced Tea?

“Iced tea may not have as much wisdom as hot tea,

but in summer better a cool and refreshed dullard

than a steamy sweat drenched sage –leave sagacity to the autumn”

Linda Solegato

 

One of our Serving Partners was revising their menu and asked me, “is it Iced or Ice Tea?”

Good question!  So I thought I would look into the matter.  This leads me to the quote above from Linda Solegato, which, in turn, lead me on a slight detour.

Steep Loose Leaf tea multiple times, we call if Multi-Steeping at Local Tea Company in Sarasota, Florida

Hot Tea

First, the quote.  Hot tea does evoke a sense of contemplation.  We are often gifted a few moments as the kettle boils water or the tea is steeping.  How many great ideas or other inspirations have come from these ‘Tea Times.’  Or what do you call these between times?

I know the time between the honk from the cab’s horn behind you and the light turning green is a New York minute.  Maybe I’ll get to that term in a future post, and until then, I’m going with Tea Time.

I expect many will respond with the same moments of reflection as we refresh ourselves with a tall glass of cold tea.  Yes, I am waiting to introduce the title term of this post for a bit of drama and SEO benefits.  So, is there wisdom in a cold cuppa?  I’ll leave that for yet another possible post.

Linda Solegato

The tangent I mentioned earlier came after a quick search about the author, Linda Solegato.  Who is Linda Solegato, and what other gems has she to share?  Linda is also credited with a few other non-tea blurbs,

“Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and for the soul.”

“When one of my plants dies, I die a little inside, too.”

“It’s so hot even my fake plants are wilting.”

But, who is this sage?  My search leads me to the QuoteGarden website and Terri Guillemets.  For some reason, unknown to my sleuthing, Linda Solegato is a pseudonym for Terri Guillemets.  She is a lifelong collector of quotes, and her site is fabulous.  I plan to return often for more tea quotes for future Sip Locally posts.

Ice Tea or Iced Tea?

But what about refreshing, cold tea.  Is it Ice Tea or Iced Tea?  That is the question.

I thought a simple search would determine the correct use.   And here is a fine time to admit my guilt in using both versions at Local Tea Company along the way. However,  I never thought to get to the bottom of this mild mystery.  Until now!

Grammarist and Merriam Webster both offer detailed and similar explanations.  Elocution.  Both cite ice cream, previously known as iced cream but adjusted for ease of pronunciation.  Merriam Webster goes a bit further (or farther)  with nods to Waxed Paper, Skimmed Milk, and Boxed Sets.  The tea world has not committed just yet.  So, both Ice Tea and Iced Tea are both acceptable and interchangeable.

History of Cold Tea

The world of iced tea is not that old.  The widely accepted story is of Richard Blechyden at the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis.

Crowd at the 1904 World's Fair at St Louis for Local Tea Company

The tale goes, the tea merchant Blechyden had planned on promoting
his fine Indian loose leaf tea. The day was scorching hot, and nobody was
interested in his hot tea.  He took some ice from the iced cream
vendor next door and added it to all the drinks.  This idea proved to be a massive hit, and ice(d) tea was born.

French’s Mustard was also introduced at the same 1904 event, handy trivia knowledge put to good use a few weeks ago.  French’s Mustard was founded in my home town of Rochester, NY.  Throw in Long Island Iced Tea, which sounds better, and elocution rules again.

Statistics show 85% of Americans drink iced tea.  And in 2010, ice tea actually overtook the Brits in the tea-drinking stakes by consuming so much of the iced beverage!

Health Benefits of Ice(d) Tea

There is plenty of evidence about the great benefits of drinking tea. Tea contains high
levels of antioxidants called polyphenols, which attack the free radicals in our
bodies and stop them from harming our healthy cells.

Do we get more of those antioxidants from hot tea or iced tea? The overwhelming
evidence indicates that higher quality loose leaf tea provides the
most antioxidants (and much better flavor) whichever way you serve them. If you
are among the 65% that use tea bags, you might want to introduce loose tea
into your life and “think out of the bag.”

We think it is worth the small amount of time and effort to brew your iced tea with loose leaf at Local Tea Company.

Many of our Serving Partner clients use large tea sacs to make a gallon of ice(d) tea.  We call them bullets and use the large T-sac to contain the tea and one ounce of black or green tea to make a gallon.  A little more is required for fruit and herbal tisanes.

Cold Brew(ed) Ice(d) Tea

We have always liked the cold brew method.  That is, add cold water to loose leaf tea and leaving in the fridge overnight.   Try this method with some of the old tea bags you have in a drawer.  You will be amazed at the flavor, and a better idea than tossing them the next time you clean out your cupboard.

Ice Tea or Iced Tea?  It doesn’t matter according to the grammar gods.  It all comes back to our very own adage that I’ll turn into a quote here…

Find the tea you like and drink it. 

And drink it often. 

Tea is an incredibly healthy beverage and if you like the taste,

you will drink more of it.

Sign up for our Newsletter here, and please share this post on social media.  In our Newsletter #4 ‘Why Loose Leaf Tea is Better,’ we share a story from a customer who steeps her tea three times, two times using this Cold Brew method, and then she uses hot water for the last steep.

Tea Newsletter #2 – New Teas and Old Teas and Glynis

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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.  

Also, our next blog post… Is it Ice Tea or Iced Tea?  Does anyone want to guess???

Others asked about some of our discontinued teas.  I’ll start with our new teas and then list our excuses:):)

New Teas

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.

Old Teas

* 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!

Otherwise, our line up is the same, with  Goji Green Tea leading the way.  Our selection of Rooibos is going strong at 9, and that is not counting Chocolate Honeybush, our perennial best seller. 

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…

Watching

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!

Listening

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.

Reading

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

Tea Newsletter #1 – Remember Us?

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.  

Remember Us?

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:):)

Our Tea Blog is more active these days, with a recent post about an Amy Tan quote.  And did you know Yusuf / Cat Stevens drinks his Breakfast Blend with a cardamom pod?

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