I listen to podcasts. A lot of podcasts, but mostly current events, politics, comedy and golf.
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 podcast about Tea. There are a bunch, I just don’t find them as interesting as the ones I like.
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 very profitable business by undercutting the British taxed tea.
Great Britain found out about the smuggling and passed the Tea Act of 1773 lowering the price of tea. 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 there is great story about the origin of lapsang or caravan tea posted in our Lapsang Souchong product description.
More disclosure, I was thinking 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.
And the Tea Journey continues.
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, but 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 and when the value hit record levels they dumped their stock and disappeared. Now it is less than a 10th of the peak price and the tea traders are no longer buying, leaving the farmers and citizens broke.
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 takes place. 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 and then wrapped in tissue paper to absorb moisture. The bricks are then 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 tends to be low in tannins. Our Young Pu Erh at Local Tea Company is loose rather than compressed. The flavor is very pungent and earthy, smells like a compost heap and looks like tar so I know it’s going to be good for me!
I finish the first steep and continue with four more steeps. I like the later steeps better than the initial steep and find a lovely sweet beet tasting dark golden liquor with the fourth and fifth steep.
By this time, late in the afternoon I am thinking Pu Erh should be brewed more often by me and shared 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 called Tea!
the Tea Lady
“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
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’.
I just returned from a holiday in Bermuda (which was really fantastic!) and could not believe the heat and humidity that greeted me on arriving back in Florida. For those of you who are struggling with some high temps right now (and probably for the rest of summer here in Florida) lets cool off with some refreshing iced tea!
When we talk of iced tea most people immediately think of black tea but there are some great herbals or tisanes available that make refreshing, healthy beverages for all the family. We have some favorites at Local Tea Company and I would like to share them with you during the coming weeks.
Organic Red Berries is an all natural blended Tisane or fruit infusion made from hibiscus flowers, elderberries, bilberries, grapes and citrus peel. This tea has a distinct refreshing berry flavor and bright cherry liquor which is perfect iced. Let’s break down the list of ingredients and look at the benefits they can provide us.
Hibiscus Flowers (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
Hibiscus is a member of the mallow family and it brings a sweet mellow taste and harmony to this blend. Hibiscus has become very popular to blend with other fruits and flowers because of the beautiful color of the infused sepals. It has a cooling effect on the body and is high in Vitamin C also having some calcium, niacin, riboflavin and iron. In Folklore medicine Hibiscus is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a mild diuretic.
Elderberry (Sambuca nigra)
This is a wonderful fruit that strengthens your respiratory tract by helping to remove phlegm and mucous from the lungs and fights and reduces inflammation. A strong respiratory system is your best defense against allergic reaction in the future. Elderberry contains high amounts of Vitamin C and A, can be used as a gargle for throat and tonsil infections or for soothing coughs and colds. I used to collect Elderberries from the hedgerows as they make a superb wine and in fact hot elderberry wine is actually an old English cold remedy.
Black Currants (Ribes nigrum or ‘black ribes’)
The berry of this shrub, which is mainly found in Northern/Central Europe and Asia is used for the astringent flavor and very high anti oxidant levels especially Vitamin C. It also features a rare nutrient called GMA or gammo linoleic acid which is an Omega 6 essential fatty acid (for more information go to a site called www.Blackcurrants.com)
This is a favorite flavor of mine as black currant juice was a very popular cordial during my childhood. The bush thrived in the English climate and became a huge source for Vitamin C during World War 2 when Oranges were impossible to find. The popularity continued and the sweet tart taste is still enjoyed in jams, jellies and desserts to this day.
Not as well known in the USA, this fruit was banned in early 1900 as the plant co-hosted a fungus that was attacking the pines and therefore potentially threatening the logging industry. The Federal ban was lifted in 2003 and black currants are now making a comeback in NY, Vermont, Connecticut and Oregon.
Citrus Peel (C. medica)
The peel of citrus fruit is bitter and not very appetizing when raw but adds great taste and health benefits when dried and added to tea. Citrus peel contains vitamins, minerals, fiber and powerful antioxidants that belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids, which have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Rose Hip Peel (Rosa canina)
From the Wild Dog Rose which takes its name from its earliest use as a remedy for bites from ‘mad’ or ‘wild’ dogs. Estimated to be more than 10,000 cultivated roses the medicinal species are natives of Europe, the Rose hips are reddish colored coverings that grow around the real fruits for protection and for this reason they are often called “false fruits”. The nutrient value is as rich as their color and they enhance the function of everything from your skin to your innermost being, containing an array of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
When preparing Organic Red Berries use 1 teaspoon per 8oz serving. Heat the water until boiling and steep for anything up to 12 minutes. You may find that 3 minutes is as long as you require this tea to infuse, the longer the tea infuses the darker and stronger the liquor will become but it will never have the bitterness you associate with over infused tea leaves, remember this is a Tisane. To serve iced you can double the quantity of tea or half the water and pour over ice.
At Local Coffee + Tea we serve this tea hot around the Christmas holidays and is really is delicious with a cinnamon stick added too.
Organic Red Berries is naturally caffeine free and suitable for all ages but makes a great healthy, colorful drink for children and will make great ice pops too! Try adding seltzer water and slice of lime for a different twist. Let me know if you have a special creation using this blend.
Stay cool AND healthy with this amazing tea.
I hope you may already have taken advantage of the discount being offered this month on Bertha Palmer Centennial Tea at our redesigned web site, www.siplocally.com. If not, perhaps I can convince you otherwise by sharing a few details of the ingredients in Bertha’s tea.
I love the taste of the herbs, perfectly blended with Rooibos tea but it wasn’t until I really researched them all that I realized what an amazing combination and marriage they are.
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is a member of the carrot family, is tall and statuesque (as was Bertha!) with large glossy stems and light, feathery leaves. It blooms small yellow flowers that yield greenish-brown seeds with a licorice flavor and is renowned for digestive disorders since it stimulates the secretion of digestive enzymes, calms the digestive tract, prevents spasms and improves absorption of nutrients. That is just for starters! Some others benefits are fluid retention, gum disorders, diuretic properties which help fight urinary tract infections and for strength. It contains calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, selenium and Vitamins A, C and E.
Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) A woody perennial which has a bright green stem, dark green oval leaves, flowers shaped like peas and a big tap root with long branch roots that can spread to 3 feet. Licorice is a tonic boost for the adrenal glands which produce our ‘fight or flight’ hormones to help cope with stress. Glycyrrhizin has anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory value so eases and soothes the respiratory tract and arthritic pain. Licorice also helps in the stomach department, soothing indigestion and reducing acid secretions and contains Iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, lecithin and calcium as well as Vitamins A, B, C and E.
Lemon Verbena (Lippia citriodora) is an aromatic shrub with pale green leaves and pale purple flowers. It eases spasms, settles the stomach, fights indigestion and flatulence, reduces fevers and is a stimulant for the skin. Lemon Verbena is excellent for flavor and synergy.
Cinnamon (Cinnamon cassia) is a warm spice with a sweet calming nature good for colds and chills but because of antiseptic abilities will also help fight bacteria, viruses, fungal and yeast infections. This is a powerful ingredient to have in any blend.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) There are more than 210 species of this aromatic plant which will invigorate with one cut leaf. Menthol has an anesthetic effect on the nerve endings of the stomach so is helpful with nausea, seasickness and pains in the abdomen. Peppermint will calm you all over!
All these beautiful herbs are blended with Rooibos tea (Asplathis linearis) which is also an anti spasmodic (and used in South Africa to soothe colic in children) along with essential daily minerals and vitamins too.
At Local Tea Company we believe Rooibos is a cure to all ailments and feel that this formidable woman, Bertha Palmer would have been a huge fan of this perfectly blended, soothing tea.
You may be familiar with or have heard about Yorkshire Pudding, even Yorkshire Terriers but did you know Yorkshire has a TEA?
It is immensely fitting that Harrogate a small town in Yorkshire, North England should have a tea named after it. You should now be wondering why that may be so, and of course I will tell you.
First, Harrogate is known for the quality of its water. Good water is of course the main ingredient in a good cuppa tea! Harrogate is home to many ancient wells, the most famous being Tewit Well discovered by Sir William Slingsby during the 1700’s. Slingsby believed the water had powerful healing properties, able to cure just about anything.
The wells became an attraction and visitors flocked to ‘take the waters’ at Harrogate, turning the small town into a Spa destination. This in turn created a proliferation of tea shops, the most famous being Betty’s. To this day a visit to the town is not complete without stopping at Betty’s for tea and some exceedingly good cakes. Tea served in Harrogate certainly has a delicious taste.
Second, and the most fitting reason Harrogate has a tea named after it is because this is my home town! This is where my love of tea and my tea journey first began. My mum could ‘sup some tea’ as they say in Yorkshire and as a family we did plenty of tea drinking. There was not a single occasion that did not call for a cuppa and all visitors to our home were welcomed with a good cup of tea and some homemade cake or biscuits.
I learned my tea making skills at an early age and my passion for tea has never wavered in fact continues to grow. My life is very different now, but each new day starts with a cup of Harrogate tea, taking me back to those times in the Yorkshire town. Thanks mum. This is certainly a special tea from a special town. Be sure to share Harrogate, Yorkshire tea with all your visitors.
At Local Coffee + Tea, our Harrogate Yorkshire Tea is a blend of Orange pekoe and Broken Orange pekoe tea from 3 growing regions in China, Kenya and India. The style of this tea is blended to make a good strong brew with some astringency. You may like to steep your tea for 3 minutes or much longer. Of course I drink the traditional Yorkshire way with milk. I also use some agave nectar but it tastes great without. What a great way to start your day, refreshed and full of Yorkshire energy.
At Local Tea Company we have a great selection of tea to suit many different tastes. Some of our holiday favorites are listed at the end of this post with links to our online shop. Whatever your gift choice, I believe there are many very special reasons to be excited about both giving and receiving of TEA…
- The anticipation of opening the packet and discovering the appearance of the leaf,
- Inhaling the special aroma that loose tea releases,
- Watching the magic of leaves dancing in the pot,
- The delicious color and flavor in the cup,
- Sitting down, letting go of all the stress in your body (which we seem to create in great quantities especially at this time of the year!),
- And finally, enjoying every sip.
Making tea is an act to be shared with someone special, presented to a group of friends or enjoyed completely alone. I cannot think of any other item which is so simple, yet so complex, so cost effective and so enjoyable. You are also giving the gift of health and well being to your loved ones.
If you have no tea lovers in your life, then give yourself the gift of tea. YOU deserve it!
Some of our holiday favorites include Chocolate Honeybush, Organic Red Berries and Cochin Masala Chai. For a more relaxing tea, perfect for evenings there is Organic Honeybush. Also, check out the “Celebrate Sarasota” gift deal, 4 herbal teas which were inspired by Local Treasures: Selby Gardens, Van Wezel, Ringling Museum and Siesta Key Beach.
On behalf of all at Local Tea Company, I would like to wish all our tea followers a Very Merry Christmas and a TEArrific New Year. We appreciate your business and hope you continue to enjoy our teas in 2010.
No matter where you are or what you are planning to do during this special season, please make time for drinking some tea and feel the benefits. I drink to you and yours.
Cheers and all the best to everyone.
You may have noticed our new mantra, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG”. We have tried it on for a few weeks and think it may be time to provide some details about what we are trying to do at Local Tea Company.
During the course of a typical week we sample teas to many visitors at Selby Gardens and the Downtown Farmer’s Market here in Sarasota. We talk tea, and find many tea drinkers thrilled to engage us with their favorite tea tales. Yes, we love our job.
It comes as no surprise that many people use tea bags. But shocking is how many people have never tasted loose leaf tea. Sad to think so many people are missing out on the wonderfully unique experience of loose leaf tea.
And so, “THINK OUT OF THE BAG” our campaign to encourage people to choose loose leaf tea in place of tea in tired old bags. The sub heading is, “Loose leaf tea is fresher, hipper and just darn better for you”. Our intent is to convert tea bag users to loose leaf tea drinkers through tasting, educating and advocating loose leaf tea one sip at a time.
There are several reasons to choose loose leaf over tea bag tea, and we offer them here. If you, our fellow tea lovers have other reasons we failed to mention, please share…
There is absolutely no comparison. Most bag tea is the lowest grade of tea (dust or fannings) that comes out of the production area. There are of course some exceptions but generally the tea is very small particles and holds little flavor. Every step in the processing of loose leaf tea is designed to enhance the flavor and taste.
There are also some exceptions and just because you buy loose leaf tea does not mean it will be excellent quality. We, and all of our fellow tea enthusiasts search for teas with exceptional freshness, quality and taste, and you should to. We call this our “tea journey”. Loose leaf tea allows you to examine, smell, listen and sample for maximum quality.
Despite what you may assume when first exploring the loose versus tea bag conundrum, loose is more economical. Tea bags are created for one time use! Nearly all varieties of loose leaf tea should be steeped at least twice and some loose leaf teas can be steeped many more times. Work out the math and you will be surprised how little loose leaf costs you per cup.
Loose leaf tea is perfect for brewing a pot of tea to share with others, the starting point for a meaningful conversation. Offering a cup of properly steeped loose leaf tea is a wonderfully kind gesture, hard for anyone to refuse.
Just think how much packaging and bits of string you would save!
Whilst you may still gain some health benefits from tea bags you will gain many more from loose leaf tea. My theory is that you will like the taste better and will WANT to DRINK MORE therefore giving yourself the gift of good health.
Lastly, and for us one of the most important reasons to drink loose leaf tea is the sheer enjoyment it brings into your life. Brewing a pot of tea for one is relaxing and contemplative, watching such majesty. Sharing a pot of tea with a friend is a nod to a more civilised era. The leaves gracefully dance in your pot and tantalize your taste buds with their fresh and fragrant bouquet.
Make time in your life for loose leaf tea and join Local Tea Company in helping all tea lovers to “THINK OUT OF THE BAG”
the tea lady
The past month in the tasting room at Selby Gardens we have had many European visitors, especially British. When they hear me speak we inevitably talk about where we are from and the type of tea we drink.
The choices being PG Tips, Typhoo, Yorkshire, Twinning’s etc. basically all the well known tea bags available. There was also a gentleman who mentioned Brooke Bond which was a real blast from the past! He was married to an American, and lives in Sarasota. His wife sourced the tea for him and he was very pleased.
Anyway, the name Brooke Bond took me on a journey back to the small village in the Yorkshire Dales where I was born and raised. Our little grocery shop, run by Mrs. Gosney had a large metal sign displayed outside in black and red advertising Brooke Bond! Mum sent me to buy tea and I remember Mrs. Gosney using an old fashioned scale with real weights and putting the weighed tea in a brown bag. When I got home mum would transfer the tea to our caddy (which I think was a tin that had once stored candy, probably Liquorices’ Allsorts) I can remember inhaling the most wonderful smell of fresh tea in the caddy. I was touched thinking about how we continue such practices, as I use such a caddy even now!
So where did the name caddy come from? During the early British trading days in Asia, a language called “pidgin English” was created to facilitate commerce. Composed of English, Portuguese and Indian words pronounced in Chinese, “Pidgin” is actually the word which was used for “do business”. The term “caddy” is from the Chinese word for one pound, which was the standard size for a tea container.
We meet such nice people when talk tea. Great stories and legends are exchanged, and memories evoked when we talk about this amazing drink called TEA.