Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Interview: Lucy Yung of Silver Needle Tea Co.

Photo Courtesy of Lucy Yung
I've seen gorgeous pictures of Silver Needle Tea Co. products all over social media for the past few months and was intrigued to learn more. I recently had a chance to meet founder Lucy Yung and sample a few of her teas at the NY Coffee & Tea Festival this year, and knew we needed to do an interview. Lucy agreed, and I'm happy to present our interview. Through her company, she shares her love for creating a luxurious tea experience for the consumer.
...The tea estate on that mountain top was over seven thousand feet above sea level, and it was then I realized the tea is beyond what’s in a cup, it’s about the environment it’s grown in and the culture that surrounds the tea estate, and when I drink that tea I’m absorbing that pristine air through the leaves and it also allows me to travel to exotic origin where the tea is grown....
Read our whole interview after the jump.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Tasting: TÊTÊ Black Tea

TÊTÊ is a new company that offers three varieties of tea from small farmers in Nepal: White, Green, and Black. They endeavor simplicity and high quality over quantity. This dedication to quality is easy to believe with just three teas to focus on. To learn a little more about this interesting company, the founder Raunak Agarwal tells their story here.

In the description of the tea on the TÊTÊ website, I love this little ancedote:

This tea comes from a remote tea garden of Nepal, where when the first tractor arrived five years ago, the locals thought it was a buffalo and fed it hay.

The dry leaves are stunning to look at, and are extremely aromatic. My nose was flooded with a mixture of malt, floral, and muscatel notes when I opened the vacuum sealed package. It is reminiscent of a Darjeeling. The scent was so delicious, I'd use it as a perfume if I could!

The brew is light and subtle. It's very lemony and feels warm and sunny. It is gentle yet with a slight astringency that I found pleasing and refreshing. A lingering honey floral note leaves me wanting another cup. This is a high quality, beautiful tea. A perfect light summer cup. I will try it iced and see if it holds up. I expect it will.

To learn more about the tea and this unique company, visit the TÊTÊ website here. With all of the tragic events in Nepal over the last few weeks, I have been drinking this tea, and sending them healing thoughts. This is a good resource if you are interested in donating to earthquake relief.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Kikkerland's De Pelikaan Tea Event

Photo by Jennifer Calais Smith 

Last week I had the opportunity to brew, serve, and discuss de Pelikaan tea at the Kikkerland store tasting event. I enjoyed the entire process from start to finish. It was a delight to watch everyone taste the teas and say what they liked (or didn't!) about them. I met fellow tea enthusiasts, and introduced newbies to tea as well. There were even a few adventurous children who tried a few sips. This was the first time these Dutch teas were featured in the United States, and we had a crowd of eager tasters.

Photo by Jennifer Calais Smith 
Preparing for the event was an interesting learning process- I wanted to choose teas that would show the diversity of the brand, but also pick the most pleasing to taste. Kikkerland is selling 11 different de Pelikaan teas, so I had fun tasting and choosing. I had marathon tasting events at home, and even the Littlest Tea Critic got involved. I ended up choosing 5 teas to serve- an amount that isn't overwhelming to the palate but enough to get a sense of the brand's diversity.

Photo by Jennifer Calais Smith

We served 4 hot teas and 1 iced. The iced 'Mona Lisa Smile' was the big hit of the event. The mix of green tea with rose and strawberry was very refreshing on the warm afternoon. I had many customers come back for second and third helpings. The four hot teas were: Geurthee no. 5 (similar to Earl Grey but with a smoky note), Wijnhuis Melange (Winery Blend-smoky and strong reminds me of a Russian Caravan), Gyokuro (delicate and high quality, a nice green tea to showcase), and rooibos (a good caffeine free choice that proved to be more popular than I expected).

Photo by Jennifer Calais Smith

The design store was decorated like a garden tea salon for the event. It was comfortable, and lovely to look at. We used glass teaware sold in the store, and I was especially fond of the Ora Teapot. Such good design. It was a memorable evening, and I am so glad I had a part in introducing these teas to the US.

If you are interested in any of the de Pelikaan teas you can find them at the Kikkerland store near Union Square. You can call the store at (212) 262-5000 if you are interested in ordering, or finding out more information (the shipping is free). The staff at the store are friendly and helpful!

This was such a fun tea experience, I look forward to my next tea event adventure! If you are looking for any help with a tea event, or just want to chat about tea feel free to contact me.

Monday, May 11, 2015

10 Questions for Author Laura Childs

Last week I posted a review of Laura Childs' Ming Tea Murders. I thought it would be fun to do an interview for readers to get a little more information about the author and her process. Also stay tuned, this week I'll be posting a giveaway to win a copy of Ming Tea Murders!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review: Ming Tea Murder By Laura Childs

Reading and tea drinking are a natural combination (I was very happy in the picture above). I'm usually at my most relaxed when I have a book and a cup of tea (a cozy chair doesn't hurt either). When Laura Childs contacted me regarding her new book,  a murder-mystery laced with tea references, I knew I couldn't resist. I cracked open the book as soon as it arrived.

Ming Tea Murder is an exciting mystery filled with tea and southern charm. The book revolves around the Theodosia, a crime solving, tea-shop owning southerner living in Charleston. The book starts with a murder inside an eighteenth century Chinese tea house rebuilt in a Charleston museum. We follow Theo and her friends throughout Charleston as they try to uncover the killer. I thought I had the murderer figured out right away, but I was completely wrong. I love that I was kept guessing until the very end.

The characters in the book always go back to Theodosia's Indigo Tea Shop to recharge and relax after a stressful adventure. Childs is very vivid in her descriptions. I could smell the tea brewing and taste the scones and tea sandwiches (there are recipes at the end of the book for the reader to recreate the food). I enjoyed reading the details of themed tea-events at the shop as well. I think my favorite character in the story is Drayton, the southern gentleman with impeccable taste who manages the tea shop with class and panache. I can imagine sitting with him for an afternoon, sharing a pot of Formosa Lung Ching tea and homemade scones. He would probably tell fascinating stories all day long.

This is an entertaining read that I'd recommend to anyone that loves tea and mysteries. I admittedly haven't read the other books in this series, but after reading this one I will definitely check them out. Reading one of these books with a tumbler of tea on the beach would be an ideal summer afternoon.

If this book sounds like something you'll pick up, stay tuned to win your very own copy! Next week I will be doing a giveaway!

Thank you to Laura Childs for the book! You can learn more about it here.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Giveaway! Win 2 tins of tea from Little Red Cup Tea Co.

These two tins of tea could be yours!
A few weeks ago I interviewed Martin Connelly from Little Red Tea Cup Co. At the time they were just getting ready to introduce their newly designed tea tins. I love the bold graphics and simple design of the tins. I'm happy to annouce that you can enter to win two tins of your choice! Best part is there will be two winners of this giveaway! So enter, and make sure all of your tea friends do too!

You have four possible entries: Visit their website and comment below on which two teas you'd love to try. You can gain more entries by liking their facebook, instagram, and twitter feed. Best of luck to everyone! The contest ends on Monday 5/11, best of luck to everyone!!
 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tasting: Wymm Tea Mangnuo 'Cane Tea' Sheng

Lovely packaging that even the tea friends are drawn to

I recently received a beautiful package in the mail from Wymm Tea. The aesthetics grabbed my attention, and I was delighted when I saw the samples inside. The company focuses on bringing their passion for puerh to the tea consumer. From their website:
Pu-erh to us is a family tradition and a way of life that we would like to share with tea enthusiasts and tea connoisseurs around the world. 
The website is helpful, especially for those unfamiliar with puerh. They have handy brewing videos to help puerh newbies, and forgetful people like myself.

Mangnuo 'cane tea' sheng

The samples are all carefully wrapped and well labelled. I decided to try  the Mangnuo 'cane tea' sheng first.

I rinsed the leaves twice, giving the little tea friends a luxurious bath. The first round of tasting was sweet with notes of floral orchid, honey and toasted milk bread. It was also buttery, and grassy. There was a touch of astringency and a leathery note that I associate with many puerhs. I thought the tea's name was given due to the honey sweetness of the brew, but it actually references the shape of the tea tree branches.

A second tasting round hit me with a honey scent, and a super buttery texture. It was more green-tea like in flavor, and super floral. A third steep was a more bitter (I may have steeped a few seconds too many) but still very buttery, similar to a custard flavor. The floral element remained, as did the little bit of leather.

I like how this tea was evolving with each steep. This is a tea you can keep brewing all day long with good results. I enjoyed this tea very much, and I look forward to trying the other samples.