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.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Interview: Glen Bowers of Crimson Lotus Tea

Crimson Lotus tea is a Seattle based company created by husband and wife team Glen Bowers and Lamu Dawa. They specialize in puerh tea and Chinese teaware. They are bringing their passion for puerh to the consumer.
Puerh was like nothing else for me. Drinking it that first time I had a deep emotional connection to it. A few months later I found that coffee held no power over me anymore. I was quickly falling for puerh tea. I half joked with my then wife Lamu that we should start a company to introduce puerh tea to people like me. People who have been looking for puerh their entire life and have no idea it exists. I told her we could go to China each Spring and visit her family in Yunnan and source tea to bring back. She was very enthusiastic about the idea.
 They recently returned from a long trip to China, and I enjoyed following their journey on instagram and learning about the teas and teaware they sourced. Learn more about their tea journey after the jump...

Friday, April 24, 2015

Tea Event: Taste unique blends from De Pelikaan

Photo courtesy of Kikkerland
De Pelikaan is an almost 200 year old Dutch company that sells a wide selection of teas. Until now the teas were not available in the US, but NYC-based design store Kikkerland will now be selling a selection of De Pelikaan teas. If you live in the NYC area and are curious to try this beloved brand of teas from the Netherlands, be sure to mark Thursday May 7th on your calendar! The West Village Kikkerland store will carry 11 different teas from De Pelikaan, and I'm happy to share that I will be helping to brew and serve up samples of a few selected teas at the shop from 4-8pm.

Kikkerland's founder Jan Van Der Lande grew up drinking De Pelikaan teas with his grandmother. His experience reminds me of my precious memories of having endless cups of tea with my grandparents. Unique blends in the selection range from a bold, smoky 'Winery' blend, to a more nuanced 'Himalayan' blend. There are a few scented blends, as well as pure teas such as Gyokuro and China Panyong. They also carry Rooibos for those that prefer a tisane. If you are able to stop by, you can sample a few different teas. I love the bright red canisters that have kept the same logo since the 1920s. Jan told us that the text on the tin reads
“Het geheim van een opgewekt humeur” or in English, “The secret to happiness,”
Can you make it to the event? I'd love to see you there! If you are unable to make it or don't live in the NYC area, Kikkerland will soon sell all of the teas on their website.

Tea Tasting at Kikkerland:  Thursday, May 7th 4-6pm. 493 6th Ave, NY, NY.