New Year and The Winter Fancy Food Show

It’s only day 25 of this oddly warm January afternoon here in Washington DC and already the year has started off with a plethora of events, adventures and a first blog post of the year…

Walking the shows burns calories!

I kicked off the year with a relaxing, much need rest outside of Guadalajara, Mexico. What better way to say goodbye to one year and usher in a new, than floating in mineral water, hiking and sipping peppermint tea. Mexico isn’t know for its vast tea selection, so when I head south of the border, I bring my own (as should you) or just sip an herbal infusion. After 10 days of peace and quiet contemplation on the tea year ahead, I returned home only to board another flight West to the most delightful epicurean city and one of my favorites – San Francisco – to walk the mega aisles of the trade only, Winter Fancy Food Show.

If  you happen to be in the food industry in some capacity, and have attended one of these shows, then you know how absolutely insane it is to navigate these aisles, through thousands of people sampling mass amounts of food. My plan was to walk the entire show in one day and then walk the streets of San Francisco and site-see the rest of the days I was there. Not possible. The first day I only made it through the North Hall aisles – and that was a warp speed.  I needed all 3 days on the floor to really get a good feel for what I was looking for and seeing some of the vendors I needed to contact.

John and Mike Harney

I’m happy to say that I saw many old friends, like the lovely Cynthia from Adagio Teas – always a welcoming and friendly face – and we had a good bit of time to play catch up.  The Fancy Food Show isnt teacentric but some tea vendors make an appearance. Tetulia Teas, Two Leaves and a Bud, Tea Forte, Stash, Zhenas Gypsy Teas and Harney & Sons. I asked Mike Harney if he’d autograph a copy of his new Harney Guide To Tea book for me and he was delighted to do it, making jokes about the spelling of my name since John Harney’s wife (Mike’s mom) is an Elyse and I’m an Elise.  John was sitting on his stool in the back smiling and laughing, as usual. I’m a huge fan of Harney & Sons and if I wasn’t drinking my own tea, I’d be drinking theirs.

We also tried an amazing green tea olive oil that was crazy delicious. The taste of the green tea oil was beyond what I expected. The dipping oil was just perfect to pair with a great french bread, some oils, cheese and green tea. It made me happy to find something so unusual, tasty and healthy. The company is called Arette Oils and they have a whole line of dipping and cooking oils made of green tea. I’m teetering on the verge of placing an order for immediate consumption.

There was an interesting new RTD (Ready To Drink) tea company called Silence Teas that had one of their people sitting in lotus pose “meditating” at the booth. Apparently if you sip one of their iced teas you will experience peace. I was told they are local to the DC Metro/Maryland area so we’ll be looking for them on the shelves soon.

Laura and Leah showing off there fabulous Cookies

I was pleasantly surprised to see and meet some cool new peeps launching new companies. One in particular is a company called: CookieZen and they are based around the corner in Falls Church, VA. It is the brainchild of two lovely woman (working mothers and friends) named Leah and Laura who have developed these tasty cookies to pair with wines. I tasted and loved the flavors especially the  iced lemon sugar cookie. Leah is the master baker and Laura is the marketing mastermind. Their concept is unique and I’m happy to help them get there name out there. I, of course, am interested in them for tea and cookie pairings… so we’ll see how that works out in the future.

There was another interesting product that we became aware of but it wasn’t featured on the show floor. I met a woman named Colleen who owns Organics Are For Everyone and she is about to launch a very cool new product that is virtually non-existent in the US: Date Syrup.

Colleen, Owner/Founder

She told me that having lived in UAE with her husband for many years, she developed a love of the fresh date syrup they use over there for pancakes etc… She now flies back and forth to the Middle East sourcing dates and making syrup! I managed to get a sample jar from her to try on my new gluten-free pancake mix. It was so unusual and so tasty! You can go to her website and order it directly.

There was so much more to see, sample and digest at the Fancy Food Show and I’d be blogging forever if I were to mention every amazing product that caught my eye. I plan on attending the Summer Show at the Javitz Center, NYC in June, which believe it or not, is even larger than the West Coast show. I want to leave you with this little video to show you what its like to walk the show floor on the slowest day of the event (the last day) so you can get a feel for the madness! Enjoy!

Sip Tea. Feel Happy!

New Year and The Winter Fancy Food Show

Local Tea Company Owner Becomes Washington, D.C’s 1st Certified Tea Professional

NEWS RELEASE


New STI LogoWASHINGTON, DC,  May 27, 2009 – Elise E. Scott, Chief Leaf of online tea merchant, Pearl Fine Teas, has completed the Specialty Tea Institute’s (STI) 2 year program and is now the first Certified Tea Professional (CTP) in Washington, D.C. Ms. Scott was one of 8 people who completed the certification during the 2009 World Tea Expo, which was held in Las Vegas in May. To date, STI has certified only 23 Tea Professionals worldwide.

The three level, eight-course certification process, included classes that covered sensory evaluation, white, green, oolong and pu’erh teas and culminated with the black teas of China, India and Sri Lanka.

Upon completing the certification, Ms. Scott said, “It was a long 2 year journey filled with a lot of travel; sipping and study time–basically a total immersion into the world of tea. I loved every minute. More importantly, this training adds to my credibility as a tea professional and I take that very seriously.”

Ms. Scott has studied under many notable tea industry professionals, including Bill Waddington, Owner, Tea Source; Donna Fellman, Tea Education Alliance; Phil Parda, Owner­, Zhong Guo Cha; and Richard Guzauskas of Tea Forte, QTrade, Shangri La and STI Advisory Board Chairman. She also studied under Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and will spend 9 days in Taiwan this June studying oolong teas with Thomas Shu, 3rd Generation Tea Master and Vice President of ABC Tea House.

Pearl_LogoAbout Pearl Fine Teas
Since 2006, Pearl Fine Teas has been providing premium, limited edition and rare loose-leaf teas along with custom creative blends and tea ware to tea lovers worldwide. The company focuses on top notch customer service, education and information about the world of tea. The company’s blog, TeaLove®, was launched on August 2008 and has received national attention for its posts on tea and politics.

For more information, visit www.pearlteas.com, www.tealove.wordpress.com or follow Pearl on Twitter at www.twiter.com/pearlfineteas.

TAlogo_NewAbout STI and The Tea Association of the USA
The Specialty Tea Institute is a division of the Tea Association of the U.S.A and is dedicated to serving the needs of purveyors in the specialty tea industry. The primary objective is to provide a credible source of information which will allow merchants to decide if entry into the world of specialty teas is the correct choice along with protecting their best interests, creating an environment conducive to growth, and developing positive marketing and media impressions about the world of tea. The tea industry looks to the Tea Association of the USA, Inc, The Tea Council of the USA and the Specialty Tea Institute (STI) for its wholesale and retail needs.
Website: http://www.teausa.org

 

Local Tea Company Owner Becomes Washington, D.C’s 1st Certified Tea Professional

World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

wte

This is my third year attending the World Tea Expo so I was able to prioritize and work the show floor in a day which left more time to relax, mingle with my teapeeps and attend a few choice classes. The one at the top of list was given by Jane Pettigrew on Rare Teas. If you haven’t been exposed to Jane, you surely are missing out. She is simply fabulous. Her love, knowledge and passion for tea fills the room. 

I tweeted about each tea during the tasting. I found them interesting and was pleased to be able to sip something out of the ordinary. I will say that my expectation for what I considered RARE was different then what WTE thought. To me a rare tea for example, might be… an aged puerh that was produced in limited quantity 11 years ago and only a 10 people in the world have access to it. This seminar was more about UNUSUAL Teas. That said, I still loved it and was grateful to have atteneded.

Here is a brief recap:

Tea 1: Malawi White Tea (Antlers)
This was the biggest surprise of the 6 for me. While I like white tea well enough its not a “go to” tea for me. It took just one sip and I was, well, in TeaLove. The liquor was sparkly, clear and sweet. There were light notes of fruit. No leaves were used to produce this tea which we all found interesting. A leafless tea made only with the stems. This was my top pick and favorite. 8 grams, Steeped at 176˚ for 5min.

Tea 2: South Korean Spring-Picked Green Tea
Very unusual for a green tea. The immediate smell is nutty which I wouldnt have expected from a green. It was more like a tie kwan yin. The wet leaf had a beautiful aroma that was slightly vegetal and nutty. The color: a bright, vibrant green. Very light colored liquor and taste. This teas is handmade. 8 grams steeped at 14o˚ for 2 min. (The steep should have been longer to bring out the flavor)

Tea 3: Ancient Lotus Green (Vietnam Flavored Green)
An immediate burst of anise both in aroma and taste! Quite unexpected. Dry leaf was dark and long but also rolled. Liquor was light gold. Wet leaf was long and curly. This tea is handmade and infused with Lotus blossoms. Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Tea 4: Thai High Mountain oolong (Chang Mai)
Most of you know my deep, unwavering love for oolongs, so I was excited to try one from Thailand. The dry leaves were very large, rolled balls. The liquor was golden and had hardly any aroma. But perhaps the paper cups smell was getting in the way. I likened this oolong to an extremely light Jade Oolong. Its a 2 day production for this one as opposed to the usual 1 day for oolongs. 8 grams, Steep time 180˚ for 4 min.

Tea 5: Bolivian Organic Black
Did you know Bolivia produced black tea? I didn’t. This tea endures 18 hours of withering, has a very large leaf that is rolled. The color of the liquor was a lovely medium redish brown. The taste reminded me of a ceylon but with more complexity. It was slight fruity or plumy and very smooth. 8 grams, Steep time 212˚ for 4 min.

Tea 6: Tregothnan Classic Black (Cornwall, UK)
Tregothnan means “house at the top of the hill.” Not a true tregothnan, but a blend. Made locally. The dry leaves are small and cut like a CTC process yet this was all handmade. Impressive. Wet leaf fluffed up and turned brown. The liquor was a lovely shade of deep red. The taste was immediately astringent and made my lips pucker.Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Today is the last day of the Expo and I’ll be attending Lisa Richardson’s class on pairing tea and chocolate! More posts to come later!

Happy Sipping!

World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

map_indiaI’ve traveled a good bit over the years touching down in places like Southern Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean and now it appears that I will have the pleasure of visiting India and Sri Lanka. I am thrilled!

Having been invited by Pearl Dexter, Editor of Tea. A Magazine to join her and 6 others for a private tour of the tea estates and gardens in both countries, I must say the excitement is hard to contain. Those participating in this wonderful tour include: Pearl Dexter; Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier, Boston Park Plaza Hotel; her husband Julian; Danielle Beaudette, Owner/The Cozy Tea Cart; Judy Larkin, The Larkin Tea Company; Carol Sims, Tea Embassy; her husband Bob; and myself.

I am so looking forward to exploring the estates in Sri Lanka and the  Nilgiri region of Southern India.Though the idea of a 24 hour flight out of JFK less then thrills me, I’ve no doubt what awaits will be magical. I can’t wait to sip of cup of freshly produced tea!

Our group will leave the US on April 16th and return on the 25th. My hope is to blog, twitter and facebook while I am there, but that will require the leap over to AT&T and the wonderful iPhone. I cant wait!

I hope to bring back a ton of stories along with a fresh crop of teas from both countries! Below is a bit of info on both regions:

tea-estates-in-nilgiri1Nilgiri: South India’s Nilgiri means “blue mountain.” Started in the 19th century. 2nd largest tea producing area after Assam. Especially teas produced in altitude regions of over 1,600m surrounded by plants like eucalyptus or cypress trees, are known internationally as “fragrant teas” and highly recognized by their special flavors.

plantation2Sri Lanka: Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, is considered the best tea in the world. The influence of climatic conditions of its plantation imparts to the product a variety of flavors and aromas, synonymous with quality. Why is Ceylon Tea considered unique? The diversity in flavor – something that other tea producing countries do not have. Teais = grown in six agro climatic regions, each region giving its own flavor profile to the tea grown in it. There are six regions for tea in Sri Lanka: Uva, Nuwara eliya, Udapussellawa, Kandy, Dimbulla and Ruhuna. The tea sectosr in Sri Lanka have always been a vital component of her economy. It is also the country’s largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. It also contributes a significant amount to Government revenue and to the gross domestic product.

Happy Sipping!

A Tea Journey to Sri Lanka and South India

“Hope” Tea and Aloha United Way

auw-logoTeaGreetings, TeaPeeps! I am thrilled to report that Aloha United Way has decided to give Pearl Fine Teas at their 2009 Annual Recognition Luncheon held on April 17, 2009 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. 450 people will be attending!

Jody Shiroma-Perreira, VP, Marketing & Communications thought it would be a wonderful idea to offer loose leaf tea as a favor for those attending the event! They are calling the tea “HOPE” – a Temple of Heaven/Gunpowder based green tea. As some of you may know, I spent 5 glorious years living and working in Honolulu and one of my very first accounts when I arrived was AUW! It holds a special place in my heart and I am sincerely honored to help support Aloha United Way!

“Hope” Tea and Aloha United Way

10 Valentine’s Traditions

Did you know that…

1. Hundreds of years ago in England, many children dressed up as adults on Valentine’s Day. They went singing from home to home. One verse they sang was:

Good morning to you, valentine;
Curl your locks as I do mine —
Two before and three behind.
Good morning to you, valentine.

2. In Wales wooden love spoons were carved and given as gifts on February 14th. Hearts, keys and keyholes were favourite decorations on the spoons. The decoration meant, “You unlock my heart!”

3. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. To wear your heart on your sleeve now means that it is easy for other people to know how you are feeling.

4. In some countries, a young woman may receive a gift of clothing from a young man. If she keeps the gift, it means she will marry him.

5. Some people used to believe that if a woman saw a robin flying overhead on Valentine’s Day, it meant she would marry a sailor. If she saw a sparrow, she would marry a poor man and be very happy. If she saw a goldfinch, she would marry a millionaire.

6. A love seat is a wide chair. It was first made to seat one woman and her wide dress. Later, the love seat or courting seat had two sections, often in an S-shape. In this way, a couple could sit together — but not too closely!

7. Think of five or six names of boys or girls you might marry, As you twist the stem of an apple, recite the names until the stem comes off. You will marry the person whose name you were saying when the stem fell off.

8. Pick a dandelion that has gone to seed. Take a deep breath and blow the seeds into the wind. Count the seeds that remain on the stem. That is the number of children you will have.

9. If you cut an apple in half and count how many seeds are inside, you will also know how many children you will have.

img_intro_1110. On St. Valentine’s Day in the year 2009, a new tradition of sipping either “Green with Passion” or one of Pearl Fine Teas: TeaHeaven Trio™ (TeaChocolatte, Faux Mint Cookie or 3pm Tea)  is said to bring happiness, joy and a state of overwhelming TeaLove.

(I just made that up to start a new Valentine’s Day Tea Tradition.)

Happy Sipping!

10 Valentine’s Traditions

Give The Gift of Tea… for 20% OFF!

gift the gift of tea
gift the gift of tea

It’s cyber-monday and we are doing our part to stimulate the economy by offering a 20% Discount on tea and teaware from today through December 24th! Just enter Code TLB20 at checkout! And… If you order totals more than $100, shipping is FREE!

Need suggestions on what teas to give? How about…

Earl Grey de la Creme or Earl Grey Lavender
Perfect for the Earl Grey lover who might be interested in trying something different. de la Creme is smooth and creamy with notes of vanilla. Lavendar is light, refreshing and very aromatic. Both blend nicely with the oil of bergamot!

Counting Sheep
Know someone who needs to chill? Having trouble relaxing and falling asleep. We aren’t sleep doctors, but we have to admit… Counting Sheep seems to relax the TeaPeeps here at Pearl Fine Teas. The blend is light and fresh and has strong notes of citrus. The aromatherapy alone should have you sawing wood. Caffeine Free to promote total relaxation and a peaceful end to your day. Just don’t sip and drive with this blend… you could fall asleep behind the wheel!

Bora Bora
Did your plans for a tropical vacation fall by the wayside this year because of the economic climate? No worries. Sip Bora Bora and imagine yourself on a tropical island… sun warming your skin… We know its no substitute for a real vacation, but why not sip this healthy green tea blended with passionfruit to warm you from the inside out?

Ceylon
One of the most outstanding Ceylon teas you will ever drink. Our Ceylon is from Shawlands Estate in the Uva region of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Takes well to milk although best drunk black. Full bodied, soothing and complex. Superb!

Maojian
Maojian is one of China’s most famous green teas, grown high in the mountains in misty tea gardens with brief sunlight and cold nights. The difficult conditions yield strong leaves that can withstand rolling and high roasting which creates its wonderful rich flavor and aroma. If you haven’t tried this green tea, you are missing something special.

Silver Needles
Long, soft and downy, Silver Needles are the first spring buds of the Da-Bai tea plant. It comes from Fuding, a serene region with soothing waterfalls and crystal clear lakes. The peaceful setting is reflected in the flavour: soft, mellow, with the sweet freshness of honeydew melon. A classic not to be dismissed.

How about a teapot to go with all this loose leaf tea? We’ve touted the virtues of the wonderful iPot and still stand by our recommendation. Choose from a 17 oz version in Scarlet, Jasmine, Pink, and Eggplant Damask. Or a 24 oz version in Scarlet, Pistachio, Ocean Blue, and Sky.

There’s a lot more tea on the website so have a peek!

Happy Sipping! Happy Shopping!

Give The Gift of Tea… for 20% OFF!

Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

pam1
pam sipping tea

I visit Denver often. At least 3-4 times a year because most of my family lives out there. Each time I go, I try to have tea with my sister-in-law Roseanne and my nieces, Christy and Lauren. It’s always a good time. On this particular trip, I ended up having tea with my dear friend Pam who actually now lives in Boulder with her husband Tim. She made the trip to Denver to meet me at Seven Cups Tea House so that I could sample their stash. Pam and I have known each other for almost 10 years now having met randomly on Waikiki Beach during a surf lesson. In all the years I lived in Hawaii, I had never tried to surf, so when I went back for a months vacation, just a year after moving to Washington DC, I thought I should give it a try. Having failed miserably, I swam back to shore only to see Pam actually riding a wave. We’ve been friends ever since. Anyway…

7cups24Seven Cups Tea House resides in a quiet part of Denver on South Pearl Street. Coincidence? I think not. Asian culture values the word “pearl” as something elegant, of value, perfect and pure. Hence the name of our very own tea company: Pearl Fine Teas.

Upon entrance into the tea house, you are faced with jars of loose leaf tea to the right of the shop. The back area has tables for sitting, tasting and sharing an traditional Asian treat.

7cups32We met on a quiet Saturday morning and lined up the different teas that we (or rather I) wanted to sample. After reviewing the tea filled jars, I decide to try two teas I’ve never had, along with two that I am familiar with – treasures blend and an oolong. An Alishan to be exact. I had asked them if they had anything close to a “Milk Taste” oolong and they said the Alishan was the closest. To me it tasted nothing like a “Milk Taste” Oolong.

Pam had never really been to an Asian tea house, so she allowed me to lead the tasting. She was open to suggestion and it was so fun to pick and choose teas for us both to try.

7cups62We were the only two in there that morning so we had the full attention of the shop manager. We began the tasting with a Meng Ding Huang Ya (Yellow Buds) Yellow Tea 2007 which I found a bit too light for my liking, although I think Pam was partial to that one. After, we sipped a Mo Gan Huang Ya (Yellow tea) Yellow Tea (Organic) 2008 which again, a bit too light for my liking but the flavor was interesting. After, I moved to a Seven Treasure tea blend and the Alishan Tong Fang Mei Ren (Oriental Beauty) Taiwan Oolong 2007. You can see from the photo to the left that the liquor color of the Alishan (4th from the left) is quite light. We had multiple infusions of each tea and I remember thinking that I liked the 2nd infusions of almost all of them. I was also very interested in their 7 Treasures Blend. I’ve had something similar here in Washington at Ching Ching Cha, but their version is called 8 Treasures and quite frankly, its a fantastic. It’s one of the tastiest tea blends they offer. Each infusion gets sweeter and sweeter. I was expecting the same from the 7 Treasures, but alas, it was not.

7cups55In addition to the teas, we tried a few treats – most made with some sort of bean paste. They were “ok” but I thought that the flavor was lacking probably because they had just come out of the fridge. My expectation was that they would have been prepared that day and not quite so… cold.

Would I venture back to Seven Cups Tea House in Denver? Probably. Mostly because I feel strongly about supporting others in tea (that alone would be a reason to visit again) but also because I think there is an interesting selection. I would however eat before going.  Admittedly, my favorite spot so far in Denver is the Brown Palace. They do afternoon tea better than most!

7cups11So what does Seven Cups of Tea mean? Somehow I vaguely remember reading that seven cups of tea were important to ones over all health. I have no idea where I read this and when I did a google search, it was no where to be found. On the Seven Cups web site, it refers to a poem called:  ‘The Seven Cups of Tea’…

‘Seven Cups’ is named after a very famous ancient poem about tea. Poetry, history and legend all have an important role to play in Chinese tea culture, and the Seven Cups poem is one of the traditional verses that is still recited today. It was written by Lu Tong (798-835AD) during the years of the Tang dynasty, and the theory of seven cups of tea still bears Lu Tong’s name. It was written as a response to his friend Mong, a Tang court adviser, who had sent him a parcel of tea.

The first cup caresses my dry lips and throat.
The second shatters the walls of my lonely sadness.
The third searches the dry rivulets of my soul to find the stories of five thousand scrolls.
With the fourth the pain of life’s grievances evaporates through my pores.
The fifth relaxes my muscles and bones become light.
With the sixth I find the path that leads to the immortal ancestors.
Oh the seventh cup! Better not take it! If I had it the only feeling
Is the fresh wind blowing through my wings,
As I make my way to Penglai.
-Lu Tong, Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907)


Seven Cups Tea House (Denver)

Presidential Tea Race Results: Obama Wins!

obama_blendThe people have spoken. “Drink For Change” won by a landslide (90%) while “Extra-Mavericky” fell behind (10%). Were you one of the lucky ones to order a Presidential Tea Blend? Hope so.

Here is to a future full of antioxidants!

Presidential Tea Race Results: Obama Wins!

Smith and Hawken, Pearl Fine Teas & Orchid Oolong

metro-ce-logoh3The Big News for today, November 4th is… well, who will be our next President. It’s pretty hard to trump that, but given that we are totally TeaCentric (and have already voted) we have some Big News of our own to share with our fellow TeaPeeps and followers:

I have been invited to speak and show at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show right here in Washington DC at the new Convention Center! We are selling our fabulous loose leaf tea along with some amazing tea ware.  Our booth is #910 (right across from Beer, Wine and Spirits) so if you live close, stop by and introduce yourself. I am a featured speaker on Tea on Sunday, November 9th from 12:30-1:00pm. Very exciting.

pearl_orchid1The even BIGGER NEWS is that Smith & Hawken has signed on to support us! They have asked us to create a holiday event exclusively for their Chevy Chase, MD store. The seminar is called: “Tea in the Garden: Understanding Orchids and Orchid Oolong Tea.” Pretty fabulous! They will also be present at our booth and are outfitting our space with orchids galore and furniture from the store which should be just fantastic. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to not only speak at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining Show, but to help with this exclusive holiday event for Smith & Hawken. Anyone that knows me can tell you that it is truly one of my favorite stores. What an opportunity!

Orchid Oolong Tea. The Garden. What could be better? Check out the press release that went out today.

If you are not familiar with Orchid Oolong, you may be missing out on a spectacular experience. Here is a brief description of the one we carry at Pearl Fine Teas:

orchid oolong
orchid oolong

High mountain green oolong from Taiwan which is shipped to Fujian Province China to be scented with fresh orchid flowers. Yulan, the type of orchid we use is a much larger flower and much more aromatic than a jasmine. The danger can be that the tea absorbs too much moisture or becomes over scented and the crucial balance between tea and orchid taste is lost. This year’s crop represents the zenith of the art of scenting.

How can you not be enticed?

Remember: Please Vote! (and sip tea, we did!). There’s still time!

Smith and Hawken, Pearl Fine Teas & Orchid Oolong