NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

D.C.’s Chief Leaf  was 1 of 10 Tea Professionals from the United States and Canada to have completed a week-long intensive study of oolong teas from withering to final product in Taiwan from June 20-28, 2009. Ms. Scott was part of this exclusive first group of foreigners to produce tea at the prestigious East Coast Taitung Branch, Tea Research and Extension Station – an unusual and rare opportunity for anyone other than Taiwanese tea growers.

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Indoor withering process of Wen Shan Baozhong

The group was lead and organized by Thomas Shu, ABC Teas & 3rd generation Tea Master, Josephine Pan, Organic Teas Only, and the Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association (TTMA).

Notable Tea Masters Norman Shu, current Chairman of TTMA; Jackson Huang, Senior Advisor to TTMA; Ted Fan, Secretary General of TTMA and on-sight instructor David Liao worked side-by-side guiding the group during processing, cupping sessions and tea tastings. On average, their days were 12-15 hours of intensive study of 6 cultivars:

1. Tai Cha #12/Chin Sin Oolong
2. Da-Yeh Oolong
3. Wuyi
4. Tai Cha #18
5. Tai Cha #8
6. Taiwan’s Wild Tea Tree

The week kicked-off the with hands-on processing of Baozhong Tea (Wen Shan Tea District) which took approximately 13 hours to complete.

Their second day was highlighted by a visit to the Shan-Ben Tea Garden, producer of the 1st Place Winner for Green Oolong Tea at the World Tea Championship in Las Vegas earlier this year. Winner Ken Rudee, incoming Chairman of STI and Board Member of the Tea Association of the US, returned to Taiwan to present 82-year-old Mr. Wu with the prestigious award.

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Making pressed oolong tea (with some help from a Master)

By day three, they had processed Pressed Oolong (Hua-Tung Tea District) and completed the “bootcamp” with the hand processing of Formosa White Tip Oolong Tea/Oriental Beauty (Ta-Chiang-Wu/Long Tan, Touyan)-Taiwan’s most precious tea.

“This was the most intense and rewarding tea experience I’ve had to date. To be able to actually hand-make tea was a rare opportunity, said Ms. Scott. “I have an even greater appreciation of the work and craftsmanship that goes into a single cup of tea. It’s not easy and is truly an art.”

By weeks end, the group had cupped and tasted over 60+ teas from Bai Mu Dan to Aged Oolong along with some that have not been sampled outside of Taiwan. A Master Cupping session was held at the ABC Teas Factory and was led by Norman Shu.

Mid-way through the week they were able to take a short break at the Luminous Mountain Spring Resort & Spa and enjoy the natural hot springs. Their week culminated with a Grand Tea Tasting at TTMA, a 10-course farewell dinner and closing ceremony on Saturday, June 27th. Certificates of completion were given.

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The totally wonderful Thomas Shu and Elise on the slopes of a tea garden in Yilan, Taiwan

Taiwan Public Television (the equivalent of PBS) was there to interview and film events earlier in the week and was scheduled to cover the closing ceremony to gather more footage for a 15 minute television special on their oolong study tour. Ms. Scott granted an interview to the TV Station.

“I was thrilled to offer my thoughts and opinions on the value of Taiwanese oolongs in the US Tea Market. We are big fans and huge supporters. Their teas are outstanding,” she said. “I used this week to not only learn from revered tea masters, but to also connect with the growers, develop relationships and purchase teas directly from the gardens, said Ms. Scott. “Our fall collection of Taiwanese oolong tea is really quite special.

Many of the teas purchased will be available this fall in time for the Holidays.

If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider sharing with a friend. We look forward to your comments! Happy Sipping!

NEWS: Making Tea History in Taiwan

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

Yoga Teapots and Cherry Blossoms

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I love teapots. I have a giant collection of them and can’t stop buying new ones. I probably need to open a store just to showcase them all.

I ventured into teaware last fall. I’m picky about my pots so I made sure to test them over and over again. Sometimes you see a cute design, take it home and it drips when you pour. Me no likee. Or, the mesh infuser is too thin and bends making it impossible to use again. Me really no likee.

Then there are the ones that just dont hold enough water for teatime. You know, the ones that give you just one cup of tea. I need at least two per sitting.

I’ve been happy with the choice I made with regard to iPot Teapot and have decided to keep them around for a while. There are some others I’m testing out in the TeaLab, but I’m not ready to release just yet.

Recently I ordered some new designs. How cool are the ones with the yoga positions etched into the side? Love it. Will definitely keep a few for me. 🙂 I am offering them in 3 colors: Bamboo and Grape (tree pose) and Carribbean Blue (lotus pose). There are matching cups as well that make such a nice gift. Either for yourself or someone who loves tea and yoga.

I also just had to have the Cherry Blossom design which is simply gorgeous and perfect for this time of year. We are in Cherry Blossom Season here in DC so it just makes it all the more fitting.  It a also has a matching teapot.The duo is so feminine.

If you are subscribed to this blog or follow me on twitter, Im going to offer you tealove peeps 10% off both the Yoga design and the Cherry Blossoms if you order by April 5, 2009. Just use code: CB10 at checkout.

Happy Sipping! Happy Spring!

** If you live in the DC Metro Area, please come to the Woman’s Show of Northern Virginia April 3-5 at the Dulles Expo Center. Stop by and say hello. We’re in Booth 1019.

Yoga Teapots and Cherry Blossoms

A Ramble on Tea Reviews (and Wine): Part 1

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It’s just after midnight here in our Nation’s Capital. And I’m wondering why President Obama hasn’t ordered any of our “Drink for Change” blend? Which then led me to Twitter. Random? Of course.

While on Twitter I noticed a significant jump in people following Pearl Fine Teas. Interesting. I hadn’t been paying attention the last few weeks. I clicked to see who was interested in us. Even more interesting. As I browsed the list, checking out fellow TeaPeeps and clicking on their sites or being led to other sites related to tea, I noticed something even more interesting than the last interesting thing…

puter1There are a TON of Tea Review websites out there. When did this happen? So I sat with this thought for a bit… Why are there so many sites that review tea? Why do so many people want to review tea? Why are people building websites and social networks around reviewing tea? Is anyone really interested in someone else’s review of tea? Remember, I was in advertising for many years and my default is extreme curiosity and intense questioning about things like this.

I must admit here on my very own TeaLove Blog, which is mostly about tea and my thoughts on things related to tea (hence totally teacentric) that even I am only mildly interested in another persons review. There I said it. From a business perspective I love the idea of people trying our teas, having an opinion about it (hopefully positive) and then telling others. I like the idea of community. I don’t know how I feel or what I think just yet on the whole “review” thing.  Not knocking the reviewers, just so curious on this new trend. And forming an opinion. (Because I always have an opinion on something.)

I mean… I’ve seen movies where critics have given 2 thumbs down for a movie that I loved. Dare I admit to loving Anchorman? Shallow Hal? Dodgeball? Did I fall asleep watching Ghandi? I really did. But I did love Slumdog Millionaire!

When people ask me what tea they should drink, I always pause for a moment, and then suggest teas that I believe are of high quality and value, and why I think they may like it. However, even though I may like that tea, it doesn’t mean someone else will. High quality aside.

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i love this wine

A few years ago I had a client who was (I think still is) the CEO of a bank. He and his wife were lovers of California wines. I remember talking to him about my growing interest in wines and reading Wine Spectator. He looked at me and said, “Elise, drink what you like and forget the rest. Who cares if something got a low rating. If you like it, drink it.”

I had no reply to that. He was right. Plus he was my client. And a lot taller then me. I feel that way about tea as well. If you like it, drink it.

I LOVE good tea. I also LOVE good wine. But what does good really mean? I’ve had the pleasure of sampling collectible wines: 1989 Beaucastel Chateauneuf du Pape (Yes! It’s true!); 1996 Latour Corton Charlemagne; 1989 Paul Jaboulet Aine, Hermitage La Chapelle; and a fabulous 1990 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection. I’ve also had Yellow Tail and an unbelievable Pinot Noir from Sonoma-Cutrer for $45 a bottle that left such an impression, I’m ordering a case. Seriously.

lipton4I’ve also sampled many spectacular teas. Some considered so good they are collected and sold for a small fortunes in Asia (ie: puerh). Some I liked and some I didn’t. I’ve also had Lipton. Who hasn’t. There is a time and place for all things, including Lipton Tea. Think iced on a hot summer day.  I refuse to bash Lipton, though I know some people who do. Sir Thomas Johnson Lipton began in 1870 and is currently one of the biggest tea distributors in the world. Its been around for 139 years! People like it.

“Whats her point you may be saying…My point is that, some of us are tea snobs. Some of us are wine snobs. Some of us are both. Is being a snob really such a good thing? I dunno. In the end what matters is what tastes good to YOU. Enjoy the pleasure and the journey of sampling teas and form your own opinion on the leaf (or grape). For good or for bad, its the pleasure of discovering what you like that’s fantastic. And, if you find a tea you absolutely love ENJOY IT. If it happens to be a tea in a bag from a roadside diner paired with the meatloaf special… Who cares. If YOU like it, sip it. (I can feel the tea community twitching as I type this.)

pearl_logo-smallAll that said… I do prefer a whole leaf tea to fannings and anyone out there who would like to review some of our teas (Teaviews & Steepster) and shout out good things to the world about us … you know where to find me.

Ok it’s now 2:23am. I’m done rambling for now and will formulate more thoughts soon on this fantastic growing phenomenon. Part 2 to come…

Happy Sipping! (both tea and wine)

A Ramble on Tea Reviews (and Wine): Part 1

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

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

TEA. A Magazine… “Drinks for Change”

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Cover of TEA. A Magazine.

Happy New Year, TeaPeeps™. Here we are in the middle of January, and this only my second blog post. Where has the time gone? You’ll be happy to know I’ve been sipping and sampling some very nice teas these last few weeks. I’m a lucky TeaGirl!

Ok, so the big news for the new year is that our “Drink for Change” Obama Blend tea has made it to  TEA. A MAGAZINE. Yep you will see it, yet again, on the cover of the Winter 2009 Issue. Thanks to Pearl Dexter, Editor/Publisher for approaching us! She has also featured a little story about us and Jack Cheng on Page 28.  See what one little Twitter can do? If you haven’t already picked up your issue, scurry on out and scoop up a copy. This issue could sell out quickly! I believe it hits news stands… any second. History making cover? Yes. Amazing tea illustration? Absolutely. Tasty tea blend? You will love it.

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Page 28 - January 2009 Winter Issue

Blend Info:
Order Drink for Change! $15.50 (3 oz)

Let me be absolutely clear, this organic African Red Bush Rooibos based tea has Honeybush, Pineapple, Papaya, Ginger, Rose petals and Cornflowers. It’s smooth, fresh and lacks bitterness. Environmentally friendly, unexpected, and a little left of center. Contributes to your overall well being and Health(care). Steep for 3-5 minutes and enjoy. Caffeine Free!

*10% of each sale will go to the Washington Humane Society
** Tea illustration by Jack Cheng

Here’s to our new President Barack Obama (let’s send him positive energy) and the beginning of living and sipping change!

TEA. A Magazine… “Drinks for Change”