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

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