12 Books. 12 Teas: #02

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“A good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life, and as such it must surely be a necessary commodity.” 
― Penelope Fitzgerald

We’re 8 days into February realizing I’m 8 days late announcing the next book to read. January was lazy and seemed to go on forever and now here we are creeping up on Valentine’s Day.

After careful consideration and a lot of roaming around our 2 favorite bookstores in DC, the next book to read and the next tea to pair should be… without a doubt….

February 2019
• Book 2: The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald
• Tea 2: Classic Breakfast Blend

Penelope Fitzgerald was in her 60s when she first got published. A wonderful lesson in not allowing barriers including age get in the way of living out a dream. You can read a piece in the New Yorker about her here.

The book was first published in 1978, and we’re hearing more about it because it was just made into a movie starring Emily Mortimer. So before rushing to watch the moving image, perhaps read the book first which is only a mere 156 pages. Some of you might be able to plow through that in a weekend with a fully loaded pot of tea by your side. What a gorgeous thought.

The Bookshop
“Florence Green, a free-spirited widow, puts grief behind her and risks everything to open up a bookshop — the first such shop in the sleepy seaside town of Hardborough, England. But this mini social revolution soon brings her fierce enemies: she invites the hostility of the town’s less prosperous shopkeepers and also crosses Mrs. Gamart, Harborough’s vengeful, embittered alpha female who is a wannabe doyenne of the local arts scene.”

Breakfast Blend:
If you follow this blog then you already know that English Breakfast Tea really originated and was “invented” in Scotland and that it was English Merchants that rebranded it to be English Breakfast. Quite cheeky of them actually.

Our Classic Breakfast tea is smooth, aromatic and lacking smoke or bitterness. Holds up well to milk and sugar if one desires to add such things, but we drink ours straight so we don’t miss out on the amazing natural flavor. This tea is great way to welcome morning or to have sitting by your side as you plow through this months book suggestion!

I hope you decided to join in, find a new book and tea to make you feel joyful and connected. If you don’t already follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, we hope you will and share your thoughts about the book and the tea.

Tag us if you decide to post any photos of you reading the suggested book, drinking the suggested tea and be sure to use the hashtags:

#12Books12Teas
#PearlFineTeas

Lastly, please consider purchasing your book(s) from a small local independent bookshops. We have a few of these still left in DC. (We got our copy from  Kramer Books & Afterwords in Dupont Circle.)

Let month two of nerdish delight continue!

Happy Reading!
Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

12 Books. 12 Teas: #02

Thankful

pearl_CHristmasMarketIllustration2“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”

– William Arthur Ward

It’s been a whirl-wind since November 1st, when our Holiday Events kicked-off! This year we added on 13 (in addition to our weekly markets) which is more than we’ve ever participated in! So many people found us in more than one location. Lots of our regulars stocked up and shared wonderful words of encouragement like, “Please, never stop selling tea!”

If you followed Pearl Fine Teas around the DC Metro Area this holiday season or shopped with us online – We thank you from the bottom of our tea-infused hearts for supporting micro-businesses like ours!

You cracked us up weekly at our markets, wrote amazing e-mails and notes of support, were understanding when we made mistakes and showed up even when the weather was not cooperating – which was often! We are also extremely grateful to those of you that shopped and helped with our fundraiser to help the NOVA CAT CLINICs Chris Griffey Feline Memorial Foundation by purchasing the now Famous FRANCIS! Tea Blend.

All of the positive feedback and TeaLove we receive keeps us going and makes it all worth while. For us, tea is a magical daily necessity and if we can share that and make people happy, well then… that’s really all there is.

Whatever holiday tradition you celebrate, even if you just spend a quiet day alone, we hope it’s warm, cozy, full of love and includes endless pots of tea!

Our gratitude to and for YOU, our tea-loving customers and supporters expands far beyond the known universe!

Thank you!
Happy… Everything!

~The Chief Leaf

 

Thankful

25 Days of Tea Giving – Day 1: Francis!


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Cue Justin Timberlake music… “We’re bringing Tea Giving back…”

Ok a little off-key, but what matters is that we are bringing back and kicking off our 25 Days of Tea Giving today – on Giving Tuesday!

If you are a regular TeaLove / Pearl Fine Teas follower, then you may remember the original version of this from 2016 called 25 Days of Tea where we spotlighted and discounted a different tea each day leaving up to Christmas Day.  In 2017, we called it Tea Kindness and gave a discount weekly.  In 2018, we’re back to tea giving daily with discounts from today until Dec 21st – the last Friday before Christmas.

We hope you will watch us here on the TeaLove Blog, as well as on Social Media (Instagram,Facebook and even Twitter) and keep an eye out on the Pearl Fine Teas Website as well for each day of tea.  So without further adieu….

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Francis!

DAY 1: FRANCIS!

Kicking off Day 1 with one of our most recent and beloved tea blending endeavor: The Francis! Tea Blend. Francis caught our attention on Instagram in early summer and we’ve been smitten ever since. The backstory on this micro kitten is heart warming and you can read about it here on the latest feature on The Dodo. He’s also all over our Instagram page.

We created this blend to help raise money for the NoVA Cat Clinic’s Chris Griffey Memorial Feline Foundation which helps special needs and neo-natal kittens. 10% of sales from the Francis! Blend is being donated to their foundation.

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Francis! Tea Blend

About The Francis! Blend: Long whiskery green tea leaves, tiny flowers that open slowly, small bits of crystalized ginger, dried ginger and granulated honey, with a micro-hint of orange citrus created in honor of our favorite micro-kitten! Fresh and bright with a touch of sweetness – with a slight zing from the ginger linger on the palate for a long while… A healthy green tea blend that brings about spontaneous happiness.

• Aroma: Earthy, sweet, floral, ginger

• Liquor (liquid): Light pale yellow

• Flavor profile: Easy, gingery, hints of citrus and honey

• Brewing recommendation: 175° Fº  / 1-3 minutes

• Caffeine: Yes.

If you are interested in giving the Francis! Blend a try and supporting a wonderful cause, please visit the Pearl Fine Teas teashop and use code: GIVETEA1 at checkout and enjoy 20% Off  this Blend – Today only.

We’re already donating 10% but are upping it to 20% today on Giving Tuesday! Thank you for supporting us so we may support others!

Watch here tomorrow for Tea Giving Day 2!

Happy Giving! Happy Sipping!
– The Chief Leaf

 

 

 

25 Days of Tea Giving – Day 1: Francis!

4,015 days

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Pearl Fine Teas turns 11 years old today!

11 years.

………..
11 years of fulfilling a simple dream to travel and sip tea with strangers.
………..
11 years of glorious blunders (also know as learning and growth.)
………..
11 years of meeting some pretty cool humans in an industry filled with passionate nerds.
………..
11 years of support from loved ones and strangers (many of whom are now friends.)
………..
11 years of change and navigating uncharted (boiled) water.
………..
11 years covered in tea leaves and tea stains and a regular supply of Crest White Strips.
………..
11 years on a mission. Committed to the TeaLife and spreading TeaLove to anyone that crosses my path.
………..

Here’s to endless cups of tea on Day 1 of the 11th year of Pearl Fine Teas – and all the TEAdventure still to come. Hope you will stay for the rest of this ride…

Please enjoy a site wide Anniversary Sale celebrating a decade + 1 in the wonderful world of tea.

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I wouldn’t be the Chief Leaf without all the good people who supported me over the last 4,015 days.  Thank you and Happy Sipping!
4,015 days

Tea by the Sea

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The Little Green Giant Tea Kettle and a cuppa tea by the sea

I’ve been romping around in oversized pajama pants, a sweatshirt and soft wool socks holding a mug of tea every day since I arrived.

I’ve wanted to stay at Addy Sea for years but there was never an open opportunity until now. It was random, as many things are, and yet it arrived right on time when I clicked their website to see about winter rates and discovered a writing retreat listed for the first week of March. It didn’t take much convincing after that to find out more and book it along with my room.

A mere 2.5 hour drive from Washington DC on a late Sunday afternoon had me arriving at the Inn when it was dusk. I had the prearranged code to get into the main parlor and the code to unlock my room was waiting for me on the welcome piece of paper at the arrival desk. That little handwritten note with check-in information ended with this: “There are cupcakes in the fridge.” 

Up I went… two flights of wonderful creaky stairs to the 3rd floor and room #10. I opened the door and the view of 3 large windows facing the ocean and the sound of crashing waves started a chemical reaction that I’m vaguely familiar with. I think it’s called relaxation. I dropped my bag, opened the window and stared for a very, very long time.

“Tea!”

That word popped into my head like an order rather than a suggestion. I rummaged through my tea travel bag – always filled with Pearl Fine Teas along with my Bodum travel water kettle, or as I call it: Little Green Giant (LGG). Certainly the best investment any tea lover can make. There is nothing worse then staying somewhere that may filter its hot water through a Keurig or coffee maker. One can never know. So one must always be prepared. If ever there was a way to kill a cuppa, it’s like that, and frankly, I’d rather drink nothing than expose my tastebuds to that chaos. I call it “Tea-PTSD” and because of that, my LGG always comes along for the ride. And isn’t also nice to have a kettle in the room to boil water on demand? Common in most Asian countries – but not here in the US.

With LGG heating up, the “make-your-own-teabag” is on deck with our Ginger Lemon Tisane. The power in this concoction seems to wipe away sore throats quickly which has been lingering for a few days now. So now its time to sit. With hot cuppa tea. In semi-darkness listening to crashing waves and looking for stars.

The next morning I’m up at 7am thanks to the eastern sunrise shining into the room, LGG is plugged in, rolling a boil and Assam is on deck awaiting to take a dip. I sip and stare at the horizon for a time and then make way down those creaky old steps to breakfast which is held in what looks like a dining room out of a Jane Austen novel. In fact, that’s what I referred to it as the entire time I was there: The Jane Austen Dining and Tea Room.

It is only then as I’m enjoying breakfast that I realize: I am the only guest in the entire Inn. Just me. I texted this phenomenon to a friend, and her text back was: “Writing. Alone in an inn? It sounds like the Shining.” My reply? “Naaaaa.” Though there are stories floating around on different websites where people have heard noises, it is a house built in 1901 out of wood and located directly on the beach. What house wouldn’t creak? And what malevolent spirit would reside in a house with this much warmth, beauty, and direct view of the sea that serves cakes and tea at 3? I’d like to think Jane herself pops in now and then to oversee the tea room and make sure the Royal Albert Country Roses china is in place, as she grabs a pen to sit and write by the fire.

The small buffet held warm eggs and bacon, freshly baked muffins, fruit, greek yogurt and a selection of cereals. As you can guess, what I was most interested in was the tea collection which was presented in a lovely classic wooden box with selections from Lipton and Twinings.  Sadly, no can do. But also, not a problem.

As I’m digging through my canvas tea travel bag to pull out a gorgeous Darjeeling 2nd flush, I meet Sarah who works at the Inn part time and is also the owner of Swell Cakery nearby.  Sarah bakes many of the tea time treats at Addy Sea. Sarah also loves tea. So I reach into my bag of tea tricks and pull out a tea for her to enjoy the rest of her day.

A lot has happened already and it’s only 1030am. The other writers have arrived, we all gather around a table closer to the fireplace in the Jane Austen dining room, and I learn that all of them are tea drinkers. I obviously offer to be the Tea Facilitator and share my personal stash with them each day. With our own hot water urn on the table for endless re-steeps, this makes it even easier to be creative and to sip tea without having to get up for a refill. Brilliant!

And this became the routine for the next 3 days: writing and tea, writing and tea, cheese and crackers, chocolate dipped macaroons, another round of tea and a walk along the ocean.  As one might say in the time of Jane Austen’s: “How heavenly.”

I have only good things to say about Addy Sea : from the rooms that felt like home with soft eco-friendly coverlets and fluffy pillows, the oversized bath towels and eco-friendly bath products, the courtesy hairdryer, the bottle of wine by the fire, the extremely friendly and respectful staff, the change of flowers on the tables every single day. Cinde’s wealth of information, humor and willingness to try a a new tea; Steve’s lightening quickness to fix a rather lazy shade in my room; Sarah’s tasty gluten-free tea treats; Tiffany’s cheery personality and gift of chocolate covered strawberries; Jason’s one-on-one chef demonstration on poaching the perfect egg… And their willingness to accommodate and treat this Chief Leaf like she was a long lost friend, as she did research and drank tea by the sea for 4 days.

Happy Sipping!
~The Chief Leaf

 

Tea by the Sea

Iced… Iced… Baby

 

 

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World’s Fair Poster

• Did you know that iced tea was first “officially discovered” in 1904 at the World’s Fair, St. Louis?
• Or that prohibition and home refrigeration in the 1920s and 1930s helped increase the popularity of tea?
• And that approximately 84% of the tea consumed in America is iced?

 

Welcome to National Iced Tea Month!

The most popular story goes something like this: In 1904 at the World’s Fair, Richard Blechynden, a tea plantation owner was planning to give away free samples of hot tea to visitors. It was so hot in St. Louis that year and no one was interested in hot tea – so he dumped cubes of ice into the drink. The rest is tea history. That said, there is also some information and a story about a Mrs. Tyree and her recipe for iced tea that was published in 1877 (well before the World’s Fair) in Housekeeping in Old Virginia – which is pretty darn cool. (Pun intended.)

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Mrs. Tyree’s recipe for iced tea

In fact, many Americans were already familiar with and drinking iced tea in alcohol based punches as far back as the Colonial days. There is reference to the Philadelphia Fish House Punch from the early 1700s which was diluted with tea. David Wondrich, a liquor historian wrote that the recipe for Regent’s Punch (1815) “…also packed quite the potent wallop: Not only did it call for green tea and arrack, a rum-like liquor from South Asia, it also threw in citrus juice, sugar, champagne, brandy and rum.” That’s a significant difference from how we drink iced tea today.

 

When Prohibition rolled around and took effect in 1920, nonalcoholic iced teas took off. In 1921, The Spice Mill (a book on coffee and tea industry) wrote: “Since Prohibition has gone into effect, tea has been drunk in places not heretofore thought of.” In order for social clubs, hotels and bars to survive, they looked for substitutes for (hard) liquor sales. Enter the birth of virgin fruit punches and strongly brewed iced teas – both packed with flavor and perfectly legal.  The real tipping point arrived with the availability of home refrigeration and freezers which meant that people didn’t have to leave their homes to attend a social club for an iced cold drink.

 

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Classic Iced Tea

This brings us to America and its 84%. We stand almost entirely alone (American, Canada, Thailand) in terms of tea culture worldwide in that we are prefer our tea over ice – while the rest of the tea drinking world drinks its tea hot.  In countries like China, India, Sri Lanka and Japan, tea is almost always served hot regardless of the season.

Is it because of our early access to ice? Or that Americans were “forced” to drink a strong nonalcoholic beverages during Prohibition? Perhaps! Regardless of the answer, iced tea isn’t going anywhere.

One of the best ways to enjoy real iced tea is to brew it yourself using loose-leaf tea. The quality and taste are far superior than anything you will make from packaged teabags.  What I find most interesting and also surprising is how many people ask me HOW to make iced tea. I get this question almost weekly at markets. It’s really quite easy and takes little effort.

There are 2 ways to make iced tea: traditional hot brew method and cold brew. I’ve made both. My personal preference is to hot brew black teas and cold brew green teas.

For Hot Brew: The proportion I use is roughly 1 oz of loose-leaf tea to 1 gallon of water. I use boiling water for black teas, herbal and rooibos. With any herbal infusion or rooibos you can brew the leaves as long as you like without risking bitterness because there is no Camellia Sinensis (tea) in herbal infusions. You could walk away from rooibos (or herbals) for hours and return to perfectly brewed tea. It’s not the same for black teas. Time matters or you end up with a very strong, sometimes bitter brew. Most iced teas in restaurants are often brewed too long, and I believe it’s why so many people resort to sugar in their tea. Quality tea made correctly requires no sugar!

 

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Ice cubes changed everything

For Cold Brew: As mentioned I like greens (and oolongs) brewed cold. The ratio is slightly different in that you need more leaf to water. My preference is 1.5 oz of tea leaves to 1 gallon of ice/water placed in the fridge over night. When you wake up: Iced Tea!  Depending on the tea, I might even use 2 oz of tea leaves to 1 gallon of water. What’s great about this method particularly for green tea, is that there is little to no astringency or bitterness. Some research even suggests that the caffeine level is lower and the anti-oxidants are higher with this method.

Our summer iced tea menu at our local farmer’s markets rotates between these 6 flavors:

Black Currant
Calypso (summer only)
Lovely Lauren – Apricot
Pirate’s Nest
Ginger Peach (Summer only)
Moroccan Mint Green

For those of you that follow Pearl Fine Teas around the DC Metro area, or are one of our online customers, I’m offering 15% OFF these 6 teas for the rest of June during National Iced Tea Month. Enter code: ICE15 at checkout to receive your discount!

Only blog readers will have access to this code which expires at midnight on June 30th! Grab some leaves and brew over ice!

Happy Sipping!
~ The Chief Leaf

Iced… Iced… Baby

25 Days of Tea

It’s the last day of Novembgiftoftea-smaller for 2016 and as I sit here sipping our new batch of Jasmine Yin Hao, it occurred to me that many tea lovers are still unfamiliar with so many teas available (like Jasmine Yin Hao – a Pouchong).  Mention Earl Grey, Chai or Chamomile and heads nod, but mention Dian Jin, BaoZhong or even Aged Tea and I often am met with a stare.

It’s not easy to step into trying a new tea – it does take a sense of adventure and a real love of trying something new. Often people will defer to mainstream blends and well known names (like chai) and hopefully work their way into what those of us in tea are deeply connected to: TeaLife.

For die-hard tea drinkers, tea isn’t just a beverage, it’s a really important part of daily life. More then just routine, its ritual. And there’s a big difference–most notably related to intention and often has more meaning. (More on that later.)

So as I sit in my sunroom on the last rainy day of November, surrounded by Buddhas disguised as cats, I decided that starting tomorrow (December 1) and for the next 25 days leading up to Christmas Day, I’ll blog a short bit on a different tea each day and offer a discount on that tea for purchase on our shiny new website to give as a gift to yourself or someone else. I hope it will inspire you to try a new tea or at the very least, learn something new.

So keep an eye out here, on Facebook and on the website for tomorrows First Gift of Tea and the discount code to buy for that day.

Happy sipping!

– The Chief Leaf

#tealove
#teaunites
#teasaveslives
#sipteafeelhappy
#teatent

#teainDC
#teainVA
#teainMD
#pearlfineteas
#teagirl

25 Days of Tea