Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Brasserie Ten Ten Steeps it Loose...

We are excited to announce that Brasserie Ten Ten is now serving our hand-crafted loose leaf tea in our artisan-made Steeping Mugs. Executive Chef Anthony (Tony) Hessel says 'Personally I enjoy giving our customers a wide range of choice in teas, the fact that it is local and the customers really enjoy it is an added plus. Karen's Knowledge of the teas have brought us to another level of service to the brasserie.'

Brasserie Ten Ten is located at 1011 Walnut St. in historic downtown Boulder, CO. Directly across the street from its sister restaurant, The Med. Brasserie Ten Ten seats about 88 customers and serves lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. The restaurant is co-owned by Med owners Joe and Peggy Romano, Rob Kukura and executive chef Anthony (Tony) Hessel. Offering a French inspired cuisine since July 2003, Hessel uses French cooking techniques that include saucing, braising and sautéing as well as preserving meats. French classics include Bouillabaisse, Daube de Boeuf, Duck Confit and Bocuse.

Hessel, like many chefs’, learned how to cook by helping his mother. “My mom was an amazing chef and I would frequently help her out in the kitchen.” Growing up he always hated school but loved food. In high school he got a part time job at a big restaurant in Wilton, Connecticut where he fell in love with the restaurant industry. He starting washing dishes and worked his way up to busing tables, tending bar and eventually made his way into the kitchen where he worked with chef Steve Alwood who taught him how to keep his head down and ears in open.

During the early-80’s, after graduating highschool, Hessel moved to NY where he attended culinary school and worked with executive chef Patrick Clark at Tavern on The Green. Clark, an innovator of American Cuisine, taught Hessel how to combine flavors. Dropping out of culinary school right before his final exam, he decided to move to Paris. Like Julia Childs, his passion for cooking and food was ignited in Paris. Working illegally in kitchens for two years he learned how to see and taste the final dish before it was even made. He learned hands-on where the food came from. For example, he learned how to kill and pluck chickens in order to prepare it for the night’s dinner. After learning almost every aspect of the restaurant business, he moved to Denver and worked all over. He eventually made his way to San Francisco to work at Stars with executive chef/owner Jeremiah Towers. Towers, a crusader for ‘California Regional Cuisine’, worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse for many years until he opened Stars in 1984. At Stars, like in Paris, Hessel learned the importance of using locally grown ingredients to elevate simple dishes to fine delicacies. After 9 nine months he moved back to Denver. Working all over the place he eventually moved to Boulder where he worked at Pour de France and took trips to NY to work at their sister restaurant, Windows of World. Working himself to exhaustion and a divorce, he decided he wanted to step back from management to just work the line.

In 1995 he got a job in Boulder at the Med, where he kept his head down and his ears open. With a passion for food and a talent to control chaos, he was quickly promoted to executive chef. A few years later, Hessel began talking with Kukura and the Romanos about opening up another restaurant where Hessel could offer patrons dishes that would be more delicate to prepare. When the restaurant Dandelion closed across from the Med, the location and timing were perfect. The space fit the partners’ concept of a bustling European brasserie and the menu was already outlined in chef Anthony’s head.

BBocuse, another popular item on their menu is a spin on Paul Bocuse’s classic chicken dish that he created some 35 years ago. Hunger-style braised and pulled chicken thigh and leg, mushrooms, five lily (shallots, garlic, scallions, Bermuda onion, & sweet onion) served in a brandy cream sauce and nestled over seared spinach. The brandy  cream sauce is made of veal  stock, chicken stock, cream, butter, salt and pepper. I highly recommend pairing the Earl of Grey with the Bocuse because it complements the brandy cream sauce and five lily. Lunch $9.95 / Dinner $14.95

The most complicated, time consuming and popular item on the menu, the Duck Confit is served with Potato Gratin, glazed baby carrots & pommery mustard crémeis. I highly recommend pairing the Green Roasted Mint with the duck because it helps cleanse the pallet after every bite of the rich flavor.

For Duck: Make a green salt of equal parts, basil, thyme, rosemary, chives & marjoram with 3 cups of kosher salt, liberally cover duck legs (not breast) and cure for twenty-four hours. Wipe off excess salt and cover with clarified duck fat and cook for 12 hours at 175 degrees.      

Remove from oven and chill until needed. For gratin: thinly slice Kennebec on mandolin, julienne onions, fresh thyme, salt pepper, butter, cream & olive oil. Mix all ingredient together, let sit for 1 hour and then place in a buttered hotel pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees until done, about 1.5 hours. The Pommery Mustard sauce is a two part sauce of fist brandy, Coleman’s mustard, bay leaf, shallots that is reduced by half and strained. Then take 2 tbsp of that reduction with a bottle of white wine, veal stock & thyme and reduce by half, add cream then reduce by half again. To finish, add Dijon mustard, brown mustards seeds and season with salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice. To Compose dish: heat grapeseed oil in sauté pan add duck leg and sear on both side then place in oven to crisp. Heat a portion of the potato gratin in the oven until ready. Sauté the carrots (organic is best from one of the local farms, regular carrots don’t have flavor) in butter until the natural sugar is released and they begin to caramelize slightly (be careful, too much heat will burn the carrots) To Plate: Place 2 oz of sauce in the center of the plate, place duck in on top place gratin to one side and carrots on other and serve immediately. Lunch $13.95 / Dinner $18.95

Aside from fabulous lunch and dinners, they probably have the best happy hour in town and brunch on the weekend.

What's your favorite meal at Brasserie Ten Ten?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Go Tuffy!

We were pretty excited to get the call telling us that our Tuffy Steeper won a Gear of the Year award... and we're listed at the top of the tea category!  Like all of our products, this one was a labor of love, for loose leaf tea of course.  And, also like with all our products, it was designed with a singular focus on our mission of making loose leaf tea an everyday luxury.  The Tuffy was designed to do exactly that - to make it easy to steep loose leaf tea in any of your existing teapots or mugs, and to allow you to take your loose leaf tea on the road.  Top of mind at The Tea Spot is always the customer, and the customer experience.  We found the highest grade silicone, and molded it into an easy and fun-to-use tool for your favorite loose-leaf teas.  And what a thrill it is when our ideas and work get recognized as doing what they're supposed to!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Re-use… Recycle… Refill!

I’m in constant motion this week. As in “moving at the speed of light” constant motion. I’m here… I’m there… I’m flippin’ everywhere. You see… Tea Spot is currently on sale with Whole Foods in Rocky Mountain! Our first promo of the year has me salivating thinking about the upcoming tea season. And to boot, the weather has been cold for the last week! Who needs Colorado blue-bird days when you can have cold, dreary, rain and Seattle-esque drizzle that makes everyone want to buy tea! Hoooooo Raaaaaaay rain and drizzle! Bring it on!

And as you might recall from my last post, I heart grocery stores. I spend a lot of time in them so it’s a good thing that my affection for these establishments is true and genuine. During all of this time that I spend serving tea and talking to folks in stores I inevitably receive all sorts of comments when it comes to Tea Spot’s current packaged tea tin.

Most frequent comments include…

“How cute! Did you design the packaging?” I wish I could be so clever…

“Roches Rouges? But I can’t read French. How do I know how much tea to use?” See the front panel for those who prefer to communicate using the English language please…

And more often than not, “What do I do with my tea tin when I’m done with my tea?” Aaaaaaaahhhh Haaaaaaaah! Don’t even think about throwing it in the trash!

So in no particular order here are a few suggestions for your tea tin once you’ve excavated all of the hand blended, yummy Tea Spot tea from the tin.

Empty Tea Spot tea tins can be used for any number of things around your home or at the office. They slice, they dice, they… oh wait… I’ve got that damn Billy Mays infomercial stuck in my head again.

Back to reality. Empty Tea Spot tea tins make excellent pencil/ pen holders. I keep one at my house for spare change to be used exclusively at the Laundry Mat. My mom has been known to make flower arrangements in her empty Mango Tango tins. I spoke to a customer who used one of our empty tins to make a candle and still another who kept one in his tool box to store all of the stray nuts, bolts, nails, and screws. My next project with my empty tin of Bolder Breakfast – garlic butter with fresh chives. I’ll report back. Isn’t multi-functionality such a beautiful thing?

This is a no-brainer. If you aren’t going to re-use your empty tin for any of the above mentioned items than I would suggest your closest mixed-recycle bin. Our current tea tins including the inner lid and top are 100% recyclable! And here’s a nice guideline for you to follow in the event that you are already “recycle-happy” with your mixed containers.

Ecocycle Dirty Dozen


And of course the method that we would encourage every customer who buys one of our fancy-schmancey tea tins to employ is to refill them! Preferably with Tea Spot tea of course! Many grocery stores offer bulk teas and spices and there’s really no better container for keeping your tea fresh than an air-tight, dual-locking, designer tea tin.

We have recently updated our website to include over 40 different teas in bulk. Most of these are available in small 2 oz. increments - the perfect amount of tea to refill your empty Tea Spot tea tin!

In addition, local Colorado grocers who carry our teas in bulk include the following stores.

Whole Foods Pearl Street (Boulder)
Whole Foods South Glenn (Centennial)

Look for additional offerings in the coming months at a store near you!

So go ahead. Re-use, recycle and refill until your heart is content! But whatever you do, don’t throw that beautiful tea tin in the trash!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Complete this statement: If I were an ingredient I would be _____________...

Hint: My answer is below...
Why would you be that ingredient? 

After water, Tea is the world’s second most popular beverage. Legend has it that tea was discovered in China in 2737 BC by the Emperor Shen Nung, when the leaves of a wild tea bush accidentally fell into a pot of boiling water. By the time of the Tang Dynasty tea had become China’s national drink. This legend sounds like many of my recipes, accidental yet amazingly flavorful and resilient.

Almost all countries have their own tea culture just like all cultures have their own style of cooking. The ability to use tea as a culinary ingredient allows me to honor and unite the world in my individual way while incorporating the healthful benefits of tea into any meal.  

Tea, a frequently overlooked cooking ingredient, is one of infinite flavor profiles. Tea should play a role in everybody's kitchen as a teasoning, marinade, sauce, smoking agent, braising, poaching and brining liquid. Tea enhances the flavor of a dish in a totally different way than any other spice in your cupboard. Chances are you probably already have a full cupboard of tea that is going stale; just cook with it.

How do you pair tea with an ingredient?

The first step is to smell the tea. Close your eyes and let your senses lead you . What foods would taste good with that tea? What flavors would complement or contrast the flavor profile of the tea. The next step is to decide how to use it. Will you grind it for a rub? (Tea should have its own grinder, so it won't pick up notes from coffee or other spices.) Or would it work better in a brine, as a smoking agent, in a marinade, etc?  For example, you can take almost any recipes and substitute brewed tea for any liquid (chicken stock, veggie stock, veal stock, water) or you can throw in the pot of water when cooking a starch. 

The Following recipe uses tea as a base for a seasoning and to flavor the quinoa as it cooks. 

Corn off the cob Quinoa Salad

Serves: 4 - 6

For the teasoning:

1/2 tablespoon Mate Limon Chai, finely ground

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt

For the quinoa:

3 cups red quinoa

2 tablespoons Mate Limon Chai

6 cups water

For the sauteed vegetables:

3 tablespoons canola oil

1 red onion, sliced

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced

5 ears corn, roasted and cut off cob (of 1 can of corn, drained)

1 red pepper, chopped

2 cups edamame

1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half

1/4 cup basil, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

For the dressing:

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons agave

1 lime, zest and juice

1 cup olive oil

13/4 teasoning

Directions: For the teasoning: Mix tea and spices together.

For the quinoa: Place quinoa in medium pot. Sprinkle Mate Limon Chai over quinoa. Add 6 cups water to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Cook until soft but still a little crunchy.

For the vegetables: In a sauté pan over medium--high heat, add the canola oil. When the oil is hot add the onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the shiitakes and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add the red pepper, edamame and corn and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn stove off and mix in cherry tomatoes.

For the dressing: In a mixing bowl, whisk the agave, apple cider vinegar, lime zest and lime juice. Slowly add the oil whisking vigorously to emulsify the dressing (may be done in a food processor). Sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of the teasoning and mix to combine. Add more to taste

In a big serving bowl, coat the quinoa with half of the dressing. Add the sautéed veggies and mix to combine. Add more dressing to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil.

What ingredient would you be?

By the way, I didn't have time to cook Lenny Martinelli's Lapsang Souchong Braised Lamb, which is why I didn't write about it. I promised my husband that it will be Sunday's night dinner so stay tuned to hear how it comes out...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lapsang Souchong Braised Lamb

To celebrate Celestial Seasonings 40th year anniversary, Cindy Sutter, food editor for Daily Camera, wrote a tea-licious article entitled Kitchen teatime: Cooking up some tea-full recipesShe featured my Casanova Sliders, Green Roasted Tea Smoked Salmon, Corn off the Cob Quinoa Salad, Mango Tango Grilled Pineapple & Boulder Blues Muddler. 

Along side my recipes were a few from Lenny Martinelli, proprietor of the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, an amazing hand-crafted teahouse, presented to Boulder by Mayor Maksud Ikramov, as symbol celebrating the establishment of sister city ties. Although the city of Boulder owns the building, Martinelli operates the restaurant. Martinelli is well-known for cooking with tea and has inspired me quite a few times during his annual cooking with tea class at the Rocky Mountain Tea Festival

One of his featured recipes in the article is a Lapsang Souchong Braised Lamb, which sounds enticing and intriguing. At first glance, it seems like a stew since the lamb is cut into cubes instead of being cooked in larger pieces. You might also think about to brining the lamb overnight if cooking with tougher parts of the meat. 

Due to lack of time, sleep and energy, I'm posting the recipe before testing it. I plan to test it Sunday. So, tune in next week for a verdict. 
For the rub:

2 tablespoons Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, ground

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the braised lamb:

2 pounds lamb cubed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 onion diced

1 carrot diced

1 celery diced

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

3 tablespoons tomato paste

4 cups water

Directions: Combine all rub ingredients. Toss with meat and let sit in refrigerator for half a day. Heat oil in a dutch oven or large saute pan. Season lamb with salt and sear. When you turn the meat to sear on the other side, add onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and cook 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and brown lightly. Add water, cover pot and cook on low heat for about 11/2 hours. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Source: Lenny Martinelli

Let me know how it is if you test it before me...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

37,000 cups and counting...

I’m coming up on my 3-year anniversary with Tea Spot as well as my 3-year anniversary/ introduction to loose, whole leaf tea. Before I was introduced to tea in it’s loose, whole leaf form I simply knew of it as the iced beverage with loads of sugar and lemon that my grandmother frequently served at family gatherings. Read here for additional details…

But if you know Tea Spot’s business in the last few years you probably know our line of Loose Leaves from seeing it in grocery stores like Whole Foods & Vitamin Cottage. And chances are that if you’ve seen it in those stores than you’ve likely run into yours truly wearing a Tea Spot T-Shirt with “Steepin’ it Loose” or “Tea… Hot!” emblazoned across the front all while preaching to customer after customer about the benefits of drinking tea in loose, whole leaf form. Oh the things I do to sell a product! I spend a lot of my time in grocery stores. In fact, Whole Foods on Pearl Street here in Boulder recently asked if I would write them a rent check this month.

Yeah… I know what you’re thinking and I can hear it now. “C’mon Robbie C. Get a life man! How many hours of your week are you going to spend standing around in a grocery store selling $10 tins of tea?”

Well… funny you should ask. If I actually calculate the number of hours and cups of tea that I’ve schlepped all over the US in the last 3 years the numbers are… well… staggering.

I figure that I’ve averaged about 1 demo/ tasting per week for the last 3 years at Tea Spot. Let’s just round that off and call it 150 demos/ tastings that I’ve participated in over that 3-year period. Now if you estimate the number of 4 Liter push pots of tea that I’ve so diligently prepared and dragged into these stores at 3.5 per demo than my expert-level math skills calculate 546 push pots of tea in 3 years. Take into account that each taste that I offer is roughly 2 ounces worth of delicious, freshly steeped, Tea Spot tea and I get about 68 cups of tea per 4 Liters push pot. Now get ready…

546 push pots of tea * 68 servings on average = 37, 128 Cups of tea served to date in my Tea Spot career! Yeah… I’m a pretty big deal =)

And during these demos I’ve heard it all.

I once had a customer at Niwot Market tell me that the reason Darjeeling tea was such a “fantastic, premium, choice tea” was because of the “giant cobras that tea farmers have to fend off during the growing and cultivation of the leaves.” Sure buddy. Whatever you say… I’m sure they’re abundant. I’ve been hit on by women old enough to be my grandmother and rejected by more cute girls than I care to confess. “Tea? Oh thanks… but I’m a coffee drinker.” I once counted 7 women consecutively who walked by me in a VA grocery store and never batted an eye or even considered stopping as I offered each one of them (as politely as I could) a cup of tea to drink. I must have looked like an obedient puppy-dog watching a ping-pong match for the first time… my head going back and forth as I was passed up from one side… and then the next… and then again from the right… and doubled up from the left… and oh boy, I might have a taker… nope… she’s still walking and talking on her cell phone. It was enough to make me dizzy.
I’ve seen children throw tantrums, inquiring minds eat (yes, that’s right) eat dry tea leaves right off of my table, and more folks than I can recount miraculously lose their entire cart full of groceries and belongings as soon as they stop to check out the offerings on my table. “Attention Whole Foods shoppers. If you are pushing a cart with someone else’s belongings please return that cart and those belongings to the customer service desk at your earliest convenience.”

Maybe I should write a book.

But beyond all of the giggles, laughs, and entertaining episodes the thing that I love the most about my experiences is that each customer has offered their own individual story and take on tea to my listening ears. I get to hear from the die-hards who drink tea and only tea. I hear from concerned mothers who are introducing tea to their young children as an alternative to soda and juice. I meet devout coffee drinkers who often end up surprised at the bold flavor produced by our Bolder Breakfast. I talk to folks that have traveled to China or other countries in SE Asia and have seen tea estates and farms first hand. I’m always excited when someone tells me that they’ve visited Teance in Berkeley, CA because to date it’s still my favorite place to have a cup of tea! And I’m always filled with pride when someone walks by my table and says, “Love your Earl Grey!”

Every one of these stories is worth listening to because they ultimately contribute to our own story here at The Tea Spot. Ultimately it’s this variety of experiences that tea creates that I think is one of the most powerful things that it has to offer. And yet behind this multitude and vast array of experiences there’s always that one thread and common link.

Tea. So simple and so powerful. And all of that in one little leaf.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Just a simple teapot? No way!

The other day my coworker and I were chatting about teapots and how they're oftentimes a very coveted item. I don't currently own a teapot (gasp!) and think of them as a pretty utilitarian item. Obviously I was wrong.

There is an incredible obsession with teapots, not only buying unique kinds, but designing them as well. I came across a website website where they literally do have practically every teapot imaginable. This website and all the teapots that I saw, lead me to believe that teapots have become another outlet for artists. Basically a functional piece of art; an outlet for creativity and ingenuity. Teapots are designed and made throughout the world, but neither region nor history can stop the artists' imagination from coming through. Below are some pictures of many teapots. Some with classic designs, some historic, some modern, some unique, weird, and my personal favorite at the end.

Cast Iron or Tetsubin teapots were created in Japan

An incredible Malaysian teaset

A beautiful, classic style Russian teapot

This gorgeous teapot and teaset comes from Africa

Yes this isn't your child's toy, it IS a teapot in fact.

I'm not sure soothing and relaxing comes to mind with this one.

Ahh but this one, this fits right in with an afternoon tea.

A watering can or a teapot? Possibly both?

In case you're in the mood for games with your tea

This one conjures up images of Go Dog Go, a favorite childhood book by Dr. Seuss

This one caught my eye, and is completely my favorite. The pieces fit together like a puzzle and not only that but the design is clean and calming.

Now it's time for you to go find your own favorite tea and teapot!

All images taken from

TEAS Your Food: Tea + Seasonings = Tea-sonings

Photo by
One of the easiest ways to get rid of all that tea in your pantry that you promised your husband you'd drink is to use it as a culinary ingredient. Cooking with tea is as old as its history. The ancient Chinese stuffed and steamed fish withoolong leaves; they smoked duck with tea leaves; they infused boiling water with tea leaves to poach shrimp and make marbled hard boiled eggs. There are so many creative and fun ways to TEAS your food. You can TEAS dressings, marinades, brines, spreads, broths, sauces, salsa, soups, etc. In my opinion, the easiest way to get started cooking with tea is to make a Tea-soning

What's a Tea-soning? Tea + seasonings = Tea-soning, a word I coined when you mix ground tea with other seasonings, spices or herbs.

To make a Tea-soning, use a grinder to finely grind loose-leaf tea. Combine the ground tea leaves with herbs, spices and/or seasonings. Don’t ever grind tea in the same grinder you grind your coffee in because it will impart coffee flavors that will overpower the tea flavors. Use what is already in your pantry but be creative. Think about how flavors complement or contrast each other. For example, let's say you have a fruity green tea you want to make into a Tea-soning. Think about would complement and contrast the fruity flavors of the tea.  

Below is a Tea-soning I created with our BOULDER BLUES, green tea blended with strawberry & rhubarb. Blending ingredients that complement the fruity flavors (i.e. orange and lemon peel)  with ingredients that contrast the fruitiness(i.e. Chipotle Chile pepper, cumin) create layers of complexity. I recently used this Tea-soning to tenderize and bring flavor to hamburgers.

Ingredients: BOULDER BLUES Tea-Sonings

Yields ~ 9 TBS 

· 2 TBS BOULDER BLUES, finely ground

· 2 TBS Chipotle Chile Pepper

· 1TBS orange peel, dried

· 1 TBS lemon peel, dried

· 1 TBS salt

· 1 tsp thyme

· 1 tsp cilantro flakes

· 1 tsp cumin

Below is another Tea-soning I crafted with our MATE LIMON CHAI, a blend of mate, lemongrass and chia spices. I created this Tea-soning specifically to season and sear salmon. You don't have to add many other ingredients when using a tea with great depth and various flavors, like our MATE LIMON CHAI. Adding sugar help create a crunchy sear while the cayenne pepper adds a little spice and color.

Ingredients: MATE LIMON CHAI Tea-soning

Yields ~ 8 TBS

·  3 TBS MATE LIMON CHAI, finely grounded

·  2 TBS Salt

·  1 TBS Sugar

·  1 tsp pepper

·  1- 2 tsp cayenne pepper

Tea-sonings can be used to season sauces, marinades, salsas, dressings, soups, breads, rubs, compound butters, as meat tenderizes, etc. Rub them over meat, fish and veggies. Whisk them into marinades, dressings and soups. Tea-sonings have the ability to enhance flavor and health benefits to any recipe without additional calories.

Store your Tea-sonings in a metal or glass container, away from light & moisture. 

Next week I'll give you a couple of my favorite Tea-soned recipes...

How do you TEAS your food?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Watching a company take off... the view from inside

This summer has been a turning point for our company. We’ve taken that critical step from being a “start-up” to a business operation. Positioning is clear. Roles are (relatively…) clear. Repeat business is an important part of our revenue stream. Surprises, though always a part of business and life, are now fewer in number and further between incidents. And this is all due, of course, to the people. The sales operations team have outstanding relationships with their customers. Whenever I have the (always welcome!) opportunity to meet a customer or a prospect, I get rave reviews – no wonder, of course, as they’re always sensitive to meeting exactly their customers’ needs. They do their job more as customer advocates rather than sales people. It’s never “push” - only “serve”. Our Director of Development can do anything… two days ago I put a challenge in front of her to tackle an opportunity that needed to be addressed within 36 hours – I really didn’t expect that she’d say it was possible, and WOW – she used probably 33 of those 36 hours to produce a creative and superbly professional piece of work. I was stunned… It’s been about 18 months since we hired our now COO, the cog in the wheel. He is the chief in this company – no question - with business acumen, ethics and professionalism that any company would envy. He could be a diplomat or executive in any government or business enterprise. And our Tea Spot Chef is possessed with talent and energy that never cease to impress me – and is a community networker like none other. And I’m the lucky one who gets to help and watch this go forward, evolve and take form – Thank You team Tea Spot for rallying and making loose leaf tea that simple and elegant everyday luxury we dreamed it would be, helping people live healthier and happier lives!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I guess I never realized how spoiled I really am when it comes to tea. Not a tea drinker before working for a loose leaf tea company, I never suffered through the early stages of the tea bag. Luckily I was overwhelmed with a veritable treasure-trove of loose leaf tea my first day on the job. After a snide remark or two about bagged tea from my new co-workers, I fully understood that I was never to waste my time with any tea that was delivered to my cup via a bag. So I never really spent much time thinking about the ground-up tea that lives inside a tea bag and how it, when combined with water, responds differently than the sprawling leaves I've come to know and enjoy. Until yesterday. Our CEO returned from her trip abroad with some loose leaf tea and promptly steeped the crew each a cup. Curious how it became so bitter after only steeping 30 seconds, I began asking questions. So this particular tea was ground up almost into powder form, like the tea in a tea bag. I guess it makes sense that the water has more surface area of the tea with which to connect, essentially speeding up the process. I can't think of a better time to utter the old adage "The best things come to those who wait."
picture from

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Simple to understand, yet difficult to uncover.

The other day I was describing to one of my accounts how important it was to put the right amount of tea leaves in for the amount of tea you wanted to make, e.g. 1 teaspoon of tea leaves for an 8oz cup of tea, 2 teaspoons of tea leaves for a 16oz cup of tea, etc. It seems like a simple enough concept, but when people have used teabags all their life (no matter how much water they used), it's a bit more time consuming to convey.

It was during this that the light bulb went off. Ding! (that's the sound the light bulb makes when it goes off). I've been saying it all this time, but never thought of it before, "use a TEAspoon of TEA for an 8oz cup". It's right there! So simple 1 TEAspoon for 1 cup (aka 8oz), 2 TEAspoons for 2 cups (aka 16oz).

I was amazed. How come it had never passed through my consciousness before? I mean, it makes sense to describe it this way to customers, to make it easier for them to understand, but of course I couldn't leave it there. WHY did teaspoon mean teaspoon? What were the origins of the name? Did they really use that size spoon to measure tea and becuase it was so commenplace that is how its name was derived? Being research driven, I tried to find more.

I looked on Wikipedia, no good. Origins of Words, failed. Online Etymology Dictionary, crash and burn. And typically the winner of all true research needs, The Oxford English Dictionary, nuthin. (How do you like THAT grammar OEM?) I searched high and low but to no avail. I couldn't find a valid description as to how the common nomenclature of the teaspoon, which measures approximately 4.92892159 milliliters of a substance, came about! There was one other person out there in the world wide web who had asked a similar question on Yahoo! Answers and was given a response that seemed pretty valid, but I couldn't quite trust it as fact, particularly because the words "stuff" and "lands" were used. The answer (given below in italics) seems like a half assed attempt to research it and a unoriginal deduction that any of us could have come up with.

But I WANTED FACTS! sigh. No such luck, but if anyone out there truly knows if the name of a spoon holding 4.92892159 milliliters of substance came about because people often used that much TEA for a cup of tea, I would greatly appreciate you letting me know how you know this and where I can find the facts .

Ah...I love US measuring standards...meh.

Word origin for "teaspoon" and "tablespoon"?
Anyone know (and/or have a link to a reference describing) the origin of the names of "teaspoon" and "tablespoon"?

Best Answer - Chosen by Asker
They refer to two different pieces of flatware (or silverware). A tablespoon is one that is used for eating stuff - like soups or sauces or puddings. A teaspoon is a smaller utensil that is used for stirring beverages that are served in a teacup. Their becoming units of measurement for recipes came as a result of their simply being used in everyday cooking, quite frankly, as scoops. It was much later, when cookbooks started to be written for the regular folks like us in the late 17th century (there were earlier ones) that the actual volume of these measurements were standardized. Oddly, in many lands, measurements are made in grams and liters. America in one of the few that use Tbl spoons and tsp as units of measure. I think it is a system referred to as "avoir du pois" and was kept in use by apothecaries in the US. This system utilized measurements like inches and feet, quarts and pints while the rest of the world used meters and liters. I think that avoir du pois (oddly) was a British system that was used at a time when the French were measuring in "drams" and "grains."

Pictures from: