Thursday, July 15, 2010

We've Moved!

Come check out our new (and improved) Steep It Loose blog! Now located on our site, http://theteaspot.com/steep-it-loose/.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pork Loin Brined in Tea

I was given the task to cook for fifteen people this 4th of July weekend. They wanted a gourmet meal in the great outdoors. With only a grill as my friend, I wanted to do something different than the usually burgers and brats. Walking through the meat section of the grocery, I saw a beautiful pork loin that would feed at least 20 people and was on sale. The question was, how was I going to cook it camping? Roasting it was difinately out of the question, since all I had was a grill. Just grilling it was out of the question because I would burn the outside before I cooked the inside. After pondering for a few minutes, I decided I need to brine it tonight so it would cook faster and be tender.

A brine, in cooking, is a process similar to marination in which meat is immersed in a liquid before cooking. Whereas a marination is usually a seasoned, often acidic solution, a brine is a salt water solution.

Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.
In other words, a brine will help breakdown the connective tissue of tough meat, decrease the cooking time, and protect the meat from drying out, keeping it moist and tender.

The basic formula for a brine solution is 1 cup of regular table salt (preferably without iodine) to one gallon of water. While under-brining won't have a negative effect, over-brining can be disastrous. The most basic seasoning that you want to add to your brine is a sweetener (sugar, brown or white, agave, molasses, or maple syrup). As a general rule add 1/2 cup of sweetener per gallon of brine. Make sure you make enough brine to completely submerge the meat.

Being The Tea Spot Chef, I added tea to my brine. Tea is actually an amazing tenderizer. Adding tea to my brine made my pork loin especially moist and juicy. I used our Lapsang Souchong because of it reminds me of camping. Although not my favorite tea to drink, one of my favorites to use as an ingredient because of its smoky aroma and rich flavor.

Pork Loin Brined in Tea:
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 1/4 cup Lapsang Souchong
  • 3 TBS black peppercorns
  • 1 TBS smoked paprika
  • 1 TBS cayenne pepper
  • 8-10 lb pork loin, cut into 4 segments
  • 1 bunch tarragon, stemmed & chopped (reserve stems for brine)
  • 1 bunch sage, stemmed & chopped (reserve stems for brine)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • twine
  1. In large pitcher, combine all the above ingredients except the pork loin. Stir well to dissolve the salt. Add the stems from the tarragon and sage to the solution.
  2. Place the tarragon and sage leaves in a small bowl and cover with canola oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Butterfly the pork loin. Place the the herb mixture lengthwise across the bottom of the butterflied loin. Roll it like a taquito and every few inches tie it up with a piece of twine. Place the pork in a garbage bag, you will probably want to double bag it so it doesn't leak. Pour the brine over the pork, make sure it is completely covered. Tie the garbage bag, place the pork in a cooler and let brine for at least 12-24 hours. Place ice packs in cooler to 'refrigerate' pork.
  4. Over medium-high heat, grill pork on all sides. Cook until a thermometer reads 135-140 degrees. Take off grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes. Remove twine and cut into slices about 1 in thick.
By the way, make sure your grill is stable enough so if is hit by a ravenous dog, the pork doesn't fall. Thank god, only one of the four pieces fell. 50 points if you can you find the dog lurking around the grill in the above picture?




Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chill Out & Steep it Loose!


Americans consume far too many calories.  And at least a fifth of these calories come from things we drink, according to a March 2006 report published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Barry M. Popkin, PhD, Professor of Nutrition, Head of Nutrition Epidemiology, and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Obesity at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The worst offenders are sugar-sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and sugary tea and coffee drinks.
Given Americans’ love affair with iced and chilled beverages, it’s no surprise that iced tea was invented here at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.  A group of tea producers from India had set up a fancy booth to promote their black teas.  The sweltering summer heat and humidity prompted them to serve the tea over ice, just to get people to try it.  In the 100 years since then, consumption of iced tea in the U.S. has grown to over 40 billion cups per year, and it accounts for 80% of the tea consumed in the U.S. today.

A report in this month’s BBC News quotes Public Health Nutritionist Dr. Carrie Ruxton, and colleagues at Kings College London, stating that “Drinking three or more cups of tea a day is as good for you as drinking plenty of water and may even have extra health benefits” – that is, tea’s healthier than water.  Their work, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, dispels the common belief that tea dehydrates.  Teas offer antioxidant properties as well, and you always have the option of selecting the caffeine-free herbals.  Rooibos, which isn’t actually a tea at all but a South African plant, has no caffeine, provides plenty of natural flavor, and is quite hydrating, making it a great iced-beverage option.

At The Tea Spot, our message is a simple and powerful one - tea in its freshest form renders incredible flavor, offers unmatched health benefits, supplies the best value per serving, and is eco-friendly.  Iced tea steeped from full-leaf teas is aromatic and flavorful enough to satisfy most palates without adding any sweeteners.  For the past five years, we have striven to change the way loose-leaf tea is perceived and consumed in the home with our STEEPWARE® products, making preparation seamless and delivering individual servings of freshly steeped tea.  Now we’re thinking about offering simple tools to make great-tasting iced teas.  We plan to make it easy to prepare fresh iced teas at home using both hot-brew and cold-brew methods.  Hot brewing is steeping your iced tea the same way you would a pot meant to be served hot.  But if you’re not interested in steeping your tea traditionally, “cold brewing” a pitcher of iced tea is also an option…attractive on a hot summer afternoon.  The process is the same as hot steeping, except that the tea infuser is placed into cold water and left in the refrigerator overnight.

Whatever tea you brew - whether an organic Nilgiri black (my personal favorite), a strawberry-rhubarb flavored green, a bold red rooibos, or a mango-and-passionfruit-flavored black - even if you adjust it to suit some level of sweet tooth with a teaspoon of sugar (at 18 calories) or a splash of lemon, orange, pineapple or cranberry juice - you’re probably not anywhere near the grocery and café “standards” in calorie counts:

0-18 calories home-brewed gourmet iced tea
155 calories in a can of soda
200+ calories in a can of energy drink
280 calories in a 16-ounce bottle of ready-to-drink iced green tea
400 calories in an iced peppermint white chocolate mocha (how many grams of fat, I wonder?!)

So before we go anywhere near discussing the benefits of icing white tea in preparation for bikini season, let’s take the obvious gains first…and do our teeth a big favor in the process.
Steep it loose, and chill out :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicken Poached in Matcha Green Tea


Matcha
is a powdered green tea. It can be used as an ingredient or made as a tea. With matcha, whole tealeaves are consumed, not just the liquid from the steeped tealeaves, as with other teas. Although Matcha originated by the Tang Dynasty in China (617-907), it was the Zen Buddhists who described the etiquette for tea ceremonies, found in the Rules of Purity for the Chan Monastery, 1103. Although Matcha was created in China, it flourished in Japan, where it is consumed as a daily cultural ritual.

Like all green teas, matcha is credited with providing numerous health benefits. The beauty of matcha is that you can receive the benefit of the whole, high-quality green tea leaf. Comparatively, matcha green tea has a much higher concentration of antioxidants than orange juice or blueberries, two fruit sources well known for their abundance of antioxidant properties.

Matcha has antiviral and antibiotic properties, said to help with digestion by killing harmful bacteria, and even preventing colds and flu. Matcha health benefits include increasing mental alertness with an abundance of vitamin C, plus huge amounts of beta-carotene. Matcha green tea is also known for its ability to provide a meditative, focusing, calming effect on those who consume this remarkable beverage. Studies show that EGCG, the powerful antioxidant in green tea, suppresses the appetite, and aids in the process of turning carbohydrates into energy instead of fat. Matcha is known for its weight loss and fat-burning qualities.

Matcha is a versatile ingredient, popular in beverages such as a green tea latte or green tea smoothie as well as confections, green tea ice cream, and can also be used as a culinary ingredient. It will become a staple.

Below is an easy recipe to open your eyes on how to use it as a culinary ingredient.

Chicken Poached in Matcha, the perfectly easy way to prepare moist, low fat chicken...

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups low sodium chicken broth, or water
  • 1 TBS Matcha
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 bay leaf

Preparation:

In a medium pot, bring chicken broth (or water) to a simmer. Add Matcha to the broth and whisk gently until it dissolves. Add salt, chile flakes, and bay leave. Place chicken breasts in the Matcha broth. Partly cover and gently simmer for 8-10 minutes. Turn off heat completely, and allow chicken to remain in hot water for 15-20 minutes.
Remove chicken and shred with a fork. Reserve the broth. To store, cover shredded chicken with reserved broth to keep the chicken moist and soft.
Serve over a salad for a healthy and light tea-licious meal.
The Tea Spot's Matcha Green Tea is unique in that it’s made from Shizuoka green tea. Shizuoka is a major tea producing region of Japan, known for its incredible sencha teas. Our Matcha tea is also uniquely processed using the SHIMA process (Super Heating In Moisture Atmosphere), a special steaming treatment that uses much higher temperatures than the traditional steaming method, before it is ground into a fine green tea powder.
For more on our Matcha Tea visit theteaspot.com...



Friday, April 30, 2010

Steep up a pot of tea and CUT YOUR STROKE RISK by 21%

According to a study from the UCLA School of Medicine reported in this month's Prevention Magazine, sipping tea may help protect you from a life-threatening stroke. Researchers collected data from 9 studies about 4,400 strokes amongst 195,000 people.  The encouraging trend that they pulled from this huge pool of data was that those people who drank at least 3 cups of tea a day had one-fifth the risk of stroke, compared with those who drank less than one cup of tea a day.  Tea type was not a variable in this study.  So drink up!
Photo: Andrea Doenges, our Regional Sales Manager, sipping her way to heart health at her desk :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Roasted Green Tea Frico toped with Smoked Salmon Tartar

Photo by Fine Cooking

An easy-to-make appetizer to celebrate Earth Day...

Ingredients Roasted Green Tea Frico:

  • 2 cup parmesan, shredded
  • 2 TBS GREEN ROASTED MINT tea, finely grounded


Preparation: Frico, crspy cheese crackers

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix parmesan and green tea in a bowl.
  3. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, sprinkle 2 TBS of cheese mixture in a circle and cook until melted, about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Using a spatula remove frico and place over a rolling pin to cool.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poached BOULDER BLUES Salmon Crostinis

An easy, fun and healthy appetizer to make a party of twenty or two.
Poached BOULDER BLUES Salmon Crostinis

Yields: 12-16 appetizers                 

Cooking with Tea Technique: Poaching


Ingredients:

- 1 whole wheat baguette, 12 -16 crostinis

- 1 lemon, 8 slices 1/4 in thick

- 1 TBS Boulder Blues green tea, loose

- 1 TBS parsley, leaves finely chopped, stems reserved

- 1 TBS tarragon, leaves finely chopped, stems reserved

- 1 shallot, minced

- 1 cup dry white wine

- 1/2 cup water

- 1 lb salmon fillet (1 1/2 in thick), medium diced

- 1/2 cup crème fraiche or sour cream, low-fat 

- 1 TSP Dijon mustard

- 1/2 lemon, juice & zest

- Salt & Pepper to taste

- Garnish: capers


Preparation:

1. Crostinis: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice baguette (1/4 in thick). Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Reserve.

2. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer at the bottom of a 10 in skillet. Scatter, Boulder Blues, parsley stems, tarragon stems and 1/3 of minced shallot over lemon sliced. Add wine and water.

3. Lay salmon fillets in the skillet, skinned side down, on op of lemon. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until the sides of the salmon are opaque and thickest part registers 125, about 8 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Using a spatula, transfer salmon and to a paper towel lined plate. Combine crème fraiche, Dijon, lemon juice & zest.

4. To serve: Spread lemon crème fraiche on crostini. Place salmon on top and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley and tarragon leaves.

5. Garnish with capers.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yo Downtown Boulder ! The Tea Spot's ba-ack...

at the Saturday Farmer's Market that is.  This past weekend was our first showing there, and yes, it was quite clearly a "start", witness the real-time engineering that went into displaying our sign... BUT, the reception was fantastic!  Given that our stand at the Farmer's Market is 1/2 a block from our old retail location, we were greeted by dozens of old customers, who remembered not only our teas, but even ourselves :)  
Bo Olson, a former manager at the downtown Boulder TeaSpot, and continuing to work  with us in Gunbarrel on our e-comm orders and tea blending, is spearheading The Tea Spot's presence at the Boulder Farmer's Market.  He made a classy display of our bulk teas (you can see it in the lower left of the photo).  So nice, in fact, that retailers came up and told us they wanted such displays hanging over our bulk tea offerings.  It was a great conversation starter - people wanted to know the names of all the teas, the types, the origins, the stories behind the blends... and as always, it was fun to talk about the microblending of our loose teas right here in Boulder.  We got to tell our Boulder Locals about the new Farmer's Market pickup option for internet orders, sign interested folks up for our newsletter, and give our samples of our Green Roasted Mint in the chilly morning.
Didn't hurt that it was a gorgeous Spring day and that we have terrific Farmer's Market neighbors... and that the most delicious chai you've every tried, made by Sanctuary Chai, was being served right around the corner in the front part of the Market (in front of BMoCA) and both types (Spicy and Sweet) are made with The Tea Spot's handcrafted loose leaf teas! Happy Day :D

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rob wraps about the Tuffy Steeper


Rob Cooke explains why the Tuffy Steeper makes a great tea companion, especially on-the-go...

Anybody else wondering what else he has in his back pocket...???

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A Tea Rap! Um wow!

Yeah I can't say much about this except wow and it's hilarious to watch.

It takes a bit of strain at the beginning to realize its about tea, but for 2 minutes, it's worth the watch.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hojicha Green Tea Chile Sauce


Being Hispanic, Chile Verde sauce, aka Green Chile sauce, is in my blood and is always in my refrigerator. It's actually very easy to make and should be a staple in your cooking repertoire because it is such a versatile condiment. Spoon it over eggs, grilled chicken, steak or fish. It also makes a great dipping sauce for chips or veggies. 
Photo by The Tea Spot

The twist of tea in my recipe brings a basic Chile Verde sauce to another level. The nutty flavor and roasted aromas in Hojicha (or houjicha), a roasted Japanese green tea, melds perfectly with the roasted Anaheim and Poblano green chiles.  

Hojicha Green Tea Chile Sauce

Ingredients:
  • 1 TBS Hojicha green tea
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 2-3 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 TBS flour,
  • 2/3 cup Anaheim chiles, roasted, peeled & chopped
  • 2/3 cup Poblano chiles, roasted, peeled & chopped
  • 1 TBS Boulder Blues Tea-soning
  • salt & pepper
Preparation:
  1. Roast Anaheim and Poblano chiles, see how to roast chiles below.
  2. Bring chicken stock to a boil and let cool for 3 minutes. Add Hojicha green tea to the chicken stock and let steep for 3 minutes. Strain tea leaves and reserve stock.
  3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Stir in flour and cook mixture until flour turns golden brown, 3-4 minutes. 
  4. Slowly stir in reserved tea stock and green chiles. Add Boulder Blues Tea-soning.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  6. Season with salt & pepper.
  7. Refrigerate for up to 7 days.
How to roast chiles:
  1. Oven: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place chiles on baking sheet and roast until skin darkens and bubbles, about 10-15 minutes. Flip sides and roast another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cover immediately to allow the chiles to steam which will make it easier to remove the skin.
  2. Grill: Preheat grill to high. Place chiles on grill and cook until skin darkens and bubbles, about 10 minutes. Flip sides and grill another 10 minutes. Remove from grill and cover immediately to allow the chiles to steam which will make it easier to remove the skin.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tea-soned Maté Limon Shrimp Stir-Fry

A quick, easy & tea-licious meal that takes 20 minutes to make...


Ingredients:

  •  1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
  •  1 1/2 TBS Maté Limon Chai* Tea-soning
  •  4 TBS canola oil, divided
  •  1 red onion, diced
  •  1 clove garlic, minced
  •  1 zucchini, chopped
  •  1 yellow squash, chopped
  •  1 red bell pepper, chopped
  •  1 can corn, drained & washed
  •  3 TBS teriyaki sauce
  •  1/8 cup cornstarch or arrowroot
  •  3/4 cup chicken broth
  •  salt & pepper to taste


Preparation:

1. Combine shrimp and Tea-soning in a large plastic food storage bag and refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.


2. Heat 2 TBS oil in a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add red onion & garlic and sauté until slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add Tea-soned shrimp and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Remove shrimp and reserve.


3. Heat 2 TBS oil in wok. Add zucchini, squash, red bell pepper and corn to wok and sauté until slightly soft, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the reserved shrimp and add teriyaki sauce.


4. In a bowl, whisk cornstarch and chicken broth together add to wok; cook, stirring until mixture boils. Reduce heat and serve.


Serving Suggested: Vintage Oolong Rice Pilaf. Visit teaspotchef.blogspot.com for recipe.



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Our booth at EXPO or..."is that a toy"?

With our EXPO 'till you drop schedule in Anaheim, it was a bit difficult to keep up with blogging from CA... but here are some highlights from the rest of our time at Expo. Wish we had a nickel for every time our Tuffy Steepers turned heads.  Its similarity to the collapsible camping cups and silicone measuring cups had people asking why this cup had holes in it.  Quite a few folks thought it was a toy, and a few handsome customers treated it as such :-)  We enjoy having unique products to present, and to be able to make new strides with new products in support of our mission of making loose leaf tea an everyday luxury.  And it's rewarding to get compliments on our innovation and most gratifying to have folks applaud our team's professionalism :-))  Makes it easier to head back out of the So-Cal sunshine and into the chilly grind ~:-)

Personal highlights included a surprise visit from my fiance's daughter Sadie (pictured here with me) and spending an evening with one of my best childhood friends after the show was over; an amazing dinner we were treated to by one of our main importers of the best Indian food I've ever had in the US - you really must make an effort to go to Tandoori Garden at 30 South Anaheim Blvd (Rob pictured here with the Saag Shrimp); our fastest and most efficient set-up/break-down (i had nothing to do with either...) and leaving EXPO with all of our product samples sold; meeting the greatest number of new customers and interested parties from press to the Miss America organization, to many discriminating independent retailers, to larger natural foods stores that we've ever harnessed in a single show; and for me - watching Jared, Rob and Andrea in action.  I was one really lucky person, working with a blue chip team, committed to changing the way you think about loose leaf tea  ;-o

Monday, March 15, 2010

Roughing It with Gourmet Amenities

One of our newest customers just shared this photo with me. He emailed to show off how he hooks up great loose leaf tea while camping!


I met him and a bunch of other backpackers interested in brewing loose tea on the trail through a forum on backpackinglight.com. One of the forum members had suggested our Tuffy Steeper - due to its compact, lightweight structure. I added that for people who also enjoy a cuppa joe, the Tuffy can double as a filter for coarse ground coffee beans. And while that does add practicality, being a purist myself, I would buy separate ones for the trail so that residual coffee bean oils wouldn't taint my tea. Admittedly anal, I'm sure other tea geeks would agree.

Thanks Steve for giving our Tuffy Steeper a shot as your backpacking tea filter and we can't wait to see more photos of our Tuffy on the trails of Yellowstone. Congrats on your new job there!

As a matter of fact, we'd love to see everyone's photos of our tea gear in use. Send me your stories and photos, info@theteaspot.com

Friday, March 12, 2010

California Dreamin'

Coincidentally enough, this was the song blasting in my spin class the night before i leaving for EXPO (a funky hip-hop version) and it was indeed "such a winter's night" in Boulder...with Spring snowflakes the size of cotton balls floating around.  Checking in at the airport, a group of girls, Spring breakers, perhaps, were figuring out how quickly they could get to In-n-Out burger once we landed, and a very Western-looking couple, who may have been driving for a long time to get to DIA were concerned about where to find the McDonald's (at 8:30 AM?!)  Have any of these people seen Food, Inc???  The line at Einstein's bagels was longer than the one at security, leading me to wonder if, like my vegetarian daughter, these folks depend on bagels as their primary source of protein... Sometimes it takes a foray out of Boulder to realize that Natural Foods are, in fact, niche.

But now Anaheim Convention Center neighborhood is transformed into a granola megalopolis.  Unbelievable! You really have to watch what you pick up as you stroll the aisles.  Ever try pizza-yogurt-smoothie-crackers-protein bar-chips-chocolate milk in a 15 minute break?  Was that me having a hard time with the folks headed to the burger joints? ;)

Last night's opening reception was hosted by New Zealand.  Had a great organic Pinot, and treats ranging from Salmon rolls to goat cheese drizzled with honey (you see here my colleague Andrea enjoying her glass - she was happy to be finished with her 3 days of prospecting sales calls, but sad to be out of her rental jeep, which she aptly wielded around like a freeway native).

Our booth looks stellar, thanks to Jared and Rob for setting it up and merchandising it beautifully, and to Jessica for our gorgeous graphics.  We're having a tremendous first day, thanks in part to the onslaught of folks who responded to our 100 Tuffy Steepers and tea samples giveaway... guess our spreading the word really worked :) So nice to be meeting people who try and enjoy our teas, and admire our Steepware.  Cool to see, as well, how loose leaf tea seems like much less of an anomaly these days, than 5 years ago.

More tomorrow, until then, keep it loose!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Westward Bound... to EXPO!

Feels like the night before Christmas - when all through the house, not a creature was stirring at The Tea Spot.

3 of our team of 7 are already in/on their way to Anaheim, CA for the largest Natural Food Show of the year, EXPO West.  EXPO's hosted by the Boulder media powerhouse, New Hope Media.  We'll be one of over 2000 exhibitors. From our town alone, about 40 companies are exhibiting - no small feat!  Our local paper ran an article, appropriately titled "Naturally Hopeful" in the biz section this week, stating (quite accurately, I might add) that this event is, for many companies, the largest annual marketing expenditure they'll choose to make.  So even from our 10x10 spot in the basement, we intend to wow many of the 53,000 anticipated "industry professional" passer-bys with our outstanding teas and innovative Steepware products, including some previews of exciting developments coming in 2010. Our newest development dovetails perfectly with the strong Going Green initiatives that New Hope has taken with CO2 emissions reductions initiatives at the show this year ;)

Our Natural Foods sets are growing, both in quality of products and number.  We're thrilled to be offering our teas in bulk to grocery shoppers in select stores like Whole Foods (Southglenn store set pictured at center) and Food Lion.  But the cornerstone of our brand and affinity for the natural and organic shopper comes from retailers like Lazy Acres in Santa Barbara, and Ellwood Thompson's (set pictured at the bottom) in Richmond Virginia.  This is our customer, and this year, we hope to be able to better represent our brand on their shelves, offer a wider variety of products in bulk, as well as new and innovative tea steeping tools for the consumer as well as foodservice.

The feeling of pending expectation has been building... now in our 5th year of exhibiting at the show, we're (thankfully!) at our most organized and well-mobilized, and looking forward to not only representing our own products and mission of fostering health and wellness through loose leaf tea, but taking in what others are doing in our industry. 

So please come by and visit us (and enjoy some tea!) at booth 5766 in Hall E - our hall opens at 9:30 AM - 30 minutes earlier than all the others (is this 'cus it's hard to get to, I wonder?!)

The Natural Products EXPO West show runs from March 12-14 at the Anaheim Convention Center. 

And I'll do my best to report here on our experience at the show :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Steep up a little dust lately?

read on... odds are, if you're a US tea drinker, you probably have :(

I did a double take then I first saw this headline in the Financial Express: "Clean tea, dusts in strong demand" Who's demanding dust, I wondered... but of course - your best-known tea companies!

From Wikipedia: "Dust tea...Traditionally these were treated as the rejects of the manufacturing process in making high quality leaf tea... has however experienced a huge demand in the developing world in the last century as the practice of tea drinking became popular. Cheap tea stalls in India and the South Asian sub-continent, and Africa prefer dust tea because it is cheap and also produces a very strong brew - consequently more cups are obtained per measure of tea dust."
 
Terrific... We Americans and Brits established dust's popularity, and tea bags made it all possible.  I guess there's something to be said for the vertical integration and sustainability aspect to being able to use the whole leaf, even the rejects from the manufacturing process ;)

Even the "clean tea" that was in high demand was - fannings!  Fannings are barely a step up from dust. They're defined in the tea industry as: Dust or very small particles of tea left over after processing. This is the lowest grade of tea.  Some auctions, however, include "dust" as an actual grade of tea, namely the one being reported on in our subject article.

Take heart, however, in that you'll probably never find dust or fanning grade tea in any loose tea product.  From the seven main grades of tea auctioned off, we're the ones who buy up the top 3 grades. So you can drink up and feel good about it :)

Photo Credits:
* Teabag beauty shot from prwatch.org 
* New Moon Darjeeling leaf pile from theteaspot.com

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tea-n-Drinkin' (Calm-A-Sutra of Tea scholarship competition)

A runner up in the Calm-A-Sutra Tea Competition, this video made me feel stronger just watching it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dear "Addict in the Blue Mountains"


It seems that our Blue Mountain Nilgiri is turning out to satisfy a certain type of palate. Maybe it's because this tea is so understated or because it lacks nearly all the astringency people might expect in a black, but it seems that this delicate tea gets lost on many people. And since we all really love it over here, we get excited to hear when others love it too.

So "Thank You!" to the writer of Tea For Today, for writing about our Organic Nilgiri tea, from the Blue Mountains of southern India. It sounds like our tea came in at just the right time to offer some solace to your day. Check out her post here called, Tea Addict in the Blue Mountains.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

So Stinkin Cute!


With a tip of the hat to The Beatles, this tiny yellow submarine infuser is made from heat-resistant silicone (like our Tuffy Steepers), and submerges to the bottom of your cup to steep. Though it doesn't look like it offers your tea leaves much room to expand, I'd like to see this Tea Sub go head-to-head with the Sharky Infuser in a cuteness contest.

I found this new tea infuser on The Green Head - a great gadget site with quite a lot of tea gear, including our own Steepware. I also snagged these photos from there.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Love for our retailer, Living the Sweet Life, this Valentine's!

Since I'll be talking about one retailer each week, I decided to focus my attention, this week and next, to retailers (and e-tailers) who have a particularly good shop for the Valentine's season.

My focus this week will be on a new bakery in Denver called Living the Sweet Life. This past fall, owner and baker Erika Cunha opened her shop in the Highlands of Denver and has been selling fantastic sweets to people all over the Denver metro area. Click on the website and you begin by seeing mouthwatering red velvet cupcakes (pictured here) that you know are completely moist and delicious.

Take a look at their downloadable menu and you'll see many other delicious treats ranging from Cinnamon Swirl Sweet Breads to Colorado Cherry Pie to my favorite, the Raspberry Linzer Bars (honestly who doesn't like raspberry bars). After less than 2 months, Erika's Huckleberry Pie was reviewed in 5280! This unfortunately is only a seasonal item because Erika goes all the way to Idaho to pick the huckleberries herself! Check out the article and don't miss all the comments which have great reviews as well!

Where does The Tea Spot fit in do you say? If you can force your finger to keep scrolling past all the scrumptious desserts on the menu, you'll find us listed at the bottom with the other drinks served at the shop. Six of our signature loose leaf teas are served at Living the Sweet Life. Since they have some cute sitting areas you can go to either sip a cup of tea while munching on one of their treats or take a cup to-go with your box of Valentine's desserts (we know there was one more cookie in that box before it got to your loved one :) ).

If you haven't already been there and are looking for a cute, quaint shop with unbelievable delicious (have I said their stuff is delicious yet?) treats to grab for Valentine's day, or ANY day, then you HAVE to check them out! Call ahead to place any special order you might have. Contact details and address listed below.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day and go enjoy some desserts with your sweet(tea) ;)


303.477.8088
1535 Central St., Denver, CO 80211
livingthesweetlifedenver.com