Tea Love: Instilling a Love of Tea, One Sip At A Time

Happy Birthday To Me…

Hello Tea Lovers!

 
So, my birthday is today!!!!   Of course, leading up to today, I got asked the usual question – “Whadaya want?”
 
And I was thinking – I have enough tea to last me for quite a few years now (and I might be driving my family slightly up the wall with the pile that’s climbing… well… up the wall), I am building a bookcase (and I mean a BIG bookcase, about 7 feet tall) with my dad to accommodate all the books I’ve collected while still downloading new books onto my Nook, I can build a house out of the candles and lotions that I have, there are drawers stuffed with notebooks (quite literally stuffed.   My dad had to pry them open one time because one of the books caused the drawer to get stuck), and in general, I am pretty happy with what I do have.
 
So, I thought this year, why not change it up a bit?   There are quite a few charities that I have close to my heart, and a donation to these worthy causes would mean more to me than a thousand gallons of yellow tea (and if you don’t know what yellow tea is, that’s kind of a big deal).
 
So what would be completely, totally awesome of all of you, is if you can donate an amount, any amount, to one of the charities below.   I’ve included links to their websites, links to my fundraising pages if I am doing something currently with them, a mini blurb about them, a mini blurb as to why they are important to me, and any handy-dandy information you might need.   Remember, some of these organizations might be tax-deductible!   You might also want to look at your company’s donation matching program to see if you can get your donation matched at all.
 
If you really want, send me a card with where you donated to my email, Catherine.Felegi@gmail.com :-)   I’d love to decorate my room with those!
 
So thank you so much!   I hope you will consider donating to some of these organizations.
 
***
Out of the Darkness Walk (please click here for my participant link) – On Sunday, October 5th, I will be walking with Team Orpheus in the Out of the Darkness Walk, a walk meant to raise funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
 
The AFSP strives to raise awareness about suicide and aims for a suicide-free world.   In order to do this, the organization seeks to educate, support research, advocate, and offers a community for both those who have attempted suicide and those who have unfortunately lost someone.
 
I participated in this walk a while back with an old friend and have not for a bit.   When one of my Facebook friends happened to mention she was walking, I figured why not join her?   The experience was really eye-opening as people went to see the quilt made to commemorate those who have passed, wore beads proudly saying they were survivors, and just in general celebrating life while fighting to stop others from feeling like there’s no hope.
 
The organization, based out of New York, is a Better Business Bureau-certified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.   All donations are tax-deductible. 
 
A photo of the quilts from this event, taken in October 2012:

***
 
Cranford-Elmora Soup Kitchen – This one is near and dear to my heart.   Since 2005, I have been going to the soup kitchen with my church, helping set up and take down tables, serve meals, and talking to the patrons.   The soup kitchen has been around for 25 years, making efforts to serve the financially distressed of the Elizabeth, New Jersey area with a hot, nutritious meal.   On average, the soup kitchen serves about 100 people per Sunday with various denominations coming to help.   This is a close one, being that not only do I volunteer there heavily, I also do the PR work for them.   Jean Wands, the current coordinator, is a complete sweetheart and makes sure to follow up with a thank you card for each donation she gets.
 
The soup kitchen can use items such as full-sized bars of soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, wash cloths, face towels, other basic essentials, as well as funding.   My church, the First Presbyterian Church of Cranford (11 Springfield Avenue, Cranford, New Jersey 07016; 908-276-8440) acts as the drop-off for all items.
 
However, if you would prefer to just make a donation, then send a check to the Cranford/Elmora Soup Kitchen and mail it to James Brown Agency 429 Chestnut Street, Roselle Park, New Jersey 07204.   Make sure to mark “Soup Kitchen” in the memo section.
 
***
 
World Vision – Much like the soup kitchen, I have participated in the 30-Hour Famine for as long as I can remember, this year even acting as the event coordinator for my church’s Youth Group.   The parent organization, World Vision, is a Christian humanitarian group that aims to tackle poverty and injustice to help families and the poor around the world, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, or gender.   As you can see by their website, their reach is far and they have made very concentrated efforts to help.
 
You can also give in a variety of different ways, sponsoring a child, gifting chickens and goats, even women empowerment through education and assisting sexually exploited women (more ways can be found here).   However, if you prefer to just give a regular donation, you can do so here.   World Vision is also a Better Business Bureau-certified 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.   All donations are tax-deductible.
 
A Photo From The 30-Hour Famine This Year.   The Kids Raised Over $1,300 For The Fundraiser And Won A Prize – Giving My Boyfriend Camilo And Me A Make-Over:
 
***
 
The Elizabeth Coalition (the parent organization of Operation Warm Heart) – So, in case you haven’t already heard, I am trying to bring a program to my church known as Operation Warm Heart, where the homeless will stay at my church every other week for one night, be provided housing, a warm meal, and good company.
 
The Elizabeth Coalition is the parent company of Operation Warm Heart.   Their mission is to serve the immediate needs of the homeless and near homeless.   Linda and Richard have been wonderful to work with!   And by December, we will be having guests stay at my church.
 
You can either give a good ol’ fashion donation to this organization, a 501(c)(3) charity and tax-deductible, or you can look at their wish list and donate a specific item to the cause.
 
Or, if you care to do something fun for you and good for the organization, consider attending their Taste of Operation Warm Heart Dinner to be held on Saturday, October 25th at 111 West 5th Avenue, Roselle, New Jersey 07203!   PS – I’ll be there :-)
 
***
 
Community FoodBank of New Jersey – I’ve volunteered at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey a few times at their Hillside, New Jersey location and let me tell you, the place is HUGE!   They have a thrift shop you can shop at, they have their huge warehouse stocked with food, they have cooking classes for people looking to break into the working world… Let me just say WOW!   It would take me the rest of this email to detail all that they do.
 
The organization started in 1975 when founder, President, and CEO Kathleen DiChaiara started distributing groceries out of the trunk of her car.   Now, there are multiple branches that distribute 40 million pounds of food per year to more than 1,000 non-profit programs, as well as more than 400 programs served by their Partner Distribution Organizations!.   They feed 900,000 people in 18 New Jersey counties!
 
You can buy actual food items to donate to them through their virtual shopping cart, donate funds, or even donate food!   The organization is a 501(c)(3) organization, a member of Feeding America (the nation’s largest network of food banks), and a member of the New Jersey federation of Food Banks.   Donations are tax-deductible.
 
***
 
The Rotary FoundationMy dad has been a part of the Rotary Club in Cranford for as long as I can remember.   Every Thursday, he gets up early and heads over to the Cranford Rec Center to hash out with the group what causes to help out in the community, what good work can be done, and of course, drink lots of coffee and eat a good breakfast.   I’ve attended a few meetings but this was prior to being gainfully employed.   Now, the meetings happen at a time where I cannot attend and make it to work on time.
 
That being said, I did get a first-hand look at some of the organizations that they help, such as the Salvation Army, and the Rotary Scholarship.   The organization has been established for over 100 years with 1.2 million members.   Their goal?   Solve their communities’ toughest problems through grants and volunteering.   Out of all their funds received, 89% goes into the programs that people benefit from, such as fighting polio, improve literacy skills in impoverish countries, and promote sustainable farming practices.   
 
On their website, you can choose to give to a specific program, or you can choose to give to the Rotary so that they can use the money as they see fit.   The Rotary is a 501(c)(4) organization (meaning that it is a social welfare organization).
 
***
 
Companion CrittersI remember the first day that we got my puppy, Ashley.   I was at a Bat Mitzvah for my friend Sara.   After a day full of good food, good friends, and lots of dancing, I came into the house to tell my parents all about the fun that I had just had.   I walked into the kitchen to throw out something and laying on the ground in front of the sink was a puppy with soft blonde fur and a tail that looked like it was spray painted black.   Well, let me tell you, I’m surprised Ashley didn’t have a heart attack when I screamed, “WE GOT A PUPPY?!”
 
Sadly, early last year around Mother’s Day, Ashley developed cancer and passed away, but not before touching so many lives.   Currently, I am in the midst of writing a children’s book and hopefully will be getting it published in Ashley’s honor.
 
My parents adopted Ashley through Companion Critters after my mom kept passing by a local store that had Ashley our for show and adoption.   Companion Critters is a 501(c)(3) organization that helps animals on death row in shelters and pounds.   Since it was founded September 17, 2000, 540 pets have been saved!
 
You can donate through their website here.   Donations are tax-deductible.   Maybe you will even find a little friend there as you do your donation!
 
Lovely Picture Of My Lovely Puppy, Ashley:


***
 
All Fur Animal RescueRecently, in March, my family celebrated a new addition to our family!   We got a little munchkin fur ball that we decided to name Shadow.   Shadow is now 7 months old and is a smart, smart puppy (probably too smart for her own good.   She’s already figured out where the light for her toy, a laser pointer, comes from and I am 99% sure that she figured out how to open the baby gate blocking her from going up our stairs).
 
The way I came home to this one is that I was at church running around the world (it happened to be a VERY busy Sunday).   While I was doing my running back and forth, I received a phone call from my parents.   “We got a puppy!”
 
And she’s been a big ol’ fur ball full of love ever since.   She adores laps and giving a copious amount of kisses, especially if it happens to be at 6:00 in the morning.
 
The Animal Rescue 501(c)(3) organization was created in 2011 as a no-kill, all volunteer rescue.   Eventually, they hope to develop an animal sanctuary but for now, they are relying on foster houses.
 
Consider donating by buying an item off of their wish list, or you can always go the route of a traditional donation.
 
And with all those cute pictures of puppies and kittens, who wouldn’t want to donate something?
 
Lovely Picture Of My Lovely Puppy, Shadow:

***
 
LIVESTRONG Foundation – (participant link for my cousin, Emily, who is participating in the New York Marathon, can be found here) We all know those famous yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets.   Some of us might even sport a few.   LIVESTRONG works towards trying to help those affected by cancer by looking at the problems in the cancer community and trying to solve them.   81% of their total profits go to benefit various programs that they run in order to help those affected by cancer.
 
Sadly, I have known my fair share of people, especially as of late, who have been battling cancer.   Some have lived.   Some have moved on.   Whatever the situation, it is not an easy one.   My cousin Emily has decided to run in the LIVESTRONG New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014.   So far, this very strong individual, who has beaten cancer herself (which you can read about both on her participant page and her Facebook page, My Journey 2 The Fit Life), has lost over 100 pounds, runs continuously, AND works at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society – New Jersey Metro Chapter, has raised $2,380 for this 501(c)(3) organization.   So consider giving Emily a donation for this event.
 
So, can you help make my birthday awesome and make a donation to one of these organizations?

Right now, as I write this, it is almost 9:00 PM on a Monday. I just got home from waking up at 6:30 AM, driving to work by 8:30 AM, working about nine hours, driving home, went to WalMart to do shopping, fought a HUGE crowd, came home, cleaned my car from a busy weekend abroad, ate dinner, wrote a press release for my church and now, I sit at the computer writing this article.  Shouldn’t I be tired?  Exhausted?  Saying that I will leave my writing for another night?

Thanks to Inca Tea™, I don’t need to.

For those who haven’t read my last blog post, you might have seen some gorgeous brown boxes stacked neatly in your local stores.  A new brand of tea called Inca Tea started popping up in stores and it is quickly growing.  The Earth-oriented company is based out of Cleveland, OH.  Founder and owner Ryan Florio first discovered the majesty of purple corn tea when he and his friends traveled to a Peruvian mountain trail for a whole ten days, led through the dangers by their guide, Edgar.

Prior to the hike, Florio had multiple health issues and was advised not to go.  However, the trip was too enticing and soon, he found himself on a trek through the mountains.  The first day out, Edgar decided to brew a cup of tea.  “Is an old Incan tea.  Very good.  You must try,” Edgar said, brewing enough for the entire group.

Florio was struck by the deep red-purple color that the brew created and asked Edgar to brew a cuppa for each day of the hike.  “I felt physically awesome,” he said.  He eventually came back to the States, quit his job despite never having had coffee nor tea in his entire life prior to that trip, and started researching the tea, especially purple corn.

A Look At The Peruvian Spiced Berry Tea, Which Started It All

A Look At The Peruvian Spiced Berry Tea, Which Started It All

Look At That Awesome Biodegradable Packaging!

Look At That Awesome Biodegradable Packaging!

The tea, Florio explains is “based off of a thousand-year-old recipe.”  By September, loose teas should be served up along with the current four teas that are offered.

All teas are made with 100% biodegradable sachets and packaged in 100% recycled boxes.  The corn is also ground by hand, blended in Cleveland, bagged in Philly, and then Florio’s parents box it every night for sale.

Right now, Tea Love has four tea bags from Inca Teas.  Last blog post, we reviewed the reason for Inca Tea – Peruvian Spiced Berry.  Tonight, after a highly hectic day, I review Pick Me Up Peach.

Opening up the orange package, the scent is the first thing to hit you.  Wow, is it strong!  This is a pleasant surprise, given that it is a white tea.  Typically, I often receive comments at my Tea Love talks that the white teas are too weak for my sippers.  However, in conjunction with the purple corn, apples, oranges, natural flavors, rose hip peel, and hibiscus petals, the tea is simply bursting to come forth.

Yummmmm, Peaches...

Yummmmm, Peaches…

I brewed the tea and instantly, the beverage turned its shade of purple, a trait of the purple corn.  The scent diluted slightly, but not to the point where it was diminished.  Imagine a strong Cabernet going down to a Zinfandel.  So most definitely still pleasant.

The peach, the rose hip peel, and hibiscus petals were all the flavors that immediately got me.  It was sweet, but sour and sharp at the same time due to the hibiscus.  Most importantly, even after the type of day I had where I was considering going to bed around 8:30 PM, I woke up immediately.  Given that white tea has the least amount of caffeine, that was a bit of a surprise.  The other plus?  I don’t need to worry as much about going to sleep later because I know that the caffeine content is so minimal (mind you, this is coming from a girl who can drink seven cups of coffee with no adverse effect and yes, this fact has been tested).

I would recommend this for a nice afternoon cuppa, since it doesn’t have a lot of caffeine and won’t keep you up all night but it is enough where you will perk up enough for an afternoon meeting.  Be careful not to overbrew though, as this does have the potential to get bitter!

Next stop on the tea list?  Mountain Of Mango!

Tea Love has two exciting announcements to make!  First, on Saturday, November 8th, I will be traveling down to Voorhees, NJ to the Camden County Library, 203 Laurel Rd, Voorhees, 08043, to explain the process behind a Japanese tea ceremony!  Of course, traditional matcha tea will be served.  And we have a special treat – author Ovidia Yu will be attending as well to talk about her book Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials.  Full of scandal, murder, and delicious traditional Singapore treats, Aunty Lee’s Deadly Specials is a must-read for those mystery lovers.  The event will start at 1:00 PM.  For more information, make sure to visit the Tea Love blog or check the Facebook page.

Second, a bit closer to home, you will start seeing a new brand of tea popping up in some stores near you.  Inca Tea is a privately owned company just starting to sprout up out of their home base in Cleveland, OH.  Founder and owner Ryan Florio first discovered the majesty of purple corn tea when he and his friends traveled to a Peruvian mountain trail for a whole ten days, led through the dangers by their guide, Edgar.

Prior to the hike, Florio had multiple health issues and was advised not to go.  “Of course, I went above and beyond my doctor’s wishes,” he said.  The first day out, Edgar decided to brew a cup of tea.  “is an old Incan tea.  Very good.  You must try,” Edgar said, brewing enough for the entire group.

Florio was struck by the deep red-purple color that the brew created and asked Edgar to brew a cuppa for each day of the hike.  “I felt physically awesome,” he said.  He eventually came back to the States, quit his job despite never having had coffee nor tea in his entire life prior to that trip, and started researching the tea, especially purple corn.

Purple corn has been studied extensively in the past 22 years and has shown great benefits.  It is chocked full of antioxidants, even more than blueberries and açai berries combined.  It is an anti-inflammatory, improves circulation, reduces cardiovascular disease, lowers blood pressure, and even aids in weight loss.  Florio trusted this drink so much, that he created an advisory board with a purple corn researcher on the team.

The tea, Florio explains is “based off of a thousand-year-old recipe.”  By September, loose teas should be served up along with the current four teas that are offered.

All teas are made with 100% biodegradable sachets and packaged in 100% recycled boxes.  Needless to say, this company is most certainly Mother Earth friendly.  The corn is also ground by hand, blended in Cleveland, bagged in Philly, and then Florio’s parents box it every night for sale.

Right now, Tea Love has four tea bags from Inca Teas, so I will be reviewing one bag of tea each month.

Yum!!!

Yum!!!

First, the Peruvian Spiced Berry.  Their main brew, it is based off of that ancient Inca recipe.  When you open the bag, the smell of the spices waft towards you, enticing you to take a sip.  The blend consists of hibiscus petals, elderberries, currants, purple corn, apple pieces, pineapple pieces, cinnamon, cloves and natural flavors.  It does not have a string on the bag, so you cannot really regulate the time as easily as pulling the bag out of your drink.  I just threw my bag into the water and sipped away.

The spices give a small bite to the drink, negating the sweetness of the fruit but in a positive way.  You can smell the cloves in particular when you smell the tea and the purple that is created is almost regal in appearance.  It is a nice, smooth tea, good for a late night of writing or just to drink to keep relaxed.

Interested in getting a box for yourself?  Order some at http://www.incatea.com/ or, if you live in the north New Jersey area, you can visit Bed, Bath, and Beyond in East Hanover or Woodbridge, where the drinks will be sold.

Next week?  Stay tuned for some Pick Me Up Peach.

Until next time!

A Day Of Free Tea

So, the other day, I was at the mall with my boyfriend and two friends.   As we wandered around the mall, I got a craving for (guess what) tea.

While I would not have minded some Harney’s and Sons from Starbucks or anything, I was craving for something a little different.   Loose tea.   Sweeten slightly, but not by much.   I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but i knew that it was a good cup of tea.

Thankfully, DavidsTea recently opened up at Menlo Park Mall and I am what is known as a frequent steeper.   As a member of the frequent steepers, I get a free cup of tea each month (so sweet!!!).   The staff is knowledgeable (one of them writes for the blog Teaviews), they promote sustainability with their products, and they are playful with their teas.   The recent theme is carnival themed.   Personally, I still need to purchase some cotton candy tea…

But, moving on.

I bought a cup of Main Squeeze from them.   The tea consists of green yerba maté, candied papaya, pineapple, safflower, and natural flavoring.   So sweet, no sugar needed!   Walking around the mall, I think I finished it off in twenty minutes and that was more because it was too hot to drink at first.

After my free Godiva chocolate piece, we wandered into Teavana.   Thanks to my church, I had two gift cards of an unknown amount.   Why not use them?   The workers scanned the two gift cards and found out that they totalled *drum roll please* $40!   On top of that, select teas were reduced price as a result of preparing for the next season of tea!

I bought $20 each of Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls green tea, which consists of a light sweet taste when the pearls unfold, as well as a Dragonfruit Devotional herbal tea (which, by the way, my boyfriend and I are drinking now while watching Phantom of the Opera).   Talk about another delectable tea :-)   Needless to say, I am quite please with my purchases.

And all for free :-)

Hello tea lovers!   This past Friday, Tea Love had its first ever children’s tea talk, complete with pretty dresses, a few princesses here and there, and of course, lots of tea :-)

West Milford Township Library invited me a second time (I held an adult’s talk over there a while back) to come speak to a group of little girls (and one gentleman) and their mothers.   There, we had a lot of fun learning about afternoon teas and talking about tea in general.   I was amazed by how many of these fancy boys and girls had actually sampled tea prior to my talk!

After talking to the kids for a bit, we had a relay race.   There, children balanced a book on their heads (because after all, that’s what fancy people do to stand up straight), walk tea cups to a plate, take a “sip” out of their cups, and place their cups on the corresponding color that was underneath the cup.

After all that fun, everyone was hungry, and who wouldn’t be?   We had snacks of sandwiches, homemade cookies shaped like tea bags, and English muffins with some lemon curd and fruit!   The kids REALLY liked the cookies and the English muffins (I had to wait until I got home so I didn’t get my dress all messy, but I think they all came out rather well).

My favorite part was when we got to read Fancy Nancy, a book about a little girl who is just oh-so-fancy!   We heard all about Nancy’s super fancy boutique (that’s fancy for really amazing shop) and her efforts to try and buy a fan by selling all of her old clothes and a rhinestone necklace that her little sister truly wanted.

Finally, what would a tea party be without some tea?   Tea Love supplied four different types of tea from Clara Ngo, offering every child a small sample of any tea they wanted (with their parents’ permission, of course).

We held a raffle where six children won a Golden Tea Bag plaque and everyone took home coloring pages which will hopefully be submitted soon for an amazing blog!

So again, thank you so much for your hospitality, West Milford Township Library!   I hope to work with you guys again :-)   And thanks to all the wonderful parents and the darling children that came out to the talk to partake in a fun afternoon.

 

This blog is to wish a very happy birthday party to a very important person for Tea Love, Clara!

Happy Birthday, Clara!

Happy Birthday, Clara!

Clara is an awesome woman who has put up with me time and time again sending her messages for my Tea Love talks.

When Clara and I first met, it was at her shop in my hometown.   Quite frankly, she should have just kicked me out of her shop and asked me not to return, now that I look back at it.   Her shop was in a small corner of town, one that I feared her to be in (not for safety, but for marketing).   No one really knew where she was since she was on the outskirts and I had flat-out said to her that I was worried for her shop’s future.

Boy, did she prove me wrong!

Her shop became popular with her marketing and connections.   In time, she and I formed a partnership and she became my main supplier for my Tea Love talks.

Soon, the demands of her life and child had her make a hard decision – she sold shop.   Dismayed, I started researching other tea vendors to supply my tea for my talks.   However, no one was quite up to par with Clara.   I sent her a message on Facebook, explaining my predicament.

Happily, she said she would continue to supply my talks!   To this day, when I have a Tea Love talk, you can be sure Clara is behind the tea you are sipping on.   Her tea is always supreme and I constantly get positive feedback.

So raise your mugs in honor of Clara today!   HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Cheating, But Addicted

Since I started this blog a few years ago, that’s how people know me – “You’re the tea girl!” “I have a question about tea.” “What are your thoughts on bagged versus loose tea?” “What kind of tea do you like?”

I have gotten tea-related gifts galore, some of which I use during my Tea Love talks.   One person gave me a huge package of blooming tea and a glass teapot.   My sister-in-law gave me a tea strainer with a duck at the top.   One of my friends, for Christmas, gave me a TARDIS tea mug and my parents gave me a TARDIS tea strainer to go with it from the popular television series Dr. Who (which, by the way, features tea an awful lot).

Coworkers delight in sending me tea-related articles and info-graphs constantly.   One time, my coworker walked in on me and another colleague exchanging loose tea from a Florida shop, something that apparently looked more like an illicit drug deal rather than a friendly beverage exchange.

So, you can only imagine people’s reactions when I walk around with a cup of coffee in hand, which is honestly more often than not.

“Wait, you’re drinking coffee?   Isn’t that, ya know, sacrilege or something?”

“But, but, but, you’re the tea girl!”

“Ha, betraying your drink, huh?”

Wow…

I adore tea, I really do.   Addicted to it, I would even venture to say.   Given the choice of only drinking one beverage for the rest of my life, I would say tea (arguably, more than one beverage simply because of the vast array of choices).   But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like a cuppa joe every now and again.   Actually, most times I write my blog, I am drinking *gasp* coffee (as I am right now).

That being said, what I convey to people is the difference between drinking coffee and drinking tea (and yes, there is a huge difference).   When I am drinking tea, it is at the end of a long day, at the beginning of the morning’s first ray of sun when I can settle down and read a book, after I had done a massive cleaning of my house, while I am crafting.   In short – while I am relaxing.

Coffee, however, is for days like today, when I went to sleep around 2:00 AM last night, only to wake up at 6:30 AM this morning to shower and get ready for a beach trip with my boyfriend and his family, or for when I have twenty 100-page items to edit by the end of the day at work, or for when I know I need to hit the ground running and not even think about relaxing.   It’s for my hectic lifestyle which admittedly, is very quick-paced and does not allow me too many opportunities to settle down and relax.

So, to all you tea drinkers, I lift my mug to you, and to all coffee drinkers, I do the same.   You’ll just have to wonder what’s in my mug at the time.

 

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