Exploring Purple Corn, Getting Lost in Peru, and Sampling Inca Tea™

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 New Year, A New Tea Tradition

Hello everyone, I AM BACK!!!!!

I greatly apologize for all the hustle and bustle that is going on in my life!   October is the month where my friends and I run around like crazy for Halloween, then November was just insane, then December was Christmas (which we hold at my house), then things busy at work, and ACK!   But no more fear!   I am back 🙂

First and foremost, guess what!   We have another Tea Love talk coming up!   This one is on Sunday, January 19th, 1:30 PM at the West Milford Township Library, 1490 Union Valley Road, West Milford, New Jersey 07480.   As always, we will have a sampling of teas after the talk, so make sure you bring your favorite mug!   Registration is required. To register, make sure you email wmtl@wmtl.org, call 973-728-2822, or visit the Adult/Teen Services desk of the library.   Hope to see you there!

Second, 2014 is on the road and is coming up fast (ACK!   Everything seems to be coming up fast lately!).   So, people are breaking out the party poppers, champagne, and noise makers as they anxiously await 2013’s exit and 2014 grand entrance.

But, where can tea play a part in all of this?

Well, why not borrow from the Chinese New Year for ours?

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China.   Image from TeaGuardian.com

An image of a 10th century tea offering, found in a tomb in Hebei, China. Image from TeaGuardian.com

According to the Tea Guardian, a website whose mission is to promote fine tea as a gourmet habit, an offering of tea is a gesture of respect and gratitude.   Therefore, on New Years in China, children would offer to the elders of the family a cup of sweetened tea, made sweeter by candied fruits and vegetables placed at the bottom of the cup (keep in mind, different fruits and vegetables symbolize different things!).   This was done with great care, with the handle facing the right of the person receiving the offering and the left of the person offering.   The child holds the saucer with both hands as the elder takes the cup by the handle with one hand and the saucer with the other, and sips the tea while listening to child offer well wishes for the upcoming year.

The person offering does not leave empty-handed, though.   The elder, after hearing the well wishes, gives the child a red packet and offers wishes in return.   At one point, the red packets use to hold the wishes, but now they tend to hold trinkets and monetary gifts.

So, this New Years, after making all the noise, the chatter, the clinks, and the mess, offer your elder a cup of sweetened tea and wish them the best for this sure-to-be-wonderful new year.   Start a new tradition that not only celebrates tea, but also celebrates gratitude and the wisdom of years.

Tea Love Talk + Wet Tags

First and foremost, who is going to the Tea Love talk on Saturday, September 21st in Riverdale, New Jersey?!   Come out, get free tea, and learn more about the tea process 🙂   Registration is a must, so make sure you call the library and RSVP 🙂

And now, for the blog…

While doing a quick Google search, I came across TeaTime Magazine, a Burlington, Alabama publication that, “proclaims the pleasures of tea as a gourmet beverage, and offers informative articles that range from food features to tearoom profiles.”   Their Facebook page posted an article from the Washington Post about tea bag tags slipping into drinks.   Ugh…   Always a mess, always a nuisance, and you want to stick your fingers in to fish out the tag right away but know you will face burning immediately.   By the time you get a spoon to fish out the tag, it is already soaked through and you have a blog hanging off of a string.

Whatever is a tea drinker to do?

Well, the Washington Post polled around for this exact question and got some great responses.   You can see some of theirs below, with my own assortment thrown in every once in a while.

One reader, Lynda Maudlin of Chevy Chase, said to just tie it to the handle.   Makes sense, right?   After all, it is a string.   It should be simple enough to make a pretty bow on your mug handle.

Another reader, Laura, recommended to just use a clip, almost like a potato chip bag clip or an alligator clip found in the office, and just slip the string on.   But my oh my, now I have a clip in my tea!   I’m not sure I would be entirely fond of sipping my tea to have a plastic clip poke me in the eye.   No thank you!

What about Wayne Williams of Lake Ridge’s suggestion to just wrap the string of the tea bag around the handle of a spoon before you pour the water?   Personally, I very rarely use a spoon when I have my tea.   More often, I drink my tea without any sugar, cream, honey, etc, so I don’t have that handy-dandy spoon.

Why not follow Thomas Leo Briggs’ suggestion to put the tea tag under the tea mug?   Ah, closer!   But what if your string is not long enough to go under your mug?

One that I like Jane Smith’s reaction.   She said to just pour the water in first, then add the tea bag.   Personally, that’s what I do when I have tea with a tea bag.   Usually, I’m fine with that.

Randall Bovbjerg has a pretty good tip – Hold the string against your mug while you pour.   I wouldn’t highly recommend this one, especially as a sloppy pour-er.   More often than not, I slosh a little bit of water over the side and a burnt thumb does not appeal to me one bit.

My personal tip?   Use loose-leaf tea leaves!   While it’s also not entirely error-proof (sometimes, the hook at the end of the tea ball will slip off the side of your mug and fly into your hot brew, leaving you at risk of a bitter tea), it’s better than a spit-wad of a tag resting on your table.   Or you can always hold onto the string of your tea bag while you pour, allow your tea to steep, then toss the bag out immediately afterwards (which you’re suppose to do anyway but, if you’re like me, you don’t mind a bit of a strong, sometimes bitter brew).

And that’s that!   What are your tips to avoid having the dreaded wet tag?

Some Tea News And A Tea Review

First, an apology for all my lovely tea-sippers.   Unfortunately (or fortunately, however you think of it), I was so swamped last week.   One of my good friends from college slept over, then we took my other good friend out for her birthday all day Saturday, and Sunday was dedicated to more friends 🙂   In other words, no post last week.

However, I have two exciting fun news items for all of you in the New Jersey area!

1 – I am doing ANOTHER Tea Love talk!   This one will be in Riverdale, New Jersey at the Riverdale Public Library.   Make sure you call and RSVP!   Seating is limited.   Attend, hear an awesome talk, get some tasty tea samples from The Tea Spot in Cranford, New Jersey and even enter to win a basket of tea goodies from The Tea Spot!   Not only that, but I’ll let you in on a little secret – that’s my birthday 🙂   Give me an awesome birthday gift and attend the talk!

I Hope You Can All Make It!

I Hope You Can All Make It!

2 – There is an art store/organic boutique in Cranford called Artemisia.   Some of you might remember me raving about their teas that they supply called Miss Tea, an organic blend made in Brooklyn, New York.   Well, Wendy of Artemisia informed me that they will be getting some new flavors of Miss Tea in shortly!   So keep stopping by, looking around, and asking about those delicious teas 🙂

So, what’s the deal with Miss Tea?

Miss Tea is a Brooklyn-based business that specializes in organic teas and herbs.   Why invest in organic teas?   Because they tend to be healthier for you, since they do not use pesticides and herbicides, and are healthier for the environment.   What could be better than that?

According to the Miss Tea website, “We bring you products from the finest tea growing regions of the world – globally responsible sources who practice sustainable growing methods and fair trade for the complete cycle of workers, from the pickers to the sellers.”

One of the nicest things about the Miss Tea products?   You can see every part of the tea, which is intentional.   I just bought my friend who stayed with me last weekend a jar of the FemininiTea, which is a blend of red raspberry, peppermint, and nettle leaves, oatstraw, ginger root, dandelion leaves, rose petals, chamomile flowers, horsetail, and stevia leaves.   Even in the picture on the website, you can see the separate leaves and petals!   As I tell my guests at all my Tea Love talks, the more that you can identify in your tea, the better.   That means less tea fannings and less scary unknowns.

It is also an affordable tea.   Tea itself is already expensive at times if you are looking at high quality.   Throw in the fact that the tea is organic and you could potentially pay that much more.   However, you can get a substantial amount of tea from this purveyor for a decent price.

And the taste?   Well, I obviously would not be writing about it to you if it weren’t incredible!   Full flavored, just the right amount of sweetness, lovely color – I couldn’t ask for more.   This is definitely a tea I would recommend buying again and again.

So, in ending, remember to a) RSVP to my Tea Love talk on September 21st and b) buy some amazing Miss Tea from Artemisia!

Until next time ❤

Prep Work Almost Done!!!

WOW!   My first Tea Love seminar is almost upon us!   I’ve written my notes, sent out my blasts, picked up the tea from the lovely Tea Spot, and am just so psyched!!!

Now what else do I need?   I need YOU!

Make Sure You Come Out!

Make Sure You Come Out!

 

*Please note that, on the Patch, the date reads Friday, March 27th.   It is actually Wednesday, March 27th.   I apologize for the confusion*

Come out, have fun, learn more about tea and enjoy a cuppa with yours truly 🙂   Hope to see you there!!!