mardi 24 septembre 2013

Long time no post! (London recap)

Sorry, been too busy drinking tea!
I went to London on a school trip this summer and you better believe my boyfriend Tea and I had a good time there: we went on an accidental date to the Twinings shop!

I was in the neighborhood because I wanted to check out the spot where a book I did a term paper on was published back in the eighteenth century and I saw this sign out of the corner of my eye. Didn't even think to look up the Twinings shop and yet there it was practically right in front of me! Clearly, it was my destiny to go there.
Now if you're think of Twinings as a somewhat upscale Lipton and wondering why I would go's why. They had a sign that said "free cup of tea." Um. Who is going to turn that down?! Not me, that's for sure! (
You could only choose from a small selection of teas, but if I remember correctly I had the jasmine pearls which was very nice. Floral and full-bodied, perfectly steeped to prevent it from getting too astringent/bitter.) 

I am dying to buy this tea in particular!
Well, I was wrong about Twinings. First of all, I have to admit I had been pronouncing it "twin-ings," which I overheard one of the staff say is now most Americans pronounce it (at least I'm not alone!). So you don't make the same mistake, be sure to say "twine-ings" next time! Second, they actually do sell very nice tea. (Guess they just export the cheap stuff to the USA since most Americans won't know the difference- I'm reminded of a saying from a WWII pamphlet the British government distributed to the citizens about how the Americans can't make a good pot of tea, but you (the British) can't make a decent cup of coffee, so you should be nice to them when they mess up tea)While I highly doubt it is direct from the farm like the tea I usually drink (hi there Tealet!), they have a stupendous selection of loose leaf oolongs and greens, and I was very sad I did not have more money and room in my suitcase.

The shop itself is really interesting, the back is a bit of a museum about the company's history. I wish I had taken some photos, but my phone has such a bad camera they would have been pretty useless. I am amazed the picture of the outside turned out as well as it did! 

It was one of my goals for the trip to buy some loose leaf Lady Grey, which I'd had no luck doing at the grocery stores in the neighborhood of our hotel. Of course I was able to get it here, straight from the source! (Well, you know, the store anyway...) I had an art history professor at college who really loved Lady Grey tea and he has impeccable taste, so I had to get myself a tin! I'm delighted to report it is wonderful. I find the bergamot in Earl Grey too strong sometimes, but Lady Grey is more subtle on the bergamot and much more orangey and floral. It tastes great with tea biscuits and now that I'm back in New York, it tastes great with a $1 pound cake slice from a local Trini bakery (at only half a block away, that bakery will be the death of my waistline!).

dimanche 24 mars 2013

NYC Coffee and Tea Fest!

A giant tea party! Well sort of. As some of the vendors mentioned, tea is not really conducive to a trade show venue. BUT HEY. I am not complaining. There were so many chances to get 50% off tickets, so for $15 my boyfriend and I were able to try a whole bunch of different teas in an unusual and pretty fun environment. Yes it was crowded, but it was a pretty polite crowd, and I was getting a good vibe from all the positive energy.
(Ok, one small complaint. I got there early to make sure I'd get a goodie bag because I bought tickets in November and I deserved it, haha. But mostly I just wanted the bag! In previous years (from pictures online) the NYC Coffee and Tea Fest logo was printed on the bag. This year it was just the logo of a major sponsor. BORING. They should have at least put the Fest's logo on the other side.)

Some good freebies in the bag (can you say KIND bars? yum! Also, my old favorite, Biscoff cookies.) and many tea samples to try onsite or to take home with you as well as free tea, coffee, or general beverage interest, magazines.
Goodies! I am excited to try Numa's new savory teas.
Highlights: Everlasting teas from Taiwan. We got to sample 7 different kinds of tea here, and they were offering some nice deals, $45 for three bags of tea, a gaiwan and a pitcher, plus 3 free tea lottery tickets. While we did not win the lottery (nor apparently, the other one held by Cup for Education, but at least we helped out some children), we did "win" with this tea. Very nice, unusual varieties.

Interesting: the old Armory bathrooms. I didn't even have any coffee, but with all that tea, I definitely needed to use these. The line for the ladies' room was a few yards long, but it went pretty quickly. Really weird bathrooms though, with urinals on one side that of course no one used. Interesting old tile work though!

Negatives:  The audio for the lectures was garbled and fuzzy. I think a poor setup was creating some  feedback with the mic and speakers, so we weren't able to understand a word!

I look forward to coming back next year, though I wonder if there will be much variety amongst the booths. I am hoping the random booths like Cabot cheese and the Empanada people will find ways to relate themselves to the theme a little bit better, and I could do without kitschy soap makers, but whatever. There was a great variety here, definitely something for everyone, whether you like fine green tea or novelty flavors.

vendredi 22 mars 2013

Irish Tea

I may have a teensy bit of Irish in me somewhere, but as our host at the "Erin go braugh" tea at the Molly Brown House told us, everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick's Day. Considering that all I really know about Ireland (despite having spent a few days there) reminds me of the potato famine, I've never really been sure to what the phrase "luck of the Irish" refers. It didn't seem like good luck to me!

But the tea at the Molly Brown House (shameless plug, I had the opportunity to intern there last summer, it's a great museum and I highly encourage you to go!) taught me what that saying really means. America gets a lot of criticism for its giant Saint Patrick's Day celebrations, since not even Ireland does much on this day, but maybe that's because there are more people of Irish descent here than in Ireland! Considering the struggle of the Irish to be accepted into American society (and how they worked their way from the turn-of-the-century caricatures to even being President!) I think it's well worth celebrating Irish heritage in a big way once a year.  The Molly Brown House's blog Between the Lions has a great article on the Irish in Denver that has some of the information that was presented to us at the tea. (EDIT: There is an article in the March/April issue of TeaTime Magazine on teas at the Molly Brown House!)
At the Molly Brown House, we were served, Victorian style, a very smooth blend of black and jasmine tea created just for the museum by Harney & Sons. Once back in New York, I had to try one of these Irish cream tea latte's from Argotea. Saint Patrick's day was apparently the last day they were serving these guys, but I asked nicely and the barista was happy to make me one today. I had almond milk since I didn't have any lactaid on me, but there were notes of the Irish cream between the almond milk and the black tea. Overall it was a pretty nice tea latte (though nothing beats the maté latte at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe in Boulder! I tried hemp milk for the first time there -turns out it is a great pairing with yerba maté.) with a fairly complex flavor. It felt like I had a different flavor come out on each sip, which I really liked.