Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Tee to Tea Moment

It is a rare treat when I am ready, willing, and able to join Gene at the end of one of his business trips to steal a day or two of togetherness sans bébés. But I need all in place, and this week the stars aligned so that my parents could come for a visit and be the familial anchor my worrying mind needs. Also, it is the end of one of my busiest work months on record, and the destination? Hawaii. 'Nuff said.

A quick trip - arriving Wednesday night and departing first thing Saturday morning - there were just a few things penciled into the itinerary:
 - Golf at Oahu Country Club
 - A tea experience of some kind
 - Multiple hours on the beach
 - A fruity drink or two

The tea community being what it is, I asked where I should go for tea, and Nicole Martin, of Tea For Me Please, responded immediately that I needed to contact Elyse at Tealet who knows all things Hawaiian Tea.

So, on Thursday, we started the day at the Oahu Country Club, a beautiful place that was founded in 1906.
 
The staff was incredibly friendly and engaging, and despite both of us playing the absolute worst 9 holes in the history of mankind, we thoroughly enjoyed the lush, beautiful surroundings, the amazing variety of birds (though shocking lack of birdies), and the breathtaking views.
 
 
 
Then Gene headed off to a meeting and I headed from tee to Tealet.
 
Now let me just stop here and say that I was so struck by Elyse, her team and what they are accomplishing that I will be writing much more extensively about them in the near future. But for now, I'll focus on our tea moment.
 
Over the past year, the Tealet team has been working with small, independent tea growers around the world in order to help them gain access to the U.S. market. As I sat and listened - enraptured - to their story, Elyse's brother, Michael, brewed some tea.
 

 
The first was Japanese black tea, from Osamu Ueda, Tea Grower in Wazuka, Kyoto, Japan. (Check out his video interview to get the true flavor of his larger than life personality!) Kyoto, and Japan in general, is known for its green teas, so the idea of a Japanese black tea is exciting and new! This black tea had the delicate nature and coloring of a Darjeeling, but is extraordinarily smooth and velvety on the tongue. And while it is characteristically a black tea, there are threads of spring grassiness woven into the background, giving it a true mark of its Japanese origin.
 
 
The second was a Hawaii Rain Forest White from Bob Jacobson, Tea Grower on the Big Island of Hawaii. (Not currently available on Tealet.com, but you need to be aware of this tea!)This tea is a mere babe, being plucked from tea plants that are only 3 years old. And though young, this tea makes its presence known! A very full flavor, it hits every point on your palate, and there is the smallest floral nuance that makes me think of an oolong profile. But, being a Hawaiian-grown tea and thinking of the "terroir"- the soil, made up of such rich tropical fruits and flowers - it makes sense that essence would be absorbed into the tea's very being.
 
Though I only spent an hour with the Tealet team, I now consider myself to be a super-fan. One could even say I am an uber-fan. Their story is unique, inspiring and it makes the world a better place. I look forward to telling you all about them. Stay tuned!
 
The Tealet Team: Cody, Elyse and Michael