Friday, November 21, 2014

A Reading Nook Moment

In my fantasy world, I have a room in my home referred to as "the library" that is lined with floor to ceiling bookshelves. One wall would be my own personal "Wall of Tea," while the rest of the shelves contained traditional, leather-bound books. There would be a fireplace, of course, and a comfy chair with a soft afghan draped over one arm. A little tea table would sit next to that. And I would spend hours there, in my own little world.

A nice little dream, but terribly impractical in my world. So, I'll take the next best thing: a tea blend that evokes all the feelings of my fantasy world. And I've found it in this: the Reading Nook Blend by PlumDeluxe.

Not only is this black tea blend beautiful to look at in its dry form (there are dried rosebuds, passionflowers and lavender), but the aroma is intoxicating (cinnamon, roses, and lavender with a creamy background).

As the weather as finally turned just chilly enough to justify sweaters and boots, it's a luxury to be able to steal a few minutes to pour a cup of tea, sit by the fire and read a chapter of a latest mystery.

Ah, the first sip. With a strong black tea base, the cinnamon and floral notes dance beautifully with each other. PlumDeluxe is absolutely correct in sharing that this blend pairs well with creativity, reading and writing.

I might not have my library, but a reading nook, a fire and this cup of tea suit me just fine.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Minnesota Daydream Moment Part 1

I am having a bit of a love affair. Granted, it's a little unconventional, but I find I'm reliving sweet memories and devoting inordinate amounts of daydreaming to it. I must confess, I've fallen head over heels for Minneapolis - St. Paul. As luck would have it, I was invited to speak at a conference in October, and I jumped at the chance to get back there. 

Looking at the weather they're experiencing this week, I can see how it may be viewed as a challenge, but the Twin Cities are so much more than weather.

I love the collaborative spirit I find there. If you have a good idea and you're willing to put in the work, it feels like everyone is ready and willing to cheer you on and support your venture. Which brings me to my current musing. While in town, I was happy to discover I had a bit of free time, and I had some writing to catch up on. I reached out to Lilly, owner of Verdant Tea, to see if she and her husband would be around that afternoon. As it turned out, they had a staff meeting and training session going that day, but she gave me an extensive list of recommendations of where I might want to go. At the top of her list was Kopplins, a coffee house in a cool neighborhood in St. Paul

It was the perfect, cozy neighborhood spot to grab a bite and get the creative juices flowing.

And, no accident, they just happened to have Verdant Tea's Kombucha on hand. Pink Robot, no less! (Kombucha is a fermented drink made from tea. Some are apparently tough to drink, but Verdant Tea's is as refreshing as an Arnold Palmer!)

To make things even more perfect, they had a cheese tasting plate available with the most savory cheese, salami and cornichons!

In every nook and cranny, there was reading, writing, and collaborating going on. The creativity was palpable. This place embodied that sense of community that I always pick up on in this town. And it makes sense. After all, it was the owner of Kopplin's who first discovered Lilly and David's Chai at a farmers market and wanted to sell it in his own store. Those discussions led to the opening of Verdant Tea. 

If you're in St. Paul and are in need of a good cup of coffee (or kombucha) and a place where innovation thrives, stop by Kopplin's. It will be one of the best decisions you make that day. 

ST. PAUL, MN 55104  
M-F 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Weekends 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Darling Darjeeling Moment

Fall made an appearance this week in Southern California. I got to break out the fuzzy socks, if only for one brief shining moment. With a nip in the morning air and the heater actually turning on, there was nothing better to accent it all than a tea cupping session.

Golden Tips Tea had sent me an amazing assortment of black teas, and among them were five Darjeelings from separate estates. Each estate name so beautiful and intriguing, it was  an exercise in restraint to allow each tea to steep for 2.5 minutes (a time chosen randomly by me, by the way. I typically steep longer than recommended, but that's just my taste).

Which would be my favorite? Would they all be very similar? Very different? Let the tasting begin!

Okayti Muscatel Darjeeling - From the Okayti Estate, this tea was plucked on June 3rd, 2014 and is a Second Flush Darjeeling. A deep, burnt orange colored liquid, this tea is rich, robust and full of tannins. Being one of the first slightly chilly days this fall, I really enjoyed the notes of roasted chestnut and, do my taste buds deceive me, a hint of lavender.

Gopaldhara Darjeeling - From the Gopaldhara Estate, this tea was plucked on April 6th, 2014 and is a First Flush Darjeeling. The light yellow liquid tastes of spring and sunshine. There's the faintest hint of grass and I could see this being a perfect, mellow afternoon companion.

Giddapahar Muscatel Darjeeling - From the Giddapahar Estate, this tea was plucked on June 8th, 2014 and is a Second Flush Darjeeling. This, too, offered a roasted essence and a deep amber color, but the flavor was more earthy and savory than the Okayti Muscatel. I found myself lingering over this cup and coming back to it again and again.

Arya Ruby Darjeeling - From the Arya Estate, this tea was plucked on June 27th, 2014 and is a Second Flush Darjeeling. I found this tea to be deep and rich with a wilder, unrestrained element. While the Muscatels came across as having smooth, finished edges, this one felt very jagged and exciting.

Thurbo Moonlight Darjeeling - From the Thurbo Estate, this tea was plucked on June 11th, 2014 and is a Second Flush Darjeeling. A deep yellow liquid, this tea was smooth and velvety with lilts of nuttiness. This was slightly more robust than the Gopaldhara.

Once again, my views of Darjeeling teas have been reshaped. For so many years, the Darjeelings I had been exposed to seemed flat, weak, watery. Whether my palate has been refined or I've just had the good fortune of experiencing better Darjeelings, I'm absolutely blown away by the range of personalities and the complexities they can offer. More and more, step by step, I'm understanding why this particular type of tea is the Darling of all teas.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Tea Blogger Directory Moment

Typically, I write about the moments I've experienced courtesy of countless amazing tea providers. Not only am I introduced to a spectrum of beautiful and interesting teas, I get to know the brilliant and intriguing people behind the teas. It is for that reason that I felt compelled to try and do something specifically for them. So, Tea Retailer friends, this one is for you!

I'm so excited to announce the official release of the 2014 Tea Blogger Directory

The world of tea is a vast and varied one, and as a tea retailer you have a unique story to tell. In this digital age, getting that story out to your target audience is priority number one, but knowing it and doing it are often two very different things.

In this directory, discover over 30 tea-focused bloggers who have as unique backgrounds and stories as you do. Each blogger has an extensive and focused reach to help you connect with your potential audience.

Additionally, learn some best practices on the do’s and don’t’s of working with a blogger. We are all a part of the tea community because we enjoy it and want to share that joy with others. Knowing some basic guidelines can leverage the positives and minimize any negatives.

Enjoy getting to know this international set of tea enthusiasts, and I hope you will see your customer engagement and audience grow tremendously as a result of the relationships that begin here.

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