Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Moment to Introduce Teforia

It's exciting to see a new business develop and unfold, and even more exciting when that business has to do with tea. That's why I've been anxiously awaiting this day, when the world gets to see what the creators of Teforia have been up to. I think what they are doing will take the experience of tea at home to a whole new level. And so, it is with great pleasure I help to announce the launch of Teforia and their Intelligent Infuser. (P.S. I must have one.)

Award­-Winning XBOX Designers Unveil Teforia, the First Machine­Learning Brewing Device That​Blends Centuries of Tea Knowledge With Modern Science to Craft the Perfect Cup of Tea

Offering exclusive teas from Mighty Leaf Tea, Samovar Tea and Smith Teamaker, Teforia creates a healthier cup of tea with customizable flavor profiles, caffeine dosage and antioxidant levels

For all the innovations of the last 5,000 years, there has been almost zero advancement in tea brewing. This means that for 158 million Americans who drink tea on any given day, it is a crude, unsophisticated experience typically consisting of a bleached tea bag in a cup of boiling water. To make matters worse, tea drinkers are also missing out on the rich, complex flavors of pure tea. This utilitarian approach to brewing tea has all but destroyed the ritual experience and ignores the intricacies around each varietal, leaving consumers without a fully developed expectation for the true sensory experience tea offers.

As the world’s most consumed beverage, second only to water, we’re way overdue for a way to advance tea into something healthier, full of flavor and more fitting to each person’s unique palate. Enter Teforia’s intelligent infuser.

The perfect blend of tradition and science

Utilizing proprietary Selective Infusion Process (“SIP”) ​technology and environmentally-­conscious smart packaging, Teforia automatically determines the best brewing method for each varietal. Teforia’s advanced algorithms combine the knowledge of multi­generational tea masters with modern machine-­learning technology to bring out the richest and most robust flavor in your tea. Rather than relying on the mundane and imprecise experience of a tea bag, the Teforia infuser is a tea master at your fingertips ­­ your tea always tastes exactly as it was intended to.

Crafting an exceptional cup of tea with the proper balance of flavors and aromas not only requires an intimate understanding of the tea itself, but also a scientific attention to detail. Consider two green teas ­­ Sencha and Dragonwell. Though similar in visual appearance, they actually require very different brewing techniques and deliver two distinctive flavors. A change of just three degrees in temperature and/or five seconds in brewing time can make all the difference between a bitter taste and an impeccable cup of tea.

Beyond recognizing the perfect recipe for every varietal, Teforia can also learn from, and adapt to, each tea drinker’s taste preferences while giving users the ability to customize each cup. For example, Teforia’s features include:

·         Personal recipe creation​­­ - Allows users to seamlessly adjust the various properties of any tea and create their own recipes with custom caffeine levels, antioxidant levels, flavor and aroma notes.
·         Caffeine management​­­ - Ability to program customized day and night settings for brewing tea with varying caffeine levels based on your preference for enjoying tea in the morning vs. evening. Users are even able to decrease caffeine content by up to 67%.
·         Antioxidant amplification­­​ - Users can increase the increase the amount of Gallocatechin (one of the major antioxidants found in tea) by up to 133% for an even healthier cup of tea.
·         Companion mobile app for iOS and Android­​­ - Offers seamless re­ordering options for teas and water filters, in­depth background on the grower and origin of each tea and recommendations for new teas based on the ones you already love.
·         Intuitive UI - ­­​Lets users slide their finger across the flavor/aroma palette to create and save their ideal tea recipes.
·         Quick & simple to use​­­ - One touch of a button delivers the perfect cup in half the time of conventional methods.

“On a trip to Asia three years ago, I had a cup of tea that changed my life and transported me back to my childhood,” said Allen Han, CEO and founder of Teforia. “That discovery led me to realize how the $90 billion dollar global tea market largely consists of commercialized brewing methods and treatments. Most tea drinkers don’t know what they’re missing, so I wanted to create a way to perfect the process of brewing tea while honoring its tradition.”

After several years and generations of product design and development, Teforia was created by some of the best minds in product design, responsible for category-­defining products such as the XBOX360 and Kindle Fire. The team has also won multiple Red Dot Design Awards, the IDEA Design Excellence Award and the Good Design Award ­­ awards given to the likes of Apple, BMW and Bose.

Teforia is accepting orders starting today for an exclusive limited release of 500 devices and will begin shipping throughout the United States in Spring 2016. Teforia will retail for $1299, but for the first 500 devices, buyers can enjoy an early ­bird price of $649. Early buyers will receive a special gift box including thirty servings of exclusive loose­ leaf tea from Teforia's private collection, and featuring tea from partners Mighty Leaf Tea, Samovar Tea and Smith Teamaker. The first 500 buyers will also be able to choose their own limited edition serial number for their Teforia Infuser, will receive an invitation to VIP tea tasting events, and have the opportunity to win a one­-week tea sourcing and tasting trip with Teforia at an exotic location.

To place an order for your Teforia and learn more, visit

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Moment with The Tea Stylist

It was the summer that she was 7 years old. She and her mother had gone to visit her great aunt who owned a rustic lodge on a river in a resort town. It was on that visit that the great aunt announced, "I think Linda is ready to try some tea." The china was brought out, the tea was steeped - it was loose leaf Ceylon. The clink of the china, the deep amber color of the tea, the heat rising from the cup. As she sat there included in this female triumvirate, she knew it was a special moment.

For Linda Gaylard, a.k.a. The Tea Stylist, this is just one of so many moments that piqued her interest in tea and lead her to where she is today: a known and respected Sports News Wardrobe Stylist-turned Tea Sommelier, Educator, and - now - Author.

Linda's Susie Cooper saucer c. 1930’s and cup c. 1950’s
filled with Darjeeling tea from Singell Estate
I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of Linda's new book, The Tea Book (DK |Penguin Random House), and let's just say the world became a little brighter as a result.

Yes, there are many books available on the subject of tea. But what was most important to Linda as she researched and wrote and collaborated on this book (and what it most notable to me as a reader) is that it be accessible and accurate.

While enjoying a long distance cup of tea with Linda (she sipped a Darjeeling, I an Assam), she shared her vision of what The Tea Book should be: the resource she wished she had had when she was first exploring teas. And what a resource it is. Starting with a beautiful, simple, yet eloquent understanding of the tea plant and the variety of types of tea that come from that one plant, the book provides the practical instruction on how to store it, how to brew it, how to appreciate it.

One of my favorite pages in The Tea Book displays the "flavor wheel," which gives me better vocabulary on how to describe the spectrum of flavors and aromas I experience in different cups of tea. Hay or Bok Choy, for example, to more accurately describe something that is Vegetal. Butterscotch or Molasses to clarify a type of sweetness.

We discussed the layout of the book, because I found it to be so enjoyable and educational and easily consumable. You can lose yourself in the book for 2 minutes or 2 hours. The words, descriptions and observations are balanced equally with beautiful and complementary graphics and images. I asked her about her ability to boil such vast amounts of information down into bite sized pieces and she attributed it to her school years where the art of prĂ©cis was instilled (a brief summary of the main points and ideas of a piece of writing or speech). I joked that our penchant for Twitter probably didn't hurt either!

I asked what Linda enjoys most about her work with tea, and she shared that teaching is the most enjoyable. Whether it's hearing the questions that come out from a group of students or seeing the recognition light up someone's face when they 'get it,' it's very rewarding. And if she has time (which is very difficult to pin down recently) she truly enjoys the art of Tea Styling: putting tableaux together of a tea moment - something I can definitely appreciate! She has always had lots of tea ware and is always on the lookout for something unusual from a different era or place.

When I asked what she enjoyed most about writing her book, she admitted the recipes were a lot of fun, and I can see why! There are nearly 70 pages of recipes for tea-based beverages for every type of tea and tisane. Both alcoholic and alcohol-free, there's a new and enlightening tea recipe for every palate! I find it a wonderful way to bring tea to the modern era in a very relevant way. (And her husband was happy to be a guinea pig for many of the trial recipes - Lucky Duck!)

Our conversation could fill an entire book, but for now we must be content with a rather lengthy blog post. I'm so grateful to have had the chance to get to know more about this educator, wife, mother, and creative spirit. If there's a tea enthusiast in your life, know that you now have the perfect gift idea for them as the holidays approach:

THE TEA BOOK, by Linda Gaylard
A DK Publication

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An American Moment - LA Style

The rumors have been circulating for well over a year: American Tea Room was opening a new location. In Downtown L.A.

When I first heard this rumor, I thought the choice odd. But then I began hearing about the "rebirth of #DTLA" (Go ahead. Google it) and it all began to make sense. Cut to the evening of October 8th, and the picture was crystal clear. American Tea Room is now in Downtown L.A. and is the epitome of hip, cool elegance.

Sleek lines, exposed duct work, an interactive Tea Zone, a living wall. All of this and amazing tea, too.

 My friend, Maritza, joined me for the event. Our first stop was at the Tea Cocktail station where we were served Sweet Dreams and Tonic, a vodka drink with Sleeping Beauty, an organic herbal with the heady aromas of rose, mint and fennel. 

Everywhere I looked, there was a feast for the eyes. Beautiful displays, eclectic artwork and comfortable lounge areas. The one thing I couldn't wait to see? The Wall Of Tea with its new gold pyramid tea canisters. It is glorious. 

The #DTLA American Tea Room Grand Opening event was about a place and about tea, yes, but it was also about people. It was so fun to see owner, David Barenholz, in his element.

And it was great to connect with Tony Gebely (American Tea Room's new Director of Technology and Distribution) and his wife, Katie.

As Downtown LA continues to reinvent itself, there is no doubt American Tea Room will be a hub of connections and indulgence. Maritza, let's meet there again soon.

The best moments are shared

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Moment to Fixate on Assam

I'm often asked what my favorite tea is, and although it's difficult to say exactly what my absolute favorite is (it can and does change daily), I do know what my favorite type of tea is.


Even the name is strong and soothing.

I like that Assam teas are typically bold, rich and malty. For those who are trying to find an alternative to a coffee habit, Assam teas can be a good option because of their robust characteristics. (Or as I like to say, a tea that kicks you in the teeth!)

While I love whole leaf, single estate teas, I also enjoy blended black teas that feature Assam as a main ingredient, most notably English or Irish Breakfast blends.

You'll find me sipping Assam - based Breakfast blends from a variety of cups or mugs ( the Rooster mug, most often), but when I'm indulging in a special, single estate or high quality Assam, it's time to bring out the white and platinum tea cup. My mother-in-law inherited this set of china, Konigl pr Tettau La Mer, from her aunt and gave it to us as our wedding china. Though we rarely use the dishes, I elevate certain cups of tea by using a beautiful cup and saucer from the set.

Some of my favorite Assams? I'm so glad you asked.

Top of my list:
Assam Black Tea No. 2 by Joseph Wesley Black Tea
Assam Hazelbank (which I can't find anywhere at the moment, much to my chagrin)
and Mokalbari Estate Assam from American Tea Room

These are teas that begin my days perfectly. They are the teas that allow me to slow down, contemplate, enjoy. They are the James Bonds of tea. Powerful, unfailingly smooth, unforgettable. (And I wouldn't mind fancying myself a Bond girl. But one of the Bond girls that doesn't end up dead. I much prefer staying alive, thank you.)

And if you find Assams overpowering, they also dress up very well (rather like a secret agent I know). A little milk and sugar, and you'll be hooked.

As I begin planning my wall of tea, you can be sure to find Assam being well-represented in the collection.