Lucy-van-pelt-1-I’ve been thinking about what my first post should be after a very long hiatus from blogging for TeaLove. This past Saturday at our newest farmers market (Monroe Street Market ) Melissa from The Compost Crew sparked an idea.

Her stand was across from mine and about midway through the day she came up to me and said: “Is anyone actually buying tea from you? Because I see them standing at your tent for a long time. Just talking. What are they talking about? No one seems to leave.”

Welcome to The TeaTent!

I say all the time to customers that walk up and see other customers talking to me that it’s OK to just jump in and ask a question because The TeaTent is a stress-free zone with a lot of chit-chat.  And you know what? People stay. For a long time. In the cold. In the heat. They stay. And they talk… I’ve gotten used to it over the years and have come enjoy the ones that camp out around my area (with some turning into nice friendships.)

I told Melissa that people do buy tea (some don’t) and that there is never any pressure or hard sell. My philosophy is that the tea will choose you and if you don’t need it that week, then you’ll be back another time and that’s fine. I also told her that for some reason people feel the need to unload and talk about things they maybe wouldn’t with any other stranger. I’ve had people come to discuss upcoming marriages (and whether to go through with it or not); their health problems (some very serious); what I thought about a new job offer (take it!); what tea would make their mother-in-law like them better (yikes!)… an endless potpourri of topics. I’m honored that so many people feel relaxed and a sense of safety and trust to discuss what’s on their minds. And for those of you who have shared a secret or two don’t worry:  Whatever happens in the TeaTent stays in the TeaTent.

Towards the end of the day Melissa came back over to the tent again and told me that she loves tea and wanted to buy some. So I said: “What kind of tea do you like?” She started talking. After a few minutes she stopped herself and said, “Oh my god! I’m doing it too. I just started telling you this long story just because you asked me that one question. How is that possible? It can’t be from just that one question!”

Maybe it is.

We know about the power in the chemical properties of the camellia sinensis bush (relaxed energy). We know how the meditative practice and ritual of tea (chado) can create a sense of well being.  And we know the delight of sharing tea with another person (tea time) and the deep connection it brings. But maybe this sense of well being, this magic we feel that helps us to relax deeply and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with others, starts before the tea is even chosen, steeped and poured. Perhaps it starts with just hearing and seeing those 3 beautiful little letters arranged in sublime tandem: T E A.

So, what kind of tea do you like? That’ll be 5 cents, please.



I love tea. (No news there).

I also love to garden organically, started a compost pile a few years back, and have an on going love affair with not only my camellia bushes (the cousins to the tea bush camellia sinensis) but with my roses as well.

2 weeks ago (with the help of a friend/geologist) we planted 29 Double knockout rose bushes along the perimeter of my yard to make a natural barrier/fence. Next year it should be a spectacular display of fushia-red.  I also have 2 climbing rose bushes up against the house making their way up an iron trellis that leans against the fireplace. They will be relocated in the spring to the back garden to (hopefully) grow up my new deck/pergola. I can’t contain my delight at the idea of tea on the deck, under my pergola with roses and grape vines (and anything else I can get to grow and climb) hovering overhead like a green and red umbrella.

Double Knockout Rose

I haven’t had too much trouble with my roses and I believe it is in part due to the enormous amount of tea they drink. That’s right, I’m not the only tea drinker in the house. My roses bushes enjoy tea time as well and must be benefiting from the polyphenols and antioxidants in the tea leaves. Actually, what they are receiving is a boost of nitrogen. I sprinkle my mass amount of dry and wet tea leaves around the base of my acid loving plants, including tomatoes and watch them grow and bloom joyfully. Did you know that roses and tea had a natural affinity for each other? It’s true.

I have been known to secretly feed my neighbors roses with tea leaves and left over brewed tea from my farmers markets. Needless to say, he’s got some of the most amazing blooms on the block as well. I fancy myself the pied piper of tea and secret midnight rose feeder. I’m like a tea/rose super hero… by day sipping cups and cups of tea… by night tea-watering and sprinkling used tea leaves wherever I find a rose bush. Maybe I could parlay that into some kind of Halloween costume? But what would it look like? Ideas welcome.

Anyway… we can all do our part with sustainability and recycling so don’t throw those hard working used tea leaves in the trash or down the sink! Step outside and feed your garden. Even nature deserves a tea break.

Sip tea. Tip toe through the rose bushes. Feel happy!

I’m asked all the time: “Will drinking Green tea or Oolong tea help me lose weight?” My answer has been: “There is some evidence that they can assist in the metabolism of fat in the body. I can say with certainty that if you stop eating and only drink tea, you will lose weight.”

Here is the more scientific version recently published by the British Journal of Nutrition, FirstView Articles. Copyright © The Authors 2011. DOI: 10.1017/S0007114511003849 (About DOI) Published online: 2011

“Tea has been consumed across the globe for centuries, comprising a significant proportion of the habitual diet of many far eastern countries. While its origins have been traced to China, it is now thought to be the second most consumed beverage in the world(1,2). It is manufactured from the leaf and bud of the plant Camellia sinensis, with the manufacturing process determining the type of tea produced, ranging from ‘fermented’ black and red teas, through ‘semi-fermented’ Oolong, to ‘non-fermented’ Green tea.

The black colour and bitter taste in black tea results from the oxidation of a group of chemicals termed ‘polyphenols’ (also known as catechins) by the enzyme polyphenol oxidase. This oxidative reaction is avoided in green tea where the drying and steaming processes employed inactivate this enzyme(1). Sparing these polyphenols is thought crucial to the many health benefits attributed to green tea over the centuries. A growing body of literature has emerged in the last three decades on an apparent plethora of benefits supposedly hidden in this relatively widespread and inexpensive beverage, included among which are anti-obesogenic(3), anti-diabetic(4), anti-carcinogenic(5), anti-bacterial(6) and anti-viral properties(7). In the present review I will concentrate on the first of these: the effects of green tea ingestion on energy expenditure (EE) and fat metabolism. In 1999, a paper was released demonstrating an apparent increase in EE in human subjects over 24 h, resulting from green tea administration(8). Publications such as this have since led pharmaceutical and nutraceutical manufacturers to rush to incorporate green tea extract (GTE) into ‘fat-stripping’ weight management pills and protein shakes aimed at gym goers, athletes and the general public. The value of such a discovery was immediately apparent, both medically and within the domain of sports nutrition and gym use, with sports and fitness magazines such as Men’s Health relaying this information to their readers(9). Were this property of a very cheap commodity verified, it would imply a lucrative market in weight management supplements.

In the present review I aim to evaluate the validity of the evidence which seeks to corroborate these ‘fat burning’ and anti-obesogenic properties of green tea, considering its potential applications, along with a synthesis of putative modes of action…”

Sip green tea. Feel happy… and skinny?

“Kenya has a love affair with their land and takes great pride in farming”David Walker

If you haven’t tried tea from this part of the world, you are missing out on something special. I had the pleasure of attending a World Origin Tea Tasting at the World Tea Expo East in Philadelphia and Kenya was represented. Here are 10 interesting facts you may not have know Kenya and its teas:

  1. 1903  – Kenya tea production begins
  2. Assamica is the varietal used and it produces a beautiful red color in the cup as opposed to a golden color
  3. 300 tons of CTC tea is produced a year
  4. Tea is the #1 foreign exchange for Kenya
  5. $67 billing shillings earned from tea export
  6. Tea is mainly grown by small scale farmers
  7. There are 550,000 tea farmers in Kenya
  8. Tea affects 3 million people in Africa
  9. Orthodox teas are better for farmer wages
  10. Best paid tea farmers in the world are Kenyan.

I tried a few teas during the tasting but the two that stood out was a brilliant white tea called White Whisper and Grandpa’s Anytime, CTC Black tea.

White Whisper dry and wet leaf

“White Whisper” Orthodox White Tea: An absolute delight. Light and floral with hints of fruit, there was no bitterness or astringency. The color in the cup was almost clear which made it even more surprising when I tasted the liquor and was surprised by the lovely flavor. “This tea placed in the top 5 at the 2011 North American Tea Championship. White Whisper ranked 5th as the only white orthodox tea from Africa to be placed . “White Whisper” was rated as “Very Good: a tea with superior characteristics.” –Joy Njguna, Royal Tea of Kenya

Arthur, the oldest tea man in the world

Grandpa’s Anytime Tea, CTC black tea: The name of this tea is in honor of Arthur, the oldest tea farmer in the world (111years).  His life story about how his family contributed to political and economic change in Kenya is humbling and I believe is being considered for a book and/or documentary. Grandpa’s tea is simply out of this world. Strong, bold and without bitterness – amazing flavor for a CTC.  Though I dont take tea with milk, this tea can hold its own. Its just the kick one needs to get the day started and makes for a lovely breakfast tea.

We feel fortunate to be among the few who will be carrying these two teas, which should be arriving any day so keep checking back on our site!

Support farmers. Sip tea. Feel happy!

The best "to-go" infuser mug we've tested

You know how picky I am about anything related to tea (though many of my peeps would argue that Im that way about everything).

I recently came across what I believe is the best TeaTraveler anywhere. And Ive tested many. Maybe even every single one on the market. Am I obsessive about tea-to-go? I think we all know the answer to that question. What I like about this one is that you can stop the brewing of the leaves by simply lifting the lever which raises the mesh basket. Brilliant!  With many of the others, the leaves just sit in the water and keep steeping making the tea stronger and at times more bitter. And for me, that’s just not a fun cup of tea.

So, here’s the low-down on this super-fabulous-super-functional-meets-excellent-form TeaTraveler that I adore so much, I’m not going to carry it on our Pearl Fine Teas website.

The leak-proof infuser lid with stainless mesh basket and silicone gasket brews loose tea perfectly because you can stop the steeping!  Cup keeps beverages hot or cold for up to one hour, and fits most car cup holders.

  • Polycarbonate exterior
  • BPA-free Eastman Tritan interior
  • Polypropylene, stainless mesh and silicone lid
  • Body is dishwasher- and microwave-safe; lid is top-rack dishwasher-safe
  • Do not microwave lid, in fact, do not microwave water for tea. It kills the oxygen in the water leading to a dead cup of tea.
  • Made in China (of course)
  • Retail: $20.00

Our quantities are limited, so order now and we’ll ship when they arrive. You won’t be unhappy with this fabulous product. I’ve been carrying mine everywhere I go…

Sip tea. Feel happy with your new infuser!

While at the World Tea East Expo in Philadelphia we learned some interesting facts from Devan Shah, President of ITI. Did you know that…

  1. Tea bushes were discovered growing wild in Assam in 1836
  2. 12 chests of tea were sent as the very first shipment to London in 1839
  3. First tea auction was held in India in 1861
  4. India became the largest exporter of tea to Britain in 1899

Devan described the teas of India like its regions and the people who live there. Very interesting concept…

Assam: The Strong One “If strength is your weakness, Assam is your tea”

  • The teas are like the people: bold, robust, harsh and aggressive
  • Birth place of Indian Teas
  • Worlds single largest tea growing region
  • Worlds most used tea
  • 900,000,000 lbs of tea is produced yearly
  • Is a very large leaf like the teas in Yunnan, China

Darjeeling: The Exotic One

  • Known as the Champagne of Teas
  • The people of Darjeeling are peaceful, are low spoken, soft and feel like they live in Nirvana on top of the world
  • 80 + tea gardens located in the misty section of North-East India
  • Himalaya Mountains
  • Borders Nepal
  • 7500 ft elevation
  • 1st Flush is called “Easter Flush”
    • Europe/Germany are the largest buyers of 1st flush teas but Japan is showing strong interest as well
    • Flavors are often vegetal, green, mild, and astringent
  • 2nd Flush (Spring)
    • Rains start to arrive until June/July
    • Some of the best Darjeelings are produced during this time of year
    • The green leaf hopper (similar to Taiwan) is part of what makes Darjeeling have the muscatel flavor
    • Very attractive tea with purplish browns, greens and silver tips
    • Coppery infused leaf has a penny color like a fine wine
  • Monsoon Flush
    • Rain teas, produced and picked every 4 days
    • Enormous leaf
    • Produced from Mid-July to October
    • Has more color and strength then other flushes
    • More abundant and often used in blends
  • Autumnal Flush
    • Light copper, brownish with a malty aroma
    • Produced late October – November

Nilgiri (Blue Mountains): The Forgiving One

  • First teas planted in 1859
  • Like the people of South India: intelligent and peaceful
  • You can’t over steep a Nilgiri tea
  • One of the best teas to use to make a chai concentrate
  • Less tannins and doesn’t cloud which makes it perfect for iced tea
  • Has overtones of a 2nd Flush Darjeeling but cost is less
  • 8500 ft altitude and grown year round but best time is Oct – Mar
  • Nilgiri is the only Communist state left in India

Which tea region do you most associate with? Are you a bold Assam character? Are you more gentle like a Darjeeling? More forgiving like a cup of tea from the Nilgiri region? Something to think about as you brew that magical cup of Indian tea.

Sip tea. Feel Happy!

…who’s with me?

I absolutely love a beautiful teacup. The minute I see one, I begin to visualize what tea I’ll be sipping and the mood I’ll be in as I look down at that sweet work of art. I recently purchased a stunning cup from a vendor on eBay out of Canada who has just about the best collection of vintage cups I’ve seen. Have a look at my growing collection below, and if you are a collector as well… post some of your favorites to our Facebook page!