Brand Spotlight: St. Fiacre's Farm

The June box will feature tea from a very special company located in Oregon. St. Fiacre's Farm is a family farm that makes artisan loose leaf teas from the herbs grown on their own and other Oregon farms. CeAnne tells us about St. Fiacre's, their products, and how farming has become her family's way of life.

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Source: St. Fiacre's Farm on Instagram

How did St. Fiacre’s get started? 

Our little farm started in 2014 when we moved to our current 2 acres. We had been making our own herbal teas and medicines for a couple of years prior to that. I grew up in the city while my husband was raised on a cattle ranch in Montana. Calendula was one of the first things I decided to grow out of a random seed kit I had ordered online. Not knowing anything about them and how abundant they are we ended up with so many flowers. As you cut calendula they sprout more flowers. It was time to figure out what to do with the abundance and so our first product was born. Calendula salve! From there we added tea (Rose City Repose) and other herbal goodness as we grew in our herbal knowledge and had need for certain herbal preparations around our home.

In January of this year my husband took early retirement at 42 and now our family of six farm, work and school at home full time. We are blessed to all be on this journey together. 

Can you describe a typical day on your farm?

We rise early in the morning and spend some time in prayer as a family and then move forward with school and breakfast. I teach our two girls while my husband teaches the two boys. School is usually done by 10:30. Homeschooling sure cuts down on some of the typical time spent at school since we don't have to wait for the school bus, switching classes, 4 students vs 20 in our class, recess etc.

In the summer we get outside as soon as we can so that we can water our 40 foot greenhouse, feed and water the animals and work on our construction project. We are currently expanding from our domestic kitchen to a processing facility which we are building on our farm. The afternoons are spent with the children enjoying the farm outdoors, some simple chores and that is our time to pack tea and attend to other business items such as marketing, our Youtube channel, sales calls and deliveries.

Source: St. Fiacre's Farm on Instagram

Our schedule really goes with the seasons and so winter time looks much different. In the fall we spend more time harvesting from our gardens and putting up not just herbs for tea but food for our family. Saturdays we spend at the local farmer's market in Salem, OR and love sharing our teas with the customers there. We also enjoy meeting the other local farmers, purchasing from them what we don't grow on our farm and finding new ways to use their products in our product line.

Besides tea, what other products do you make?

Aside from artisan loose leaf teas we also produce herbal skin care products such as lip balms, hand salves, baby balm, first aid salves and gift sets. Towards the fall we will also be opening up our Grow.Create.Sip online classes where we teach others what we have learned in regards to growing herbal teas, processing those herbs, how to blend them into tea as well as growing and using medicinal type herbs. We love to see other people growing and creating their own herbal goodness! Our blog also often features updates on our food growing for our own family as well as articles pertaining to growing food. We believe not just in home business and homeschool but also growing our own food at home. It really helps cut down on the cost, keeps it local and fresh and organic. We love knowing the story of our food and we hope to also share the story of the tea our customers purchase as well.

From where do you source your ingredients?

We feature Oregon grown ingredients as often as possible depending on local availability and growing conditions. Many of our berries are grown here in Oregon as we love to support the local community, families and farmers. A few of the herbs we grow here down on our farm and that will be increasing rapidly in the next 6 months to a year. Those ingredients that we are not able to get locally we purchase online from organic bulk herb suppliers such as Eugene, Oregon's Mountain Rose Herbs and Starwest Botanicals. Oregon Harvest Berry is the gem of our artisan tea line up as it features 4 different Oregon farms and was hand crafted especially to use those ingredients.

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Oregon Harvest Berry tea, Source: St. Fiacre's Instagram

Which St. Fiacre’s tea is your favorite?

My favorite in our line is our Farmer's Wife Raspberry blend, after all I am the Farmer's Wife! No, really, I love this blend in the morning. Its a light refreshing green rooibos with raspberry leaf, nettle and some other goodies. It is a great tea especially for women because of the medicinal qualities of the herbs in this tea. Its not too strong of a tea and its a great way to ease into our day here at the farm. Now my Farmer, he loves our Willamette Berry Pie blend, I call that one dessert in a cup and he is also a fan of our High Desert Hibiscus on ice. Its just so refreshing and sweet its a hard tea to beat in the hot days of summer.

Thanks CeAnne! Learn more about their teas and other products at stfiacres.com.

Will you be receiving St. Fiacre's Oregon Harvest Berry tea in our June box? Sign up for a subscription or a gift by June 5th to reserve your box. For subscriptions, get 25% off with discount code SUMMER through June 1st!

Brand Spotlight: The Reading Room Shop

Books and tea go together like...bread and butter? Pillows and sheets? Bert and Ernie! Morgan, of the The Reading Room Shop, tells us how she merged her love of tea and books to create a literature-themed tea business. Reading Room's Nikki Teavonni tea was featured in the Tea Box Express April box.

Can you tell us a little about The Reading Room Shop? How did it get started and why have you chosen to combine tea and literature?

The Reading Room Shop is the brainchild of my husband , sister and I. We were raised in homes where books filled most of the rooms and knew that there were tea consumers out there who were just like us. We found ourselves reading and drinking not so savory tea from the bigger retailers and thought, "Hey, we  can sell this, and sell this with better quality and flavor". We try to make the names of our blends as fun as possible, naming our blends after favorite works and authors. We hope to inspire readers and tea drinkers to come together while promoting literacy.

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Source: readingroomshop on Instagram

How do you go about creating your blends and choosing names for them?

Our blends are created by our master blender. Most of what we carry are flavors and blends that our customers request. Our primary market at this time is our local Farmer's' Market, where we have a great relationship with our customers who help us choose many of the blends we carry. As far as the names go, we choose authors that we have read before or would like to read.

And you sew too?! Tell us more about the accessories your shop offers.

Yes! Sewing is my passion hobby. My grandfather upholstered furniture when I was a child. He passed away shortly before our son was born so I keep the needle pushing to keep his memory alive. I currently sew small home goods, such as tea towels, coasters, and table linens.

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Source: readingroomshop on Instagram

Which Reading Room tea is your favorite?

My Favorite Reading Room Tea  is our Brewman Capote. I have a true mint obsession! I love that the blend of mint and green tea can be enjoyed hot or chilled.

Thanks Morgan! To learn more visit thereadingroomshop.com.

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"Tea Talk" with Writer Lu Ann Pannunzio

Tea blogger and writer Lu Ann Pannunzio knows a thing or two about enjoying the tea experience. In fact, she's written a whole book on the subject! I have long admired her appreciation for tea and her gorgeous pictures on social media. Lu Ann is also the curator of our April box, which will include her book, Tea-spiration, and four more special items she has chosen. Lu Ann was nice enough to chat with me about her blog, her book, and her tips for exploring the world of tea.

Source: teaaholic Instagram

I love your Instagram name, teaaholic. How did you become a “teaaholic?”

I think I have been labelling myself that since I was in high school, haha. I’ve thought about changing my Instagram handle to brand it with my blog and other social media accounts, but I can’t let it go. I discovered tea at a young age because I remember my mom and older sister used to always enjoy it together. One day my sister brought home a wooden box that contained strawberry flavoured black tea bags and I was finally allowed to have my first sip of tea at the age of 7. I didn’t know much about tea back then but I started to fall in love with it because of the connection it brought me with my mom and sister. The best part of my day would be when I had the chance to be “so adult” and sit and sip tea with them. Since then my love for tea has slowly been growing and I have been slowly learning more and more about it.

You have a beautiful blog, The Cup of Life. What kinds of things do you discuss over in your corner of the internet?

Thanks so much! I want The Cup of Life to be a spot on the Internet that tea lovers can visit and slow down with their own cup of tea. The blog is filled with some tea infused recipes, crafts, reviews, and anything else I learn during my tea journey that I wish to share. My most favourite part about tea blogging is the wonderful tea community online! I have connected with so many awesome tea lovers around the world and I hope to continue to!

Writing a book is a big project! Can you tell me more about your book and what inspired you to write it?

I have always wanted a book that didn’t teach me about tea and how to properly make it, but instead celebrated all the moments we experience with tea since that’s the reason why I fell in love with it in the first place. There is a quote I love that goes something like, if you can’t find a book you want, write it yourself and that’s just what I did with Tea-spiration. My thoughts for Tea-spiration were to take readers back to when they first started to drink tea and why they loved it then. In Tea-spiration I highlight all the great tea moments us tea drinkers can experience — big or small. For instance, that moment when you first open a freshly sealed package of tea and take in that aroma, or even the moment when your tea leaves begin to unfurl.

This book was written with all tea lovers in mind, too. It doesn’t matter if you’re a tea enthusiast or a casual tea drinker, every tea drinker should be able slow down and relate to some of the book. The size of the book should be noted too because it’s meant to be the perfect book to have during your tea time, fitting easily on your tea table or packing up with your tea ware. 

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Source: teaaholic Instagram

What can you recommend to someone who is just beginning to explore the world of tea?

Drink all the tea! AND drink it however you like it. I think one of the best advice is to not be afraid to explore tea your own way. You can follow the instructions on a package of tea that tells you how to prepare it properly, but after that you should experiment with your own ways of making it and see what you like best. There have been a lot of teas in the past that I thought were the worst things ever, until I started to “break the rules” by steeping them another way and notice the difference that made. This little bit of advice is also discussed in my book. 

How many cups of tea do you drink each day?

I usually have 2 mugs of tea and then several tasting cups of tea each day. My first mug of tea is usually right in the morning and a bold black tea such as Assam, sometimes I will also whisk a bowl of matcha later in the morning. Later in the afternoon I’ll try to actually sit down and have tea with my gaiwan and sip from tasting cup sizes. The last mug of tea is usually before bed and it could be any kind (caffeine doesn’t really bother me at night!).

You have an hour free from responsibilities and chores. Can you describe your perfect “tea break?”

No responsibilities and chores? Ahhh…that already sounds so perfect already but, of course, tea can still make it better. A perfect “tea break” for me would consist of a tray of fresh baked scones (I really like my scones, haha), a fancy tea cup, big pot of tea to keep refilling, jazz music playing softly in the background (sometimes I’ll even have my boyfriend play live jazz music for me, haha), all technology far away (!!!) and Tea-spiration by my side for whenever I need to flip open a page and connect with my tea a little bit more :) 

Thanks Lu Ann! I strongly recommend visiting her at The Cup of Life blog and on Instagram as teaaholic. You won't be disappointed!

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Brand Spotlight: Nepal Tea LLC

The March "St. Patrick's Day" tea box included a unique pot of gold: gold tea! Kumari Gold is a special black tea from Nepal Tea LLC, a social business venture that imports tea directly from its own tea estate while providing farmers with a sustainable income and free housing. Nishchal Banskota shares more about his company, including its background, tea, and farmer first approach.

How did Nepal Tea get started?

My father started a tea estate in 1984, which was Nepal’s First Certified Organic Tea Garden. The factory works on a co-operative model, which means the farmers are the owners themselves too. Eventually the tea was exported globally. Fast forward three decades, and here I am graduating with a liberal arts degree from New Hampshire. I soon realized that the Nepali tea we get in the US were brought through Germany, who bought their teas from middlemen. The supply chain was inefficient. The farmers have no choice but to agree to the price demands of these middlemen – if they pulled out, the estate and the farmers would have no revenue at all. Secondly, most teas from Nepal get mixed with Darjeeling teas due to their similarity, and we often lose our identity in the process. I started Nepal Tea with the vision of getting fair prices to both consumers and farmers, creating a simple and lean supply chain and creating an identity for the teas from Nepal.

Source: Nepal Tea Instagram

Tell us more about tea from Nepal. What is special about tea from that part of the world?

Nepali teas are produced in mountainous regions at an elevation of 3,000 – 7,000 feet above the sea level. People are familiar with Darjeeling teas. They are called the champagne of teas, and rightfully. Well, the only thing separating the teas from Nepal and Darjeeling is an imaginary national border – the tea farms are next to each other. The climate, elevation and growing conditions are pretty much the same. However, we have received feedback that Nepali teas taste fresh and are more aromatic since the crops of Nepali teas are newer, while tea plants from Darjeeling are centuries old. Our teas tend to be more floral as well. Another major distinction with our teas is the cultivation style, which features sustaining and complementing the natural cycle of the plants with various other complementary plants. You will need to visit the garden to see what I am talking about :)

Furthermore, we and many other tea farmers are experimenting with various different kinds of tea as well and in the coming days you might even expect some sophisticated oolongs and pu-erh teas. 

Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use and your commitment to avoiding artificial flavors?

We mostly specialize in orthodox teas produced through Camillia Sinensis and are specifically hand-plucked for this purpose. For our blends, we use organic spices grown in our garden itself such as cinnamon, cardamom, ginger turmeric, rose petals, lemongrass and so on. We're not experts on herbal teas but we do know which tea blends well with the organic spices that we grow and hence have been very successful with our blends such as Buddha's Blend (White Tea base + Spices) and Mystique Melange (Green Tea base + Spices). We have not in the past and will not in the future use any form of artificial chemicals and or flavors to make our teas. Our commitment to being organic since inception can be traced back to all of the certifying bodies. 

Source: Nepal Tea LLC

Nepal Tea works hard to be socially responsible! Can you tell us more about those initiatives?

We operate on a farmer’s first approach. The farmers should get the most benefits, but most in Nepal still live in poverty. The teas they produce are excellent. Tea has such a profound economic impact, and we aim to direct that economy and give power to the farmers themselves. Our social models try to improve the lives of the farmers and their families, which creates a better community. Here are some highlights of our social impact:

1) Free Housing and Daily Necessities to the full-time farmers. 

2) Educational scholarship to all of the children of our full-time farmers. More than 2300 children have received education till date and have increased the number by 96 students last year. You can read more about the project and sponsor a child here.

3) Cow-Bank Project: We distribute cows to our farmers and  they earn extra income from them by selling dairy products from them. We only have one condition that the first calf it gives birth to is returned to the factory itself; not for our purpose but to distribute it to other farmers. We started with 36 cows and now we have more than 176 cows in total. You can read more about the project and even donate a cow to a farmer here.

4) We have many other projects in the pipeline such as thrift shop, rice mill and so on that will impact the farmers in a sustainable way. You can discuss them directly with me. Also, if you have any projects that you would like to initiate at our factory, please contact me. 

Source: Nepal Tea LLC

Which tea from Nepal Tea is your favorite?

My favorite tea is Kumari Gold. Not only does the taste take me back directly to the factory in Nepal but the name itself is very dear to my heart. I named the tea after my mother. Her middle name is Kumari and it means "Living Goddess" in Nepali. She was the first person who believed in the vision of my father in creating this organic tea garden and she planted the first tea bush in her backyard. The same garden has extended to hundreds of acres today and has provided employment to more than 600 farmers and educated more than 2300 children. Indeed, to me and all the farmers and their children she is a true living goddess. 

Thanks Nishchal! You can learn more and tea shop at nepalteallc.com.

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P.S. Nepal Tea just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign! See their story here:

Brand Spotlight: Metolius Tea

Your know those two colorful blends from the February box, Cardamom Rose Mate and Little Bear? They were meticulously created by Amy, founder of Metolius Tea. A lover of plants with a background in herbs, Amy gives us insight into making tea and her dedication to the craft really shines through! 

Cardamom Rose Mate, Source: metoliustea.com

How did Metolius Tea get started and how long has it been around?

I fell in love with plants when, as a teenager, I joined the forest defense movement to protect old growth trees from illegal logging in the Willamette Valley. My first night in the woods I realized I'd forgotten my toothbrush. A fellow activist pulled a bright gold root from the ground and said "chew on this!" After years of studies in other fields (writing, history), I immersed myself in plant medicine. I did not plan on starting a business... in fact, I was the last among my friends and family to catch on. Over the last six years my relationship with plants and tea has slowly evolved from a hobby business to a career, and I have evolved from an herbalist to a tea maker.

What goes into creating your blends?

We import organic teas, herbs, spices, and essential oils from all over the world. The standard in the tea industry, organic and non-organic, is still to smother cheap, old leaves in synthetic flavoring. That will change as high integrity tea reaches more people. When we design tea blends, we approach each plant as a whole personality, not just a flavor. Each plant has a flavor, of course, but it also has actions in the body. It may be a diaphoretic, which encourages your body to sweat. It may have a slight bitter component, which triggers digestion. Further, each herb has its own texture. Cardamom and cinnamon get me every time because they are more mucilaginous, i.e. slimy, than you may think. Every blend I put them in, I need drier herbs to balance the palate. The art and science of tea design grows more challenging and more rewarding as I evolve. Sometimes plants are forgiving and their combinations work for me in almost any proportion on my first try. Other times I’ll have a plan for a particular set of plants and I have to really work for it for days or weeks. Peppermint and hibiscus, for example, are commonly paired in tea blends by other companies, but I have yet to balance them in a blend of our own. Sometimes I wonder if they are playing a joke on me.

Source: metoliustea.com

From where do you source your teas and ingredients?

We source from small production, high integrity farmers locally and around the world. While many of our ingredients are certified organic, the best ingredients are not. The reason is that small operations like Sakari Botanicals out of Bend, Meru Herbs in Kenya, and the tea farmers of Yunnan, China cannot afford (or do not need) the cost of certification. However, our 3rd party lab studies show that these ingredients are the cleanest and most vibrant of our entire palate of ingredients.

When I drink our Earl Grey I can taste the vibrancy of Italy, of the high mountains of China, of Madagascar. I can feel the presence of small, thriving communities behind each ingredient. I love being able to taste the world--and not the world we think of with so much fear and anxiety when we read the news. This world is full of bright people, rich soil, beautiful stories and an abundance of the best ingredients the people and planet have to offer.

Which Metolius tea is your favorite?

Earl Grey, as described above.

My favorite herbal blend is Little Bear.  I designed and named it for two beautiful, imaginative children. I wanted them to enjoy a tea with a more advanced, dynamic flavor profile than I currently had among my herbal teas. Little Bear has floral, fruity, sweet, and spicy elements. I recently learned about the Canadian Children’s show illustrated by Maurice Sendak after the same name. The shows cast of forest each have something unique to contribute to the Little Bear's community and personal evolution. Our Little Bear tea has a similar theme, with lavender, lemongrass, pear, vanilla and ginger each hailing from a small, unique community from a different part of the world, combining into a beautiful and imaginative tea.

Thank you Amy! To learn more and go tea shopping visit metoliustea.com.

To reserve the March box subscribe or buy a gift by March 5th.

Brand Spotlight: Nelson's Tea

We hope the January tea box is keeping you warm during this chilly winter month! Nelson's Tea of Indianapolis is the star of the January box and offers a huge variety of quality teas and a variety of interesting blends. Alex, the company's founder, tells us more about her company.

Source: nelsonstea on Instagram

Nelson’s offers a lot of interesting blends. How do you come up with these?

Thank you for the compliment.  We get inspiration from our clients, our palettes, other player’s in the industry, and some of our favorite beverages and plates!  We do a lot of tinkering to come up with right balance for our blends and to bring forward the right flavors at the right times in the right amounts.

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

We work with 3 primary companies in the western United States to source our base teas, herbs, spices, barks, roots, and flowers.   Most of our flavoring comes from a company on the east coast.  We are starting to pursue relationships with larger suppliers and direct farm connections as we grow.

Source: nelsonstea on Instagram

Which Nelson’s tea is your favorite? Which is the most popular?

That changes daily.  The tea I crave is based off of the time of day, my mood, and what I’m looking to achieve.  At the moment, I am fancying our new Choco-Orange Rooibos blend.  I keep coming back to it.  It reminds me of the chocolate oranges you whack on the able and they fall apart in sections.  Delicious and virtually no calories! 

Thanks Alex! Find out more and see the amazing collection at nelsonstea.com.

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Brand Spotlight: My Tea Bling

Did you receive My Tea Bling in your November Tea Box Express box? If so, you were in for a treat! This handmade item is certainly something special. My Tea Bling's founder, Tara, tells us more about her product and how she came up with her unique idea.

Source: myteabling on Instagram

What is My Tea Bling?

MyTeaBling is a handmade, stainless steel, Swarovski Crystal charm made to clip onto any tea bag!  Not to be confused with a tea infuser it is a truly unique idea!  The idea being that there is nothing in existence that "replaces" the usual string on your average bag of tea!  

Not only is it made to be fun and a celebration of how wonderful Tea makes us feel, but it is functional too!  Often times you may run across a bag of tea that does not have a string, but this solves that problem and can be used to help in a variety of ways!

Can My Tea Bling be used with all cups/mugs?

Yes it can!  The chain of the bling comes in 2 sizes:

One is made for average size mugs that are often used at home. And the other is a smaller size, known as the "Shortie,"  which is made for more traditional fancy style tea cups. 

I even use mine on the go to add some excitement to my tea when grabbing a cup to-go at my local coffee shop!  (Although, I would like to note to do this at your own discretion and to be super safe about it being careful that the lid is secure)!

Source: myteabling on Instagram

Can you use it with loose tea as well?

This was traditionally invented for the average American tea drinker who grabs their usual tea bags when shopping at the grocery store. However,  since using MyTeaBling I have found that loose leaf tea drinkers often use single-use tea filters for their tea.  These filters do not normally come equipped with anything to seal the bag closed.  So now, with MyTeaBling, you finally have a go to product that securely clips the bag shut with no mess or fuss that just happens to be blinged out with Swarovski Crystals!

What gave you the idea for My Tea Bling?

One day I was enjoying my usual afternoon cup of green tea to pep me up. I was at a coffee shop surrounded by people ordering things that sounded so fancy when I was handed my plain cup of tea with the little string hanging off of it.  I was struck with a feeling of wanting to fit in and feel special too!  After all, tea is so good for us and just makes you feel amazing when you drink it!

Then it hit me! I had a vision of a beautiful sparkling pendant hanging from my tea cup!  I thought to myself, "Wow! wouldn't it be cool if there was something more than this boring string hanging from my cup?!  Then my tea would certainly look as great as it makes me feel"!

I figured there must be something out there to replace this string and add some more excitement to tea time! But when I found that nothing like that existed... I created it!  

What colors do you offer and which one is the most popular?

Currently I offer Classic Clear, Pink (which I figured every girl could appreciate),  Amethyst Purple, and a Brilliant Vibrant Yellow. (I find that the Classic is the most popular probably because it would look beautiful on any variation color of cup).

But I knew that when I started this whole concept the idea was to really make each person smile and feel special and show their true selves!  So I am working on adding new colors every day!  In fact I am certain that as you are reading this a whole new batch of colors and concepts have probably already been made available! 

I aspire to have a full color spectrum!  People are truly unique and I feel everybody deserves to celebrate that with a color that sparkles and is something that they really love!  

What is your favorite tea?

My Favorite tea is Green Mint Tea.  The cool thing about that is that I realized that now when I use MyTeaBling I can add some fresh mint leaves to it by just simply clipping the mint along with my bag of tea!  The more I use it- the more fun things I find I can do with it!  

What is your favorite thing about having created this new invention?!

Ya know, I never really labeled myself as a "Tea Drinker" but what I didn't realize is that many people, such as myself, really are all along!  Because even if we sit down to a cup of tea a few times a week at work or at home- we all are really "Tea Drinkers"!  

Now that I created this product and dove head first into the world of tea out there I have not only tasted so many delicious flavors and tried so many fun things - but I have also met so many amazing people along the way!  It's so much fun just really enjoying this whole experience in the communiTEA!

Thanks Tara! To learn more and go Christmas shopping visit my-tea-bling.myshopify.com.

As you can see below, My Tea Bling made a fun and sparkly addition to the November box where it paired nicely with Nunshen tea sachets (mug not included).

November Box Photo Credit: katietdoodle

The Tea Box Express Christmas box is coming to town in mid-December! Subscribe or buy a gift today to secure yours!

Brand Spotlight: Nunshen

November is here and the Tea Box Express November box will ship out in less than two weeks! A team manager from Nunshen, the featured November tea company, was kind enough to share more with us about the company, including its Swiss roots, unique name, and special blends.

 
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Source: nunshen on Instagram

Can you tell us a little about Nunshen and how it got started?

It all started in 1938 in the city of Lausanne, Switzerland. A Swiss family opened a tearoom called “Thé Tea Tee” (tea in French, English and German). In the early 2000s, the tea passionate Olivier Jardon-El Hiny fell in love with the shop's history and philosophy and bought the old boutique. To modernize the brand, he changed the name to Nunshen. From that time on, he dedicated his free time to create his own new, creative tea blends. By word of mouth, Nunshen quickly became famous among European tea enthusiasts.

Where does the name “Nunshen” come from?

 “Nunshen” is based on a 4000-year-old legend. Shen Nung was a Chinese Emperor and herbalist who tested for the first time the mix of boiling water and tea leaves. Delighted by these unexpected flavors, he spread the knowledge of tea virtues throughout China. Nunshen's brand name pays tribute to this hero of Chinese mythology.

What are some of the more unique or “special” teas that you offer?

As mentioned before, our founder Olivier creates his own tea blends and recipes. He experiments different mixes of leaves and spices before finding the perfect combination of flavors. Nunshen offers 7 unique blends that you will not find anywhere else. For green teas, we offer Fujiyama and Pomaika’I. As black teas, there are Rois Mages, Vent d’Automne, Kangchenjunga and Vol de Nuit. Finally, we offer a milky Oolong tea named Machu Picchu.

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

We source our teas and ingredients from all around the world: South Africa, India, China, Croatia, Japan, Ceylan, Taiwan… Quality is our number one priority. For our Master Selection for example, we directly source from the supplier in that country and work with worldwide famous Tea Masters.

What is the 1% for the Planet initiative?

1% for the Planet organization gathers businesses financially committed to create a healthy planet. Nunshen supports this initiative and is even part of it as a business. By giving 1% of our sales, we pay the “Earth tax” and help fund environmental groups. Since 2002, 1% for the Planet has initiated over $50 million in environmental giving. Because the environment is a key component of the quality of our tea leaves, we support strongly this initiative. Moreover, that’s why our tea muslins are made from biodegradable natural materials with no artificial additives.

Which Nunshen tea is your favorite?

My favorite Nunshen tea is from our Unique blends selection. It is named Pomaika’I, which means in Hawaiian “a true perfection of balance”. It is one of our most complex creations: the strong suavity of black tea meets the freshness of green tea. With orchids, lychee, apricots and mint, it is hard not to fall for Pomaika’I!

Thanks Nunshen! For more information check out nunshen.com.

You can still subscribe or buy the November box as a gift through November 5th.

Brand Spotlight: Loose Leaf Tea Market

The Tea Box Express September box will feature tea from Loose Leaf Tea Market. Kita, the company's owner, is an herbalist who focuses on blending teas in small batches using fresh organic ingredients. She shares more with us about how she creates her blends and what sets Loose Leaf Tea Market apart.

 
 

Source: looseleafteamarket on Instagram

How did Loose Leaf Tea Market get started and how long has it been around?

Although I have had this business since 2002, Loose Leaf Tea Market is a newly rebranded and upgraded version of a concept that not only had the herbs and teas, but also a restaurant. In 2015, we focused all of our attention on tea, streamlined the business, and rebranded the concept. Loose Leaf as it is now is just over a year old, but I have been doing tea since 2002. 

You offer a huge variety of teas, from traditional black and green teas to herbal blends aimed at certain functions (mood, digestion, etc.). What inspires your interesting blends and how do you choose the ingredients?

Some of our blends are inspired by customer requests or basic health support, like inflammation, digestion, or sinus congestion. Some of the more creative and tasty blends are the result of wanting to make awesomely delicious teas that are 100% healthy and have zero artificial ingredients. I'm a very curious and creative person, and I love to explore flavor creation, and adventurous blending. It's quite similar to cooking; you can make a functional dish to feed your hunger, or you can get creative and make something memorable. All of the ingredients have to be healthy and wholesome, and organic whenever possible. If I can't get the flavor I'm looking for in a tea with botanical ingredients, I scrap the idea and try something else, rather than rely on chemical flavorings to fill in any flavor gaps. 

 
 

Source: looseleafteamarket on Instagram

From where do you source your teas and ingredients?

I'm really picky about ingredients. Our herbs, teas, and other ingredients come from all over the world from ethical suppliers who only source organic, wild harvested, and fairly traded products. 

Which Loose Leaf Tea Market teas are your favorite?

That's a trick question, right? Although I like them all, here are the ones I drink every day: Coffee Quitter in the morning, Sleek & Slender in the afternoon, and a mix of any of these: Stomach Soothing, Wild & Weedy, and Inflammation Relief. 

What makes Loose Leaf Tea Market different from some of the bigger tea companies that you see in the malls and grocery stores?

There are a few things that differentiate our teas from some of the bigger companies. 1. We use organic and wild harvested ingredients whenever possible, which makes up over 95% of our ingredient list. This means there are no pesticide residues in your tea. 2. We never use artificial flavorings. 3. We blend our teas by hand in small batches so that they're fresh and flavorful. 

Thanks Kita! Check out Loose Leaf Tea Market's diverse offerings at looseleafteamarket.com.

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Brand Spotlight: Misty Peak Teas

We are delighted to include Misty Peak Teas in the August box, a company that specializes solely in Pu'er tea. Nicholas, who started Misty Peak, shares more information about Pu'er and how he's able to ensure the very best in the tea he offers. August 5th is the last day to sign up and receive Misty Peak Pu-er tea.

Source: mistypeakteas on Instagram

Can you tell us a little about Misty Peak Teas and how it got started?

Misty Peak started with a mix of coincidence and fate. I, Nicholas, was traveling in my early twenties and looking for that thing we all probably look for in our 20’s. From meditation retreats in Thailand to yoga seminars in India, I was searching for something to add to my life that would ground me and balance me, and would be easy to share with others. 

Long story short, I was walking thru a village in rural Yunnan China taking photos and became lost. A young man invited me in to escape a rainstorm and poured myself and my wife some tea. That cup of tea turned into 12 hours of drinking tea, which turned into three years of living on his family’s tea farm. Drinking this tea, I immediately filled that void and realized that tea is so easy to share and is very much a communal practice and beverage. 

At the time, I was hardly familiar with premium teas or Pu’er tea, but I was sure that they had something special. I began sending out samples to tea companies and immediately got some substantial orders. It was clear that this is something that I must find a way to share, and so, Misty Peak was born. 

What is Pu’er tea and how is it different than other teas (black, green, white)?

Pu’er tea is unique in a number of ways. One can not speak much about the history of tea without first mentioning Pu’er tea, as it was the first tea cultivated on earth thousands of years ago and was compressed into interesting shapes and carried by mule all across Southern Asia. It was a currency, a trading power, a historical artifact, and much more. In short, in order to be classified as Pu’er tea it must meet 3 basic criteria: 

1) Be cultivated in Yunnan China 

2) Be sun-dried 

3) Be picked from the large leaf variety of the tea tree. 

It is different in that it can be aged and does not expire like other teas. The leaves are also much larger and it is usually known for much bolder tastes and aromas compared to most other teas. There are three subcategories of Pu’er within itself and those are: Green(Raw/Sheng) Pu’er (which is what we offer), Aged Green (Lao Sheng), and Ripe (Black/Shou) Pu’er, which is an artificially aged green Pu’er. The taste, look, body-feel and aroma are all very different, but fun to experience in whatever the brewing method one chooses. 

 
 

Source: mistypeakteas.com

From where do you source your tea and why have you chosen to keep such a tight focus on what you offer?

Our tea all comes from one family and one farm in Xishuangbanna Yunnan China, where tea originated and where the oldest tea trees on earth still grow (some as old as 2,000 years old!) In China, and much of the world, each region, village, and even mountain, is known for a specific tea. For example, Southern Yunnan is known for Pu’er tea whereas Eastern China is known for their green teas and North Eastern India is known for its Assam and Darjeelings. Once one steps into one of these villages, no other tea exists; it is either impossible to find, or is simply not grown there. The farmer takes tremendous pride, and often has a relationship and deep family history, in that region’s tea. 

In creating Misty Peak, I wanted to build that same relationship and really be a specialist in our tea. In Xishuangbanna, the farmers and people know and love Pu’er in a way that it is nearly a member of their families; however, they may know nothing about Oolong and have probably never even heard of Masala Chai Tea. Having such a tight focus allows us to have complete quality control and ensure that we know our product and can offer the very best Pu’er tea in the world by being a leader in a niche. Instead of supplying dozens, or hundreds, of teas, we offer only one and are able to try our best to make it the best.  The Western world has moved so far ahead with the mega stores of our time and the big box stores where one can buy nearly anything. There are more consumers that are moving the opposite way, or are still in a time where they go to the baker, instead of the supermarket, to buy their bread because they know he really knows his bread. We are trying to be that way as well. 

How does the tea differ depending on when it is harvested?

Harvest season in Pu’er, and most other teas, varies greatly and affects the taste, look, and energy of the tea. Think of it as the difference between Thanksgiving and Easter, or the feel one gets when thinking of Autumn versus thinking of Spring. In Spring, the winter has just passed and now the energy of the sun is going towards sprouting those little buds and bringing blossoms from plants all over. The taste and feeling of a Spring tea is much the same: it tastes like Spring and has more vibrance and energy to it than other seasons’ tea and taste much like the blossoms blooming all around it. 

In Autumn, those blossoms have now turned into rich fruits like persimmons and apricots and pomegranates. Those rich and bold flavors and colors are also present in the tea. The cooling effect to the body one experiences, and needs, during the Spring harvest is different than the warming and grounding feel one experiences in an Autumn harvested tea. The rainfall, sunshine, and flora surrounding the tea trees all play a part in the characteristics of these lovely teas. 

Thanks Nicholas! You can learn more at mistypeakteas.com.

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Brand Spotlight: Oliver Pluff & Co.

The July Tea Box Express box features Oliver Pluff & Co., an interesting company with a fascinating niche: pairing tea with American history. Kyle, the founder of Oliver Pluff, tells us more about his company, including their dedication to historical teas, from sourcing the tea leaves to the unique artwork on their products.

Source: oliverpluff.com

How did Oliver Pluff & Company get started and how long has it been around?

After college I traveled and worked with Samaritan's Purse International Relief for 6 years, which took me to disaster areas in Africa, Latin America, and Turkey. In former British colonies, tea was a big part of the culture and the agriculture.  It doesn't take long to take notice of the higher quality tea and coffee that these countries enjoy.  After I returned home, I decided to start a business in 2009 as a premium iced tea company.  Within the year, we met Colonial Williamsburg Foundation which became our biggest customer, requesting our assistance to create their colonial tea blends.  This boost to our sales took us in new directions as a business and we realized that historical teas were being overlooked.  We began to create Early American teas and now we sell to around 300 historic sites and museums around the country. The line has grown include new products such as our Colonial Blend Coffee, Cacao Shell Tea, Old English Wassail, and Colonial Remedies.  This fall we are launching a few new spice and tea products.  The brand continues to grow and evolve.  

2. You have a theme of history and American heritage throughout your product line. How did this become such a big part of your brand?  

The historical teas are what we are best known for, especially our Bohea.  It's a smoky black tea blend from colonial times.  There are other colonial teas that we have not yet been able to source, with names such as Congou, Singlo, Twankay, Imperial, Pekoe Skin.  I am enjoying the historical research and the culinary adventure to seek these out.  We continue to meet more small, passionate historical groups and gourmet stores who are so excited to have a chance to carry our line.  Our customers continue to request more from history (last year I learned about sugar cones and nippers). Our vision is to connect people to American heritage through historic beverages.  We would like to be the best-known company in America for this small, unique niche.  

Source: Oliver Pluff Instagram

3. What is the inspiration behind the unique artwork on your products?

Our tea packaging uses linen labels and stark, two color art, with fonts and art from a different period.  We seek to re-create some of the experience from a different era.  Our slogan is "A Leaf from America's Tea Heritage".  It's been useful to select our art and packaging with this guidance in mind and our customers enjoying the chance to sip and ponder American history as we offer short historical descriptions of the products on each tin.  

4. From where do you source your teas?

Whenever possible, we source from the same gardens that supplied the British East India Company.  This is primarily China, but also includes India and Sri Lanka.  We limit ourselves to around 30 teas to keep our tea as fresh as possible.  

5. Which Oliver Pluff tea is your favorite?

For about three years now I have been hooked on the breakfast teas.  English Breakfast, then Irish Breakfast.  But I was surprised last year by our Colonial Bohea over ice.  There's something thrilling about the smoky flavor with light cane sugar as an iced tea.  It's been fun to bend tradition by icing down the colonial teas.  

Thanks Kyle! You can learn more about Oliver Pluff at oliverpluff.com.

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Brand Spotlight: Piper & Leaf

Piper & Leaf is a family run tea company based in Huntsville, Alabama. Connor, one of the owners of P&L, shares more about his company and their desire to source locally and promote community.

Tell us a little about Piper & Leaf and how it got started.

P&L started because we were looking for a grassroots way to create passion for our community. We wanted to highlight our local food systems and sources as well as bring people together. We take fruits & herbs from the area that we grow ourselves, get from local farms, or forage in our woods and blend them with premium quality tea. We were blessed to start at the same time as several other organizations and companies in our area and state interested in creating a passionate, artistic, connected community.

Source: piperandleaf.com

Piper & Leaf offers an interesting tea selection. Can you tell us more about how you come up with your blends?

We play...a lot! We will either be inspired by a story, a taste, a brew, an experience, or just an idea. We play with it and have fun till we come up with something interesting. One of our most popular seasonal blends, Pumpkin moonshine, was inspired by one of our favorite Artists, Tasha Tudor. Her first children's book was called Pumpkin Moonshine (an old term for a Jack-O-Lantern) about the Autumn Season. So we created (basically) a pumpkin spice chai that uses real pumpkin and spices. It happens to taste pretty good too. ;-)

Do all of your tea blends make great iced tea?

Yes! We specifically create our blends for iced tea since we are in the lovely warm south. All of our blends taste great iced or hot though.

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

Some of this answer goes back to the top of who we are. The tea leaves come from Japan, Sri Lanka, China, and other traditional quality tea locations. Then we blend them with local product. We are exploring partnering with a small, local company making a Yaupon Tea (similar to Yerba Mate of South America). 

Source: piperandleaf.com

Which Piper & Leaf tea is your favorite?

Pumpkin Moonshine and Sweet Dixie (inspired by a beach trip. Think Pina Colada).

Thanks Connor! To learn more visit piperandleaf.com.

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Mother's Day Shopping...Done

Mother's Day is right around the corner!

How about surprising your mom with a lovely package of tea goodies...

With Tea Box Express you can be done after just a few clicks! Our monthly boxes contain high quality tea, tasty treats, and useful accessories. They are the perfect all-in-one gifts for deserving moms.

See our gift options here.



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Brand Spotlight: Petali Teas

Our upcoming March box (shipping next week!) features a wonderful tea from Petali Teas. Joy, the owner of Petali and creator of it's amazing blends, shares more about her company, the tea, and what fuels her passion.

Source: petaliteas.com

Can you tell us a little about Petali Teas and how it got started? 

I started foraging for herbs when I was a little girl and made teas and dyes.  It has been a lifelong interest and love.  My career was in culinary arts and after being exposed to all the tea traditions from different countries,  I knew I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to the art of tea and tea drinking. It is one activity that everyone at any age can enjoy, together or in solitude. It brings wellness and happiness. 

Petali Teas is comprised of:

  • Our bricks and mortar shop on our farm at Mootz Run in Alexandria, OH, 
  • Our online retail sites which include our home site of www.petaliteas.com and our Amazon shop
  • Our Tea Lifestyle Brand which can be found at www.modernteagirl.com
  • And our wholesale division that supplies hotels, restaurants, tea shops, and spas as well as many other clients around the world.  

Petali offers a large and diverse selection of different teas and blends, some of which are pretty interesting (Boysenberry Almond Cheesecake Green Tea for example). How do you come up with your blends? 

I am inspired by cultures, interesting ingredients and favorite dessert recipes from around the world. Many times customers make suggestions and I custom blend for them. I have a background in culinary arts and interior design and approach all tea recipes with sensory detail. 

Source: petaliteas.com

What are some of the more unique or “special” teas that you offer?  

I love to blend with ingredients that are specialities from regions such as crystallized flowers from France, chocolate from Belgium and Switzerland, fruits and nuts from family farms and coffee beans from local roasters.   I am always on the look out for the unexpected ingredient such as carrots that I used in our Carrot Cake Tea. 

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients? 

We source from many countries- South America, Canada, Germany, Croatia, China, Japan, India, France, Switzerland, Kenya, to name a few countries. Love to source locally meaning all regions in the USA- many of our citrus, berries and nuts come from our own country.

Which tea from Petali Teas is your favorite? 

I love them all and depends on the season. For wintertime, I am fond of Roasted Almond Chai and Puerhs- Late winter, I crave our citrus and tropical teas such as Mootz Run Blend, Himalayan Sunrise, Mystic grapefruit, Aussie Paradise and Ginger Orange. Summertime, I love our berry teas such as Blackberry Sangria and Berry Chamomile. We also have a nice selection of handcrafted orthodox teas and Japanese teas. 

Thanks Joy! To learn more and view the selection, visit www.petaliteas.com.

Brand Spotlight: Tease Tea

The Tea Box Express February box will feature two teas from Tease Tea, a modern tea company with Canadian roots. Sheena Brady, the tea sommelier who founded Tease Tea, shares with us how she started her company and about their teas (including naming them!).

How did Tease Tea get started and how long has it been around?

Tease in an online tea boutique, born in 2013. At first it was more of a hobby blending tea and herbal ingredients for friends and family after I became a certified Tea Sommelier. I had begun to receive so much positive feedback, that in 2014 I chose to build a strong ecommerce business, catering to the modern tea drinkers goals and desires.

Your customers can shop by desire. What does this mean?

We want our customers to abandon their traditional tea drinking beliefs by asking themselves "What do I want to feel" vs "What do I usually like" Whether you are looking to increase energy, improve focus, destress, promote beauty sleep, we have a tea for that and many more desires. At teasetea.com if you select "Shop Desire" you can shop by our desire collections. IE: Energy Tease, Sleepy Tease, Skinny Tease, Romantic Tease, etc.

Tease Tea offers lots of unique-sounding blends. How do you come up with these?

It is my true creative outlet! I was always envious of the people who got to name nail polish. At Tease Tea, I love to create and design unique blends with names that are not only playful, but also reflect the profile and character of the tea. Each blend truly has it its own personality. 

From where do you source your teas?

We work with specific ingredient suppliers who source from all over the world. Most of our tea however, is from China and Japan. I particularly love Japanese Sencha for it's smooth, subtle character due to the steaming process they use.

 Which tea from Tease Tea is your favorite?

That is like asking a mom to pick her favourite child! Honestly, it really just depends on what mood I'm in. I rely on To the Finish Lime to help increase productivity and focus on days when I have a lot to accomplish. Chai Love You is perfect full bodied, fragrant, and decadent alternative to coffee when you need a pick me up. Show me the Honey really helps me unwind and feel less bloated after a big dinner. Berry me in Kisses is literally dessert in a cup, minus the calories. A guilt free sweet indulgence.

Thanks Sheena! You can learn more (and go shopping!) at teasetea.com.

To purchase a February box, sign up for a gift or a subscription by February 5th.

*Photos courtesy of Tease Tea.

Brand Spotlight: Village Tea Company

The first box of 2016 will feature several fantastic items from Village Tea Company, including a not-to-miss teaware item. Janon, the company's CEO, shares more about the Village Tea Company and their passion for their tea and products.

What is Village Tea Company and how did it get started?

My name is Janon Costley and I am currently the CEO of Village Tea Company Distribution, Inc, owner and distributor of the Village Tea Company brand of premium loose leaf tea, accessories and other complimentary organic/natural food and beverage products. The Company was founded by my business partner, entrepreneur, tea expert and brand development guru,  Martin Ekechuwu. Before launching Village Tea in 2009, Martin worked for Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, and became fascinated by the research available on the health benefits and diversity of flavors of his favorite beverage – tea. Martin had loved tea for as long as he could remember, sharing many a cup with his grandmother as a child in central Europe and finding time to enjoy tea every day as an adult.

Although a fan of tea himself, Martin could not understand why it hadn’t really taken off in America like coffee or carbonated drinks; most teas he found domestically often lacked flavor and did not have the fresh packaging or innovative marketing that would ever make it accessible and desirable for the main- stream consumer. Plus the quality of the teas found in traditional tea bags was so poor, they barely resembled the teas of his youth. This “tea dust” failed to provide the health benefits that high-quality loose leaf teas were known for so Martin knew that he could do better. He embarked on a worldwide, tea-tasting journey, hoping to discover the right flavor combinations that could deliver truly unique and delicious products—along with a spoonful of health benefits—to American consumers. After sampling hundreds of teas from around the world, he developed his own blend of innovative teas with a vast array of combinations to choose from and so began Village Tea Company. 

Please visit www.villageteaco.com for more information 

 

Village Tea has lots of neat tea options. How does the company come up with the different blends?

We only use premium loose leaf tea in all our batches because of the ability to gain more antioxidant and healthy properties versus your traditional tea bag ( or tea “dust”).  Each tea is blended by hand and packaged by hand into one of our 100% biodegradable ( recycled paper) canisters. We source fair trade ingredients for most of our blends and all of our tea’s are now 100% organic. The base flavors are imported and blended to order based on our proprietary flavor combinations which are primarily created by the company founder,  who is a tea expert as well as product development specialist having worked for a number of well known food and beverage consumer products companies in brand development and brand management capacities. 

Village Tea features its own portable teapot. Can you tell us more about this?

Our Mobile Tea Pot has become one of our most popular items. We introduced the mobile tea pot and our travel size (size of a tube of lipstick) loose leaf tea canister, affectionately called, Teasers (currently available in 5 flavors containing 3- 5 servings of tea) as a way of addressing two issues; the need for people to have the ability to take their favorite cups of loose leaf tea with them as they are moving throughout their busy lives but also as a way of simplifying the process for preparing loose leaf, which can be a hindrance for people who are new to drinking loose lead tea.  Simply open your Teaser and empty one - 2 servings of tea into the mobile tea pot, add hot water and let it steps for your desired flavor profile. The mobile tea pot is made of double pane, BPA free high quality material, which can be used to steep 1-1/2 cups of tea at a time.  You can consume the product directly from the unit ( once it cools) or simply pour it into your favorite tea cup when you get to your destination.

Village Tea 6.jpg

From where do you source your teas?

Our teas and ingredients are sourced from all over the world where quality teas are grown. Traditionally we have sourced teas directly from farmers in various countries such as: Sri Lanka for black, China for Green, Black,Oolong and White and South Africa for Rooibos. We have recently expanded our sourcing into other areas such as India.  

Which tea from Village Tea is your favorite?

As the CEO of the Company of course I am a little biased because I like them all depending on my mood, time of day, need and benefit. For a good nights sleep I may drink Our Comfy Organic Chamomille, if I am not feeling well I may have a cup of Organic Lemon Ginger, for an afternoon pick up or everyday antioxidant I may sip on our Cherry Rooibos w/Acai (our most popular flavor) and if I am in the mood for Iced Tea  , I will probably mix use our Sweet Grace Vanilla Rooibos with our Pura Natural Organic Agave Sweetener for a fantastic refreshing summer beverage.   All of our flavors are fantastic and excellent sources for receiving natural health and wellness benefits with each sip. 

Thanks Janon! To learn more about the company and products, visit villageteaco.com.

To purchase a January box, sign up for a subscription or gift by January 5th.

*Photos courtesy of Village Tea Company

Brand Spotlight: FashionistaTea

Tea Box Express's November box will feature a tea from FashionistaTea. Brenda, the founder, shares more about her company, herself, and how she has blended two loves together to create quality tea with a stylish presentation.

FashionistaTea picture.jpg

Source: fashionistatea.com

What is your background and how did you get involved in tea?

Tea has been a love of mine since I was a teenager drinking tea with my Mom at the kitchen table.  Then going out with girlfriends to celebrate special occasions having afternoon tea in tea salons and fancy hotels; I just loved everything about it the etiquette, the fine china, the tea pots (which I collect), the scones and the tiny sandwiches. The whole ritual of taking the time to connect, slow down, especially in this busy world, always appealed to me. 

As I started to travel more, especially trips to Paris, I discovered different types of tea and that there was much more than what we might see on grocery store shelves, led me to read more about tea and study tea more intently becoming a member of The Specialty Tea Institute.  You can never learn enough about “tea” so I am excited to be on this journey!  We’re also happy to give tea a purpose by working on a Holiday Tea fundraiser to benefit an organization that helps children and young adults here in New York City.

How did you come up with the name and where does the “fashion” part come in?

FashionistaTea, came from blending two loves, fashion and tea, together.  I studied fashion design and merchandising in college and later in my television career, I produced many fashion and design segments covering New York Fashion Week and producing segments on Donna Karan, Oscar DeLa Renta, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs, just to name a few.  As a bit of a history buff, I wanted to celebrate the dressing up for “tea” as an occasion.  I wanted our tea tins to be aesthetically pleasing as a great gift and our tea sachets have a stiletto heel tag that hangs over your cup to hopefully put a smile on your face and start a conversation so you feel you are drinking “tea with style.”

From where do you source your teas?

We are a private label company and the teas are sourced from that company which is based in Los Angeles.  They were selected because of their relationships with small growers around the world and the owner is known as a master blender in the industry.  For example our Orange Chamomile comes from a small Egyptian Chamomile farm in Egypt.  It was also important that our tea collectionbe Organic and or Fair Trade to help the environment.  We love the idea through Fair Trade that we are helping small farmers on the other side of the world to work in better living conditions and help provide for their families.

Which tea from FashionistaTea is your favorite?

That’s a little hard, they are like children and we love them all.  But I am partial to our signature Organic “Fashionista” blend, which I created with my tea blender, it was an homage to many of the teas I have enjoyed in my travels, so I had specific ingredients in mind and we went back and forth a few times, tasting and testing until it was something everyone liked.  Some mornings I love it without anything and sometimes in the afternoon, I enjoy it with a little milk.

Thanks Brenda! To view their tea selection and learn more, visit fashionistatea.com.

To order a November box, sign up for a subscription or gift by November 5th.

Brand Spotlight: Golden Moon Tea Company

It's October! This month, we have a delicious tea from a unique company. Marcus Stout, President of Golden Moon Tea Company, has a lot to say about his company, their teas, and his quest for pure toxic-free ingredients. 

Source: goldenmoontea.com

How did Golden Moon Tea get started?

Golden Moon Tea was founded based off a transcendent experience in France in 1994. It was while sitting at an outdoor café on the Boulevard St-Michel that we were first shown the elegant and delicious experience of loose tea. Between the selection of the large tea leaves, the pouring of the water, the wonderful aroma and the rich flavor we were hooked. It was at this moment that we knew we needed to bring real tea like this back to the US. Since then Golden Moon Tea has only sold whole leaf tea and strives to create the same experience that we had that sunny day in Paris.

From where do you source your teas?

Our teas are sourced from farmers who are committed to growing teas the right way. This means that there are no pesticides or chemicals used to “enhance” the tea leaves. The main countries where we get our teas are from the traditional tea growing nations: China, India, Taiwan, Japan and Sri Lanka.

For botanicals, we heavily research where they are from and try our best to source from the origin country. For example, the best Bourbon Vanilla comes from Madagascar. Because of this we source our vanilla beans directly from the best vanilla farms in the country.

Can you tell us more about the ingredients you use and your commitment to avoiding artificial flavors?

In the beginning of 2013 I was at one of those points in my life. I was in a rut where I just felt off. I had little energy, was grumpy and felt like I was starting to burn out. I needed to make a change so I made a drastic change in my diet. I decided to remove all harmful chemicals from everything I eat and drink. This means I do not eat any GMO’s, pesticides or any other manipulation that was created by the food industry. The change in my life was astounding. After a few weeks my mind was crystal clear whereas it felt like it was foggy before. I had energy. I lost a ton of weight. The interesting part of this is all of this was due to avoiding hidden chemicals in processed foods.

When I decided to apply these same changes to my teas I was shocked. I was shocked that I was lied to by omission by our flavor companies. I was shocked to find out how many chemicals are found in teas that were promised to be pure. The biggest surprise came when I found out how GMO’s and plastics are used in the making of teabags and other teaware. I needed to review each and every one of my teas and find pure alternatives.

My quest for pure teas hit a dead end right away. I was told over and over again that I cannot make blends without the use of any chemicals or “natural” flavors from almost every vendor I know, even well respected tea blenders that sell to the largest tea companies. It seems that the food and flavor industry is so intertwined with tea it is almost impossible to avoid them. I could see right way that I was on my own. I needed to source each and every ingredient myself to ensure its purity. This was the only way I could ensure that everything I used was actually grown and not made with hidden chemicals.

After 8 months of searching, sourcing and testing every tea leaf, vanilla bean, mint leaf and other crops used for our blends, I am proud to say that our teas are now 100% pure. The food industry does not manipulate us like they do every other tea company. This means no pesticides, GMO’s, plastics or “natural” flavors that are created in a lab. Just pure and toxic free tea.

Which Golden Moon tea is your favorite?

Interesting question. I really don’t believe in favorites (not for tea, food or anything really). What I like to do is think of the best tea for the situation I am in. On a cold snowy day after being outside nothing beats a authentic Chai that is brewed directly in milk. In the early spring I love a cup of vibrant Sencha first thing in the morning when the scents of Spring are at their strongest. And if I am having a full blown breakfast with pancakes or waffles I love Sinharaja with milk - It just brings me back to my childhood. 

Thanks Marcus! To learn more about Golden Moon Tea and view their tea selection, visit goldenmoontea.com.

To order an October box, purchase a subscription or a gift by October 5th.

Brand Spotlight: Full Leaf Tea Company

The Tea Box Express September box will feature a tea from Full Leaf Tea Company. Matt, who co-founded the company with his wife, Lisa, shares more about Full Leaf, the vast selection of tea they offer, and their high value on customer service.

 

Source: fullleafteacompany.com

Tell us a little about Full Leaf Tea Company and how it got started.

Full Leaf Tea Company  values the “tea experience" just as much, if not more, than the products we offer. We (Matt and Lisa Hammonds) launched Full Leaf with the intentions of sharing our passion of tea with anyone and everyone. 

The heart of the company is the personal touch with each customer. With every order, a handwritten note is placed within each box.  We talk directly with any of our customers that have questions right away.  We like to be in touch with what our customers are looking for so we can give them an experience they will love!

Full Leaf offers a lot of tea options! Can you tell us more about how you come up with your different blends?

Our blends are created based of a handful of things. We strive to create the perfect blend for every need. Our research on ingredients is a HUGE part of how we decide what is brought together. 

For an example, our “SkinnyMe” tea was created out of the demand of a metabolism boosting/weight loss tea. Though we all know there is no “magic potion” that will drop the pounds, we found some key ingredients that will naturally help the process. Though trial and error, we found the perfect ratio of spicy, sweet, and rich to bring fourth a delicious cup. (whether you want the benefits or not! :) )  

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

Our teas and ingredients are sourced from ALL over the world! If we can buy local (herbs/spices) we do. But we work directly with the source to ensure the quality of each product we receive.

Source: fullleafteacompany.com

Which Full Leaf tea is your favorite?

Now that’s TRICKY! There are so many categories of tea to choose from!

My wife has a few favorites, lets start with her…

Fancy French Breakfast- black tea with a hint of vanilla

Seasonal Tea- “Holiday Brew” She thinks its like Christmas in a cup

Organic Masala Chai- She drinks it with a little honey and almond milk

I happen to have a sweet spot for matcha.  I drink our ceremonial matcha almost daily because it is delicious and gives me the perfect level of energy all day.

As for our other teas, I really like all of our “raw” tea like our Lung Ching green tea or our Award Winning Chamraj Estate Handmade oolong tea.

The good news is with more than 100 teas to choose from, you will never be bored!

Thanks Matt! To learn more and see the incredible tea selection for yourself, visit fullleafteacompany.com.

To sign up for a September box that features a tin of Full Leaf Tea Company tea, purchase a subscription or a gift by September 5th.

Brand Spotlight: Chai Diaries

It's already July and we have a great box coming up this month! July's featured tea is from Chai Diaries. The company's founder, Ami (<--she grew up on a tea plantation in India!!!) was kind enough to share a little more with us about Chai Diaries.

Source: mychaidiaries.com

How did Chai Diaries get started and how long has it been around?

I started Chai Diaries in 2013 when I moved to America from India.  My family has harvested tea in India for over 100 years, which motivated by passion from a very young age. I’m inspired by the serene joy that comes from the tea drinking experience and I wanted to share the culture and ritual of tea drinking with others.

Have you always been a tea enthusiast?

You could say I was born a tea enthusiast.  Growing up on my family’s beautiful tea plantation was enough to get me hooked.  Each flavor recipe is an exciting tasting adventure as you perfect the blend. I have a love for developing refined blends and beautiful aromas because it captures my memories from childhood and allows me to share this experience with others.   

How did you come up with the name and where does the “diaries” part come in?

Chai Diaries is built on the principle of honesty and the importance of self-reflection.  The ritual of enjoying tea is sacred to each individual. You pick a tea based on the mood of the present moment and I encourage its enjoyment as a reprieve in what may otherwise be an overwhelming day. Tea drinking can be both a personal and introspective experience or shared with a friend, but I believe it should always provide pleasure.

From where do you source your teas?

Our teas are sourced directly from tea growing estates around the world. We have years of relationships established with the estate owners across countries like India, China, Japan, Taiwan, allowing us to ensure that we are procuring what’s best for our customers. Our specialty teas are then hand blended in-house in California with natural whole fruits and botanicals. Each tin is hand packed fresh when we receive orders from customers, ensuring their Chai Diaries experience is one filled with freshness and love!

Which Chai Diaries tea is your favorite?

Oh well that would definitely depend on my mood.  What I love so much about Chai Diaries is that we offer an array of premium teas to suit each and every mood and function.  In the morning, I love having our Chinese Organic Dragonwell, a beautiful pan-fired green tea exclusive to that area in China. But in the evenings I’ll enjoy something a little more fruity and iced, like our Blood Orange blend or our summer favorite – Passion Fruit Oolong!

Thanks Ami! To learn more and see their tea selection, visit mychaidiaries.com.

To sign up for a July box that contains Chai Diaries tea, purchase a subscription or a gift by July 5th.