Brand Spotlight: coco love

In May, we had an amazing box starring a lovely tea by coco love, Sophia Shimmer Chamomile Tisane. This box was fun and colorful and made a wonderful Mother’s Day gift for those who ordered it for that purpose.

Lindsey, of coco love, shares more about the company and their premium loose leaf tea blends.


Source: teaboxexpress on Instagram

How did coco love get started and how long has it been around? 

In 2010 I started a baking company. I focused on weddings, events, and wholesale baked goods for local cafes. As I got to know other people in the food community, I was introduced to Alexis of Teaspoons and Petals. One day over tea, she suggested pairing teas with my popular and uniquely-flavored shortbread cookies. I was so impressed with tea’s ability to transform flavor, that coco love™ Teas was born!

Where do you get the inspiration for your different blends? How do you name them? 

For our premiere collection, my husband and I knew we wanted to have a range of tea types that would appeal to tea enthusiasts and novices alike. We launched with three teas: a huang jin gui called Lily Golden Oolong, a genmaicha named Emma, and a bespoke black tea blended with ground caramel named Olivia. Each tea (and tea pairing) starts with a muse, a woman we dreamed up. I have a Pinterest board for each lady in our collection including her hometown, mode of transportation (Lily rides a vespa!), and pet! These muses are our way of getting into the minds of our customers so we’re able to provide the best tea experience in every cup. To round out the collection, we introduced Sophia and Juliet, a chamomile tisane and chai respectively.


Source: cocoloveteas on Instagram

On your website, you offer recipes and pairing ideas for your teas. Why is this pairing aspect important to you?

I’ll never forget the experience of tasting one of my rosemary tea cookies paired with tea. I baked these cookies daily for years, so the flavor is very familiar to my palate. But when Alexis brought genmaicha to enjoy with my cookies, I experienced the flavor in a whole new way. Pairing tea and foods creates time and space in which to enjoy and savor. We want to share this experience with everyone who enjoys coco love™ Teas!



Which coco love tea is your favorite?

For me, it depends on the time of day. Lately, I’m waking up with Lily Golden Oolong. Even in the hot late summer months on the East Coast, I find Lily soothing and energizing. Mid-day calls for iced tea and our Olivia Caramel Black Tea is so delicious hot or iced! In the evening, I wind down and relax with Sophia, our chamomile tisane. This herbal blend is the perfect way to settle in for some calm at the end of the day.

Thanks Lindsey! Your tea and it’s presentation is a work of art! Learn more at

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Brand Spotlight: Flower Pot Tea Company

Our April box included two very unique teas, both from Flower Pot Tea Company: a blooming tea made of white tea, marigold flowers, and jasmine flowers, and a chrysanthemum tisane. It was quite a flowery box! Jason, the company's founder gives us more information about his company and these amazing teas.

April 2018 Tea Box Express

April 2018 Tea Box Express

Where did you get the idea for Flower Pot Tea Company and how long has it been around?  

I lived in Asia for many years and discovered these various teas and tisanes while living there (with more variety to come!). I wanted to bring them back to the US, and hence I started Flower Pot Tea Company just a year ago, in March 2017.

Can you tell us a little about how flowering teas are made? How do you come up with the different flavors? 

The teas are made using white tea, a young leaf which undergoes the least processing – simply drying. The flowers are grown separately. The tea leaves are wetted and then hand-sewn around a the flowers, making a ball that blooms when boiling water is added. We wanted half fruity flavors – peach, berry and pomegranate and half mellow flavors – jasmine, coconut and lavender. We chose flavors that were trendy but also available to source from China.

flower pot blooming tea.jpg

Blooming Tea, Source:

From where do you source your flowers? 

They are from different parts of China – Yunnan, Fujian, Zhejiang

 Which flowering tea or tisane is your favorite? 

The Lotus for sure. It comes from a single source: A monastery in China. Watching it open and seeing it fill the pot…there’s nothing quite like it. The taste baffles everyone…no one can quite discern what it tastes like, and they all give different comparisons. It’s very earthy and slightly sweet. It’s also good with honey.


Source: flowerpotbloomingtea on Instagram

Thanks Jason! Learn more about flowering teas and see the amazing (and beautiful!) selection at

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Brand Spotlight: Story of My Tea

February was one of those lucky months where we featured not one but two amazing teas! Both selections, Dark Rose Hearts and I'm a Gypsy came from Story of My Tea. Mara, from Story of My Tea, was nice enough to share more about the company and their teas.

feb 2018 tea box 2.jpg

February 2018 tea box, Source: Tea Box Express on Instagram

What is the concept behind Story of My Tea?

We feel that our world today encourages us to easily form little bubbles of existence. We always try to associate with familiar things. Even on social media, the updates we get are based on algorithms that only show us things we usually enjoy the most. All this creates an environment where we increasingly fail to appreciate everything that is on the other side of the fence, so we decided to create a platform that caters to the explorer and the adventurer in all of us and bring the best quality teas from every territory of the planet.

gypsy tea.jpg

I'm a Gypsy Tea, Source:

How do you source and select your teas?

We find them directly at the source, we buy them from other suppliers and brands around the world, we pick them right off of the streets where the locals get them from the target countries, and we also make sure we are sourcing from award winning suppliers and that the teas are loved by thousands of the locals. The idea is to experience teas and tea cultures as authentically as we can. We taste all of the teas that we send, and every time we are trying a new tea, we ask ourselves if this tea is something we would share with the most important people in our life. 



Can you tell us about your new tea app?

The app will be launching on June 2018. It is an app completely free and open for all users (you don't need to be subscribed to Story of My tea). It is an app that allows you to track all the teas that you have tasted and record the aromas and flavors of these teas. It will also help you to discover more teas that align with your preferences. 

What is one of your favorite teas that you sell?

My favorite tea is always I'm a Gypsy. It is the perfect tea for winter and summer (as an iced tea). I just love it! Because it is caffeine free I can sip it all day. Every time I need to cheer myself up I drink this tea. 

Thanks Mara! Learn more about Story of My Tea at and see their beautiful photos on Instagram, storyofmytea.

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Brand Spotlight: Polar Tea Co.

Our January box featured a green tea selection from Polar Tea Co., an artisan tea company located in Ontario, Canada. Amanda from Polar Tea shares more about the company she started and the unique blends she creates.


January 2018 Box, Source: Tea Box Express on Instagram

How did you get into tea and how did Polar Tea Co. get started?

I have always loved tea, but a few years ago I started taking classes to become a tea sommelier (I'm almost done!). This opened up a whole new way of appreciating tea that I hadn't realized before. It taught me how to truly experience tea using all of my senses, and I learned a lot about the different flavours and types of tea out there. 

Taking these classes also introduced me to a lot of amazing people. These people all loved tea, and many owned their own businesses. I received lots of advice and encouragement through this little tea community. It gave me the courage to take the leap and start my own.


Source: Polar Tea Co on Instagram

You have an impressive selection, including some very creative blends! How do you come up with your blends?

I listen to my customers. Every time I get a request, I write it down. When I start trying to source and blend new teas, I look over this list for inspiration. 

I also blend according to the season, based on trends and seasonal ingredients. You will see a lot of small batch, seasonal blends show up on the website for a limited time. Examples of this are Pumpkin Chai, Blueberry Crumble, White Christmas, and many more! Sometimes a seasonal blend is so popular it becomes a part of the regular rotation.


 Polar Tea Co. Blends (Photo credit: Lisa Vuyk - lisavphoto)

What is your personal tea ritual?

Right now, it is very cold in Canada, where I am based. I find tea the best way to keep warm during a Canadian winter :) I always have at least one mug of strong black tea in the morning. I bring a thermos of oolong or green tea to help me get through the afternoon. In the evening, my favourite thing to do is have a mug of caffeine free tea such as Coconut Almond Chai, and pair it with chocolate! Tea helps me focus in the morning, and relax in the evening.

I also often make tea for friends when they are over. The best way to spend an afternoon is chatting over a cup of tea! Tea brings everyone together.

 Which Polar Tea Co. tea is your favorite?

Right now, I am enjoying Royal Vanilla black tea in the mornings, and the last of the Chocolate Chai (limited edition Christmas blend) in the evenings. My favourite teas change every week :)

Thanks Amanda! To learn more about Polar Tea and view all their tea selections, visit

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Brand Spotlight: BlendBee

BlendBee is a Lake Tahoe-based tea business that has amazing tea blends to choose from and even lets customers create their own! Battle Born, their spicy green tea, made an appearance in the Tea Box Express October box. Jamah, BlendBee's founder, shares more about her company and her blends.


Source: BlendBee on lnstagram

Tell us a little about BlendBee and how it got started.

I have studied and immersed myself the health & wellness industry for the last 20 years. Natural remedies have always fascinated me. I love concocting blends of herbs and teas to help myself and my friends/family reach certain health goals. I decided that everyone should have the option to create their own perfect tea blend, and BlendBee was born. My customers LOVE that they are able to create their own perfect blends for themselves.  BlendBee has grown from just an idea of mine to a full functioning company in Lake Tahoe, it is very exciting. I found a wonderful space that we created into a commercial kitchen right by the lake, surrounded by forest, we call it the "Tea Hive". Every season in Tahoe is gorgeous and inspiring, and I'm lucky enough to be able to hike to the Hive (or snowshoe in the winter), you will often find my inspiration in the names of our blends "Tahoe The Mornin' To Ya"! I'm very excited for the future of BlendBee, we are just getting started!


Hello Tahoe! Source: BlendBee on Instagram

You have tons of delicious sounding tea blends and even let customers create their own. Can you explain more about the creative process that goes into making your blends?

My customers are the best, and daily we are creating their custom blends, which also give us a ton of inspiration. Our "Make Your Own" feature is often used to create personalized gifts, as well as promotional blends for brands and companies. Often within that process we create a blend so great, it has to go up on the site for everyone. More often than not, I create a blend based on my own personal cravings. Take my blend Thin Mintea as an example. I had a craving for Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies, but I didn't want to indulge (I follow a strict plant based diet). So I created a healthful blend that tastes just like the cookie but is beneficial for people with diabetes, or people that are wanting a sweet treat without the guilt. Creating a delicious tea blend is like creating a great recipe, it takes knowledge and expertise of each ingredient. Most importantly the quality of every thing we use, we are very picky where we get our ingredients, and it makes all the difference within our blends. We don't cut corners, you get the best of the best.

From where do you source your teas and other ingredients?

All over the world. We work with a few suppliers here in the states that have contracts with some small farms as well as organic and fair trade farms worldwide. We are very picky about each and every ingredient we use within our blends. Some of our ingredients aren't certified organic, yet they are not grown with any harmful chemicals or pesticides. Some of these smaller farms in other countries can't afford our organic certification, it is a very expensive and daunting process.

They take pride in their land and their farming practices, and it is reflected in their crops. I love supporting the "little guys" when I can.


Source: BlendBee on Instagram

Which BlendBee tea is your favorite?

Right now, I honestly can't get enough of Burn Baby Burn, my spiced turmeric infused white and green tea blend. It is the newest BlendBee blend that I created in conjunction with Chill Baby Chill (reduce stress & detox herbal blend).

It is kind of our take on a weight loss/detox combination, without the "hype". I absolutely love the spiciness of Burn Baby Burn, and the anti-inflammatory properties are out of this world. It tastes like a rich, spiced chai, but with white and green tea. I have been on a mission to look my best in a bikini for my 40th Birthday and I am thrilled with my results using this combination. My other favorites lately have been Mountain Matcha, Sierra Sunrise & Tahoe The Mornin' To Ya!

Thank you Jamah! Try other BlendBee teas (even create your own blend!!!) and receive 15% off with the code TEABOXEXPRESS at

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Brand Spotlight: JusTea

The August box includes a unique tea from a special company. Purple Leaf Tea from Kenya is brought to us by JusTea, a forward-thinking company that provides jobs and sustainable wages to rural farmers. Paul from JusTea shares more about Purple Leaf Tea and the amazing they're doing in Kenya.


Source: justeakenya on Instagram

What is Purple Leaf Tea?

Purple Leaf Tea is a natural cultivar of “Camelia Sinensis Assamica.”

Over 25 years ago the TRFK (Tea Research Foundation of Kenya, now known as the TRI, Tea Research Institute) began research on a ‘Purple Tea’ cultivar. The TRFK was able to successfully develop a new Purple cultivar by naturally crossbreeding it with the tea’s anthocyanin rich cousin “Camelia Irrawadiensis.” In 2011, the Tea Directorate finally began to encourage local farmers to plant the first of the purple tea bushes. This project could turn out to be the most significant and influential that the TRFK has ever undertaken.



Does purple tea only grow in certain locations?

Purple Tea grows in less than 100 tea gardens across Kenya. The Purple Leaf Tea in the August box grows West of the Rift Valley in Nandi Hills - from the highest elevations of tea gardens in all of Africa at 2,047 m above sea level. 

Is purple leaf tea a new thing or just new to us?

It is not new in Kenya but it is definitely new to us here in the West! It is a very special tea and the farmers are very excited to share it with you!

What is your relationship with tea farmers in Kenya?

We work directly with small-scale farmers in Nandi Hills led by the Katah family. We travel back and forth to Kenya every year and have been there over 11 times. We were fortunate to host Boaz and his wife Jamila (our key partners), on their first trip to Canada earlier this year! Our teas are Fair Trade Federation certified and we have already created over 200 jobs in rural Kenya for women and youth.


Source: justeakenya on Instagram

What purple tea blends do you offer and which one is the most popular?

We offer 4 different Purple Teas:

  • Purple Leaf Tea (Pure, unblended)
  • Purple Rain - Fruity blend
  • Purple Mint - Refreshing blend
  • Purple Jasmine - Floral blend

So far the most popular is Purple Rain but my personal favourite is the Purple Jasmine :)

Thanks Paul! Want to try more AND take advantage of a special offer?

Use the code TeaBox for 20% off all Purple Teas at

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Brand Spotlight: Beach House Teas

The July Tea Box Express featured two amazing products by Washington State-based Beach House Teas: Blueberry Beach Breeze, a very summery tea blend, and rose petal-infused pure cane sugar. Crindalyn, founder of Beach House Teas, lets us in on her special formula: her talents and interests combine perfectly for running a tea business and her surroundings provide just the right inspiration.

Source: beachhouseteas on Instagram

Tell us a little about Beach House Teas. How did it get started and why the beach theme? 

I talk a bit in the next question about where Beach House Teas inspiration came from, but the actual leap into business was inspired in my kitchen and my love of tea. I would create blends for friends and family for birthdays, holidays, etc and was always told I should start my own business. So a hobby and passion turned into Beach House Teas. I have a background in Marketing and Graphic Design, have a love of photography, gardening and just a love of creating so with BHT I'm able to utilize a lot of my skills and find it a great outlet and not a job. 

The beach theme was actually an easy choice. We are located in Long Beach, Washington (don't confuse us with Long Beach, California) and there's a lot of beach and water on three sides. The Long Beach Peninsula - dubbed the world's longest beach as it's the longest continuous driving beach at around 29 miles. We wake up every morning to our beach inspiration. 

Source: beachhouseteas on Instagram

You have such interesting tea blends (even the names are creative!). How do you come up with your concoctions?

There's a lot of experimentation that we go through.  I grew up in a family that was always creative in the kitchen and had large gardens that we'd always figure out ways to include what we grew. We grew up around mountains and spent a lot of time foraging for wild plants and berries.  My grandmother worked with folks in the homemade beer and wine industry and I grew up helping her in not only the creation of the homemade spirits but worked the retail side helping customers. Through this childhood and lots of personal study in herbalism, botany and the culinary world as hobbies, that all comes together with paying attention to what is in season, sourcing local and Pacific Northwest ingredients and we find some unique blends in not only ingredients but flavor as well. Through both my mom and grandmother allowing me to be creative in the kitchen, I ended up winning a national baking contest when I was 9 with a lemon and lavender cookie bar recipe that I created on my own. The Pacific Northwest definitely inspires not only our ingredients and blends, but the names of our teas and other products as well, but do tend toward the beach theme. 

What other tea-related items do you sell?

We not only sell accessories like tea infusers and tea pots, but tea-infused soy candles and tea-infused bath salts, foot soaks and bath bombs. 

Source: beachhouseteas on Instagram

Besides as a sweetener for tea, what else can your herb-infused sugars be used for?

The herb-infused teas a pretty versatile. You can use them to replace your regular sugar in baking recipes or top cookies/cupcakes, top fruit, mix into homemade ice cream, top toast instead of cinnamon/sugar, use in jams, make a simple syrup, line the rim of your iced tea glass or cocktail glass, sweeten popsicles - we have proof now it works :)

Which Beach House tea is your favorite?

My personal favorite currently is Cascade Meadows and Beach Beautiful for my everyday teas. But once summer hits, I tend to the iced blends with Toes in the Sand and Inland Iced Chai at the top of my go tos. 

Thanks Crindalyn! To learn more about Beach House Teas and see all their awesome products, go to

And can still sign up for the August box! Subscribe or buy a gift by 8/5.

Brand Spotlight: Pearl Soda Company

Who tried the Vanilla Rooibos tea syrup by Pearl Soda Company in the June box?! Tea syrup is a fun and unique tea product. To make a drink, you just add to seltzer water or follow a simple recipe to create a cocktail. Liz, co-founder of the company, shares more about her company and their products.

How did you get the inspiration for starting Pearl Soda Company?

Like many people, we stumbled on the idea and just couldn't get our minds off of it. The first tea soda was made on a hot summer day when I was working at our sister company, The Jasmine Pearl. I kept wanting to make Dancing Dragon into a stronger, more refreshing iced tea because it was so close to tasting like old fashioned root beer. I realized it would be never be exactly what I hoped without bubbles. So we pulled the soda stream out of the break room and started trying to make sparkling Dancing Dragon. Pretty soon we were sharing with customers and the idea just kind of took hold. It was such a fantastically fun group project to discover awesome flavors and perfect the whole idea. We hope that fun shows in our final product. 

Image courtesy of Pearl Soda Co.

What is tea syrup and what can we do with it?

Tea syrup is a simple concept with a lot of creative possibility. We carefully blend and brew tea at a very high concentration and then add a little pure cane sugar.  Think of it as a simple syrup packed full of flavor. Although our original vision was to make syrups that would eventually become sparkling tea, one of my favorite things is seeing all the awesome ways people use them. You can use them to make mocktails, cocktails, tea flavored desserts, floats- anything! Just keep in mind that one ounce of syrup is enough flavor for a pint sized glass and start experimenting.

Do you have a simple recipe that uses the Vanilla Rooibos tea syrup?

Sure! Vanilla Rooibos has such a nice, creamy flavor that it unsurprisingly pairs well with creamy things. I love love love Vanilla Rooibos with sparkling water and a scoop of butter pecan ice cream on top. It's a grown up, extra yummy, crazy smooth and decadent float. You can take it one step further by adding a shot of bourbon. 

In a pint glass, add:

  • 10 oz. sparkling water
  • 1 oz. of Vanilla Rooibos syrup
  • one generous scoop of butter pecan ice cream
  • 1.5 oz. bourbon (optional)

Give it a little stir and dig in!

Also, our website full of other fun ideas,

Source: pearlsodacompany on Instagram

Which tea syrup flavor is your favorite?

I get this all the time, and it's always a difficult question because I sincerely love them all. I'd say, I reach for either Dancing Dragon or Blue Mt. Sunshine the most often. Dancing Dragon is so unique and its also the flavor that sparked this whole project so I have a special place for it in my heart. It's made from some of my favorite things; Sarsaparilla- the dominant flavor in root beer, Puerh- aged earthy tea from Yunnan province in China, and Honeybush- a cousin of rooibos that tastes like honey. Blue Mt. Sunshine, on the other hand is very classic. It's made from Nilgiri black tea from the blue mountains of southern India, lemongrass and lemon myrtle. The flavor is kind of like a very gentle Arnold Palmer and it's so fun and easy to make cocktails with. Just a little dash of vodka or gin and you're done!  

Thanks Liz! Learn more and order your syrup at

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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.


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.


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

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.


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.


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

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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. 


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

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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:

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.


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

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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

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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

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

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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.


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

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

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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. 



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

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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.


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

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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.


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). 


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

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