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: Two Leaves and a Bud

The April box contains an exceptional tea from Two Leaves and a Bud.  Christy was kind enough to share a little more with us about the company and their tea.

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Source: twoleavestea.com

How did Two Leaves and a Bud get started?

Richard Rosenfeld started Two Leaves and a Bud in 2004 after traveling extensively in Asia for business where he became passionate about tea. He was confounded by not finding that same quality tea back at home. So he went to the tea gardens in Sri Lanka. He started from the source, building relationships with organic tea farmers from whom the company sources small quantities of tea each growing season. Two Leaves has built an international reputation for being the premier source for the highest quality organic and  fairly traded tea in whole leaf tea sachets, iced tea, loose leaf and now teabags, from its Paisley Label Tea collection.

The company is named for the top two leaves and bud of the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) plucked to make the world's best tea. Our independent tea company is based in a small mountain town in Colorado - because we love living here!

Can you tell us more about where do your teas come from?

Our gardens are located in some of the most beautiful places, all over the world, from the rolling hills of Darjeeling, India, to the arid eastern Washington State. We have a personal relationship with our organic gardens, and are honored to support their small-farm mentality. The teas are hand-plucked and packed near the garden so that the tea is as fresh as it possibly can be. From the gardens, the tea takes a quick journey to our warehouse and then is delivered to your cup.

Which Two Leaves and a Bud tea is your favorite? 

Since we are constantly cupping new teas and developing new flavor profiles, favorites tend to change around here. However, the green tea that gets the most praise and attention at the office is Organic Tamayokucha, while the most favored black tea is our best-selling Organic Assam.

What sets Two Leaves and a Bud apart from other tea companies?

The tea!  You’ll taste the difference. That’s because we are committed to offering truly great tea.              We do that by:

  • sourcing and blending the highest quality teas. 
  • letting the quality ingredients stand out in our teas, as opposed to using lower quality blending teas and masking tea with flavoring.
  • offering organic, fairly traded, sustainable teas because that matters to us, just like it matters to you.

At Two Leaves and a Bud, we take tea personally. Our passion is connecting tea lovers with the teas they love and introducing new tea drinkers to truly great tea.

Thanks Christy!  For more information and an outstanding tea selection visit the Two Leaves and a Bud website.

There's still time to sign up!  The deadline for the April box is April 5th.  You can purchase a subscription or a gift.