About TeaMaven1

Diane Davidson has loved tea since her early days sipping tea with her mother after dinner. Tea evokes memories of family, friendship, and community.

Sri-Lanka, India, and Nepal Tea Tour – 2008

It’s hard to believe that it has been five years since I journeyed to Sri-Lanka, India, and Nepal for a tea tour that spanned key tea growing regions in those three countries.  I discovered the tour in a copy of Tea Magazine.  There it was, a World Tea Tours trip to India for people in the tea business or folks like me who are just passionate about tea.

A Tea Tasting - a myriad of colors and leaf types

A Tea Tasting – a myriad of colors and leaf types

It was an amazing trip.  The tour included the tea regions of Nilgiri, Assam, and Darjeeling in India as well as Nepal and Sri-Lanka.  We visited tea estates and plantations, learned how to do a tea tasting (think wine tasting – lots in common), attended a tea auction, met with Tea Boards, went into the fields and picked tea, etc.

We dined at private homes, often the estate manager’s home where we got a first hand look and taste of the regions of India.  And of course, we visited a number of the traditional sites like the Taj Mahal, Jaipur, temples, city sites in Kolkata and New Delhi, etc.

Picking tea

Picking tea

But it was mostly a tea immersion trip – a trip to learn about tea, where and how it is grown, harvested, processed, sold, and shipped.   Indeed I was, and still am, a novice.   My fellow travelers, many of whom are in the biz were busy taking notes and photos throughout.  I was trying to keep my head above water and not be overwhelmed.

Carrying the harvested tea to the scales

Carrying the harvested tea to the scales

 

 

Our lodgings were consistently excellent.  A number of India’s old tea estates have been turned into wonderful lodges or hotels.  By far my favorite lodging was the Wild Mahseer Lodge in Assam which had an elegance and decor that was sublime.  I could have stayed for several days enjoying day trips to the various estates in the region, as well as the luxurious setting.    Wild Mahseer is one of the nicest places I have ever stayed on any continent.

Mahseer Lodge sitting room

Mahseer Lodge sitting room

 

Mahseer Lodge Breakfast Room - so inviting

Mahseer Lodge Breakfast Room – so inviting

 

Dan Robertson is the owner of World Tea Tours as well as The Tea House in Naperville, IL. He’s a remarkable person and I feel quite fortunate to have taken my first tea immersion trip under his leadership.   He continues to grow and expand his trips and itineraries and I plan to participate in one of his China tours.

 

Tea in the Garden. You’re Invited.

Orchard Nursery and Florist are sponsoring a tea event, Tea in the Garden, this Thursday, September 26 in the Lazy K House, their oh-so-distinctive gift shop.   The program is split into two sittings, a morning session at 11:30 a.m. and an afternoon session at 2:30 p.m.

Garden designer Laurie Callaway speaks in the morning and will share stories from her private garden tours in Great Britain.

I will be speaking in the afternoon and talk about exploring tea plantations in India, something I did in the last year. I’m thrilled to have been asked to speak especially since I love all things tea related.

The event requires registration and tickets are $40. Learn more about Tea in the Garden and Orchard Nursery here.

 

 

Functionality, Flexibility, and Fun – brewing tea for yourself or your guest

In 2006,  I purchased my first electric tea kettle and never looked back.  The kettle was a Breville SK500XL Ikon Cordless 1.7-Liter Stainless-Steel Electric Kettle,  a fabulous basic kettle that heats water to 212 degrees, a rolling boil, and then shuts off automatically.  Since I was mostly into black tea at the time, the kettle was more than sufficient.  I have recommended that kettle to many a friend and family member.

Recently I have been branching out to oolong, green, and white teas, each of which is best if brewed at a specific temperature for a specific length of time.  Very often the tea purveyor will indicate both the recommended temperature and length of time that is optimal for the tea you are purchasing.

FORLIFE Stackable Red Teapot and Cuisinart Electric Water Kettle

FORLIFE Stackable Red Teapot and Cuisinart Electric Water Kettle

  • Green tea – 175 degrees
  • White tea – 185 degrees
  • Oolong tea – 190 degrees
  • Black or Herbal – 212 degrees

Since I was also doing some tea tastings in my home, it was time to shop for a new kettle.  My choice was the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle.   It’s easy to use – simply select the temperature you want, push the button, and the water heats to the selected temperature and gently beeps when ready.  This kettle has a ‘keep warm’ feature that automatically keeps your water at the selected (actually slightly under your temperature) for 30 minutes.

Either the Breville or the Cuisinart is a good choice depending on your needs.  If you want an incredibly simple device that strictly boils water and shuts off, the Breville is a great way to go.  If you need more gradation in water temperature, go for the Cuisinart.  If you have an older parent or grandparent, these devices are particularly good as you simply cannot boil the kettle dry.   For overall simplicity, go with the Breville.

FORLIFE 18 ounce stackable red teapot with infuser

FORLIFE 18 ounce stackable red teapot with infuser

My next really cool tea accoutrement is the FORLIFE Stump 18-Ounce Teapot with SLS Lid and Infuser, Red.  This little 18-ounce pot is modern, makes about 3 teacups or 2 large mugs of tea, has its own infuser, and comes in a myriad of wonderful colors – white, red, marine, lime, carrot, turquoise, grey, black and yellow.  Best of all the pots can stack on top of each other – saving space.  I have gifted many of these little pots to friends.  I always include one or two teas I think they will like and often some special tea treats like shortbread or tea chocolates.  My bright red pot sits on my counter all the time and, although I only have the one, I would love to have at 3 or 4 of these little pots in varying colors.  They are great for house guests, allowing you to make smallish pots of the tea.  Your guests can choose the color of the pot and the type of tea for an extra touch of personal service and fun – decaf, green, black, herbal, oolong, etc.  Your electric kettle will let you easily fill two or possibly even three of the little pots.   FORLIFE stump teapots are readily available at Amazon, Peets Coffee and Tea, Harney and Sons and many other places.

2nd Annual San Francisco Tea Festival – Educational and Fun

Roy Fong, James Norwood Pratt, Michael Spillane, and Rona Tison - Speakers at the Second Annual San Francisco Tea Festival

Roy Fong, James Norwood Pratt, Michael Spillane, and Rona Tison – Speakers at the Second Annual San Francisco Tea Festival

The Second Annual San Francisco Tea Festival was held on Sunday, March 10th at the Ferry Building by the Bay Bridge.  What a delightful, educational and special day.  I attended 3 wonderful talks by long-standing San Franciscan tea veterans – Michael Spillane, Rona Tison, and Roy Fong. James Norwood Pratt, whom I had heard just a few weeks ago at the Heather Gardens fundraiser introduced all three speakers. (His excellent “Tea Dictionary” is now my ‘go to’ book for tea information and research.)

The first talk, History of Tea in the US, was given by Michael Spillane.  Mr. Spillane’s family has been in the San Francisco tea business since prior to the Great Depression.  As the gateway to the Pacific, it is no surprise that San Francisco dominated the US Tea business up until WWII, when it moved east to NYC – my other favorite North American metropolis.  A couple factoids that surprised me:

  • 85-90% of the tea consumed in the US is iced
  • 85% of tea purchased continues is in tea bag form, not loose tea
  • Snapple, introduced in 1987, drove much of the tea growth in the US
  • In 1987 tea was a $1.2 Billion dollar business: in 2012 it was a $12 Billion business and is expected to grow another 25% in the next 3 years
  • Pre-WWII, most tea consumed in the US was green tea; During WWII and thereafter, it has been black tea.
  • The tea thrown overboard in the Boston Tea Party was green tea

The next talk was by Rona Tison, Sr VP of Corporate Relations for ITO EN (NA) Inc.  She spoke about Japanese tea history, processing, and culture.  I learned that Japanese teas are ‘steamed’ to stop oxidation vs. the pan firing or roasting that is done for Chinese teas. That steaming step is what creates the significant flavor difference between Chinese and Japanese green tea.  I’m used to keeping teas for a long time but she stressed that green tea is best consumed within 4-6 months of purchase.  I’m looking forward to tasting ITO EN’s  Ginger Tangerine Green Tea that can be purchased online.

Roy Fong and yours truly  - am I happy or what?  Great Talk!

Roy Fong and yours truly – am I happy or what? Great Talk!

Perhaps my favorite speaker of the day was Roy Fong, owner of The Imperial Tea Court (ITC) in the Ferry Building and in Berkeley.  Mr. Fong opened his first store on July 4th, 1993 in San Francisco’s Chinatown.  I lunched at the ITC in the Ferry Building -  a lovely Beijing pork stew accompanied by an even more lovely Jasmine Pearl Tea.  The fragrance was wonderful.  His talk was later in the day and when I learned about the commitment and hard work that goes into making a good Jasmine Pearl tea, I was even more in love with the tea and came home with a small pouch.  I purchased Mr. Fong’s book Great Teas of China and found that he takes a tour to China every few years.  If you are in the Bay Area and are interested in Chinese tea, Mr. Fong is speaking at the Commonwealth Club on March 11th.  Hopefully that will make it into a podcast for those who are interested.

Alex Harney at the Harney & Sons exhibit

Alex Harney at the Harney & Sons exhibit

Finally, I have to comment on the wonderful exhibition.  I got to meat Alex Harney, John Harney’s grandson, who had recently returned from India where he coaches ice hockey (you’ll have to ask him, not me).  IMG_0436I tried and purchased a delicious Soba Roasted Buckwheat tea – caffeine free and, yes, it tastes like buckwheat.  And also finally got one of the Ambessa teas – the Earl of Harlem – which I am looking forward to savoring at home.

Another delight was purchasing Glenburn Darjeeling Tea – bringing great memories of my trip to India with Dan Roberston’s World Tea Tours in 2008.  All in all, it was a most remarkable day and I am looking forward to the third annual festival next year.  These festivals are popping up in major cities around the country and well worth your time if you are interested in learning about tea history, culture, and trends as well as sampling wonderful teas from around the world.

 

February Teas: Gardens at Heather Farms Fundraiser and Downton Abbey Valentines Day

In mid February I enjoyed two delightful teas – a fund raiser for the Gardens at Heather Farms in Walnut Creek and a most delightful afternoon at my long-time friend, Laurie Callaway’s home.

At the fundraiser, the Garden Club members made the tea sandwiches and used their own china tea services making it a wonderful, personal, and charmingly eclectic event. The highlight of the afternoon was the speaker – James Norwood Pratt.  I thought Mr. Pratt’s gentle suggestion to the Garden Club that they plant Camellia sinensis – the tea bush from which all tea is harvested (green, black, white) – at the Gardens at Heather Farms was spot-on. I already knew of the tea plantation in South Carolina and had recently learned about the tea plantations in Hawaii, but was interested to know that tea is now also being grown in Oregon and Washington states.  Hear, Hear.

James Norwood Pratt signing autographs

James Norwood Pratt signing autographs

In his talk, Mr. Pratt mentioned that his first published book about tea was Tea Lover’s Treasury (101 production series) first published in 1982.  Coincidentally it was the first book that I purchased about tea.  He mentioned that over the years he has updated the book multiple times as his knowledge and experience has broadened and deepened. At the event I purchased his newest book, James Norwood Pratt’s Tea Dictionary, and am so glad that I did.  Today we think we can find everything on the internet but the information, maps, timelines, history, and terminology contained in this book is both useful and delightful to inquisitive or serious tea lovers.

Laurie's signature sandwiches - chicken salad, egg salad, and, of course, cucumber

Laurie’s signature sandwiches – chicken salad, egg salad, and, of course, cucumber

My second tea was the very next day, a ‘Valentines Day at Downton Abbey’ themed party, at Laurie’s lovely home.  We all dressed in Downton Abbey outfits (of sorts), drank wonderful champagne, and dined on Ms. Callaway’s  signature chicken salad, egg salad, a cucumber tea sandwiches,  chocolate covered strawberries, and her superbly delicious heart-shaped coconut cake (Ina Garten’s recipe from Barefoot Contessa at Home: Everyday Recipes You’ll Make Over and Over Again) colored a lovely pink for Valentines Day.

Personalized table setting including the charming engagement cup and saucer - think demitasse size.

Personalized table setting including the charming engagement cup and saucer – think demitasse size.

Laurie’s tea parties are always delightful but I must say this one was all the more special for her Valentine’s Day theme, decorations, and the thoughtful favors she made for each of us  – large personalized heart shaped cookies, hand-made note cards for each of us, and gifts of engagement cups and saucers, each one carefully selected from her personal collection, for its recipient.

 

My outfit for the tea - yes the cape is real but from the 30s, not the 20s.  Hat is from Hats on Post.  Dress is ebay

My outfit for the tea – yes the cape is real but from the 30s, not the 20s. Hat is from Hats on Post. Dress is ebay

Each of us wore something to pay homage to Downton Abbey.  My outfit was from ebay, collectible stores, and my closet.  As I shopped for my dress and gloves, I was stunned at how ebay and the collectible stores have Downton Abbey sections making it easy and fun to create one’s costume.  We discussed the series (the last episode of Season 3 had not yet been shown) and, like so many others, were amazed at how much we love the drama and care so deeply for the characters.

February was a stellar month for tea in my life – including redoing my displays, sorting through my teas on hand, visiting with friends, and visiting the Japanese Garden in Golden Gate Park (my first time there).  As March unfolds and spring slowly arrives in northern California, wishing all of you a warm and delicious pot of your favorite brew by yourself as well as with your friends and family.

Radiance Tea House and Books in NYC

A lovely focal point

A lovely focal point

I was tooling around on my Tea4Friends Facebook page today and up popped a post that said that the Radiance Tea House is now listed in the 2013 Zagat as a highly ranked tea house in NYC.

Don't forget your tea!

Don’t forget your tea!

I spent a wonderful afternoon at Radiance during the Christmas holiday of 2008 – not long after the tea house opened.  My girlfriend and I stumbled on the place because we had gone to see Alvin Ailey (an amazing dance experience) across the street at the City Center.  It was such a lovely find.

An IBM reunion of sorts at the Radiance Tea House - Delightful

An IBM reunion of sorts at the Radiance Tea House – Delightful

That afternoon we had a reunion of sorts – all four of us had worked at IBM in the Time Life Building in the late 60′s. Here we were almost 40 years later sitting in a newly opened Chinese tea house in midtown Manhattan savoring the place, the tea, and the pleasure of a long leisurely conversation after so many years.

The layout of the tea house was perfect for the occasion – comfortable, open, warm and inviting.  We talked, lingered, enjoyed pots of a variety of teas, chatted with the manager and nibbled on Chinese treats.  There was something unusual about the place – an unhurried feeling as if we could just sit and talk into the night – which I think we did.

I purchased a lovely Chinese tea set (the one on the top left in this picture) and some tea, took several photos, and left knowing that I wanted to return again. 2008-12-29 16.02.22 So I was especially delighted to see the Facebook post earlier today.  In visiting their website, it is clear that they have gotten lots of well-deserved notice.  I look forward to visiting again on my next trip to NYC.  Congratulations Radiance Tea House and Books on joining the Zagat family.

Finally, a Visit to the Camellia Tea Room in Benicia, CA

For years, I’ve noticed that the Camellia Tea Room in historic Benicia, CA is mentioned time and again in various tea related publications.

Benicia itself is a lovely old town nestled on the north side of San Francisco Bay’s Carquinez Strait.  In 1853-1854, Benicia served as California’s third state capitol. (The first two capitols were San Jose and Vallejo.  In 1854 the state capitol moved to its permanent home in Sacramento.)  Benicia is dotted with antique shops making it a fun day trip for a browsing/shopping expedition.  If you are looking for a delightful place to enjoy tea or lunch, the Camellia Tea Room fills that bill and makes a satisfying addition to the day.

A view of the tea room and their teapots, tea sets, and loose tea to purchase as  a view of the tea room

A view of the tea room and their teapots, tea sets, and loose tea to purchase

The  family owned and operated Camellia Tea Room opened in 1995.  I liked this tea room as soon as I peered through the window and saw its decor, layout, and spaciousness.  The tables and chairs match, are well placed and not at all crowded – a very pleasant change from many of the places I have visited.  It’s comfortable, not at all stuffy – hitting just the right blend of fun and elegance.

Tea rooms, quite the rage in the first half of the 20th century, were one of the first entrepreneurial businesses that women pursued in the United States.   And although called a Tea Room, they often provided somewhat heartier meals such as sandwiches, salads, a few savory dishes, etc.  The Camellia Tea Room falls into that category.  While their traditional English tea is wonderful, you can also choose from a selection of luncheon soups, salads, and sandwiches if that is more to your liking.

Traditional Tea at the Camellia Tea Room in Benicia, CA

Traditional Tea at the Camellia Tea Room in Benicia, CA

I ordered the traditional three-tier English tea and was pleased to find Kenya tea on the menu which I ordered.  The tea was full bodied with a lovely aroma and the servers did a wonderful job of replenishing the pot with hot water so my tea was always hot – a strong personal preference.  The Camellia’s tea sandwiches were among the most interesting I have enjoyed anywhere – a wonderful crustini topped with hummus and an artichoke black olive tapenade, an equally delicious thinly sliced roast beef with a red pepper butter spread and a delightful cucumber sandwich, always my favorite.  (Whoever made the first cucumber sandwich was simply brilliant!)

A couple other points about the Camellia Tea Room.  If you call ahead, they will work to accommodate special food needs – specifically vegan, gluten-free, and/or dairy free.  On my visit, they were serving a vegan cauliflower soup, lightly curried, that was sublime. They consistently provide vegetarian options.

I have some regular tea places I take out of town visitors for a tea adventure – Tyme for Tea in Niles, Samovar in San Francisco and, now, the Camellia Tea Room in Benicia.  A fabulous addition to my local menu of places to take and savor tea.

 

Do you have a Vegan coming for tea?

So many people have food allergies today that having an easy ‘go to’ set of recipes for those with restricted diets can come in handy.  Here’s a cake you can be proud to serve that is vegan and dairy-free (yes I know that’s redundant).  It’s Vegan Orange Cake from, you guessed it, my Alice’s Tea Cup cookbook.  It is so remarkably easy to make, presents nicely, and is delicious.  And when I say easy to make, I seriously mean easy.  No mixer required.  Simple ingredients, quick, and yummy.

Alice's Tea Cup Orange Vegan Cake as shown in their cookbook

Alice’s Tea Cup Orange Vegan Cake as shown in their cookbook

Vegan Orange Cake  (From the Alice’s Tea Cup” cookbook by Haley Fox and Lauren Fox)

  • 2 ¼  cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½  cups turbinado sugar
  • 1 ½  tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½  cups freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ½  Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • Orange Glaze
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar

    My version, not quite as elegant, but yummy and partially eaten.  By the way, the cake salver is Fostoria.

    My version, not quite as elegant, but yummy and partially eaten. By the way, the cake salver is Fostoria.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a deep 9” round pan with cooking spray (I used canola oil)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, turbinado sugar, baking soda and kosher salt together.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the orange juice, orange zest, vegetable oil (I used canola), apple cider vinegar, and vanilla extract together.  Whisk a bit.
  4. Using a mixer, or with a whisk, add the wet ingredients to the dry, mixing until the batter is totally smooth.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes (mine took 35 minutes but was in an 8” square pan) until a toothpick stuck in center comes out clean.
  7. Remove to wire rack for cooling.
  8. When completely cool, carefully remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a cake plate or salver
  9. To make the orange glaze, whisk all ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
  10. When cake is cool, pour the glaze in the center of the cake so it spreads evenly across the top and down the sides (I used a spatula for this)
  11. Let it sit for 30 minutes – if you can – and serve.

If serving to adults, might be fun to add Grand Marnier to the glaze – not too much.  Also more orange zest would be ok or even including a bit of lemon zest.  Enjoy.  If you have comments or delicious recipes for vegans, non-dairy, or gluten free, please feel free to share them.  Next up on the vegan side will be a wonderful vegan ginger cookie so stay tuned.

 

 

 

Jane Pettigrew and Henrietta Lovell – Passion and Courage

This week has been quite an eye opener for me.  I find myself inspired by two women, both of whom had the courage and passion to move from an assured lucrative career to another less assured career but one that resonated with their values, interests, and quest to learn, explore, and communicate about the world of tea.  Jane Pettigrew, the renowned tea shop owner, writer, lecturer, tea historian, and world traveler, and Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady, and owner of The Rare Tea Company.

I have many of Jane Pettigrew’s books.  They are among my ‘go to’ for tea history, recipes, and style. Before I knew anything about her, I stumbled on to her first book, “Tea Time”, published in 1986 which details the basics of traditional English tea and tea parties, with wonderful English recipes (alas, in English metrics).  (“Tea Time” is out of print but you might be able to find it on Alibris, the used book site) or at Amazon.  Just reading the ingredients of the recipes will make your mouth water and you will hunger for a lovely tea setting, hot tea, wonderful tea treats, and terrific conversation.  It’s a very English book, which makes it all the more charming and delectable.

Tea Time (Out of Print) and A Social History of Tea, both by Jane Pettigrew

Tea Time (Out of Print) and A Social History of Tea, both by Jane Pettigrew

Ms. Pettigrew is a prolific writer (I have four of her books) and she clearly thrives on discovery, history, and adventure.  If you are looking for a history of British tea, her book, A Social History of Tea will educate and delight you with the history and social evolution of tea in Britain and beyond.  The lady rocks!

What got me on this today?  I’m still reading Katrina Avila Munichiello’s A Tea Reader and there is a wonderful writeup by Ms. Pettigrew entitled ‘Around the World with a Cup of Tea’ in which she details her career evolution from communications professional to tea shop partner and owner to tea writer.  When they say, ‘follow your bliss’, she has!

And, as I mentioned in my earlier blog this week, Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady is equally inspiring with her Rare Tea Company.  Another heavy hitter in the corporate world who stumbled on a new passion and had the courage to follow that path.  Both these women are wonderful role models and remind me that there is so much adventure still to have in life and with hard work, courage, passion, discipline and the willingness to push another door and another door and another door, there is lots of adventure, learning, and community ahead.

 

 

The Rare Tea Company and the Business of Kindness

RAF Tea, Oolong, and Lost Malawi Teas from the Rare Tea Company

RAF Tea, Oolong, and Lost Malawi Teas from the Rare Tea Company

Recently, a good friend recommended listening to a BBC Business Services radio broadcast, “The Business of Kindness” literally about incorporating kindness into your marketing and business strategy.  Fascinating series of interviews with various business leaders but at the center of the article is the story of Henrietta Lovell, the Rare Tea-Lady who founded the Rare Tea Company in England almost a decade ago.  Introduced to an extraordinary oolong tea while on a business trip, Ms. Lovell developed a passion for high-end tea and opened a niche business to bring these extraordinary teas to England.  She works directly with the tea growers to source her teas from small mountain tea gardens in Nepal, India,China, Japan, and Africa.

The tea sounded interesting as did the packaging.  As a marketing person myself, the extra touches she included with her packaging including short vignettes some written by Alexander McCall, that are inserted into the tea tins.  Another interesting detail is that after Ms. Lovell met Terry Clark, a RAF WWII veteran, she created a special blend to honor the Royal Air Force Tea for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.  Seven percent of the revenue from this tea goes to the RAF Association Wings Appeal and to the RAF museum.

Royal Air Force Tea from the Rare Tea Company

Royal Air Force Tea from the Rare Tea Company

I was hooked and quickly found myself online at rareteacompany.com purchasing tea from England.  To my delight, my tea arrived this weekend.  I ordered three teas – an oolong since that was the tea that inspired Ms. Lovell, an African tea, Lost Malawi, and the RAF tea.  The packaging is charming with each tin having its own colors and graphical design.  More than than, it included a hand-written thank you note and a small thank you gift package of the RAF Tea in tea bag form.  Charming.

Gotta love handwritten thank you notes!

Gotta love handwritten thank you notes!

I started with the RAF tea, a blend of Makaibari Estate in Darjeeling (which I visited in 2008 when I participated in Dan Robertson’s World Tea Tour to Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal) and Satemwa Estate black tea from Malawi.  It’s a strong brew, with a tag line “Calming in times of national peril, fortifying when courage is required”, an homage to the courage and sacrifices of RAF pilots during those dark days.  I followed the instructions, pouring the not quite boiling water over the tea leaves and steeping for 3 minutes.  It made a wonderful cup of strong invigorating tea – perfect for the unusually cold northern California day.

Discovery is so much fun and I am indebted to my friend for passing on the story of the Rare Tea Company.  I’ve not only found a new tea that I enjoy, but also a company I admire!