• Friday Roundtable: Ready for the Weekend?

    Here in the U.S., many of us are heading into Columbus Day weekend. It has me thinking about how our tea drinking habits change from day to day. During the week, if you work in an office, your tea preparation facilities may be limited (or you have developed some innovative systems which we’ll have to talk about another day.) As you approach longer days at home, you may be looking forward to making use of teaware that is part of your home routine.

    Of course, given that many of you are in the tea business, you may be heading into a weekend that will be busy with vacationers, tourists, and people with some extra time (and hopefully money) to spend heading into your shop.

    I know that my tea drinking becomes far less utilitarian once I reach the weekend. I have some extra hands around the house to help with the kids and fewer activities to be rushing kids to. I take the opportunity to bring out the yixing and enjoy the beauty of the many, many infusions of a good oolong.

    How does YOUR tea drinking routine change between the week and the weekend?

  • Friday Roundtable: Water, water everywhere

    Welcome to the Friday Roundtable, where we want to hear about your tea experience. Each week we present a topic that affects us all as tea business owners and tea consumers. Let’s talk tea.

    This week we’re thinking about water. The importance of water cannot be underestimated when it comes to tea preparation. Too hot and you’ve boiled your greens. Too cool and you’ve left the complex flavors sitting in your pile of tea leaves. Too many minerals in the water and you’ve dulled the taste. “Dead” water, that’s been boiled multiple times, is also said to ruin the taste.

    There are many questions we could have asked about this topic. For example, we could have asked you to confess to your propensity to microwave your water (shame, shame). Instead, we wanted to ask about how you ensure you have the best quality water.

    Some tea makers will only utilize bottled water, an expensive prospect for heavy tea drinkers. There are purifiers in pitcher form like Brita and PUR. There are advanced models that are plumbed into your pipes. Newer versions, like Brondell’s H20+ Cypress, aim to reduce the plumbing challenges by sitting on the countertop and connecting to the faucet.

    I’ve tried all of these methods. How about you? What is your preferred way of obtaining high quality water for your tea?

  • Friday Roundtable: Caffeine Questions

    My regular readers know that caffeine is a topic of particular interest to me. Tea drinkers are often in search of information about caffeine content in their cup and, unfortunately, the information disseminated is often based on rumor and tradition versus current research and science.

    We covered some of the myth and lore of caffeine on Tea Biz previously (article) but I’m always interested in what other tea enthusiasts and experts have to say.

    * What are the most frequent caffeine questions that come your way?

    * What questions would you like answered by future research?

    BTW – If you haven’t yet read Kevin Gascoyne’s Tea: History, Terroirs, and Varieties, it’s an excellent addition to the conversation. His team at Camellia Sinensis has been working on putting science behind our answers with chemical analyses of caffeine and antioxidant levels in various teas.

    – By Katrina Ávila Munichiello, 2013

  • Friday Roundtable: The flavors of fall

    While there are a few more weeks until the calendar officially turns its page to fall (in the northern hemisphere), many of us are already feeling the cooler breezes and the sounds of school buses. A change of seasons, approaching holidays, and new schedules also affect our customers’ tea drinking habits.

    In today’s Friday Roundtable, let’s talk about the flavors of fall. What are you expecting to be hot this season? What teas have traditionally been popular this time of year? Have you seen any new trends approaching?

  • Friday Roundtable: Earl Grey

    Friday Roundtable is a series of discussions and informal polls exploring aspects of the business that tea professionals don’t frequently consider.

    In this inaugural Roundtable our focus is Earl Grey.

    To start things off, we spent some time talking with Ahmed Rahim, Co-founder and CEO of Oakland, Calif.-based Numi Tea; David Barenholtz, CEO of American Tea Room in Beverly Hills, Calif. and Olivia Wingert, President of Souvia Tea of Phoenix, Ariz.

    Souvia stocks three versions of Earl Grey, ordering 51-100 kilograms per year. American Tea Room steps that number up tenfold (501-1000 kilograms) for their ten Earl Grey varieties. Numi, ordering more than 60,000 kilograms per year offers two types at this point, with another to be added in January 2014.

    Two of the companies have focused on a traditional black tea base, while another is exploring white tea, green, and herbal Earl Greys. All of the companies utilize custom blends, some created in-house, although one also offers a standard blend. All three companies sell Earl Grey as a loose tea, while American Tea Room and Numi also have bagged offerings.

    When we talked pricing we saw an interesting range. Prepared cups and pots were in a similar ballpark, generally $4-5; however, 2 ounces of loose Earl Grey ran from $6 – $16.

    Want to weigh in on the discussion? Complete our short and sweet survey: Friday Roundtable: Earl Grey Survey. You can also jump in by commenting on this post or visiting our Linked In group and sharing your thoughts on Earl Grey.

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