Saturday, October 9, 2010

Winter Teas Are Back!

Yes, the weather is getting cooler, and the grey and drizzle are returning to Seattle. That can only mean one thing: our seasonal winter teas are back in stock!

Winter Chocolate Spice and Winter's Eve Rooibos have become customer favorites over the years, and it's easy to see why. The perfect blend of spices and chocolate are sure to warm you up on a cool Fall or Winter day. The chocolate flavor comes from cacao nibs (roasted cacao beans), so it's a very real, natural taste. We're already nearly sold out of our current stock, but we'll be getting more in soon, so check back with us!

Another personal favorite of mine is Peppermint Bark, a tasty blend of black tea, vanilla and peppermint. And how can you not love the tiny candy canes? We'll have this one in the shop soon, so keep an eye out for it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

New Glass Tea Tumbler

We just received some of these great new glass tea tumblers - something customers have been asking about for some time.

They are dual-walled to keep your tea hot and your hands cool, and they're super easy to use. To make tea, remove the lid and strainer, add loose tea and hot water. Replace the lid and strainer, let steep for the appropriate amount of time, and remove the lid to drink right from the tumbler! The strainer holds back the tea leaves. The tumbler holds about 10 fluid ounces.

The tea tumblers are made of sturdy borosilicate glass, and are free of lead, cadmium and BPA.

Check them out in the shop and on our website.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rubber Duck Tea Infuser

Sometimes we see a product in a catalog from one of our vendors and we say "We have gotta have that in the shop!"

Well, this is one of those times.

Isn't that just about the cutest darn tea infuser you've ever seen? Just unscrew the bottom, put in a teaspoon of loose tea, and float it in your cup to steep! It even comes with a little base to put it in to catch the drips when you're done steeping.

It makes a great gift, and a good way to introduce kids to loose tea. You can find it in our shop and on our website.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Steven Smith Teas

Ask just about anyone who's really into tea, "which is better, loose tea or teabags?", and the answer is invariably loose tea.

And, admittedly, that's true about 99% of the time. It's hard to get big, high quality tea leaves into a little paper sack, and even harder to get a decent infusion out of it. That's why most teabags are made with "fannings", very small bits of tea leaf that play nicely with teabagging machines, and infuse quickly in water.

In recent years, however, there have been many advances in the world of teabags, including pyramid-shaped sachets made of a silk-like mesh material that allows for better infusion.

So what is this all leading up to? Well, we think we may have found just about the best tea in teabags yet. Say hello to Steven Smith Teas, a line of teabags made with lovely high-quality tea leaves (no fannings or dust here!)

Those in the tea industry will recognize the name; Steven Smith started Stash teas, and subsequently Tazo, and sold both businesses. Now he's doing his own line of teas and herbal infusions, hand packed in small batches in Portland, Oregon.

One of the really neat things about these teas is that there's a label on the bottom of each box with a batch number, and if you go to his website you can enter the number and find out when the tea was packed and by whom, which tea garden tea came from and when it was harvested.

We have 12 different types to choose from:

Red Nectar- South African Rooibos and Honeybush, with light fruit flavors.
Peppermint Leaves- The highest quality peppermint from Oregon.
Meadow- Chamomile and rooibos, with other floral herbs.
Big Hibiscus- A blend of Hibiscus, Sarsparilla, ginger, elderflowers and rose.

Lord Bergamot- Ceylon and Assam, with natural oil of bergamot.
Kandy- Named for a city in Sri Lanka, a blend of Dimbulla, Uva and Nuwara Eliya Ceylon teas.
Bungalow- A blend of high grown Indian Darjeeling first and second flush teas.
Brahmin's Choice- A blend of Indian Assam, Ceylon Dimbulla, Ceylon Uva and China Keemun.

White and Green:
White Petal- China white tea, Osmanthus, Chamomile and natural flavors.
Mao Feng Shui- Spring harvested Mao Feng green tea from Zhejiang China.
Jasmine Silver Tip- Fujian China green tea, scented with jasmine.
Fez- Mao Feng China green tea, Oregon spearmint and Australian lemon myrtle.

Each box contains 15 sachets. We have them in the shop and on the website.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Tea from Iran - Persian Gold

We try to get tea from as many different countries as we can, because each region has its own unique flavors. Soil conditions, climate, elevation, tea varietals; all these things work together to give each tea its particular taste.

So when a gentleman came into the shop recently with a sample of black tea from northern Iran, we couldn't pass up the chance. I didn't even know Iran produced any tea, so this was definitely a chance to try something we'd never had before. And oh man, I'm glad we did. I haven't been this enamored with a tea for a long time.

The leaves are large, dark and wiry, and you can tell that they're hand-processed. They infuse to a light golden color, with a rich aroma on par with the best Indian black teas.

The taste is heavenly. It's smooth as silk, with almost no bitterness even when steeped for several minutes. I'm drinking some in a gaiwan right now and after several infusions of varying length, I have yet to experience an unsatisfactory cup. There is a light, honey-like sweetness that lingers in the background, rounding out the flavor. We've been told that in Iran the tea is often mixed with saffron or native rose petals, but I can't imagine adding anything to this tea.

I really can't say enough good things about it! Try it yourself and see. We have it here in the shop and on the website. At $7.00 per ounce, it's not inexpensive, but it is absolutely worth it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Irish Products in the Shop

We have a couple of new arrivals from the Emerald Isle today.

First is Bushmills Irish Whiskey Marmalade!

In our highly scientific taste testing, we found the Bushmills to be a bit more fruity and slightly less bitter than the Jameson Marmalade. It's lovely on Digestive biscuits, scones, pancakes, crepes, and just about anything else you can think of.

We also have a new 80-teabag size of Bewley's Irish Afternoon Tea.

We often are asked what the difference is between Bewley's Breakfast and Afternoon teas; contrary to what you'd expect, the Afternoon is actually stronger than the Breakfast blend. I guess the theory is that you need a bit of an extra push to make it through the rest of the day!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Website Inventory

We've been having a problem with our website inventory updating properly, so some of the products that we have in stock are not showing up on the website.

If there's something that you'd like to order, but it's not on the site, call or email us and we'll see if we actually have it.

Hopefully we'll have this problem worked out soon. Thanks for your patience!

Friday, July 9, 2010


I try to avoid using all caps for anything, but I think this blog post warrants it.

Eccles Cakes, everyone's favorite raisin-and-currant-filled Lancashire pastry is finally back in stock! For real this time! We've been trying to get these back in the shop for the better part of a year, so we're super excited to be offering them once more.

For those who are unfamiliar with this delicious English treat, it's a small flaky pastry filled with raisins and currants. Here's a closer cross-section to give you an idea.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've eaten three of them since we got them in this morning. They're good right out of the package, but they're even better if you warm them up slightly. Just stick them in the microwave for about 15 seconds. I also have it on good authority that they're quite tasty when heated up and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

You can pick them up in the shop or online. They come in packages of 4 cakes (each cake is just under 3" in diameter).

Come get them before we eat them all ourselves!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Iced Tea!

It seems summer has finally made its way to the Pacific Northwest *knock on wood*, and just in time, we have some absolutely fantastic fruit blends, perfect for icing!

Orange Grapefruit
is a lovely blend of citrus flavors with just the right amount of zing.

It brews up a bright pink color, so it looks great in a big pitcher at a summer barbecue!

This next one totally wowed us when we first tasted it. We knew we just had to bring it in for the summer! It's called Mango Sunshine:

This sweet and fruity blend is sure to be a hit at your next party! A luscious mix of dried fruit and a bit of citrus to really punch up the flavor. It's so good, I'm drinking some iced right now!

These are limited seasonal teas, so get them now, while the weather's warm!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tulsi - India's "Holy Basil"

One of the most interesting things we found at the World Tea Expo was Tulsi, an herb from India with a distinct flavor.

Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) is also known as Holy Basil. It is part of the basil genus and is often used in various ayurvedic remedies. Tulsi is also naturally caffeine-free. It seems to have a number of health benefits, but what attracted us to it was its unique taste. It's hard to describe; slightly spicy, sweet, floral and minty, all at the same time.

There are two varieties of Tulsi, purple and green (the green is pictured). We've brought in six different blends in bulk; the pure green and purple varieties, as well as Cooling Mint, Marigold Lemon, Orange Fennel, and "House Blend", a mix of green and purple Tulsi.

We've also brought in some boxes of unbleached teabags; Pure Tulsi, Tulsi & Lemongrass, Tulsi Chai and Tulsi & Ginger, as well as an assortment pack of all four.

Oh, did I mention they are all Certified Organic? Our supplier also works with small farms to help support Sikhya - a free school for homeless, underpriveleged chlidren in Northern India.

We don't have it on the website currently, but we'll be brewing it up in the shop quite often, so come in and give this unique herb a try!

Friday, June 18, 2010

New Summer Teas

We've got two great new tea blends here for the summer! They both make fantastic iced teas, so we're just keeping them in stock while the weather is warm.

First up is a returning favorite, our Lime black tea.

A black tea blend with a bright and zesty lime flavor, this one is sure to please at your next summer tea party.

Also returning is White Champagne Raspberry, a white tea with, you guessed it, flavors of raspberry and a hint of champagne. We had it in the shop last year for a very brief amount of time, but it's back for real this year!

The champagne flavor is very light, and just serves to make the tea a little more complex. It's really quite lovely, especially over ice.

We'll be brewing these up in the shop (especially on the hotter days) so come in and try some!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

News from World Tea Expo

Greetings to everyone: I just returned from 3 days in Las Vegas at the World Tea Expo where I was able to meet old friends and make new ones. The Expo is the only place I can meet my suppliers in person. The rest of the year it is phone or fax. So it is a treat to meet and greet, so to speak. Here are a few of the highlights:

WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO PAY $25.00 FOR AN OUNCE OF TEA? Tea grown in Hawaii is available!!! Developed as a replacement for the failing sugar cane industry, Tea has adapted and developed to the stage where it is available commercially. This will be the first year of commercial production and the tea tastes great!! There are green, white, oolong and black teas available. The price is quite steep, so I would like to know how much interest there might be in this initial offering of what promises to become a staple of the US Tea Industry. This is the Ground Floor of this venture. Please email me ( or phone 888-448-4054 with your response.

Steve Smith, Creator/Developer of Stash Teas and TAZO Teas is back in Portland creating Tea again. This time, he has created Steve Smith Teas, a new and exciting group of tea blends that are entirely hand made and packaged in "silk" bags that are finer mesh than I have seen elsewhere. He blends only enough tea to sell in a month's time and places a supply code on each box that can be looked up on his website to see when the ingredients were purchased and blended. Freshness and flavor are his hallmarks. I look forward to making these bags available soon.

Tao of Tea in Portland is packaging Tulsi, a basil grown as a houseplant in India where it is considered almost sacred. It is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and contains anti-oxidents but no caffeine. There are two varieties, purple and green leaf. It is available blended with ginger, as a chai, with lemongrass and plain. It comes in bags and in bulk. Some of the proceeds are being used to help educate underprivileged children in India. We will be promoting this drink as a summer beverage both hot and over ice. Stop in and check it out!

Tea grown in the Pacific Northwest is seeming closer to commercial production. I met Richard Sakuma, President of Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington, WA and will be visiting his field of tea within the next few weeks to see his set up. I will let you know here first as soon as his product is commercially available. Pretty Exciting Stuff!!

I'd love to talk to you more about the faces and events of the expo, drop into the shop and let's chat over a cup of tea.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Apple Sencha is here!

I am so excited about this new tea!

It comes from one of our favorite Japanese tea suppliers, and is a fantastic combination of bright, fresh apple flavor with a high-quality sencha green tea.

It's just what I like in a flavored tea; a high-quality tea base, a clean, crisp flavor, and a perfect balance of tea and fruit flavors. The apple flavor doesn't overwhelm the sencha, and the sencha compliments the freshness of the apple perfectly.

Because of the high-quality tea used, it is a bit more pricey than some of our other flavored teas, but it is absolutely worth it. Pick it up in the shop or on the website here.

PS- It also makes a fantastic iced tea!

Friday, April 16, 2010

New teas from India

After a long wait, the Makaibari Estate Autumnal Flush 2009 Darjeeling is finally here! Well, almost. We got samples and tasted them, now we're just waiting for it to arrive and it should be any day now.

UPDATE: It's here! You can get it on our website or in the shop.

We usually get the Autumnal flush sometime around January or February, so you may be wondering what the hold-up was. Well, they had a very good excuse; in May of 2009, Cyclone Aila ravaged several tea estates in Darjeeling, including Makaibari. They have done a remarkable job of recovering, though, and were still able to produce an Autumnal flush.

It has a lovely smooth flavor with less astringency than most other Darjeelings. The liquor is a bright golden color. It's a bit lighter than one would expect in an Autumnal, but it's still a good, well-rounded tea. We'll have it in the shop and online soon, but remember, it's a seasonal tea so we won't have it forever.

Darjeeling may be the most famous tea-producing region in India, but it's certainly not the only one. Nilgiri, in southern India, is quickly becoming more well-known in the tea industry for its unique flavor. Nilgiri teas tend to have some similarity to Ceylon teas (which makes sense, they're practically neighbors), but Nilgiri teas have a fragrant, woodsy quality not found in other teas.

For quite some time, we had a wonderful tea from the Havukal Estate in Nilgiri, but sadly we can't get that particular picking anymore. So recently we tasted several samples of Nilgiri teas to try to take its place. This OP (Orange Pekoe) grade tea from the Korakundah Estate was the winner of our taste test, and so here it is!

The flavor is a bit lighter than our Corsley Estate, but still has that exceptional woodsy fragrance that Nilgiri is known for. This would make a lovely afternoon tea, perfect for relaxing in the bright Spring weather. And not only does it taste good, but it's TransFair certified and grown using organic farming methods. The Korakundah Estate Nilgiri is available in the shop and online.

Friday, March 26, 2010

New oolongs in the shop

We've had some great oolongs in the shop over the years (and still do), but often because of the quality they tend to be on the expensive side.

A lot of customers have come in wanting a good, everyday drinking oolong that won't break the bank. So, we've been doing some tasting and we found a couple that fit the bill nicely.

The Blue Spring Oolong is a nice Tie Guan Yin from Fujian China. It's a rolled oolong with a bit of a roast to it to give it a slightly toasty flavor, but it still has the smoothness you expect from a Tie Guan Yin. It also has some pretty blue flowers blended in to give it a little more visual interest. The flowers don't add to the taste, they just look pretty. The mild flavor of this tea makes for a great "gateway" for those looking to move from black to green teas.

The Formosa Oolong is a bold, heavily roasted oolong from Taiwan (Formosa is the old word for Taiwan). This one makes a great accompaniment to a meal, and you could really have fun pairing the toasty flavor with different foods. If you've ever had tea at a Chinese restaurant and thought "man, what kind of tea is this?", our Formosa Oolong is probably pretty similar to what you had.

You can find both the Blue Spring Oolong and Formosa Oolong in our shop and online for $10.00 per 4 ounces. That comes out to about 25 cents a cup, and that's if you only steep it once!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sakura Sencha is here!

We've had a very mild winter here in Seattle (unlike almost everyone else in the country), so the cherry trees have already started blooming! Much like the cherry blossoms, the Sakura Sencha tea is here early as well!

This has become a yearly tradition for us, and is eagerly awaited by our customers. Sakura Sencha is a Japanese green tea scented with cherry blossoms (the word "sakura" means cherry blossom in Japanese). The result is a tea with a lightly sweet and floral cherry flavor with the bright, grassy richness of a quality sencha.

To celebrate, we'll be brewing it up every day the week of February 21-27, so come in and try some! You can also find it on our website here.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Valentine's Teas

It's a lovely Seattle morning here, overcast but not too chilly, and calm and quiet here in Post Alley. I'm having a Nice Cup of tea and a Sit Down with one of Sue's delicious bergamot shortbread cookies.

Sometimes my job is so hard. *sigh*

Anyway, on to business! We have some fantastic teas here for a limited time in honor of Valentine's Day!

The return of an old favorite: Harney & Sons' Valentine's Blend. As with many of our seasonal teas, customers eagerly await the arrival of this tea. It's an exceptional blend of chocolate and rose flavors, with a high quality black tea base. If you've ever had Harney's Florence tea, you know just how good they are at combining chocolate and tea. You can pick up this 4 ounce tin of loose tea here at the shop or online.

Continuing with the chocolate theme is Bling Fling, a chocolate and cherry black tea blend. With the aroma of chocolate-covered cherries, this one's sure to please. It even has real chocolate bits blended right into the tea! The "bling" comes from the golden sprinkles that dissolve in the tea. This one's available loose, online and in-store.

This one's called Rooibos Love Affair, a bright combination of caffeine-free South African rooibos and strawberry flavors, with just a hint of chocolate. The rose petals and candy hearts add a fun visual treat, making it a perfect gift for your sweetheart. Again, this blend is available loose, online and in-store.

Remember, all of these teas are limited seasonal blends, so once they're gone, they're gone til next year!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some important biscuit tasting to attend to.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bergamot heaven, what I'm baking

Just bought my bergamots and yesterday my whole kitchen smelled like Earl Grey, an aroma that makes me incredibly happy. January might be chill and rainy and grey outside but inside it's "Earl" grey.

We still have 6 bergamots left for sale in the shop - in store customers only - no shipping since this is a perishable item - $2.00 each.

To use my four bergamots: for my first recipe I was up to my elbows in semisweet chocolate adding zest of bergamot to the cream and chocolate blend, then rolling the truffles in cocoa powder. Made a day ahead the bergamot flavor actually increases in strength giving you a mouth full of chocolate-bergamot goodness.

Next I took a basic pound cake recipe - lots of butter and sour cream - adding zest to the batter and topping the warm out of the oven creation with a sugar/bergamot juice glaze. Again, aging increases the flavor.

Ran out of time to try my ice box cookies and muffins - but that's next.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Bergamot Week Jan 14 - 24

Hey there, long time no see! Did you have a good holiday?

Things sure have been busy around here the last month or so, but now that it's a little more calm I have time to write up another blog post. And just in time to tell you about Bergamot Week!

What's Bergamot Week, you ask? Well, for the past few years around this time in January, we have brought in some bergamot fruits so people can see and smell them firsthand. What's a bergamot, you ask? Well...

That's a bergamot. Looks like a lemon, huh? It may look like a lemon, but one sniff of the peel and you get the unmistakeable fragrance of Earl Grey. The oil from the rind of the bergamot fruit is what makes your Earl Grey tea taste the way it does.

The finest bergamots (Citrus bergamia) are grown in the Calabria region of Italy (the tip of the "boot"). The particular soil type brings out the most flavor in the oil. It's pretty difficult (and expensive) to get them from Italy, so we bring in some grown in California by a grower who specializes in rare citrus fruits.

The flesh of the fruit is rather sour, so it's not so great for eating as is, but the zest is wonderful to use in baking and cooking. Try adding some zest to a shortbread, or in chocolate truffles; anywhere you use lemon or orange zest. You could even try a twist of bergamot peel in a martini to give it a unique hint of flavor. I wonder if anyone makes bergamot bitters... Hmm.

Anyway, in honor of bergamot season, we're declaring the 14th - 24th of January Bergamot Week! We'll have bergamots in the shop for you to see and smell, and all of our Earl Grey teas will be 10% off! That includes Earl Grey Extra, Lavender Earl Grey, Victorian Earl Grey, Irish Earl Grey, Imperial Russian Caravan, Paris Blend, Decaf Earl Grey Extra, and Decaf Victorian Earl Grey.

So come on in, meet a bergamot, and pick up some Earl Grey and celebrate Bergamot Week with us!