Tag Archives: World Tea Expo

An Empress Jasmine Moment

I’ve had a mini crush on Lindsay’s Teas since I discovered them at the World Tea Expo (then known as ‘Take Me 2 Tea’) in 2003.  Her Envelope Teasers, I must say, are brilliant. These are individual tea bags (yes, I said tea bags) tucked into the cutest little envelopes. They are great for slipping into a purse, providing as party favors, etc. I wish I could find these in vending machines!  When I discovered our neighborhood coffee house, The Neighborhood Cup, serves Lindsay’s Teas (loose leaf, by the way) I was thrilled. And for my Green Tea Party, I had to invite them to the shin-dig. In particular, I thought a royal presence would be a good thing, so enter Empress Jasmine.

A Chinese green tea, the aroma is a gentle jasmine – almost comparable to an oolong. But the steeped liquid is a medium amber –  closer to my black teas than the greens I’ve been exploring recently. I can’t help but sit and just inhale the lovely perfume for a minute or two, but then it’s time for the first sip. It is stronger than the other greens and I wonder if perhaps there is some black tea blended in. The earthy green-ness is there with the lightest hint of grassy sunshine. I detect a touch of astringency, but I wonder if that is my fault for possibly over-steeping.

The Empress and I passed a lovely morning together. She may not be as approachable as I would have hoped, but as with all my Green Tea Party guests, I think the more time we spend together, the more chummy we will become.

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A Good Housekeeping Moment

I’ve been back from my lovely Parisian trip for 3 days now, though in some ways it seems a lifetime ago. Coming home to Edie after missing her terribly, and not getting to personally parade her as a rather reluctant bumblebee on Halloween, it’s just a wonderful thing to be back. And of course, there’s the re-immersion in day-to-day reality.

bumble bee

I'm the Bee's Knees!

In addition to the joy of having my whole family back together again, I was thrilled to see the arrival of a package from my friends at Naivetea. Though they didn’t say it, I believe they noticed my inexcusable lack of Oolong moments and wanted to help me correct the error of my ways. My education of Oolong has begun!

What better way to understand this tea that is not quite a green and not quite a black – in fact, it is sometimes referred to as ‘blue’ – than to begin with their 2009 World Tea Expo Flavored Oolong World Champion, Lychee Oolong. As I eased into my weekend, I chose this undisputed winner to accompany me. I loved watching the tightly balled leaves unfurl in my infuser, whispering all their secrets into my cup.

The soft, yet distinct, floral aroma surprised me and transported me to the kitchen of my dear friend, D, who lives on the other coast. I remember years ago during one of my visits she mentioned that she only ever drank oolong – ‘isn’t that the one that they always serve in Chinese restaurants?” she asked as an after thought.

We met as 19 and 20-year-olds in the common room of our dorm at a small university in the heart of the Southwest – a lark for both of us, though for different reasons. She was from the world of “grinders” (sub sandwiches) and “bubblers” (drinking fountains), and I was a flannel-wearing Pacific Northwesterner through and through. We ended up as roomies, danced together, rescued each other from awkward moments, visited each other after our sole semester as ENMU Greyhounds, were in each others’ weddings, and have now shared the laughter and tears of motherhood – though now not as often as I would like. Whenever I have visited her, I am always struck by her ability to create coziness and warmth. Her home, like her mother’s, is the cleanest, tidiest, and most comfortable at any given moment. AND, there is always something baking or roasting on the oven. I really don’t know how they do it.  She knows exactly what you need before you even know you need it. Her sixth sense of how to make everyone feel at home is mind-blowing.  I admire her ease in reading the room, playing the perfect hostess, monitoring the progress of the meal she is cooking, and keeping an eye on the likely-present kids, whether neices and nephews or, now, her own little ones. The beautiful and brilliant D has a B.A. and M.B.A, and yet she needs to be awarded an honorary doctorate in hospitality, for that is where she shines like no other.

I say all of this with the absolute highest respect and awe, because it is an area where I am woefully lacking. Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray have nothing on my friend!  I remember D once worrying that her floors weren’t clean enough because she only washed them every other day, and her sister-in-law-to-be washed hers every day. I unwisely expressed my admiration and said we were lucky if I thought to wash ours once a month. The silence on the line spoke volumes, though she quickly recovered and changed the subject to food. And I wonder why she has only visited my house once in recent years. Hmm…

As I slowly brought the world-renowned Lychee Oolong to my lips, admiring its medium gold color, I wondered what my reaction would be to the always exciting, always most-satisfying first sip.

Lychee

Oolong! Where have you been all my life?

Liquid sunshine! Mild but very bright. Not grassy like green teas or dominant like black teas or delicate like whites can be. It was almost the best of all those attributes. The floral scent accented the sunshine, and I was left with a slightly sweet aftertaste. Almost a hint, a mere suggestion, of pepper and mint, but from 50 yards away. If I tried to concentrate on them, they disappeared. Complex, yet perfectly simple. Actually, simply perfect.

Savoring this new discovery, I let my imagination picture living a few doors down from D. A Saturday morning. Gene has taken Edie to the park to play. I’ve finished tidying the kitchen and have even considered washing the floors. Next week perhaps. I call D and see if she’s free, which of course she is. (It’s my daydream, after all.) I stroll over, and as I enter her inviting and picture-perfect home, I smell baking bread and Lychee Oolong. We sit at her kitchen table, and she pours the fresh brew into two beautiful teacups from her wedding china.  Her morning housework is done, windows sparkling, floor so clean I would eat off it, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal digested, and here we share a most refreshing reward to warm conversation between two old friends.

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A World Tea Expo Moment

I feel the need to explain myself a bit. The fact that I have been to tea conventions (yes, that’s conventions with an “s” – plural), is a bit unusual, I’ll admit. Somehow, and I can’t remember how, I came across a promotion for something called “Take Me 2 Tea Expo” that would be held in Las Vegas in the Spring of 2003. Somehow, I managed to convince Gene I needed to go. Why? I didn’t know.

What I expected was a small affair of maybe 200 or 300 people. After all, I had been to conferences and expos before for the apartment industry, for the American Society for Quality. I mean, how many people could possibly be that enthused about tea, of all things? Let me just say that these experiences did not prepare me for what I was to encounter at this new little event now known as the annual World Tea Expo.

Hundreds, nay, thousands of people from every dark or bright corner of the tea world were gathered in an enormous convention center.  I witnessed the expected vendors in suits, as well as exhibitors and attendees alike in period costume, or carrying teapot purses, or professorial gentlemen with the requisite cardigan sweater and spectacles, southern belles, ‘alternative’ young professionals with color-streaked hair, fashion-forward attire and snooty attitudes, as well as salt-of-the-earth tea room owners or enthusiasts who could have been anyone’s aunts, uncles, grandmas or grandpas. Such a hodge-podge of people I have never witnessed under any one roof for any one purpose as I experienced here. It was glorious!

And the sessions! The exhibit hall! I learned everything from how to open and finance a tea shop, how to market your product or shop, how to choose your stock, how herbal teas are blended, and so much more! The exhibitors were just as informative and interesting. I learned just as much wandering around looking at all things “tea” as I did sitting in on the sessions.

This was one of those moments when the words, “My cup runneth over” applied beautifully.

tea

The “California Herbals” name of my fictitious tea company would be just one of my many tea shop fantasies. I’ve got an entire product line in the nooks and crannies of my mind for this venture, by the way. But this is where interest may have turned the corner of obsession.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to go for the past couple of years. Pregnancy and the birth of Edie focused my attention elsewhere. But this year, as we’re planning a mini-vacation, it just so happens that we may be in Vegas on the exact dates of this year’s Tea Expo! Coincedence? Actually, yes. Will I attend? What do you think?

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