Teavana is soliciting me, through email, to check out new teas. They are offering me free 16oz. cups of tea, and free loose leaf tea when I purchase specific other teas. I’m game. I’ll try it. It gets me in the door to a tea place I don’t usually frequent. There’s no harm in trying something new. Oh yes, I know you’re a discriminate tea drinker. You wouldn’t stoop to a Mall environment to purchase tea.
Get over yourself. You’re missing the big picture.
Here it is: Starbucks, which owns Teavana, has deep pockets to advertise tea. What they did for coffee, they can do for tea. Publicize it. Advertise it. Popularize it.
The fact that Starbucks now owns Teavana means that the chances of tea becoming mainstream are greater, providing more jobs and more opportunity for the general public to develop a long overdue taste for tea. Remember 1776, and the Boston Tea Party?
The independent tea houses? Small independents can outshine big franchises with more intimate service, choice of different teas from different brands, tea classes, more tea related products, personal involvement in the immediate community and quirkiness of owners. It’s more work, but it’s also more opportunity. Business is changing. The neighborhood tea store can thrive near the big franchise; it just can’t compete head to head. Creativity is the new leader.
I support Teavana, but I also support my local tea shop. I know the people at several independent tea shops, I know something about their lives, and I feel comfortable in their space. If enough people start drinking more tea because a big store has made it popular, then there’s enough business to go around for everyone, large store and small. Competition is healthy, and gives tea enthusiasts more choices.
Get out there and try some local tea shops as well as the big box brands and teas sold in grocery stores. They’re all good. They all have value. You very well may discover some new tea that you didn’t know that you would like until you bought it. Usually by mistake.
Your brain loves novelty.
So do your taste buds.
My sister teaches 5th grade. Those children are about 10 years old, and they have a lot of imagination, energy, and the attention span of a gnat. Every year, she teaches about the American Revolution, and she begins with a challenge to the hyper-active kids about uses for tea bags. She arrives with English Breakfast tea bags (this is a hint of what’s coming) and the kids work in groups to invent novel and interesting uses for the tea. They may include the actual packaging. They are not allowed to use the obvious, which is, making a hot or cold drink, with or without honey and lemon.
Here are the 5th graders barely plausible uses for tea bags:
Then my sister announces one last use for bags of tea: overthrowing a government, and with that, she begins her chapter on the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party.
…Dempsey, with thanks to my sister Gin and her 5th graders, who didn’t realize that I would steal their story
It was a cold and stormy day. What a great morning for tea in a warm space with entertaining and lively pals. I found this at the Burien Tea Tasting Club at Phoenix Tea, in Burien, on Saturday from 10-12 noon. It was two hours of conversation and tea tastings. Time slips away, one elegant sip at a time.
We sampled eight teas from the Darjeeling area of India and one from the Assam area. We smelled the tea, tasted the tea, discussed the tea, contrasted the second and third infusion with the first. I learned a lot about tea, and infusions. The owners, Brett and Cinabar (great name), know tea, and are not pretentious about sharing their knowledge.
Each tea from Darjeeling was different one from another. Who thinks up these names? Moonshine Darjeeling, for instance. No, it’s not alcohol, it’s a white tea. The first infusion was subtle, with little color, smell, or taste, but the second infusion was darker and smelled like sage with a little more taste. The third infusion was also dark, and it had a sweet smell. I liked the tea, all three variations. At home, I don’t tend to do multiple infusions, but it’s nice to know that I can, and the flavor and smell may change each time. Ok, I am frivolous with tea infusions, using them for one infusion, then discarding that tea in favor of another. I don’t want to drink the same tea all day. Next year I am going to be in the second grade!
The other Darjeeling that I liked was Glenburn Darjeeling Autumn Oolong. It kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? It could be the name of a favorite aunt: Glenburn Darjeeling Autumn Oolong. Regardless, it had a little licorice taste that was pleasant and sweet. I like dry wines, but I like sweet teas.
You can buy both teas, and many others, at Phoenix Tea, 902 Southwest 152nd Street, Burien, WA 98166, (206) 495-7330