Drawing the Line Between Bloggers & Journalists


This post isn't so much about tea, but gave me something to think about as I enjoyed a cuppa (Vanilla Caramel Chai from 52Teas) this morning.

To summarize, a blogger named Crystal Cox was sued to the tune of $2.5M for libel. She began representing herself on the basis that she was a journalist and therefore protected by the Shield Law, which gives journalists the right to protect confidential sources.

The judge disagreed, calling her a blogger instead. He stated that there was no proof that she was in fact a journalist - she wasn't representing a news agency at the time, nor does she have credentials or even journalism schooling.

Cox - who is now joined by the UCLA Law School in her defense - is appealing.

As many of my readers know, I am a former journalist. I've been writing for publication since I was 16 years old. My first story in a major newspaper was during my junior year of high school. I actually kept the little clipping in which my local newspaper, The Gazette (Mount Airy), was seeking interns. (My mom circled it for me and I remember thinking, this is it! My chance!) I started interning there and met the wonderful Carol Blackburn, who remained my mentor through college and eventually became my boss when I started working for The Gazette after graduating. Anyone who knew me in high school knew I wanted to write. Creative writing is my forte, but I developed a deep love for journalism too. (And yes I kept them separate, I'm no Jayson Blair nor Stephen Glass!)

I chose my alma mater, Hood College, for one reason - Aldan Weinberg. I knew his name long before I ever even heard of Hood College. I knew I wanted to attend his classes.

Once in college, I kept writing. I followed Weinberg's philosophy of writing as often as possible. I quickly built up a portfolio. Then I started getting PAID for stories and that was it. I was following my dream and my heart.

After I graduated, I took a cross-country trip with my father. The goal? To get an entry-level position at a newspaper somewhere in the Mid-West. The problem? They just weren't hiring. I kept in touch with Carol Blackburn, though. I remember the day she called me in for an interview. The Mount Airy beat reporter was leaving and there was an opening at the same newspaper where I began my journey a few years earlier. Within a week I was there.

I loved that little paper, but reality sunk in after a few years - there isn't much pay. And I devoted much of my time to the paper, leaving very little time for creative writing. My creative writing professor, Dr. Amy Gottfried, had told me she really believed I was going to make it as a novelist. But I didn't have any time! Plus the community newspaper was changing into...something else, once under a new editor. Now that office isn't even open and there is no Mount Airy Gazette. I applied for a government job and have been there since.

But I will always be a journalist. It's what I'm trained to do. (And I have the student loans to prove it!)

Bloggers are simply NOT journalists. Why? It's simple - they have the liberty to write about everything and anything, and don't even need to quote sources. Journalists are held to a different standard - and should be. We have the experience, background and education to know that every good story needs at least two different sources. We have to quote people accurately or else they'll get upset (and rightly so). And sometimes we need to use confidential sources for the greater good: getting info out to people who need to know.

I used confidential sources myself on various occasions. Usually I would talk to the source first and then find ways to get the info from other sources on the record.

I still use this philosophy here, at Keen Tea Thyme. Sometimes my features only have one source - like the CelebriTEA features. But I still follow the same ethical standards I developed as a journalist. What you see here is the truth - and I can prove it.

Cox isn't a journalist. She can blog about whatever she wants - but there are consequences, as there should be. Libel is a very real scenario for irresponsible bloggers, as it is for irresponsible journalists. The only difference? Journalists have the backing of their news agency's legal department, their editor(s) and the public - as long as they are reporting the truth, and can prove it.

But where should the line be drawn?



Got a Teaist on Your Holiday Shopping List?

It can be a challenge to shop for a teaist: what teas do they like? What teas do they want to try? What teas do they already have?! Should I opt for teaware?! Forget it, I'll get a gift card.

Before you completely panic and opt for the gift card, check out this handy guide to holiday-happy deals - which are also easy on the wallet. Readers of this blog post will be treated to special codes and generous helpings of free samples.

Rachel Carter, owner of iHeartTeas.com, got in the Christmas spirit early; she created Santa Sampler bags a few weeks ago - which have been selling well. Readers of this post can score one for 25% off - use code SecretSanta25. Expires 12/19/11 so hurry! (See photo for example of the bag.)

Copyright iHeartTeas/used with permission

Rachel first got started by selling Rescued from Retirement blends - you may know her from that initiative. But she began making her own blends in time for the holiday season; try her Strawberry Island for a tropical escape, perfect in chilly winter months.

The best part about iHeartTeas.com is that Rachel won't sell a tea she hasn't tried herself. "Teas and tea people are my passion," Rachel explained. "You won't get anything less than that amazing customer service and teas from me."

Photo by Butiki Teas/used with permission
Stacy Lim, owner of Butiki Teas, has lots of offerings too. Mention this post or me when you order and she'll make sure to include plenty of free samples. For holiday shopping on a budget, check out Butiki Teas' holiday gifts - which include an ounce tea and a holiday buddy (penguin or reindeer - see photo).

Stacy explained that shoppers can also make their own personalized gift baskets, for less than $25, or check out their holiday tins. Butiki Teas has several new holiday teas available, ready to make your mouth water: Cider Guayusa, Winter Fire Guayusa and Pumpkin Creme Brulee.

"Recently Butiki Teas has shifted focus on unique and rare teas," Stacy added. "There are some very unique teas in our selection. We also have a number of unique flavored teas with high quality base teas. For instance, our Pistachio Ice Cream uses a lovely organic Mao Jian base." Butiki Teas works with natural flavors and organic ingredients when possible - plus all of their teas are vegan-friendly. Orders will shop within 48 hours, although most ship within 24 hours, said Stacy.

I also have my own shop, with a 30% off code, HOLIDAZE. My shop is here: http://keenteathyme.teatra.de/ (Yes this is self-serving, I realize that, but I'm featuring others here too.) I offer two holiday-themed teas: Merry Christmas and Let it Snow. Both can be purchased with a mug or a tin. Visit my site for more info.

Anyone else wish to be included in my 2011 Holiday Guide?  Or is there a company you'd like to see featured? Email me - keenteathyme@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter, @keenteathyme

Happy Holidays! :)



I have pulled a feature I wrote about Brian and Lisa DiVita - based on substantial claims re: their behavior and treatment of others in the tea community.

I'm giving them a chance to explain themselves before I re-post. There are several issues I have with them, and quite frankly, I'm pissed - for a variety of reasons.

I am grateful for the loyal reader who brought this to my attention.

I'm giving everyone a chance to explain themselves. So if you have experienced a run-in or email/tweet exchange with Brian and Lisa DiVita (positive OR negative), please email me. I'm working on my own investigation and need help. Sources can remain anonymous. As most of you know, I am a former journalist and am treating this latest discovery as a news feature.

Bottom line: I've worked too hard on my blog to have it caught up in a scandal. I work very hard to keep stories fair and balanced, so I will give everyone his or her fair share. But the truth will be reported.

November 2011 Poll Results

For what are you thankful for this year?

80% of you were thankful for family, friends, loved ones; 20% reveled in a new job opportunity; everyone (100%) were thankful for tea - of course); and 40% each are happy about good news and the freedom to work from home.

Make sure to stop by the homepage to vote on this month's poll: What are you expecting for the holiday season this year?

Congrats to GG Mathis, November 2011 Contest Winner!

GG Mathis is the winner of the November 2011 Contest on Keen Tea Thyme for answering: What are you thankful for this year?

Here is her winning entry (selected randomly!) in its entirety. Don't forget to stop by the December Contest page and submit your entries for a chance to win free tea!

GG Mathis:
On May 22, 2011, an F5 tornado demolished our home, our cars, and our community. We were home at the time. The hallway where we took refuge was the only piece of the house left standing.

A friend whose faith is strong asked me recently, “So, do you see just yet how your experience has made you better and stronger?” I (whose faith has taken a beating this summer) answered, “Not yet. It’s too soon.” But as we reach the six-month anniversary of the storm, I am able to see and recall with profound thanks the people whose care and concern have carried us through the hardest stretch of our lives.

I am grateful for the staff who met us, sopping and panting, at the door of the hotel where we took refuge immediately after the storm; who put blankets around our shoulders and asked, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

I am grateful for the total strangers who drove two pickup trucks of salvaged goods fifty miles to my parents’ farm so we could clean and store them.

I am grateful for the dear friends at my church who met me with open arms, Kleenex, and in some cases, sleeves for me to wipe my runny nose on when I collapsed on them in tears.

I am grateful for the crew from the William Jewell football team, who showed up in my yard unannounced, threw back a collapsed wall and put in my hands the hand-pieced wedding quilt my mom made me and a box of dry and undamaged baby pictures of my son.

I am grateful for the online friends I have made via Steepster, who sent cards and care packages, and generously restocked my tea pantry.

I am grateful for the friends—near and far-away—who have prayed for us this season, because there have been many, many days I was too tired and didn’t have the words to do it for myself.

From the bottom of my heart, I am grateful for my husband, who worked tirelessly at the site of our old house picking out bits and pieces that will help us have a home again soon. Quietly and without complaining, he has worked to make the rental where we’ve been camping a bearable place, seen to it that some of our creature comforts have been replaced, and has been my rock and anchor when I am falling apart at the strained seams.

From the very core of my soul, I am grateful that I know a God who protects my family, who meets our needs in unexpected and amazing ways, and who is faithful despite my attempts to jump ship during tough times.

May you and your family recognize more blessings than you have fingers and toes to count on. Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you for sharing your story with us, GG Mathis. Best wishes for a wonderful, SAFE 2012!


Holiday Gift Guide - publishing 12/3/11

Still looking for that perfect  gift for the teaist in your life - or to treat yourself? Stay tuned to Keen Tea Thyme for my Annual Holiday Gift Guide - the BEST places online to buy quality tea without causing too much pain to your wallet. 

Story will publish Sat., Dec. 3, 2011 - and will include special coupon codes for my shop and others. So stay tuned!

Attn sellers & companies: If you want to be included in the gift guide, it's not too late. Email me and I'll add you! Just send me a list of your top holiday products and teas, and I'll do the rest.

Happy Brewing! :)


It's Crazy Coupon Code Time!

OK folks, I'll be honest, I'm on little sleep today thanks to a migraine and am hard at work on my Cyber Monday feature - some of you know what I'm talking about...

I'm feeling a bit crazy and fun. (I'm sure I'll crash in about three hours.)

So here's a coupon code to use at my Keen Tea Thyme shop now through this weekend! I will be launching the Holiday Shoppe this weekend (thanks to a snafu with the suppliers) but in the meantime you can use the code to check out other cool things.

To get the code you have to answer this question:

Was there turkey even at the first Thanksgiving? (Uh, this is the U.S. Thanksgiving, not the Canadian one, not to confuse my international readers. :) )

Email me your answers - bonus points if you can identify the news article I pulled this from - and I'll email you the coupon code worth...25% off. Bonus points = three free samples of my Adagio blends and/or Pink Pearls.

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember, calories don't count on holidays! :)


Keen Tea Thyme Holiday Shoppe to open 11/19/11

Due to a slight mishap in ordering my supplies, the Keen Tea Thyme Holiday Shoppe won't be open until Sat., Nov. 19.

The shoppe will feature three new blends, plus lots of specialized packaging and the chance to personalize for your gift recipients. In the meantime, browse my selection of resales, and check out my exclusive blend, Pink Pearls.

Got any questions, comments? You know what to do - email me! :)


Two new blends on Keen Tea Thyme

I'm happy to announce two new blends available on Keen Tea Thyme's Tea Trade site: Merry Christmas and San Diego Sunshine.

But wait, there's more! I'll be unveiling TWO MORE Holiday-themed blends this weekend, plus assorted gift packaging... The Keen Tea Thyme Holiday Shoppe will launch this weekend!

Stay tuned... starting on Friday, Nov. 11 (Veteran's Day) I'll be giving away a couple coupon codes in a trivia contest, some worth up to 30% off! Each week will be a new winner, so stay tuned!

Happy Holidays! Let the fun...begin!

Merry Brewing!


Congrats to Uniquity - October 2011 Winner!

Here is Uniquity's (Tiffany) story about Halloween memories. She won two pouches of tea: Liquid Candy Corn and Vampire Lemonade. You can win free tea too! Head over to the November contest to see how! :)

"Hallowe’en has long been one of my favourite holidays – I know it’s not a “real” one, but I love it. My parents split when I was very young and all the religious holidays (Christmas, Easter) were a bit stressful. Hallowe’en, though, was the night of imagination! I was very fortunate that when I was younger my father made all my costumes from scratch – no matter howsilly. I had a wonderfully constructed horse one year (the face constructedwith Styrofoam and a bicycle helmet!), Princess Jasmine, Pocahontas and the ‘Funshine’Care Bear are other notable examples. He even bought and altered a weddingdress from a thrift store for me the year I was to be a princess.

While I don’t have a favourite Hallowe’en specifically, I do have great memories of my trips with my father. One particular house had an owl set up in the front yard every year that I held detailed conversations with. As with many childhood events, I’ve only realized as an adult that a microphone and speaker system was involved. Nonetheless, my father was sure to bring me by that house every year to converse with my favourite owl friend.

I have pictures chronicling every year’s costume and every year’s Jack-O-Lantern – another favourite trend that I still continue is drawing out pumpkin ‘options’ beforehand. My father would draw 5 or 6 differentpotential faces to carve and I was allowed to pick or alter them as desired. It might seem strange to plan out Jack-O-Lanterns, but I loved it! Now that it is October, I am already thinking about what I can create this year..."

Hope everyone had a wonderful Halloween! :)


A Keen Tea Score

I've written a lot of features over the past few months announcing new shops, and celebrating the success of others. Now it's time to turn the tables, as the cliche goes. I opened up my own Keen Tea Thyme shop!

This weekend only, score 20% off at my new shop:

by using coupon code STEEPROX. Hurry - coupon code will expire at midnight Tuesday!

This coupon code will work on everything - all the new resales I just listed, plus my popular Adagio Take-Your-Pick sampler pack, and my exclusive Pink Pearls blend.

Most of the items include a free sample too - plus free shipping in the USA.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Email me! :)

Happy Brewing!


Autumn's in the air - poll results

The votes are in! Last month I asked what you liked best about autumn. View the results below and don't forget to vote in the November poll: Giving Thanks.

Speaking of things to be thankful for, enter my monthly contest to win free tea! Visit the November Contest tab at the top or click here.

Autumn's in the air. What's the best thing about this season?

hot tea (chai, apple, really any kind)
jumping into leaf piles (as long as you aren't the one raking)
cooler temps/crisp air
the fashion - cardis and cords
the changing leaves
...that Christmas/Holidays are around the corner


A Snowy Halloween

We had a snowy Halloween weekend already, in Maryland! I was happy to see that the snow melted the next day, but that weather got me thinking about the approaching holiday season.

The Keen Tea Thyme Holiday Shop will open on Nov. 11, 2011 - Veteran's Day (one of my favorite holidays). Stop by for new blends, products, gifts and ideas.

Stay tuned to this blog for a few coupon codes - including 30% off my new Pink Pearls! :)

Keen Tea Thyme - be "keen" on tea! :)


Calling All Int'l Tea Bloggers!

I'm hard at work at a brand-new section of my blog, dedicated to international tea bloggers. Well it's for any non-USA tea blogger, but calling the section "international" sounds much more inclusive. :)

Don't worry - I'll still be writing monthly CelebriTEAs, but I want to highlight some of my international readers - especially those of you in France, and friends of the Great North (Canada). Drop me a line or post below if you're interested in joining the section, which will run the same way as CelebriTEAs - monthly pages, after a month, posted to the blog so the feature is in the regular archives.

I'm no longer running company profiles - there is one I've promised to do and that will be the last one. I just didn't think I could cover all the great companies out there equally. I will keep you posted with any news I can - whether it's new teas over at 52Teas or new Rescued from Retirement Blends from Rachel@iHeartTeas.

Thanks for your loyalty and your readership! There are always exciting new things happening at Keen Tea Thyme, and I appreciate all my fans! :)

Happy Brewing!


Freebies2Deals App

OK, so this isn't totally tea related, but we all love saving money, right? (Especially when saved $$ can go into the tea fund!)

Freebies2Deals - hosted by the wonderful Melea - has an app! This FREE app (would she have it any other way?!) works on both the Android and iPhone platforms. (For the iPhone search the App store. Directions for the Android platform are provided on her site.)

Get all the details here. And let her know Keen Tea Thyme sent you! :)

Tea and Migraines

I suffer from champion and marathon migraines - ones that last at least four if not five days. I had one last week. It finally started to go away. I was free from pain for a good six hours.

Now it is returning.

Could it be the tea?

I will have to conduct an experiment with this... I already know I get migraines from red rooibos. My last cuppa was Awakening - vanilla green.

Ugh. Time for medicine and a coma.

Chai... Syrup?

There's a reason I rarely review teas on my blog. It's not that I don't drink tea every day, or that I don't drink a varieTEA of teas...it's that I'll never measure up to the awesome reviews done by SororiTea Sisters! Both LiberTeas and TeaEqualsBliss write some of the best reviews out there - and you can tell by their reviews that they are both die-hard tea fans.

I caught this review on Steepster and had to share it with my readers: chai tea syrup! This is an innovation from LiberTeas; my mouth is watering at the thought of baking up some pancakes and adding chai syrup!

If you haven't checked out the SororiTea Sisters yet, start here - but devote a good hour of reading time. They ROCK! :)

Happy Brewing!


Escape to...Strawberry Island!

There are new tea things popping up at Rachel Carter’s tea site: iHeartTeas.com – including her first, exclusive blend Strawberry Island.
           Rachel recently took a trip to Maine, bringing back memories – and sample sets of teas from Maine-based tea shops. DobrĂ¡, Jacqueline’s Tea Room (with two sample packs), Bar Harbor Tea Company, Homegrown Herb & Tea all have selections available in her new shop. Plus she’s expanding her site to include teaware – coming soon she’ll have a cute set of small black and white tea cups.
            She’s taking on new ventures, too, such as offering a new feature on brewing methods – including a must-read article on how she made her Matcha – and Rachel said she’s focusing her time on many, many new reviews.
            But the most exciting news at iHeartTeas is Rachel’s new tea blend – created exclusively for and by Rachel herself! She mixed strawberry, coconut and vanilla black teas to create a tropical escape, Strawberry Island.
            Stay tuned as Strawberry Island is bound to be just the first in a whole slew of iHeartTeas blends, created by one of the tea community’s top tea tasters.
            “I am so happy I am able to do this…and it comes so naturally,” Rachel explained.
            Top on her list of Tea Priorities is a possible grand re-opening of her site (keep Keen Tea Thyme bookmarked as we’ll have the latest news). Rachel is also selling teas on Zibbet.com.
            Family always comes first for Rachel and iHeartTeas, but that’s one thing she loves about her tea business – that she can be a full-time Mom and a full-time Teaist, at the same time.

Find Rachel & iHeartTeas by visiting one of the links below:

www.iHeartTeas.com - Tea Shop & Blog

August/September - Company Profile

SpecialTea Brew

SpecialTea Brew
Company profile: August/September 2011

Running a tea business is a full-time job, but for Ami Soleau, owner of SpecialTea Brew, her new venture is just one of her many hats.
            “I am a just do it type of girl,” Ami explained. “I had the idea, talked it over with a few people, wrote out my plans and ideas, read about a million books, blogs, etc and then just decided to give it a go.”
          While she works full-time in another sector, Seattle-based Ami was looking for a business that was more challenging – and more fulfilling.
            Tea ended up being the answer for her.
            And the company has a lot of meaning for her. “The name is after my auntie who passed away from Breast Cancer,” Ami said. “She loved tea, love the arts and her name was Brooke; [but] we called her Brew.”
        She donates three percent of all sales of her company towards research in finding a cure for breast cancer, in her aunt’s memory.
          Right now SpecialTea Brew only sells teas online – but Ami said she does eventually want to open a brick-and-mortar store, when the time is right. Since she works full-time elsewhere she doesn’t have a lot of extra time to put into her tea company – not yet.
          SpecialTea Brew is part of the Tea Etc wholesale program, which means Ami doesn’t necessarily blend her own teas, but she does have plans to do that someday.
          The wholesale program provides an opportunity for smaller, independent companies to sell tea under their own private labels. For Ami, this was a perfect match – especially since she had trouble locating a Seattle-based tea manufacturer.
          But just because SpecialTea Brew isn’t her only job, don’t think Ami doesn’t take her company seriously. Her motto is “Brew what you love and love what you brew,” and Ami takes this to heart. She strives to make her tea company a success for herself, and for her customers.
          “My mission is to satisfy customers, with good quality and fast response time,” Ami explained. So if you email her, she’ll get back to you promptly. “If you need something I will make it happen if I am able to do so.”
          In addition to teas, Ami’s crafty in other ways – she offers custom-made greeting cards on her site as well. SpecialTea Brew is a one-stop shop for presents for tea fans; get a gift for your tea friend and a custom-made card at the same time.
          Since starting her tea business a few months ago, Ami has been happy with the success so far – as well as the friendships she’s made through this tea venture. “I have learned a lot about tea and yet there is still so much to learn,” Ami explained. “I like to learn from customers as well; they know what they want and how they want it and I like to help them with that.”
Ami added that the world of tea is a continuing education experience. “I don’t think there will ever be a point where I know it all about tea, but I do hope to be an expert in the field at some point.”
In the meantime, Ami is happy learning about tea, celebrating tea, and meeting more tea friends through her business. “I hope to gain experience, and knowledge most of all,” she explained. “I love the challenge of running my own business.”
She has been on the hunt for a business partner as well, not an employee but a partner, Ami stressed, someone who will share the workload – and the fun – 50/50. “I am looking for someone that not only has the passion that I have but someone that compliments my strengths. I have the passion and idea, you have the knowledge.”
But even without a partner, SpecialTea Brew is open for business. Check out her store here: SpecialTea Brew. For more information, including finding out if you could be a business partner for her, visit her Web site or contact her below.

Quick Links:
Twitter: @specialteabrew
Facebook: search "specialtea brew"

CelebriTEA for Aug-Sept

CelebriTEA ©: August-September 2011

CelebriTEA ©: August-September 2011

Name/screenname: Lu Ann Pannunzio

Occupation: Advertising Student & PR Intern.

Location: Ontario Canada!

Lu Ann Pannunzio, author of The Tea Cup of Life, may have just started blogging about tea, but she’s been in love with tea for over a decade.

          “My journey with tea began when my sister brought home this adorable wooden box with strawberry flavored tea bags,” Lu Ann explained, adding that she was answering the questions with a cuppa tea in her hand. “At the time my mom was a bit skeptical of letting me drink a caffeinated beverage when I was seven but thought one cup wouldn't hurt. It obviously didn't but after that one cup I did not stop just there! Strawberries are my favorite fruit and having it in a unique tea blend was absolutely delicious. Afterwards, tea times have always been a great get together and catch up for my sister and me.”

          She’s no stranger to blogging, explaining that she has several scattered on the Web but didn’t consistently write in the blogs for lack of a theme. “Just this summer I realized I should probably talk about something I love and that's when I came across the idea for this tea blog. I'm slowly putting my dreams from five years ago into reality,” Lu Ann said.”It's been my dream to open up my own cafe one day with tea 24/7 and live jazz music - I guess that piece of inspiration came from my jazz musician boyfriend who is also a fun tea lover.”

          Lu Ann may have just gotten started but she already has a devoted following and plenty of posts. “I love doing interview posts because I always find the most inspiration through other peoples' thoughts and journeys,” Lu Ann said. “I would have to say that I also enjoy doing my "creativi-tea" segments which is basically on really neat tea stuff I find in stores or on the webs that I feel I really need to share to others.”

          She also loves writing her daily tea party segments for a week. “I was in a tea party crazy the weekend before so I thought it was a perfect time to share some of my items on my to do lists. If you want to check them out you can here.”

          While Lu Ann recognizes she’s one of many tea blogs, she hopes her readers enjoy the uniqueness. “I did not create mine [blog] to compete,” Lu Ann said. “I merely created mine to document my adventures with tea and keep all my ideas in one to reference back to when The Cup of Life becomes a real cafe. I encourage others to write blog posts for my blog as well! I really love hearing other people's stories and inspirations and they don't have to just be on tea. I'm a lover of many things. You can find more information on how to be a guest blogger here.”

She’s a lover of many tea varieties too, but enjoys quite a few oolong teas, explaining, “. I find them to be perfect for a great relaxing evening (or even a lazy morning!) and I love the smell of most of them as they brew. But as the season changes, so will my favorite tea at the moment.”

What’s on the agenda for future postings at The Tea Cup of Life?  “The Cup of Life is working on some really neat tea etiquette presentations that can be presented in person or online for events,” Lu Ann said. “If anyone may be interested in this they may contact us here.

But to sum up Lu Ann’s take on tea, she refers to her favorite quote, which is also posted on her blog: You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."~ C.S. Lewis. “The quote continues to inspire me with every idea I may have including some upcoming ones,” Lu Ann added.

What is a CelebriTEA? This Keen Tea Thyme post features popular tea bloggers and their histories, passions, stories. Why? The online tea community is a vast resource of knowledge, tips, experiences – a place of conversation and sharing of passion.
Wanna be featured or know of a great blogger? E-mail me at keenteathyme@gmail.com
Please note: all work is copyrighted by the author. Do not use without permission; just ask!

Keen Tea Thyme's shop - at Tea Trade!

I'm finally able to sell some of my teas online! YAY!

Thanks to Tea Trade, it's possible for lil ol' me - a non-tea company, just a teaist - to have her own shop. :)

Visit my shop here:

Pink Pearls is finally available for sale, and Summer Sunshine will be ready in a few weeks...

Got any questions? Just ask!

Special thanks to the folks at Tea Trade for making this possible. :) :)


Chai tea for Autumn; fave for October?

Chai tea mix

The results are in - over 70% of voters in September 2011 agree that chai tea is the best flavor to welcome autumn!

Other respondents:
40% prefer green
and 10% prefer either white, black or other

Be sure to vote in October's poll:

Hooray for October! What’s your favorite type of black tea this season?

Hazelnut/coffee flavor

Chocolate/dessert flavor


Pumpkin spice



If you want to win free tea, submit an entry for this month's contest - Halloween Memories. Entries are due October 26, 2011. Send me a story about your favorite Halloween memory for a chance to win! All entries will be posted by October 26 and readers will have the chance to vote on the top five entries.

Each Top Five Entry will each receive a free sample of Pink Pearls, my new blend. The final winner will receive two pouches of my signature blends from Adagio:
-Liquid Candy Corn
-Vampire Lemonade

Happy October!

Please note: November and December's contest will be joined, so winners will have the chance to score four pouches of tea, plus a 2 oz sample of Pink Pearls. So if you miss out on this month's contest, mark your calendars for Nov. 1; details of the new contest will be posted then.


Back-to-school Jitters

Teazanne (Maryann) sent in the winning entry for the September 2011 Monthly Contest at Keen Tea Thyme and scored two pouches of free tea - Toasted Marshmallow and Autumn's Walk.

Her winning entry is below:

I always loved back-to-school time as a kid, shopping for school supplies (and new clothes!) and getting set for a new school year. It's no surprise, then, that I opted to become a teacher when I grew up. After earning a Masters in Early Childhood Education, I taught kindergarten for several years. I enjoyed the kids, and let's face it, kindergarten is pretty fun! But I decided to expand my horizon and teach "older" kids - fifth grade. I went back to college for a few "refresher" classes on teaching, and while I didn't earn another degree, I did feel confident I would be a terrific fifth grade teacher.

I made sure I had fresh supplies - lots of construction paper, stickers, posters, glue, crayons...and then I panicked. What was I doing?! Fifth graders are nothing like kindergarteners! I didn't even know how to dress; normally I wore pants and a shirt that I wouldn't mind getting fingerpaint on, or construction paper stuck to. But what to wear for the older kids? I opted for a nice pair of khakis and a button-down shirt - so I still looked like a "fun" teacher, but also one with authority.

The first kids started walking in and sitting down. "We have assigned seats? Man!" They said. I thought quickly, what's the harm? I could take away the name tags...but I stopped myself. I was a their teacher and I wanted assigned seats until I learned their names. I could do that. I was their teacher.

The rest of the class filed in, and once the bell rang I said hello to my new students and introduced myself. "I'm new to fifth grade, just like you guys, so let's take some time to introduce ourselves." I learned about summer vacations, family pets, favorite sports teams and players, and what these - no, my - fifth graders liked to do for fun.

We laughed. We learned. (Hopefully!) My students learned about new experiences; I sure did.

Now I've taught fifth grade for almost a decade and I can't believe I was ever scared. Don't let my students know that! :) I just calmly brew a pot of tea in the morning and carry on.

Congrats to Teazanne (Sept. 2011 Contest Winner)

With just one entry in this month's contest, I'm pleased to announce the winner of the September 2011 Keen Tea Thyme Contest - Teazanne (Maryann)!

Her story about back-to-school jitters will be posted in a separate entry later today.

Her prize? A pouch of Toasted Marshmallow customized blend from Adagio, and a second pouch of Autumn's Walk, another of my signature blends from Adagio. And as a special treat, a 2 oz sample of my new blend Pink Pearls!

Want free tea? Then submit an entry for my October contest by emailing me a memory about your favorite Halloween. Winners will receive two pouches of tea from my Adagio signature blend collection:

-Liquid Candy Corn
-Vampire Lemonade

The top five entries will be posted for readers to vote on by October 26, 2011. All top five winners will receive a sample of Pink Pearls.

Happy Brewing! :)


"I Love NY" - Madam Potts delivers

My blend from Madam Potts

I had a rough week so imagine my surprise - and happiness! - to find a package from Madam Potts containing my PersonaliTEA!

A few months ago I featured Madam Potts in a company profile, showcasing her talents as a tea blender. The way her site works is this: fill out a form about yourself and she'll blend up a batch of your very own PersonaliTEA based on your preferences.

Well I'm happy to report not only is Madam Potts one of my favorite people to interview and talk tea with, she is also amazingly on target when it comes to a person's, well,  PersonaliTEA!

My tea blend is called "I Love NY." Immediately I gave her one point for the name. I do love NY. Not the city, but the state. I was born in Rochester and while I grew up in San Diego (CA) and Mount Airy, MD, Rochester always has a place in my heart. My grandparents - the wonderful Oma and PaPa my readers have heard about! - still live there. And many of my short stories take place in towns and villages similar to locales in Monroe County.

Anyway, back to my tea. I pulled out the little card which says, "Enjoy!" Inside Madam Potts describes the tea. I immediately put the card down, opting to smell and taste the tea first, then ask questions later.

It didn't matter whether I read the card or not! I opened the bag and immediately was transported to upstate New York - apples, spices, mints. I grinned happily and giggled like a crazy person. Then I got back to reality and brewed a cuppa, following her careful directions.

First sip and this became an instant favorite. You can taste the apples, the mints, the spices. And there's a bit of home in the tea. I have no idea how she did it, but she did. My husband even said it smelled good - and since he's not really a fan of tea, that says a lot. Gulped down one cuppa, brewed a second. I thought about bringing it to work, but decided to be selfish and keep it for myself at home.

On my third cup, I read the card she enclosed, which described the inspiration for the tea. "New York State, Orchard, summer, autumn, apples, Spicy, Minty, Intense, Tranquil, Aromatic, Meditative, Seasonal." On my fourth cup (second infusion), I remembered when I was answering the questions on the form I wondered how the Great and Powerful Madam Potts would use these words to create my blend. Doesn't matter to me how, the point is she did and she got everything right. THANK YOU! :)

I'm going to order a blend for my mom and my sister-in-law for the holidays. And I'm going to bring some of my blend to my grandmother when I visit her next month. She might like my blend as much as I do!

Trivia fact: the placemat underneath my tea blend is one of six in a set that my grandmother quilted for me a few years ago. Notice the bright colors of autumn and the apples? :)


The Buzz...

What's the buzz about this month? Well, glad you asked because September is National Honey Month!

How sweet, eh? (Sorry but you know me and my puns.)

Honey is a favorite sweetener in many recipes, including tea and especially when there is a sore throat involved. I remember drinking a cup of chamomile tea with honey. Yum! I never stirred the honey in - being the sugar freak I am - so that last gulp was a satisfying sugar rush...that, now that I think about it, probably counter-acted any sleep-inducing qualities of the cold meds I was taking. (Sorry Mom/Dad.)

Did you know that there is a honey tea as well? Culinary Teas - home of many of my favorite teas, including Cinnamon and their to-die-for Long Island Strawberry Sencha - offers a Honey Tea. It tastes just as sweet as plain black tea with a dollop of honey. You can add sweetener if you want, but for those of us - again, sugar freak, right here - who love the taste of honey, that's good enough for me.

They also offer a Raspberry Honey Tea and a Chamomile Honey Tea which I have not yet tried. Guess I'll have to place another order! Oh darn. ;)

Get even more in the spirit of National Honey Month by trying Strawberry Honey Lip Balms and soaps from my new favorite soap and sundries shop: SCENTSational Soaps! (Check out the story first, and then head over to their shop to try out their products. 100% wonderful!)

So what about you, dear readers? How will you celebrate National Honey Month? Got a favorite tea to add honey to, or a favorite honey-flavored tea?

Any tea & honey recipes you'd like to share as well?

Happy Buzzing...I mean Brewing! :)