RealiTEA: Sip in the CiTEA

If you're planning a trip to New York City this year - business or pleasure - take in a meal or even a high tea at one of the Big Apple's tea-friendly restaurants. The NY Times today (3/11/11) offered an interesting look into the city's greatest spots for tea. 

Tea is taking America by storm - it's always been a popular beverage, but it seems lately there are more tea rooms, tea choices, Teavanas and tea activities to enjoy.

The article reviews the tea and food choices from around the city including the famous Russian Tea Room, the world renown Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel and some independent shops such as Alice's Tea Cup, Tea & Sympathy and Lady Mendl's. But the basis of the story is the new "fad": afternoon tea. 

(A quick sidebar: Alice's Tea Cup is a wonderland of Lewis Carroll's creations, so I will have to investigate that place for a possible feature. Sounds really cool!)

Afternoon tea may conjure up images of garden parties, little old ladies dressed to the nines sipping from dainty tea cups that belong in a museum (or at least no where near clumsy me), and eating cucumber sandwiches with pinkies in the air. (One of those restaurants does serve cucumber sandwiches...which to me has always seemed like a snack or side dish. A sandwich should have meat or at least a heartier veggie than a watery cucumber.)

But afternoon tea, also referred to as low tea (by the Brits, I'm guessing) is a light meal typically eaten between 3 and 5 p.m., according to wikipedia. Loose tea is brewed and served with milk and sugar, and there are those finger foods - sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries. In hotels and tea shops the food is often served on a tiered standA formal afternoon tea is usually taken as a treat in a hotelcafĂ© or tea shop. In everyday life, many British take a much simpler refreshment consisting of tea and biscuits at teatime. (All cited from wikipedia.

We tea fiends may find this amusing, as for many of us drinking tea is a daily habit. We drink tea for lots of reasons - we're thirsty, we're cold (or hot, for iced tea), to enjoy the experience, to try something new, to relax, to energize. 

Imagine if the American workplace established afternoon tea as part of the work day. Maybe not for two hours, but people could meet with coworkers and/or friends for an hour or so to talk, unwind, relax over a cuppa. What could be accomplished, what fences could be mended, and what a way to finish the work day.

The lucky NY Times reporters got to experience that for the article, which is worth a read whether you're NY-bound or not. Brew a cuppa and read the story for a relaxing experience.


Special Tea Sale at Amazon TODAY ONLY!

Today only (3/11/11), Amazon.com cuts up to 45% off a selection of coffee and tea during its latest sale. (Thanks, husband, for finding this one!) Plus, add it to your cart via Subscribe & Save to cut an extra 15% off and net free shipping. Most items are at the lowest total price found online, according to dealnews.com. Some best bets (each after the Subscribe & Save discount plus free shipping):


Cool new contest at Arbor Teas

Hey teasters, we love to express our opinions about tea, right? Well guess what? Arbor Teas - home of high quality organic loose tea - is offering up a cool contest. For the next two weeks (until next weekend or so - March 19ish), the Michigan-based company will monitor all reviews posted about their teas on steepster.com. (If you haven't visited steepster.com, GO THERE NOW. Then return to my blog. Steepster is the hub of the online tea community.)

OK, so post your reviews of the Arbor Teas on Steepster.com by posting tea logs. The person with the "most detailed, compelling (but not necessarily most positive) review" of the teas will be awarded a free regular-sized package of any tea, with free shipping too. Sweet deal! (Note: the winner's tea must be in stock at the close of the contest to be considered as the prize.)

Got questions? Post in the discussion section @Steepster here or visit http://www.arborteas.com/.

Good luck and have fun!


Tea Trade - Give it a Chance

Tea Trade is now available for tea bloggers (fellow tea dorks like me), and those who want to buy and sell tea.

At first my friends and I were wary of the process. We enjoy tea swapping with tea enthusiasts on sites like steepster.com. Most of the time we just cover the cost of shipping to the person and have the philosophy that we'll "get the $ back" when the person returns the tea favor. Or we just enjoy swapping teas and sharing them.

Tea Trade offers a forum for people to actually sell tea that they have accumulated through regular purchases, gifts and swaps. Some steepster folks are signing up. I did as a test run - with the blog.

I am not a fan of Wordpress, which is the format used by Tea Trade. However some sites are able to be mirrored. (Like mine.) Others can be domain mapped, as Pete (founders) explained in a post. Leafbox is an example; it's hosted by Tea Trade but has its own domain. Pretty cool. Eventually I may do that with Keen Tea Thyme. Maybe.

Pete added in the comment that Tea Trade hopes to work with businesses too. That will be a bonus, maybe we can get samples, etc. Details are still under development. But they've got an awesome, informative FAQ page. 

So you can look at this a few ways:
-a Tea Yard Sale, in a way, where you can clear out unwanted teas
-a place to sell your own custom creations
-a place to find new teas
-a place to avoid, because you don't have an open mind. ;)

Give this place a chance. Let's see how Tea Trade will do. We'll check back with them in six months and see how the business is going.

Meanwhile, there are some rooibos tea I need to part with. Any takers?