Over the Teacups

Giving Voice to the Tea Industry

Certified Tea Specialist Classes

Posted on | April 11, 2017 | No Comments

May 19, 2017toMay 20, 2017
May 20, 2017

Two Tea Filled Days!

An intense tea education program, you’ll have two fun-filled and fact-filled days learning about tea history. Its origins. Its history. Enjoy the sensual side of tea, too. I’ll show you how!

Specialty Tea Institute (STI) Certified Tea Specialist, is the only tea course and tea class endorsed by the Tea Council of the USA.

You’ll proudly display your CTS certificate to customers and to employers.

The next class is May 19-20, 2017. Don’t miss out. Tap the link to learn more.Specialty Tea Institute Tea Council of the USA

A New High for Starbucks on the Magnificent Mile

Posted on | May 6, 2017 | No Comments

Hello Starbucks! So long Crate & Barrel. In 2019, Starbucks is opening a new tourist attraction on the Magnificent Mile, Chicago, which I affectionately call the Billion Dollar Mile. It’s located in the former Crate & Barrel space. This makes it Starbucks’ largest planned location.

Imagine what it would be like to have a 43,000 sq. ft. coffee shop and immersive coffee experience.

Starbucks said visitors will get a full sensory experience as they learn about different ways the company roasts and brews its rare, small-batch Reserve coffees from around the world. The Atlanta Journal called it a mega jolt of caffeine.

The new space will offer a new menu of high end Reserve coffee drinks and mixology, as well as freshly baked products developed by Italian baker Rocco Princi, who is known for artisan breads inspired by traditional family recipes. The affiliation is multi-layered as Starbucks invested in Princi Boutique Bakery in 2016 as an expansion of its own business.

Rocco Princi, Princi Boutique Bakery, Starbucks Coffee

Rocco Princi

“We have never baked in our stores in 45 years. But all of that will change with the creation of this unique partnership,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and CEO (Kevin Johnson, CEO as of April 3, 2017). “Rocco and his team at Princi possess a passion for handcrafted food and artisanal baked goods that mirrors how I feel about our coffee.  The attention to detail, the care invested in selecting the ingredients and the artistry of preparation is second only to the service Rocco offers customers inside his Princi stores. I can think of no better pairing for our most premium coffee experience and am excited by the possibilities we envision in Princi food elevating every daypart – breakfast, lunch, and dinner – in Starbucks Roasteries and Reserve Stores.”

As of November, 2016, Starbucks operates 23,768 stores worldwide – boggles the mind. I can smell the coffee clear out here – or maybe that’s the aroma from Pike Place.

Cool Ideas for Making Iced Tea

Posted on | April 11, 2017 | No Comments

Simple and fresh iced tea for spring?

Absolutely! There are many beautiful sunny days that are just perfect for iced tea. In the Pacific Northwest, we amend the comment to beautiful sunny days here and there. Tea leaves are a wide variety and flavored teas expand the possibilities even further.

As a standalone beverage, it’s thirst-quenching but the possibilities of pairing with your favorite meal or snack are endless. Chef’s salad with iced tea? Of course! Fresh strawberry pie with iced tea. Sure! How about pizza with iced tea? Perfect!

Earl Grey Bravo Tea Adagio Iced tea

ingenuiTEA by Adagio

 

Make Iced Tea Quick ‘n’ Easy

Adagio Tea has an iced tea maker that brews loose-leaf tea – it’s an “ingenuity-TEA”. You can use any loose-leaf tea that you prefer, add to the ingenuity-TEA, pour over the water and steep.  I use double the normal amount of tea to make an iced tea concentrate.

Iced ingenuiTEA Adagio tea Iced ingenuiTEA Adagio loose leaf teaingenuiTEA Adagio iced tea maker

The ingenuiTEA is an acrylic standalone tea maker with inbuilt strainer and pressure sensitive center-bottom. Put your choice of loose-leaf tea in the ingenui-TEA, fill with hot water at the proper temperature, steep for number of minutes desired and decant. As the box states, it works with any pitcher. You’ll also see it featured in Food & Wine magazine as a new tea trend.

Here’s What I Did

Using Adagio’s Earl Grey Bravo, I add two tablespoons of tea to the container and filled it with boiling water. At this point, I held my breath just in case I’d misunderstood its durability. Ha! It worked great! Earl Grey Bravo was a nice surprise, too. The base tea is Ceylon and I’m guessing it’s made with double bergamot. Orange bits and cornflowers provide flavor and visual interest.

No sweetener is required although as with many fine Earl Greys, it will take sweetener or a lemon slice or orange slice. Will it take milk as in for a latte? Absolutely!

I’d probably pair it with a light meal, fresh fruits, or thin sandwiches.

Earl Grey Tea - Bravo - Adagio Tea Earl Grey Tea - Bravo - Adagio Tea Organic Earl Grey Bravo Tea - Adagio - loose-leaf tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Just Another Iced Tea Gizmo

My kitchen, pantry and some bookshelves are full of tea accoutrements. Some would call it hoarding – I call it being prepared. So if you’re like me, you need another tea gizmo like a…..well, like another tea pot. The ingenui-TEA teapot a creative necessity that is well worth the price of $29 for yourself or as a gift.

Iced tea ingenuity-TEA Adagio+

Here’s how it looked with my version of an Earl Grey latte. The glass was full of ice; the ingenuiTEA set over the glass rim to add the tea; swirled with vanilla almond milk.

Enjoy! Do you have one? If not, tap on the Adagio link right now. Adagio – ingenuiTEA

Have a great day!

Puer Tea – Tea Class

Posted on | January 24, 2014 | No Comments

Tea Class – Puer Tea

In San Francisco, Phil Parda is teaching the Specialty Tea Institute’s Level III, Pu-erh Tea class.  The class is precise, hands-on, and includes pu-erh tea tastings. Phil knows his tea stuff. The first time that I heard him speak about pu-erh was at the STI tea symposium in Seattle about ten years ago.

Classes with the Specialty Tea Institute, STI, are progressive with Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and Electives. Registration and membership information can be found at TEA USA.

 Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

Pu-erh Tea Class San Francisco 2014

Puer Tea
Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic

Pu-erh? Pu-erh cha? By any spelling, its origins and processing are fascinating.  Thanks to a recommendation by Tony Gebely, I bought the new book, Puer Tea, Ancient Caravans and Urban Chic, by Jinghong Zhang. It’s a worthy addition to any tea library.

Published by the University of Washington Press in 2014, it contains excellent information about Puer Tea. How I judge a good book’s retention value: author credentials, content, references or bibliography. Puer Tea is excellent in every way.

Puer Tea – “This is an engrossing study of the Puer tea industry and the many cultural spheres that surround it.  It will be of keen interest to the Western tea trade as well as historians, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts.  Tea publications rarely, if ever, discuss the complex relationships that quite literally bring tea to the table.  Never has the anatomy of tea been dissected in such a wide ranging, thorough, and engaging way.” Steven D. Owyoung, co-translator of Korean Tea Classics. 

Pu-erh Tea Class

I skipped to Chapter 7, “Tea Tasting and Counter-Tea Tasting” to see what she had to say about tea tasting comparisons and methods. At a pu-erh tea tasting event where more than 50 people were attending, six kinds of Pu-erh tea, aged from six to nineteen years, were served.  Three were aged raw and three were artificially fermented.

The tea class and tea tastings at the STI class are similar but one-on-one due to a smaller class size. There is more trainer/student interaction.

Thanks, Tony!

 

 

Tea and Food Pairings

Posted on | January 21, 2014 | No Comments

Tea and Food Pairings

I’ve never really given much thought to tea and food pairings. Ti Kuan Yin, Matcha and a Ceylon/Assam blend seem to be the tea caddies that I refill most often. When in a wild mood, I’ll make a pot of Sencha Kyoto, Kenya CTC or Assam FTGFOP. And never, ever a cup of Earl Grey.

My rule of thumb has always been that lighter foods require a tea that doesn’t overwhelm nor create a food fight. If the food is spicy, smokey or otherwise hearty, Lapsang Souchong is incredible.

In summer, matcha lattes are amazing while in the winter, hot matcha with a slice of lemon is wonderful.

Over the last two years, I’ve discovered there is a science to tea and food pairing. Better yet, cooking with tea and tea infusions adds a whole new dimension to recipes.  My favorite tea recipes are Earl Grey Shortbread, Smoky Marbelized eggs, and tea syrups for marmalade recipes. Not much excitement there. And then I discovered Culinary Tea!

Adagio Teas - Tea and Food Pairings

Adagio Teas has a website page with tea and food pairings information. The Tching blog provides an introduction to tea and food pairing. Murchie’s has a good page, too.  There are many references to tea and food pairings on the Internet.

Tea In A Food Service Environment

Exploring and experimenting with tea recipes has been interesting but it is a pleasure to know there is an in-depth, full day class available from the Specialty Tea Institute.  If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you know how much I’ve enjoyed the recipes and tea ideas presented by Cynthia Gold in her book, Culinary Tea.

Cynthia Gold, Chef and Tea SommelierAt her class in San Francisco on February 6th, she will discuss the science of tea, tea and food pairings, methods of infusing, teapot variations and service within a food service environment. Students will taste tea and sample tea and food pairings.

Chefs, mixologists, culinary students and tea enthusiasts will go beyond tea basics and understand the benefits of having a creative tea menu that appeals to discriminating palates. Guests will return time after time to enjoy a specialty tea menu.

Class Registration is available online at the Specialty Tea Institute’s website.

 

 

Tea and Food Culinary Class – New!

Posted on | January 21, 2014 | No Comments

Tea and Food Culinary Class

Tea In a Food Service Environment

Savvy chefs and restaurateurs are including specialty tea in their menus  – both culinary and beverage menus. Consumer interest and specialty tea sales have trended an upward surge over the last five years – okay, I’ll write it.  Tea sales are HOT.

Tea’s upward trends is somewhat comparative to specialty coffee. Guests expect a special experience when tea or coffee is served and the choices are reflections upon the restaurant as well as the chef.

To better understand tea and food pairing, STI, the Specialty Tea Institute, is offering a new tea class elective, Tea In a Food Service Environment.

The new tea and culinary class is designed and taught by Cynthia Gold, chef and tea sommelier, L’Espalier, Boston Park Hotel.  Co-instructor is Kyle Stewart, The Cultured Cup in Dallas, Texas.

About the Instructors

Cynthia Gold

Cynthia Gold

Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier at L’Espalier.  Over a decade ago, Cynthia left the corporate world to pursue a career in the culinary arts. She began her education at Johnson & Wales University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She later attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and Napa Valley, California for advanced classes in pastry, chocolate and baking. With this culinary training, Cynthia has cooked at a multitude of Boston’s finest restaurants including Marais, Biba, Pignoli, Rocco’s and the Back Bay Brewing Company. Additionally, she has first-hand experience as the former owner of Tea Tray in the Sky and Elements Restaurants which received numerous accolades including “Boston’s Best.”

Culinary Tea, by Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern, is available on Amazon.

 

Kyle_Phil_InsideCupKyle Stewart, The Cultured Cup, Dallas, Texas, is a beverage and food product development and marketing specialist.

A pioneer tea retailer passionate about finding and sharing the world’s best teas, coffees, chocolates and other gourmet food products, Kyle and partner, Phil Krampetz, are well The Cultured Cup – Kyle Stewart – Dallas Texasregarded in business.  The Cultured Cup was recently honored with a Zagat 2014 review of 30.

Tea Class Registration

Tea In A Food Service Environment, Professional Tea and Culinary Class
San Francisco, California, Holiday Inn, Fisherman’s Wharf

Thursday, February 6, 2014    Full Day Class

Course Fee:
STI Members: Reg. $ 450 50% Off =  Introductory:  $225
Non Members: Reg. $ 550 50% Off Introductory: $275

Registration for Tea Classes in San Francisco

Foundations of Tea Levels I & II

To begin the STI Certified Tea Specialist classes, certification begins with Foundations of Tea, Levels I & II which are also offered in San Francisco on February 5 & 6.  The registration form is the same as the tea and culinary class. Registration for Tea Classes in San Francisco

 

 

5 Inexpensive Ways to Boost Your Restaurant Revenue

Posted on | January 15, 2014 | No Comments

Five Inexpensive Ways to Improve Your Restaurant Revenue

Five Inexpensive Ways to Improve Your RestaurantEveryone in the restaurant business is constantly looking for ways to improve their restaurant revenue and make more net profit. Everybody knows the expensive ways, like relocating or remodeling, but what about the inexpensive ways to improve your restaurant revenue? Here are five ideas worth considering.

Revise Your Menu

Some items may sell too little to deserve a place on your menu at all. Without sacrificing your restaurant’s theme or quality, it is possible to identify under-performing items and replace them with more profitable ones. After all, what is the advantage of getting more customers through the door if you can’t offer them what they really want to buy? Also, check each item to make sure you are getting the maximum profit margin out of each dish.

More Hours

Are you available to your customers at the times they want to stop by? Adding hours or days can be expensive in labor and other overhead costs but not if you are drawing enough additional customers each day to cover it. Do you serve an extended lunch or by reservation only? Breakfast, dinner? Catering? Don’t be afraid to experiment, you may be surprised to find a whole new range of profit-making opportunities arising from expanding your hours of operation.

Focus on Repeat Customers

Getting new customers to come through the door is a major challenge for every restaurant. Yet, many owners don’t fully appreciate the customers they already have thereby missing out on growth potential. A customer who usually comes to buy loose leaf tea may become a lunch customer if you give them a bag stuffer/menu replica or a promotional discount certificate. You can also encourage people to spend more while there by adding a cream tea or dessert tea to your menu. If you don’t already have one, consider getting a liquor license. You may be surprised at the number of people who enjoy wine and champagne with their tea meals.

Belt Tightening

Every business owner can find ways to streamline their operation and reduce costs if they will only look for them. How efficiently are you scheduling your help? When was the last time you price checked your suppliers with their competitors? Is there energy saving technology you are not using but could be? There is always money to be saved by those who will take the time to search for them.

Go Take Out

A lot of tea restaurants could expand their business and improve restaurant revenue simply by offering take out service.  All you need are some nice take-out containers and suddenly you have a whole new customer base. It may be stretching your employees a bit more, but if you have enough demand, the cost will be worth the effort.

Not all these tips will work for everyone, but most restaurants will benefit by considering adapting at least a few of them. Try it and see.

 

Congratulations! Gourmet Tea Leaders

Posted on | January 14, 2014 | No Comments

Gourmet Tea and Fancy Food

Winter Fancy Food Show 2014The Specialty Food Association announced the winners of its second annual Leadership Awards honoring influential and innovative entrepreneurs who are transforming the way the $86 billion specialty food industry does business.

The winners by category are: Citizenship: Tyler Gage, co-founder and co-CEO, Runa Tea, Brooklyn, N.Y. (shown here); Business Leadership: Ron Rubin, minister of tea and CEO, The Republic of Tea, Novato, Calif.; and Vision: Caryl Levine, co-founder and co-owner, Lotus Foods, Richmond, Calif.

Tyler Gage, Dan MacCombie
Forbes’ 30 Under 30

The efforts of these leaders span the globe, from supporting indigenous tribes in Ecuador and establishing a progressive work environment in Northern California to initiating sustainable farming practices in Southeast Asia.

Ron Rubin, The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur

Ron Rubin
The Ron Rubin School for the Entrepreneur

“These leaders are taking their passion for food far beyond the production of great products to improve communities, develop innovative practices and pioneer new food business models,” said Ann Daw, president of the Specialty Food Association.

Caryl Levine and Ken Lee - Lotus Foods

Caryl Levine and Ken Lee
Lotus Foods

Specialty Food Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions went to leaders of three specialty food companies:

Citizenship: Sam Mogannam, owner, Bi-Rite Market, San Francisco; Business Leadership: Greg Steltenpohl, CEO, Califia Farms, Bakersfield, Calif.; and Vision: Justin Gold, CEO/founder, Justin’s, Boulder, Colo.

Winter Fancy Food Show – Awards

The awards will be presented at the Winter Fancy Food Show in San Francisco on Jan. 19, following the keynote address by Neil Grimmer, co-founder of Plum Organics. The keynote address is from 5 to 6 p.m. at Moscone Center.

Nominations for the awards were made by members of the Specialty Food Association and others in the specialty food industry. A panel of specialty food professionals and industry influencers selected the honorees from 66 nominations.

Winter Fancy Food Show – Judges

The judges included Hanna Bree, Blue Hill Market, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.; Donna Daniels, Social Venture Network, San Francisco; David Gagnon, Organic Trade Association, Brattleboro, Vt.; Nicole Kagan, City Harvest, New York; Tim Metzger, Tillen Farms, New York; John Raiche, United Natural Foods Inc., Providence, R.I.; and Errol Schweizer, Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas.

Source: Specialty Food Association

5 Things You Can’t Skimp On In Your New Tea Shop

Posted on | January 2, 2014 | No Comments

Restaurant or Tea Shop Must-Haves

While there are many factors that are important in the success of any restaurant, five factors are essential. Not only do these guidelines assure success, failure to meet any one of them may be fatal to your fledgling enterprise.

Tea by Julia Faye

Tea Shop: Tea by Julia Faye

Customer Service

Prompt, friendly interaction with customers establishes the foundation of an enjoyable experience for your customers. Train staff to remember “ABC” in any situation: Always Be Courteous. Regard problems as a challenge to meet, not as a disruption to routine. Take complaints seriously, and address problems as soon as they are discovered.

Kitchen Staff

One of the most disruptive conditions in the restaurant business is high turnover among kitchen staff. There is a learning curve in both preparation, and presentation of your menu items. Hire good people; train them well; let them know how important they are. While adequate pay is important, intangibles such as expressing appreciation for a job well done, and making sure that unpleasant tasks are assigned fairly will inspire loyalty and minimize costly turnover.

Food Quality

There are many factors to consider in menu planning: freshness, flavor, current food fashion, and attractive presentation. On the practical side, you also need to consider cost, preparation time, and potential waste. Developing a few unique items can help set your restaurant apart from competitors. A favorite family dessert, or Aunt Gertrude’s Secret Recipe Salad Dressing can have customers coming back for more.

Kitchen Cleanliness

While most customers don’t see behind the scenes to know whether or not your kitchen harbors dirty little secrets, a dirty kitchen poses health and safety hazards, and can negatively impact employee morale. Most Health Department violations are a matter of public record, and can be a source of bad publicity for months after violations have been corrected. The only thing worse than a Health Department violation, is the potential financial liability for a food-borne illness affecting one or more customers.

Appearance

Finally, the overall appearance of public areas are vital to success. Plumbing leaks in bathrooms, or cracks on the dining room walls creates a bad impression. Fresh, clean decor affirms the impression of fresh, clean food. Attention to detail in maintaining the overall appearance of your restaurant indicates that you pay attention to detail with the menu as well.

Opening a new tea shop restaurant can be an exciting experience. By paying close attention to these basic success factors, you can overcome the many challenges that often follow.

Tea Shop! Secrets to Create the Perfect Ambiance

Posted on | December 31, 2013 | No Comments

Starting a Tea Shop

If you’re starting your own tea shop, you’re probably already aware that the success of any cafe or restaurant depends on its atmosphere, as much as its menu. Even if you have the best Ceylon, Darjeeling and Earl Grey this side of the Atlantic, no one will want to sit and sip in a crowded, stuffy, or unpleasant venue! To build the best possible ambiance for your tea shop, here are a few tips.

Tea Time! Secrets to Create the Perfect Ambiance

Appropriate Tea Shop Music

There’s a time and a place for heavy metal music, and it isn’t in a tea bar or dainty tea shop. On the other hand, generic instrumentals won’t stand out any more than silence. Find a happy medium by establishing your tea shop’s theme and working outwards from there. For example, if you cater to a hip, casual crowd, they’ll expect to hear the latest Billboard pop; if you’re an Asian-inspired business, zithers will add a twang, and a touch of otherworldly mystery to your tea shop.

Beautiful Tea Shop Lighting

Florescent lights are for the bathroom. For the main floor, splurge on something beautiful and unique, like a grand chandelier in the center of the room, or a collection of tiny tea lights on every table. Don’t settle for standard-issue lighting fixtures, either; look for glass, crystal, or gold materials that will catch the light and sparkle over your guests.

Decorations For Your Tea Shop

What’s on your walls? What covers your windows? Colors are secondary to style in this regard, so worry less about paint, and more about what photos or prints you’ll be hanging later. In an ideal shop, your tea-drinkers will have plenty to occupy their attention while waiting in line, or working on their novels, so don’t skimp on the accents and accessories.

Coordinating Furniture

You’ll want to buy furniture in bulk to establish a soothing, flowing ambiance, where most everything matches, and nothing detaches the eye from the overall atmosphere. They don’t have to be identical pieces as long as they all contribute to the same picture, like chairs interwoven with the same designs,  wood and plastic restaurant tables made out of the same wood, et cetera. Of course, you can buy identical furniture too, especially for a romantic theme; nothing is cuter than a his-and-hers set!

These are just a few industry and tea school secrets for creating a mood in your cafe, restaurant, or tea shop. At the end of the day, it’s only one aspect of your success, with customer service, and drink quality being the facets of the big three. Keep all of them in mind to build your perfect tea shop!

Merry Christmas Cheer to You!

Posted on | December 10, 2013 | No Comments

Merry Christmas

It’s a wonderful time of year with peace, love and unity are in our hearts. The video, “Say Merry Christmas” is a good reminder that Christmas is not about shopping or the gifts or a holiday.

Lyrics to “Say Merry Christmas” are available for free download.

Merry Christmas

keep looking »