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The Tea Plant Blog

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Teas with Cheese

On Sunday, March 24th, Sip Tea Lounge hosted an event with Mark Cassin from The Big Cheese.  We paired five teas with five local cheeses.  The result: AMAZING!

The fifth pairing was a surprise that included Red Rooibos, a delicious, homemade ginger bar from Sip Tea Lounge and fresh Chevre from New York State.  A trio of goodness.

For those of you who missed the event, here's a breakdown of how things went down:

Pairing 1: Makaibari Darjeeling Tea with Berleberg Cheese
It is estimated that Darjeeling produces about 9 million kilograms of tea annually, yet it is said that 40 million kilograms of tea end up at the market each year. The good news is that there’s nothing fake about this organic 1st Flush 2012 Darjeeling from Makaibari Estate. The sweet and spicy scent and fruity notes of this SFTGFOP 1 SPL grade tea are signs that it is the real deal.
The tea is paired with Berleberg cheese from Hoosick, NY. One of the few certified organic cheeses, this cow’s milk cheese is delicate with floral notes, and has a finish like buttered popcorn. When combined, the Makaibari and Berleberg create a symphony in your mouth.

Pairing 2: Japanese Sencha Tea with Dulcinea Cheese
This clean, vegetal premium grade Sencha green tea from Southern Japan is deep steamed after plucking, giving the leaves their emerald green color. With hints of seaweed and ocean, this delicious brew will transport you.
This tea is paired with Dulcinea, a raw sheep’s milk cheese from Danascara’s Cheese of Fonda, NY. The cheese is made in the “Manchego” style, yet it has some cheddar notes. A rare find in New York State, a cheese like Dulcinea is a treat. The light sharpness of this cheese pairs well with the seaweedy Sencha.

Pairing 3: Chinese Pu Er Tea with Redfield Cheese
This mini “Shu” or “Cooked” Pu Er Tea cube from Yunnan, China is a fermented, compressed tea. To make Shu Pu Er, the fermentation process is accelerated by mixing new leaves (almost compost style) with the previous batch. Once the tea leaves have completed their rotation from the bottom to the top of the covered pile, they are baked, steamed, compressed and packed. This earthy Pu Er will continue to get darker with each brew, making it a long-lasting tea to savor and share.
This tea is paired with Redfield, a raw goat’s milk cheese from Cranberry Ridge Farm in Williamstown, NY. A semi-firm, light and almost lemony cheese, Redfield is a nice combination with the barny, hay-like Pu Er tea.

Pairing 4: Chrysanthemum Tea with Alpage Cheese
According to traditional Chinese medicine, Chrysanthemum flower is known for its internal cooling properties, and its ability to clear the liver and help the eyes. This decaffeinated herbal infusion is flowery with a unique and appealing bitterness.
This tea is paired with Alpage, from Amazing Real Live Food Co. in Pine Plains, NY. Alpage is a raw, aged cow’s milk cheese made in the classic Swiss tradition of Gruyere. The cheese hints of grass and stout by itself. When combined, the Alpage and Chrysanthemum bring out the best in each other. 

Pairing 5: Rooibos Tea with Painted Goat Cheese
Rooibos is an herb that is grown in a small area in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Not technically a tea because it is not produced from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, Red Rooibos goes through a process of oxidation that is somewhat similar to a single garden tea.  As a result, the leaves become reddish-brown in color. The decaffeinated Rooibos herbal tisane has a distinct mellow yet earthy sweetness that makes it a lovely choice for the end of a meal.
This tea is paired with the season's first batch of fresh Chevre from Painted Goat Farm in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State. 
The combination of the Chevre spread on top of a delicious, homemade ginger bar, and the Rooibos herbal Tisane, make this final pairing an unforgettable surprise.  

Don't be sad if you missed this pairing.  We will do another tea and cheese event.  In the meantime, check out the "Events" section to learn more about our upcoming Gyokuro Session.

See you at Sip Tea Lounge soon!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Dark Teas and Smoky Scents

If you enjoy a tea with more of a smoky or woody flavor, Russian Caravan might be the drink for you.  It first became popular around the 1700s, when black tea from Wuyi Mt. in Fujian Province, China was exported by caravan to the north. The entire trip could take up to six months. When the caravans stopped for the night and built their campfires, the tea, which picks up aromas easily, was repeatedly exposed to the campfire smoke. When the tea arrived, it had a smoky aroma and flavor. Those who tried it enjoyed its earthy and unique qualities. "The smoky tea" became more in demand and this is how Russian Caravan got its name. 

Tea first arrived in Russia in the mid-1600s. The ritual of tea suited the Russian lifestyle because of its warm and hearty brew. Since then, Russians have developed their own traditions. The preferred tea is a strong, dark brew that's sweetened with sugar, honey or jam. Russia even created their own teapot called the Samovar, which was adapted by the Tibetan hot pot. This pot is both a heater and a way to boil water. The first Samovars looked like an English teapot but instead of a tap, had a spout and handle. They were also made out of different types of metal including copper, bronze and silver. Due to the high cost of tea, a Samovar was functional and represented affluence. 

A typical tea is made up of two or three different types or flavors that are mixed together. Each is brewed very dark in separate pots and then combined. Hot water is added to dilute the mixture. When being served, the tea is actually stacked in different pots designed to be stacked. The bottom pot would hold the hot water, then the dark tea, followed by an herbal tea on top. Stacking the pots not only saved room, but kept each pot warm. 

Whether you prefer to drink it Russian-style or simply enjoy the namesake, enjoy. 

Thanks to Dan Robertson and for this information. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Not About The Tea...Or Is It?

I heard two quotes repeated frequently from Sheryl Sandberg who I had the wonderful fortune to meet.  While I don't know who said them to her, I am happy that she shared them with her teams. They are:

"Solve more problems than you cause." and "This is a marathon, not a sprint."

In life I have thought of these often.  More recently, I have used them for inspiration to run my own business.

Is it possible that I'm just jumping on the Sheryl Sandberg bandwagon?  Maybe, but I have always admired her smarts and her ability.  And, even if I am caught up in the Lean In frenzy, I say "So what?"   It's exciting.  It's inspiring.  It's empowering.  Especially for women!

Sheryl is smart.  Sheryl is a problem solver.  She takes on tough questions and finds ways to handle difficult situations.  She doesn't complain.  She just does.  I admire these qualities.  I look for role models who exemplify them.  I strive to incorporate them into my life, my marriage and my work.  Sheryl gets things done, big things.  She shows us that we need to stop dancing around the issues.  We all need to focus on solving problems and remember that it doesn't happen over night.  It takes drive.  It takes hard work.  It takes curiosity.  It takes compassion.  It takes passion.  It takes many things.

So, as I sat down to write this blog post knowing that Sheryl Sandberg has been solving problems (big problems) for a while and doing it very well, I wondered why anyone would want to hear about notes from a fledgling business owner like me.  I also wondered why I felt the need to write this post in the first place.

And then, I came up with this:

Maybe you can solve the big things when you start with the small ones.  Over the last eight weeks I've learned so much.  These are the things that help me get through my day and make things better.  Here's my short list:

- Listen to people.  Everyone has something important to say.
- Accept feedback gracefully.  All advice is worth listening to.
- Everyone has their own opinion.  Like it.  We're lucky we live where opinions can be shared.
- Don't procrastinate.  Procrastination is a waste of time.
- Over-thinking things will get you nowhere.  If you have important things to do, do them.  Don't think.
- Don't obsess.  Focus on contributing to society instead.  It's much more fulfilling.
- Make mistakes. Accept them.  Fix them.  Move on.
- Be decisive.  Waffling gets you nowhere and wastes other peoples' time in the process.
- Say what you mean.
- As the Avett Brothers say "Decide what to be and go be it."
- Surround yourself with the best people and appreciate them for making everything around you better.
- Tell people you appreciate them.  Tell them a lot.
- Working in teams is so much better than working alone.
- Live with integrity.
- Be honest always.  Everyone can spot a liar and nobody likes one.
- Exercise.
- Take deep breaths.
- Be curious.
- Help people.  Don't feel bad for them.
- Don't judge.  It's a waste of time.
- Don't gossip if you want to make the world a better place.

Having said all of that, have I mastered the list?  No. I keep trying though.  The learning curve in my new business is steep and I don't expect it to taper anytime soon.  I do know that everyone I meet teaches me something.  I suspect the above list will grow quite a bit over the next year.

Over the last eight weeks, I've learned that you really can learn a lot about life over tea.  It sounds romantic, but I can honestly say it's true for me.  It's not about the tea.  It's about the people you share it with.  I've got lot's of problems to solve.  So does everyone.  Let's take a lesson from Sheryl Sandberg and go do it.  Afterall, "This is a marathon, not a sprint."


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