Monday, June 28, 2010

World Tea Expo 2010

Wow, what a tea-filled weekend at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas this year.  I love going to the World Tea Expo to not only learn and see new things, but to see my tea friends that are spread all over the world.  It is the one time a year that we can connect up with our busy lives and hear about each other's businesses. 

It was a busy show filled with lots of education and tastings:. 

I taught  a Tea and Chocolate Pairing class.  I love to share about tasting and pairing and watch people start to really let their palates be the judge.  We tasted ten teas from five different countries and paired them with seven different chocolates.  The class participants were fun and the comments they had were great.  I was honored to have Jonathon Jones from Tregothnan sit in on my class-will share more about Tregothnan later.  If you haven't tried pairing tea and chocolate together, you really should experiment! 

Friday evening I was invited to dinner by my publisher, Harvest House Publishers.  We have tried to get into Rosemary's for a couple years, but didn't get reservations in time.  This year we were able to get  reservations and what a wonderful culinary experience on so many levels.  Next time you are in Vegas, do try to get into Rosemary's-you won't be disappointed.  A big thank you to Harvest House Publishers for a wonderful dinner.

A big day that  was a full of events.  I attended the workshop on Hawaii Grown Teas presented by Eva Lee.  It was fascinating to learn about their process and evolution in tea.  As I sat with my friend Jane Pettigrew, we both thought how wonderful it was to watch the growers who were all sitting a row in front of us.  It was so emotional for them to watch their dream becoming a reality, it brought tears to their eyes as Eva presented. 

This year was the first year the World Tea Expo offered an Authors Circle event.  I was honored to be a part of it and share my inspiration behind writing both my books.  I love to meet the buyers for my books and talk with them.  Immediately following the Authors Circle, I signed books at the Harvest House Publishers booth and had fun meeting more buyers!

Later in the day, I had the opportunity to attend my friend, Cynthia Gold's Tea and Cheese Pairing.  She is very knowledgeable about tea and pairing and I enjoyed her class.  She will have a book coming out this fall called Culinary Tea which I can't wait to buy. 

I sat in on Jane Pettigrew's class on Unusual Blacks with Bill Waddington.  Jane did a wonderful presentation.  Some of the teas I had tasted before, but some were new to me such as the Hawaii grown teas and  teas grown in England at Tregothnan.  I did learn an interesting tea fact from Bill Waddington that Alabama now has a small tea farm. 

A peek into the tea garden

I was invited to a luncheon where Jonathon Jones did a presentation on Tregothnan.  It was fascinating to learn how England is now growing their own tea.  Jonathon and I spoke after the presentation and he has invited me to come over and speak sometime across the pond possibly with a tea and chocolate pairing.  He even shared some of his chocolates infused with his English tea-yummy!

I did a second book signing at Harvest House Publisher's booth for those that wanted a book signed and missed me on Saturday.  I learned that tea is becoming quite the hot trend in Mexico as I chatted with a couple tea room owners from Mexico.  How fun that tea drinking is growing in areas that it was not popular before. 

I had the opportunity to walk the expo floor after lunch and see what all is new in tea.  I will blog about some of the latest products I found and teas I tasted in future blogs. 

As always, I enjoyed chatting with all my friends in tea from all over the globe.  For those in the business, it is one of the highlights of the year.  I have made some new friends this year as well.  It is wonderful to taste tea fresh from the garden, learn about new tea growers all over the world, and see new products that make tea drinking a little more fun or easy. 

Happy Sipping, Lisa

Monday, June 7, 2010

Celebrating Summer with Iced Tea

June is National Iced Tea Month.  Even though the official start of summer isn't for a couple more weeks, I always thought anything after Memorial Day is summer in my mind.  I grew up in south Florida and it felt like summer in April.  Growing up, we always had a pitcher of iced tea in our refrigerator and since my parents were "Yankees", it was never sweetened.   I hadn't heard of sweetened iced tea until I moved to the South after graduating from college.  I now like my iced beverage somewhere in between "Yankee" and "Southern" style most of the time.  If you are interested, I share my story in Tea with a Twist about my first experience with "sweet tea."

I LOVE iced tea and find it really refreshing in the summer. It is good all on its own, but it is also good to mix with fresh fruits too!  Good iced tea made from loose leaf tea is easy to make.  In The World in Your Teacup's United States chapter, I share how iced tea became popularized.  To my knowledge, the U.S. is the only country that drinks iced tea on a regular basis.  In fact, most of the tea Americans drink is iced-about 85%.  I guess, the rest of the world doesn't know what they are missing out on!

The recipe below for iced tea is in both Tea with a Twist and The World in Your Teacup.  I also share many variations on iced tea in Tea with a Twist. such as Tea Sangria and my mom's Beach Tea. 

To brew one gallon of gourmet iced tea with loose leaf tea

1. Use spring water or fresh, cold water from the tap. Do not reuse water you have already boiled because the oxygen will have evaporated and this affects the taste of the tea.

2. Measure 1/3 cup tea leaves into an infuser. For teas or herbals that require a heaping teaspoon for one cup of tea like Rooibos, use 2/3 cup leaves. For this large quantity, use a large infuser so the leaves have room to expand and steep properly. You can also put the leaves directly in the teapot and strain the tea when you pour it into the gallon container.

3. Heat the water until it reaches the correct temperature, generally 160 to 180 degrees for green and white tea, 190 to 200 degrees for oolong, and a full boil for black teas, herbal infusions, and fruit blends. A six-cup teapot is a good size to use. Pour the hot water over the tea leaves immediately and cover your teapot.

4. Steep the tea for the time instructed on the tea package, generally 1 to 3 minutes for green and white teas, 3 to 5 minutes for black teas and oolongs, and 5 to 10 minutes for herbal infusions and fruit blends. Over steeping can also cause the tea to taste bitter.

5. After the steeping, remove the leaves.

6. Transfer the tea to a gallon-sized pitcher and sweeten if desired. Then add enough cold tap or filtered water to make one gallon.

I am off to the World Tea Expo this week.  I am teaching a class on Tea and Chocolate Pairing and I am also a part of the Authors Circle and doing book signings.  It is exciting to visit with all my tea friends again-like one big tea party for three days!  I will be posting on my adventures in tea, new finds, and favorite products when I return.

Happy Sipping and Summer, Lisa