There are still some good suggestions on the previous post (2013), but so much has happened in the tea world and my tea life that I thought it deserved an update.
I’m often asked which teas I can recommend and where to buy them. “Where can I find fine quality tea that is fresh and that I can trust to be sourced directly?” Since I don’t sell tea, I provide names of vendors I trust, but inevitably people forget what I’ve told them or lose the paper they wrote it down on.
I’m thrilled to say that I can now direct everyone to curati.co. Earlier this year they invited me to recommend my favourites to feature in the tea category on their shop site. They also made some videos of ‘moi’ describing the teas and tea category in general.
It’s an expert driven concept, and I’m sharing “curator” title with some pretty illustrious chefs and culinary stars. Here’s how the concept is described on their site:
“What you’ll find on this site are collections of the best of the best of the best small-batch goods in the world, curated by experts, collected for you, the food-curious.”
Other categories – chocolate, olive oil, cocktail bitters, salt and pepper, Asian sauces, pickled goods, mustard and hot sauce.
A Movable Tea
A large portion of my suggestions this time around relate to travelling with tea, whether in town or miles away. Tea lovers believe that having the tools to improve the ease of taking tea is essential as you move through your day, no matter where you are.
Bonavita’s Travel Kettle:
What’s the first thing we do once we’ve decided which tea to make? Put the kettle on of course! Bonavita makes a small lightweight .5 litre (2 cup) travel kettle that has an ‘on’ indicator, automatic shut off, tight-fitting lid and brushed stainless interior/exterior. I’ve used it on several journeys. This is for the giftee who falls into a morning gloom because they have to endure bad hotel tea. They now have the freedom to make their favourite tea while away from home! Make life even sweeter by tucking some fine tea sample packs into the kettle for their journey! Bonavita travel kettle is available as 110v on Amazon for $24.97 US or in dual voltage, from Harney and Sons, $54.95 US. (free shipping on orders over $50)
Timolino’s 17 oz Travette Tea Maker
I love the creamy colour of this versatile tea pot – like unsalted natural butter or my favourite Fiat colour. As you can see from the pic on the right, this thermal teapot comes with a removable nylon infuser which is nice and deep with ample room for leaves to steep. I say removable, because it’s nice to have the option to steep the leaves loose in the pot if desired. It has a non slip base which is a great advantage if your surface isn’t completely level. It doesn’t seal because it has a pour opening, so while it is fantastic for keeping tea warm while you are away from home, it won’t travel well in your back pack! The Timolino Travette, is also available in metallic red and stainless steel. Available from Tea Leafs for $34.00 US (free shipping on orders over $75)
FORLIFE Glass Lucidity Brew-in-Cup
Glass is really the best material for enjoying tea. See how gorgeous a richly coloured tea looks when the light shines through. While not double walled, this is still a versatile workplace vessel. The stainless infuser is cone-shaped, drawing the steeped tea down into the cup. The lid can be used to hold the infuser when it comes out of the cup. Available at ForLife $23.00 plus shipping (only within the US). Also available on Amazon for $22.79 US.
I purchased this ‘lovely’ recently and have been enjoying it often. Sometimes I just look at it in wonder. I’ve placed the spoon next to it in the photo, so you get a sense of scale. It really is small, so it’s perfect for making Gyokuro, (high grade of Japanese green tea) and other teas to treasure and consume in small amounts. If cushioned well it would also be wonderful to take on a trip. Inside, is a wire mesh infusion band which eliminates the need to strain, but gives the leaves their own space. Available at In Pursuit of Tea for $28.70 US.
For Life ‘Dew’ Teapot
The overal look of this teapot is sleek but humble. It has beautiful form that doesn’t get in the way of function. If your giftee likes a good size mug of tea, this pot will perform nicely. It comes in two sizes: 14 oz and 32 oz. It has an oh so satiny finish, deep infuser, nice fitting lid and a choice of soft colours. Available at The Tea Table 14 oz. $30US and 32oz. $45US. Shipping to US and Canada
The Tea Book
The Tea Book, DK Publishing (Penguin Random House), by Linda Gaylard (me) is available at online booksellers Amazon.com, .co.uk, .ca and Chapters Indigo . Check out your local bookseller first to see if they have it. Suggested retail price. $24 CDN, $22 US.
Winner of the 2017 Best Tea Publication at World Tea Awards, The Tea Book is now available in 12 languages. There have been quite a few reviews of The Tea Book. Here are a few quotes:
- “Linda Gaylard’s The Tea Book is the kind of book I’ve been looking for a long time.” Scheherazade, SororiTea Sisters
- “The book provides an excellent foundation to explore the immense world of tea, and it is Gaylard’s ambition to provide an accessible introduction to tea for beginners and more seasoned drinkers.”, Drew Bednasek, Tea Explorer
- “Any loose-leaf tea-lover can keep busy and happy for months with the novel recipes that Gaylard introduces. The Tea Book is a wealth of knowledge for anyone looking to step beyond the normal tea bag and to be innovative with loose-leaf tea.” Darin Cook, eatdrink.ca
- “A tea primer that masterfully unfolds the story of the tea plant, complete with a flavor wheel and the most comprehensive recipes for mixed tea beverages (both alcoholic and alcohol-free) that I’ve ever seen! Linda makes the world of tea beautiful, accessible and relevant in today’s fast-paced society.” Jen Piccotti, An International Tea Moment
- “Each page is beautifully laid out and there are tons of illustrations that make my tea-filled heart very happy.” Nicole Martin, Tea For Me Please
Bitters – The Tea Cocktail’s best complement
Teapot bitters anyone? I found this and others amidst a massive bitters collection at BYOB, a shop where you can get kitted out with every imaginable cocktail product. It was at this store that I found a wall of bitters whilst researching ingredients for cocktails for The Tea Book. There are dozens that would give a little extra something to any tea cocktail, but these four stand out for me. No respectable bitters company (and there are many) will divulge all the ingredients in their distillations, but some basics are listed. I’m happy to update that 3 of the bitters featured here are now available at curati.co. (I’ve linked the bitters to the site).
Teapots Bitters (Dr. Adam Elmegirab) has a base of black tea with spices resembling masala chai. Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole, redolent with chocolate, is perfecto when added to cocktails containing ripe Pu’er or roasted Rock Oolong. Scrappy’s Celery Bitters adds a little green and herbal zip to the umami tea flavours in green tea, and lastly Scrappy’s Cardamom bitters will bring an exotic touch to Indian black teas or Chinese Hong Cha.
Below is a cocktail recipe that I created for you (using Teapot bitters), to celebrate the season. It’s a light cocktail, but you can make it stronger by adding more vodka.
干杯, Gan Bei, Bottoms Up!
- juice of one mandarin orange
- 2 oz. vodka
- 5 drops Teapot bitters
- 2 crushed black cardamom pods (note: Black cardamom has a smoky flavour and is not similar to green cardamom. It’s available in Asian grocery stores)
- 1 clove, broken
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Seville orange marmalade
- 1/2 tsp. grated ginger root
- 1/2 cup strong black tea liquid (I used Tan Yang Gongfu and some Lapsang Souchong)
- 2 tsp Lemoncello
- Let ingredients stand together for 1/2 hour in a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice and shake for at least one minute
- Strain into cocktail glasses and garnish with a twist of orange
Luv is a community of designers that is all about giving. 50% of net profits from the sale of each item on their website goes to a charity chosen from their list, which includes War Child, Feed the Children, Unicef, and more. They have a nice selection of custom designed gifts including jewellery, men’s accessories and items for the home. I spotted a few tea-related items designed by Beth Mueller. The vintage looking creamer on the left is listed as a vase, but would make a nice little pitcher for milk, $24 US. The cup/mug has a pretty graphic and would accommodate a nice size cuppa $32 US. The plate is for snacks – what else? $52 US.