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Posts Tagged ‘India’

When destiny meets innovation and passion you get Strip Teas by Kamelia:Luxe – a tea company with a sexy, flirty, bent on tea. Just ask Emily Koteff-Moreano, co-founder and owner, I did.

In 2007 Emily’s fiancé Keir Moreano (now husband), a documentary filmmaker, was hired to film “The Meaning of Tea”. Filming of the documentary required extensive travel outside of the United States – India, Taiwan, Morocco, and across Europe. While in India, the documentary crew hired Mridul Tiwari as their host and guide. Thanks to her keen eyes, Mridul recognized that Keir was sick and obtained life-saving medical attention on his behalf. Brought together by crisis, Mridul and Emily developed a long-lasting friendship. This may seem like an episode from Survivor, but in actuality, it was the point where destiny connected with passion.

Mridul, born and raised in the Darjeeling region of India, comes from a family of tea plantation owners. Tea is her heritage and passion.  It was Mridul who introduced Emily to the high quality tea grown on her family’s plantation.  Within months, the pair formed Strip Teas the now flagship brand of Kamelia:Luxe. This is where destiny and passion connect with creativity. Emily, a graphic designer and marketing professional by trade, used her creative flair to brainstorm the name, design the packaging, and brand the product.  She never imagined being the owner of a tea company, yet 2010 marked the second year Strip Teas has been retailing its ingenious brand of teas online.

During the interview I asked, “How long have you been in love with tea?”  and was surprised to discover that growing up Emily did not drink or like tea. Today she realizes this was due to a lack of exposure to quality tea. Emily credits the documentary experience for exposing her to new varieties of tea, the opportunity to drink high quality tea, and learning about tea ceremonies that are not commonly observed in the U.S.  Emily reminisced about the five months she lived in England as a foreign exchange student while in college.  She remembers being teased because tea was not an integral part of her culture as it was with the British students with whom she lived.

When asked, “what do you love most about being a teapreneur?”  Emily stated, “Giving people an experience, not just selling a product. When people sit down and have a cup of tea they are taking a moment for themselves – even in the midst of multitasking. Tea is not just another widget but a moment in time and by selling my tea products I am able to be present in that moment.” But with all the glory of being a business owner, there comes many fears. “The worry of customs – I fear that the tea shipments will be sent back to India. Selling is hard. The uncertainties that impact success, like the economy. But overall, the fear of allowing the product to grow on its own with the hope that everyone will like the products as much as I do.”

Both the company and it’s products represent everything the founders, Emily and Mridul, believe in within a small package: the camaraderie that comes with tea, culture, design, earth friendly – recyclable, and supports the very notion of a woman in business which is not typical for women in India.  Strip Teas offers seven tea varieties: Darjeeling, Kashmiri Kahawa, Sweet Khus, Maristar, Masala Chai, Pushkar Rose, and Mint. To learn more or to purchase, visit Strip Teas by Kamelia:Luxe website or read Tea Escapade’s review of Pushkar Rose or Kashmiri Kahawa.

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Picture 3Although not the subject of today’s review, I’ve been drinking Hojicha, a deliciously roasted bancha.  In actuality, I’ve been drinking a lot of tea, just not writing about it. Sometimes, it is wonderful to sip a cup of tea simply for pleasure. To allow the warmth of the cup to warm my hands. The steam of the brew to tickle my nose. The smoothness of the liquor to soothe my throat, while being stimulated by the amazing flavor.

Nevertheless, today’s review will focus on Euphoric… 

Composition: 2nd Flush, single-estate black tea from Darjeeling, India.

Dry Visual: Dark brown almost black broken tea leaves with bits of red and green leaves. Stems and some tips are present.  Thanks Earthbound Tea for the picture.

Dry Aroma: An earthy, somewhat woodsy aroma.

Flavor:  I found Euphoric to be a very flavorful tea from beginning to end.  The flavor profile combined a maltiness in the middle with a fruity finish.  The first thing that came to mind was berries – blueberries, blackberries, etc.

Initially, I began my tasting of Euphoric pure – with no sweetener added. As typical of Darjeeling teas, I found Euphoric to be astringent. During a later tasting,  I added just a little sweetener to round the flavor, however one could easily add milk as well. Euphoric is robust enough to stand up to milk.  Finally, I drank Euphoric again cold and decided, I would love it as an iced tea.

Liquor: A dark amber hue.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time for Euphoric is 3 – 4 minutes in 212 degree water.  I steeped for 4 minutes as recommended.

Manufacturer: Earthbound Tea

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had the pleasure of enjoying a cup of Euphoric, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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strip_closeup3060Recently, I was pleasantly surprised to come across a new tea company called Strip Teas. Quite an exotic twist on the second most popular beverage in the world – second only to water. As you can see from the photo – loose tea is packaged in disposable aluminum infusers in the shape of a strip. Hence the name… Strip Teas.  Last night, I had the first opportunity to try this new product.  Strip Teas have several original tea blends to choose from – last night’s choice – Pushkar Rose.

Composition:  Whole Nilgiri tea leaves blended with roses indigenous to Pushkar, India.

Dry Visual: I am unable to ascertain as the tea comes prepackaged in an aluminum infuser. Thanks Strip Teas for the picture of the actual loose leaf tea.

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Dry Aroma: The gentle scent of a rose. Definitely floral.

Flavor:  How does one describe the taste of a rose? Pushkar Rose is unique in that it is not purely composed of rose petals and other non-tea ingredients also known as herbal tea. What I truly enjoyed about Pushkar Rose is the combination of Nilgiri and rose petals. Nilgiri provides the girth of a black tea, however, I was impressed by its mild nature.  The only downside is that it was a little dry.

The flavor provided by the rose petals was dominant, but not overpowering.  Pushkar Rose is well blended-both ingredients created a delightful floral brew. I was surprised to be able to obtain two infusion from one strip tea. The first cup was enjoyed without sweetener whereas a teaspoon of Sugar-In-The-Raw was added to the second infusion. I cannot say which I enjoyed the most. While the sweetener eliminated the dryness, it also changed the flavor profile – the floral quality was slightly masked.

Liquor: A rich golden brown.

Brewing Time: The recommended steeping time is 1 Strip Tea for 2 – 4 minutes in boiling water.  I steeped for 3 minutes as recommended for the first infusion and 5 minutes for the second infusion.

Manufacturer: Strip Teas

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had an opportunity to try Pushkar Rose, please stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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fileThis is a first for Tea Escapade… Stock information. But what can I say? I was curious… it’s about tea… and I learned something.

Apparently, Tata Tea is seeking opportunities to expand its domestic as well as international  beverage portfolio beyond tea and coffee. In line with its strategy, the company has launched  a tea and fruit based cold beverage in three variants—Mango Rush, Peach Punch and Apple Buzz—in a 400 ml pet bottle strategically priced at Rs22.  It appears this new beverage is tapping into the health market segment in India as “key changes in Indian society are driving the food and drinks industry, particularly the demand for processed, health, packaged and ready-to-eat food products (Report Buyer, 2008, Pg. 1).”

Who is Tata Tea? According to their website, Tata Tea was established in 1964 as a joint venture with UK-based James Finlay and Company to develop value-added tea.  “The Tata Tea Group of Companies, which includes Tata Tea and the UK-based Tetley Group, today represent the world’s second largest global branded tea operation with product and brand presence in 40 countries. Among India’s first multinational companies, the operations of Tata Tea and its subsidiaries focus on branded product offerings in tea but with a significant presence in plantation activity in India and Sri Lanka.

The consolidated worldwide branded tea business of the Tata Tea Group contributes to around 86 per cent of its consolidated turnover with the remaining 14 per cent coming from Bulk Tea, Coffee, and Investment Income. The Company is headquartered in Kolkata and owns 27 tea estates in the states of Assam and West Bengal in eastern India, and Kerala in the south.”

 maintains its buy rating on Tea with a price target of Rs 853 in its March 26, 2009 research report. “In line with the strategy,  Tea, together with European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), has decided to acquire a 51% stake in Grand, a leading player in the Russian economic beverage segment (NSEGuide, 2009).

In case you are wondering… here is the exchange rate (India to U.S. Dollars):

Currency Rates
Currency In US Dollar Per US Dollar
Australian Dollar 0.71444 1.39970
Chinese Yuan 0.14645 6.82830
Hong Kong Dollar 0.12904 7.74980
Indian Rupee 0.02001 49.97300

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What does the phrase, “life happens” mean to you?  I usually apply the phrase when it feels as though life is moving by non-stop at about 75 miles per hour. So fast at times that I don’t have time to stop and breathe. Time to stop and not just drink, but enjoy a cup of tea. Time to enjoy the nuances of tea and write about it.

This week, I get to enjoy a week with no school. I’m looking forward to the joy of reading a book. Inviting friends over for dinner. Blogging more frequently than twice a week. Enough rambling, it’s time to talk about tea. Today’s choice… MIM Estate.

Composition: This is a 2nd flush Darjeeling, from the Mim Estate in northern India. Second flush Darjeeling’s are harvested in June and are more fully developed. 

Dry Visual: A mixture of dark brown leaves with hints of creamy edges. Many thanks to Tropical Tea Company for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Somewhat earthy.

Flavor:  MIM Estate is an extremely flavorful and  full-bodied tea. The flavor reminds me of a strong black tea. It has a rich fruity start that I associated with berries followed by a significantly muscatel flavor. I continue to struggle with an accurate description of muscatel – MIM Estate is quite earthy.

MIM Estate would definitely make a great breakfast tea. The strength of the tea would blend quite wonderfully with bergamot as well as stand up well to milk. Somewhat bitter, I definitely prefer MIM Estate with sweetener.

Liquor: A rich amber hue, leaning toward brown.

Brewing Time: The actual steeping time was not provided,  so I relied upon prior Darjeeling steeping recommendations for an average time of  3 – 5 minutes.  I steeped for 4 minutes.

Manufacturer: Tropical Tea Company

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had the opportunity to taste a cup of MIM Estate Tea stop by and share your experience. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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During the holiday season, many people go to the mall in search of the perfect gift for their friends and loved ones. This year, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a Vivabox. I’m sure you are wondering, “what is a Vivabox?” The creators of Vivabox would say, “A vivabox is an exciting new product that combines the freedom of choice with the personal touch of a real gift.  This two layered gift can be the answer to all of your gift giving dilemmas.  The first layer is a gift inside the box that is intended to familiarize the recipient with the product.  The second layer is the gift card that can be redeemed for their gift selection from a menu of choices. ” You can check out their website for more details… I did.

So, translated into a real life experience, I received “The Gift of a Tea Experience” when I opened my “tea time” Vivabox. Contained within my Vivabox were seven different types of Numi Teas.  Numi is the vendor of a variety of  certified organic, Fair Trade, Kosher teas located in Oakland, California. There were five tea bags (two of each) – Aged Earl Grey,

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Italian Bergamot Black Tea; Temple of Heaven, Gunpowder Green Tea; Velvet Garden, White Rose – which I must say is a lovely cuppa tea. Very mild as is characteristic of white tea with an unexpectedly robust floral quality.; Ruby Chai, Spiced Rooibos; and Monkey King, Jasmine Green Tea.  Additionally, I was excited to see the inclusion of two blooming teas also known as art teas.

While I prefer loose teas there is something fun about receiving a box full of various flavors of tea. Like a kid in a candy store, I read each type of tea and immediately found myself looking up the websites for both Numi and Vivabox. As with Russian Nesting Dolls, where the opening of one contains yet another beautiful doll, I was excited to realize that the fun wasn’t over after opening the Vivabox. Found within the box was a plastic card, resembling a credit card with 16 digits printed on the front and further instructions on the back detailing how to redeem yet another gift.

After reviewing my gift options… isn’t that exciting?… I selected the Single Origins Tea Set.  Succinctly described as a beautiful tea gift that offers four Organic loose teas (my absolute favorite) from

img_10431India, Japan, China, and South Africa – Darjeeling, Genmaicha, White Rose, and Rooibis respectively. Eagerly, I anticipate my first cup of tea as I feel that each one was hand-picked especially for me.

Included in the set is a black ceramic teapot with matching cups all adorned with a floral design. A metal infuser (not shown in the picture) fits perfectly in the mouth of the pot for perfect straining every time.  It is simply not enough to describe this adorable set - the pictures speak for themselves. 

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Simply stated this was one of the best tea gifts I’ve ever received. A mixture of tea bags, blooming teas, loose teas, and teaware – a tea lover’s dream.

So, in nutshell, how does Vivabox work?

1.  You Pick The Theme. Do you have an idea as to what type of gift someone would like?  Select the Vivabox theme  you think they would enjoy the most.  

2.  Upon Receipt, The Recipient Will Try The Samples. They open the box and enjoy the gift inside.  The gift relates to the theme of the box.  

3.  The Recipient Chooses The Gift.  After enjoying the first gift, the recipient visits the Vivabox website to enter their card number found in the initial gift.    

Result:  You have given the perfect gift!  Ensuring that you have given the recipient exactly what he or she will most enjoy. 

My Vivabox provided me with a wonderfully unique tea experience. Other Vivabox gift experiences include: The Gift of Indulgence – gourmet to your door (the choice of a three-course gourmet meal for two… delivered directly to your door); The Gift of Massage – spa (enjoy a full body massage or facial); The Gift of Beauty – spa (enjoy a manicure and pedicure). Check out the Vivabox website to see all of their products.

Vivabox has taken the gift of tea to another level. If you haven’t experienced Vivabox for yourself now’s your opportunity. Then return to tell me about it. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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chloe1rgWhat a terrible thing to waste a cup of tea. I was too busy twittering on the Co-Op Tea Swap twitter page and not paying enough attention to my tea. Before I knew it, my tea that should have steeped for three minutes steeped for six and there went a good cup of tea. Lesson learned… always set your tea timer when twittering and steeping a cup of tea at the same time. Especially when trying a new tea for the first time. Tonight’s choice… Chloe.

Composition: Chloe is green tea grown at an altitude of over 5,000 feet on the organic Pussimbing Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India. 

Dry Visual: Various shades of very green twisted tea leaves. A mixture of broken and whole leaves with evidence of stems. Thank you to The Simple Leaf for the picture.

Dry Aroma: Mildly vegetal.

Flavor:  Considered delicate by the vendor, Chloe was surprisingly robust. I found Chloe to be quite vegetal almost “grassy” with a mildly bitter and somewhat dry finish. I am sure this sounds like an oxymoron, but there was a hint of sweetness enabling me to enjoy Chloe without sweetener. Nearing the end of the cup, I detected a light fruitiness, not evident at the onset. However, I am contemplating adding lemon and honey to the next cup I brew.

During the second infusion, Chloe had a sweet finish with very little vegetal qualities. In this second cup, Chloe presented itself as delicate.

Liquor: A very rich yellow hue.

Brewing Time: It is recommended that Chloe is steeped for 3 minutes. I steeped the recommended 3 minutes. During the second infusion, I brewed for 5 minutes.

Manufacturer: The Simple Leaf

Caffeine: Yes.

If you have had the opportunity to enjoy a cup of Chloe, please stop by share your experience. Especially green tea lovers, I am interested in how Chloe compares to other quality green teas. Until then… Happy Tea Drinking!

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