See You in Anaheim!

It seems like only yesterday that we were at Natural Products Expo West, but it’s been a whole year! The tradeshow crew is taking off again for one of the biggest events in the natural products industry. It’s always a great time to see what innovative and eco-friendly ideas are out there, from cleaning products to lipstick to candy. I come back from the show filled with optimism with what’s possible.

Last year was a busy show, and we’re hoping it’ll be just as busy again this year! We’ll be at booth number #3019 if you’re at the show, and we are always happy to have a chat and share a cup of tea. Stop by and say hello.

We’ll tell you more about it and share some photos when we get back!

Cleaning Tea Stains the Easy Way

Anyone who drinks a lot of tea has a few stained cups and teapots somewhere in the cupboard. The stains can be a real nuisance, particularly on lighter porcelain.

Our Quality Assurance Manager, Rod, has a tried and true natural solution. Having been at Choice Organic Teas for twenty years, he’s encountered his share of tea stains. After tasting a new shipment of teas he always cleans out the tasting crockery with baking soda. He says that to get all the spots out, simply put a little baking soda in a dish, dip a wet sponge in it, and rub away the stains! The abrasiveness and slight alkalinity of the baking soda works like a charm. It’s a great, eco-friendly way to bring back the sparkle of your favorite china.

I tried it out myself on my own mug, working against 2 years of stubborn tea stains. (My mug looked so bad that my co-workers advised against posting the photo!) I was surprised at how well the baking soda worked, and how fast the stains came off. Except for the little chip on the side, it’s like a totally new mug.

Do you have any environmentally friendly cleaning tips to share?

Staff Favorites: Twig Tea

One of the best things about working here at Choice Organic Teas is the sheer range of teas we get to try. There’s a tea here to fit every taste, and we drink them all. The spectrum of teas that we offer means that every employee has a different favorite. And like any tea drinker, we’re passionate about our favorites. So each month, one of us here at Choice Organic Teas writes about our favorites and what they mean to us.

This month Anne-Marie Phillips, our Head of Sales and Marketing, shares her favorite. Anne-Marie spends her day making sure that our tea can be found all across the country. Her favorite? Our Twig Tea.
“Like many tea drinkers, I tend to have one particular tea that I consider my daily, “go-to” tea, but because we have so many teas to choose from, I’ve gone through a number of favorites over time. First it was Genmaicha, then I couldn’t get enough of our Oolong. Our Black Tea never lets me down, and even the distinctive Russian Caravan served as my regular morning cuppa for a short time.

But hands down, my tried and true tea, the tea I can drink all through the day, is the humble Twig Tea, a.k.a. Kukicha, a traditional Japanese tea made from aged and roasted twigs of the tea plant rather than the tea leaf.

Twig tea is naturally low in caffeine since most of the caffeine is concentrated in the leaf of the tea plant. Its rich, roasted flavor provides the warmth and rousing aroma I crave in the morning while providing just enough caffeine throughout the day without keeping me up all night.

Its mellow flavor makes it quite versatile, pairing well with just about any food, but I find it especially good with sushi or as a dessert tea, particularly involving anything with chocolate!

While maybe not as common as some other teas in the U.S., Twig tea has long been a mainstay for those following a macrobiotic diet and ours is the preferred tea for a Taste of Health & the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine Holistic Holiday at Sea, a healthy living cruise in the Caribbean. I was first introduced to Twig tea by a friend fighting cancer and have since learned it is well known among naturopaths for its antioxidants, purported liver and kidney cleansing properties, and as a remedy for indigestion.

I’ll usually brew a cup of our Original Twig Tea for work or when I’m on-the-go, and brew a pot of our loose leaf Twig Tea- Kukicha when I’m at home and have more time. Either way, I can’t help but help but think I am drinking to my health with each cup.”

What are your healthy teas?

Spice Tea for a Chilly Day

On a cold day, there are few things more pleasant than a cup of spiced tea. The hot tea, the warming spices, a blanket by the fireplace…a perfect winter scene.

Our spice teas are particularly wonderful after a day out in the cold. My personal favorite, our Orange Spice, focuses on traditional blends of citrus and warming spices. Citrus is traditionally added to wintry spiced drinks, like German Glühwein or English mulled cider. The brightness of the citrus draws out the warming quality of the spices, making a perfect match. The spice mixture we use is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, and ginger, all classic tastes that are even good for you. Mixed with black tea, it’s a new way to have a traditional European favorite.

From the other side of the world, similar ideas are used in the creation of chai tea. This daily staple of India and Nepal refers to a blend of black tea and spices, with every family and roadside stand offering something slightly different. Traditionally, it’s served with milk and sweetener, but the old saying goes that “chai is as individual as its maker.”

We offer three ways to get your chai fix here at Choice Organic Teas. Our pre-made Chai mix, available in a box good for about 20 servings or a 2lb bag, is a blend of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, clove, and black pepper with ground Indian black tea. When a pot is brewed up on the stove, the whole room fills with the scent of spices. It’s great to share with friends and family, and there’s even a decaf version for the winter nights.

If you just want a great, convenient cup of chai on the go, though, our Chai Spice Black Tea from the Gourmet line is perfect. Made of the same blend of spices as our regular Chai, it comes in a box of 20 traditional teabags. It’s great for a warming burst in the morning, or settling into work after a chilly commute.

What teas do you use to warm up?

Valentine’s Day Tea & Chocolate Pairings by Relationship Stage

"Valentine's Day"Want something special for your sweetie this Valentine’s Day? Create a “mood” with some well-paired tea and chocolate! The right tea with the right chocolate might just get your significant other in the mood for love.

According to William Leaman, executive chef and owner of Bakery Nouveau, Seattle, “Carefully chosen chocolates can pair wonderfully with teas. They can share many of the same characteristics, such as floral or fruit aromas and varying levels of astringency from tannins. The key is in finding the right combination that offers either balanced flavor contrasts or reinforces a particular note. Paired correctly, a tea and chocolate combination can offer a greatly enhanced tasting experience.”

We have a few tantalizing combinations to suggest that are sure to impress your sweetie and created some playful suggestions as to what stage of a relationship might call for which kind of tea and chocolate pairing.

Crush – dark chocolate with fruit & nuts and Gourmet Earl Grey with Lavender

Light-headed, giddy, can’t get the object of your affection off your mind? Sounds like the distinct signs of a serious crush. Show them how you feel with dark chocolate with fruit and nuts paired with Gourmet Earl Grey with Lavender tea. The citrus from bergamot oil in Earl Grey compliments the sweet flavors from the fruit. The herbal nuance of lavender balances the acidity of the tea and chocolate while complimenting the earthiness of the nuts. This is a tantalizing combination for any “wooer” or “wooee.”

Sweet Romance – white chocolate paired with Whole Leaf Organics Jasmine Green

True white chocolate (made with real cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla) pairs perfectly with tea scented with jasmine blossoms. Jasmine comes from the Persian “yasmin,” meaning gift from God. The ethereal nature of this floral green tea compliments the rich and creamy, yet delicate flavors of cocoa butter. This romantic combination of a sensuous tea and uncommon confection is a delicacy that is sure to get the attention of your Romeo and make a lasting impression on your Juliet.

Passionate New Love – lemon and white chocolate ganache and Gourmet Chai Spice Black Tea

Whether in love, or when pairing chocolate and tea, it’s important to share similarities while complimenting your differences. Like a new romance, a spiced tea like Chai offers exciting complex notes and flavors, while the lemon provides a refreshing contrasting simplicity that compliments the balance of spices. And the combination of the exotic spices is the perfect compliment to the flush of new love.

Steady Relationship – salted caramels in chocolate with Original Darjeeling

Salt, one of the most essential minerals, is prized for its ability to preserve the most precious provisions. Traditionally cherished above all other black teas, Darjeeling tea is often referred to as the Champagne of teas. Show your sweetie how much you value your enduring love by making an elegant toast with this classy combination. Darjeeling’s naturally bright fruit flavor and subtle floral aroma compliment the creamy caramel, chocolate and hint of salt.

Long-Term Love -75% cacao paired with Whole Leaf Organics Lychee White

True chocolate for a true love. We tend to crave stronger flavors as we get older and our palates become less sensitive. Dark chocolate with 75% or more cacao content offers a robust, satisfying indulgence. Dark chocolate has more tannins and higher acidity and yearns for the subtler flavors of white tea to help balance the stronger flavors. Lychee fruit adds a touch of sweetness and a silky compliment to the robust dark chocolate, making an enduring blend that’s strong and tender.

Turbulent Love – “Rocky Road” with Gunpowder Green

An olio of dark chocolate, nuts and fluffy marshmallow signifies the roller coaster element of some love affairs – sweet but with a salty, sassy, complex undertone. A little messy, if you will. Gunpowder Green Tea has a smoky flavor that pairs well with the salty and sweet combination of Rocky Road and smooths the experience.

For the tantalizing chocolate varieties suggested above contact Bakery Nouveau, or visit your local chocolatier.

What do you think of our pairings? Do you have a favorite tea & chocolate pairing you’d like to suggest? Send us your ideas!

Staff Favorites: Rooibos (With A Few Twists)

One of the best things about working here at Choice Organic Teas is the sheer range of teas we get to explore. There’s a tea here to fit every taste, and we drink them all. The spectrum of teas that we offer means that every employee has a different favorite. And like any tea drinker, we’re passionate about our favorites. So each month, one of us here at Choice Organic Teas shares a little about our favorites and what they mean to us.

This month we’re featuring Linda, our Senior Customer Service Representative. Linda has been with the company for many years and knows an awful lot about tea. Here, she shares about her new favorite, Rooibos with Vanilla, and the custom blends she’s made with it. Try them out yourself and let us know what you think! How do you customize your favorite teas?

The brisk jolt of a strong cup of Irish Breakfast has been my top choice as far back as I can remember, but for later in the day, I’m a confessed Rooibos addict! I’d been sipping Rooibos or Rooibos with Vanilla nightly and found both highly satisfying, till one day when I felt like trying something different. I added almond extract to straight Rooibos and loved the new nutty flavor. Then I tried adding chocolate flavoring along with peppermint extract to make Chocolate Mint Rooibos, which was amazing and dessert-like (especially when adding a teaspoon of organic agave syrup). More recently, during the long months of winter, I took a Ginger Herb tea bag from my cupboard, steeped it in my little 2-cup teapot with the usual Rooibos with Vanilla, and the result amazed me – fragrant, spicy, slightly fruity, red, and hot – a perfect caffeine-free evening cup. So now I’m swilling Ginger Rooibos nightly until the next wave of imagination rises. It’s swell and spicy, keeps me warm and well.