Jan 31 2014

Welcome Tea Across America Tea Plant

mariannerusso

We recently received the newest member of our staff here at Nellie’s. CaMEllia TeaMEllia is a true tea plant (AKA Camellia Sinensis, Sinensis), the plant from which all true tea comes, whether it is green tea, oolong tea, black tea, Puehr tea, or white tea. As part of the Tea Across America Campaign, two tea producers, FiLoLi Tea Farm and Tealet, have supplied one tea plant to someone in each of the 50 states that make up the U.S.A.  to highlight that tea can be, and is being grown in the United States. Still in early stages of development, we think the potential is there to be able to receive high quality, domestically grown tea in the future here in the USA.

Meanwhile, here at Nellie’s we will be nurturing our newest addition to protect it from our frigid Maine winter, and will use CaMEllia to help us educate and spread the LOVE of  TEA! So stop in soon to enjoy a cup of tea and have a chat with CaMEllia TeaMEllia!

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Jul 13 2013

Tea and Beneficial Bugs? Yep! Read On…

mariannerusso

If you have ever tasted the exquisite tea called Oriental Beauty, or Bai Hao, you will understand when I tell you that you want to know that bugs  have fed on your tea. Renowned for its bouquet and complexity of taste, this Oolong tea comes from Taiwan. One of the few teas which is harvested at its highest quality during the summer months, the production of Oriental Beauty cannot begin until the appearance of the leaf hoppers which start to nibble on the leaves while still on the plant. This nibbling starts some oxidation of the leaves prior to plucking, which contributes to the variation in enzymatic action of the finished leaf and the complex flavor profile that it produces.

(In the photo above, the leaf hopper is the light green elongated speck on the darker green leaf at the back of the picture.)

Our newest Oolong Tea is from a different cultivar than traditional Oriental Beauty, but it too comes from Taiwan and has benefited from the nibbling of the leaf hopper. From the village of FengHuan in the Nantou region of Taiwan, our tea represents a tribute upon her recent death, to the Grandmother of the founder of Mountain Tea, the Farm from which we purchased this tea at auction. The tea gardens of this area were abandoned after  a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in 1999 affected the area, killing thousands, injuring tens of thousands, and leaving more than a hundred thousand homeless. The plants were left to grow wild for a number of years until the farmers returned and started to redevelop them.

This crop of tea pays homage to the grandmother and others affected by the earthquake. As the founder of Mountain Tea stated “It is a declaration that even in the darkest hours we can rise and overcome”. We were pleased to participate in this first on-line auction direct from the tea farmers, and are proud to offer you this exquisitely crafted tea.

Cupping of Mountain Tea Roasted Oolong

 

 

 


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Mar 30 2012

Sakura; Celebrate Japanese Cherry Blossoms

mariannerusso

There is perhaps nothing more beautiful than the fleeting season of Sakura, Japanese cherry blossoms, in the spring. The delicate colors, the papery thin petals, and the sweetness of their blowing showers to the ground, all come together for a brief period every spring. In Japan the season is celebrated with festivals and colorful pageantry. Spring kimonos are brought out of storage, the cherry blossoms are incorporated into foods, beverages, and preserved in salt for later use. Branches of flowering cherry tree are displayed in vases, and illustrated on fabrics, scrolls, and ceramics. We’ll be featuring our Japanese teas this month, so be sure to stop by.

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Apr 28 2011

ROYAL BEST WISHES TO KATE AND WILLIAM

mariannerusso

Fit for the Royal couple

There’s nothing quite like a wedding to get people excited, and when that is a royal wedding, it is the event of a generation! My Grandmother, Nellie, would be ecstatic over the festivities scheduled for tomorrow. We look forward to seeing all the news coverage as well; what will everyone be wearing? …the bride?…the queen?…the mother of the bride? Who will we spot among the guests? …and what will they be wearing?

Please stop by the shop this weekend to sample some of our specially made Kate and William Royal Wedding Blend with some goodies to go with it. We raise our tea cups in a toast to the young couple’s marriage and wish them a long and happy life together!Kate and William Royal Wedding Blend

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Oct 3 2009

NEW FALL HOURS! and… Add Spice to Your Life, with Tea!

mariannerusso

Now that schedules have settled down a bit, here are our new fall hours, effective immediately:

Thursdays:      1 to 6 PM

Fridays:           10 AM to 5 PM

Saturdays:        9 AM to 1 PM

Other times by apointment. It’s a good idea to call ahead in case there has been a change due to a special event.

About the spice…yesterday I had this gorgeous juicy tomato and some wonderful mozzarella cheese on hand, so decided to have them for lunch. I had some basil, which was great, and I had some lovely Maine sea salt. So, the makings for a beautiful salad for my lunch were at my fingertips. But, I LOVE pepper, and I didn’t have any at the shop. I then realized that my new chai blend has a nice peppery tone to it and decided to try it on my salad. I sprinkled some of the dry tea blend over the tomatoes and cheese, cut into them with a little piece of basil, and…heavenly! The combination of tea with spices…cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, ginger, cardamom, and pepper was so enriching to this salad, setting the tastebuds into nirvana. I highly recommend experimenting with using tea and tea blends as seasonings. If you think a dry tea might taste good as an ingredient in a dish you’re making, it probably will. Use them as you would any spice or seasoning.  Bon Appetit!

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Feb 24 2008

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS!

Marianne

This has certainly been a good winter for reading, so I thought I would pass along a few thoughts on some new titles out there.

I was curious about a new book which has been receiving quite a bit of press, The Ultimate Tea Diet, by Mark “Dr. Tea” Ukra. Although recent research clearly supports many health benefits of tea, including slight boost in metabolism, I was curious to see what an entire book on the subject of tea and weight loss would have to say. I am relieved to report that Mr. Ukra’s book also includes sound advice about the importance of healthy food choices and regular exercise. He clearly is enthusiastic about his subject and shares numerous testimonials from happy “Tea Diet” followers. The book includes basic information about tea and its preparation as well as two weeks’ worth of menus and many recipes, all of which include tea as an ingredient.

Although I am reserving judgement until I have a chance to ask the author some questions in person at this year’s Tea Expo, my first thought is following the diet can’t hurt, and it might help. It provides a sensible food plan and might introduce you to some teas you will love.

The book I am currently reading is THE TEA HOUSE FIRE by Ellis Avery. Set in late nineteenth-century Japan, the story chronicles the life of a young American orphan taken in by the family of the premier Japanese Tea Master of the time. Woven among the trials and tragedies of the characters is a priceless description of life with Tea Ceremony during a period of time when the West began to have more access to this exotic and alluring culture. Both the writing and the details of Tea Ceremony are exceptional in the hands of the author who studied Japanese tea ceremony for five years in New York and Kyoto. This book is one to curl up with on a wintry day, as you don’t want to put it down.

Neither of these books is available at Nellie’s, but can be easily found at your local book sellers. I hope you will enjoy some cozy reading. Please feel free to write with some books you have been enjoying.

Best Regards,

Marianne

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Jan 28 2008

JANUARY IS HOT TEA MONTH!

Marianne

tea-anyone.gifThe ground is white, the wind is blowing, and whether you’ve been out trekking in the cold all day or snuggled inside where it’s warm, there is nothing more welcome than a fragrant cuppa at a certain time of day. I suspect this is the reason January has been officially designated as “Hot Tea Month”. Whether you have one favorite that you drink all the time, or prefer to try something different each time you have tea, THIS is the month to treat yourself to something special. Maybe it will be your standby favorite English Breakfast blend, or an aromatic Oolong. If you need a decaf, I have been getting excellent reports on our new Comoro Vanilla by Harney and Sons, a smooth decaffeinated black tea flavored with just the right amount of vanilla.

If your Valentine is a tea drinker, try giving a different type of flower this Valentine’s Day: a Blooming Flower Tea. There is nothing more beautiful than these globes of hand tied tea leaves as they open in a clear glass of boiled water to reveal the inticate floral design hidden in the center. Scented with Jasmine, these flowers create a mini-vacation in the midst of a busy day as they can be re-infused up to three times. What better way to say ” I love you ” to your special person?

jasmine-basket-2.jpg

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Jul 4 2007

SUMMER: TEA EXPO, ICED TEA, 2007 TEAS, AND OTHER MISCELLANEY!

Marianne

I honestly don’t know where to begin in reporting to you the highlights of this year’s Tea Expo which I attended in Atlanta almost a month ago. With almost 5,000 attendees this was the biggest in its five year history. Everyone has their own idea for a unique niche in the tea business, and there is no sign of the growth slowing as of yet. I guess as always, the real highlight for me was meeting new people who are enthusiastic and passionate about tea, hearing their stories and plans, and then reconnecting with those I’ve met before to see how they’ve progressed. This is true for other tea business owners as well as vendors of products.

sconemix.jpgOne of the products I’ll be carrying as a result of the EXPO is a scone mix from Victorian House Scones. The owner has perfected a scone mix which draws on a memory of scones and tea enjoyed in her youth with an elderly neighbor. Available in original or original oatmeal formulas, the mix is accompanied by handy directions for freezing and baking the dough as needed, as well as recipes for modifying the scones with various flavors and additions. You will want to try these for sure.

I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely young woman designer from Philadelphia. Harshita Lohia is a native of India, educated in the United States and married into a family in the tea business. A designer of clothing, jewelry, and home decor, she has developed a line of lovely tea themed accessories. For now, I will have some of her beautiful cotton/silk blend drawstring bags, and a few scarves, with the hope of increasing the selection of her designs in the future.

We are definitely now in the midst of iced tea season, and it’s easy to make any of your favorite teas into a perfect glass of iced tea. The secret is silkteabags.jpgdoubling the amount of tea leaf used, steep as usual, and pour over a container (individual glass or pitcher) packed with ice. If you like your particular blend sweetened, you can either add the sugar to the hot steeping tea, or make a simple sugar syrup by mixing equal parts sugar and water, bringing to a simmer and stirring until sugar is dissolved. This simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. One of our favorites with customers is Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea prepared in this way. I also have a customer who likes to blend the Hot Cinnamon Spice with Earl Grey in equal proportions for her iced tea. The possibilities are endless, so experiment and enjoy!

The 2007 tea harvests are beginning to arrive in the U.S. and we will soon be receiving our first shipments of single estate teas. Within the month we will have a Yellow Mountain Green Tea from China, an Oranic Oolong, and a new batch of the popular hand-tied flowering tribute teas.

tea.jpeg

I hope your summer is going well, and that we will see you soon at 265 Main Street. Downtown Biddeford is hopping, and the ART WALK, being held the last Thursday of every month is becoming a popular event. On these evenings, we are open until 9:00 PM. Have a Happy and safe 4th of July!

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May 20 2007

Calm-A-Sutra

Marianne

calmasutra4.gif Calling all tea drinkers! This is your opportunity to win $20,000 in scholarship money, just for talking about your love for tea. This competition is being sponsored by the United States Tea Association and the prize is fantastic. For making a very short You Tube video in which you tell your favorite way to drink tea and include some facts about the health benefits of tea, you win scholarship money, a trip to NYC, and a grand time! To learn the details of the competition and to view some of the videos already submitted, visit the web site of the Tea Association at www.teausa.org and click on the Calm-A-Sutra picture in the lower right hand corner. But hurry! There are only seven more days to submit your entry! Wishing you the very best! Marianne

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Mar 8 2007

The Fun Continues!

Marianne

cupping.jpg

We have been having so much fun recently at Nellie’s with teatasting classes, Red Hat visitors, (and visits from my grandson)! Since I am currently clumping around in a rigid orthopedic boot while my broken foot heals, that in itself is cause for some laughs. But we’ve also enjoyed wonderful groups and classes, which is what makes this endeavor so worthwhile. There is still time to enroll in our next TEA 101 class taking place next Sunday March 18th from 2 to 4:00 PM. The cost is $15.00 per person. So please call or e-mail with questions or to save your spot in the class. Please enjoy some photos from our recent events.

redhatters.jpg

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