Jan 1 2015

New Year and Tea


The first day of a new year is always full of such promise and anticipation. It makes so much sense to include tea in plans for the coming days and months. When thinking of starting the new year with a healthier regimen, you can’t get much healthier than tea. The second most consumed beverage in the world, after water, tea has been enjoyed for thousands of years for its medicinal and culinary properties. And now research is bearing out what tea drinkers have always known.

Perhaps you will pledge to learn more about tea: take one of our TEA 101 classes, go from tea bags to loose leaf, or switch from English style black tea with milk and sugar to a green tea or oolong tea.

Try enjoying tea in your culinary recipes. It is a great addition to so many dishes, either in its dry leaf form, used as you would an herb or spice, or in liquid form in place of water or other liquid.

Harney Tea Map 871


Oct 16 2013

Tea Primer Revisited: Overview


I’m often asked how a particular tea is made; for instance does green tea come from a different plant than black tea? What makes one tea different from another? So it seemed time to review the basics of tea. For starters, all true tea comes from the same type of plant, Camellia Sinensis – Sinensis or Camellia Sinensis – Assamica. The Sinensis plant is native to China and the Assamica plant is larger leafed and native to India. Although there are thousands of cultivars of these species, in the same way there are thousands of rose cultivars, just as a rose is a rose is a rose, so is tea, a tea, a tea…

Anything infused from a different plant, such as mint, Rooibos, chamomile, or fruit, is technically not tea but rather is an herbal infusion or tisane.

So, back to tea. The tea plant is a distant relative of the Camellia which grows so prolifically in our Southern states and whose flowers have such a sweet scent. The specific cultivar used might make a better green, black, white or oolong tea, but in general, any of the cultivars could be used to make any type of tea. The difference is in the process the leaf undergoes after it is harvested. For instance, if the leaf is plucked and very shortly heated and dried, it will be green tea because the leaf has not undergone any oxidation. On the other hand, if the leaf is plucked, bruised a bit and allowed to sit and fully oxidize before it is heated and dried, it will become black tea.

Tea is native to China and was first discovered 5,000 years ago. Throughout history it has sometimes been used medicinally, sometimes eaten as a vegetable, and has been at the core of wars, mystery, and intrigue. And yet this humble leaf when infused and ingested promotes such clarity and peace of mind, that I am quite sure those who planned and waged wars over tea were imbibing in quite another beverage. Below you can see freshly plucked leaves in the first step of becoming a fine tea. Stay tuned for the next issue of a Tea Primer. We’d also love to have you join one of our classes.


Jul 1 2010

TEA 101 Class; Register Now!


puehr-_3.JPGWhat: Explore the history and origin of tea, types of tea, and how it gets    from field to cup. Taste at least 2 samples of the three basic types of tea, learning the professional cupping and tasting methods. Enjoy pots of teas of your choice from our large selection along with light accompaniments.

When: Thursday, July 8th

              11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Where: Nellie’s Tea and Gifts

                5 Industry Rd. Suite 2 C

                 South Portland, Maine 04106

Cost: $15.00 per person

Call ( 207.761.8041 ) or e-mail ( nellie@maine.rr.com )now to reserve your spot. Space is limited.


Mar 18 2010

Tea for You?


Lots of people are interested in tea because they’ve read that it’s good for them. But they tell me they just don’t like tea. Sometimes they associate it with being sick because that’s when they were given it as children. Others tell me it makes them nauseous or gives them a burning sensation in their stomach. Or they’ve tried green tea because that’s what the majority of the health related research has been on, and I’m told the tea was so bitter. So, is there a tea for everyone? I believe there is. With such a huge range of tea, from white to green to oolong to black, and then any flavor or other botanical can be blended or  added to any of those, you can find something that you like. The various teas in and of themselves have a huge range of flavors, and they are best enhanced by learning to choose them carefully and prepare them properly. tea-anyone.gif

The most critical aspects of making a good cup or pot of tea include:

1. Select a high quality tea. High quality tea is the most affordable luxury. Most teas can be made several times over using the same tea leaves, and with each infusion you can often taste a different aspect of that particular tea. 

2. Use fresh water with a good taste…bad tasting water will make bad tasting tea.

3. Measure the proper amount of tea leaf; usually one teaspoon per 6-8 ounces of water. Then adjust to taste. 

4. Use water at the correct temperature. Black teas require water at boiling, but green teas require water that has been allowed to cool for a minute or so after boiling

5. Steep the recommended amount of time… and then remove the leaves from the tea! Otherwise you will end up with a bitter, undrinkable brew.

It’s always good if you can taste some teas before you buy them, or if you can buy in small quantities to start.

So…don’t be afraid to explore the wonderful world of tea. I look forward to helping you!


Jul 23 2008

Bright Spots in Hard Times: Tea, The affordable Luxury


tea-anyone.gifThese are some of the hardest times I recall in my lifetime (which covers quite a few decades now :); economically, socially, militarily, and politically we are being challenged every day. They call for all of us to gather our resources, make some bright spots in the day for ourselves and those around us, and reach out to others in need. Throughout history, in families, in   literature, when faced with a difficult situation, someone would put the kettle on, get out the teapot, cups, spoons, and tea, and sit down for a breather, time to think things through, or share thoughts and feelings with a friend or loved one.


Research has proven that tea is the cup which is both invigorating and calming at the same time. The caffeine, less per cup by 2/3 than found in a cup of coffee, is tempered by a substance called theanine which provides the calming effects of tea. Rich in antioxidants, and available in such a wide variety of aromas, tastes,and colors, tea is versatile and economical. After enjoying your cups of tea, use the damp tea leaves wrapped in a cloth or paper towel as an eye compress to sooth tired or swollen eyes (plain tea only please; no flavored or spiced blends), save leftover tea in the refrigerator to enjoy iced, and add you spent leaves to the garden or compost to enrich your soil. Tea is also good for dyeing linens which you want to change to an ecru or darker shade. All of this, and even the most expensive fine teas break down to 35 cents to 50 cents a cup.

A gathering of friends can be turned into a party with just a package of biscuits or shortbread, simple tuna or chicken salad sandwiches cut into triangles, some toast and jam, or a simple cake served on colorful mix and match dishes with real napkins. The key to making it a party is a great tea, served hot or iced.


So, turn these challenging times into an opportunity to nurture and  enjoy the closeness and comradery that having tea together establishes. And, before we know it, we’ll be on to the next challenge… and the next tea gathering! Enjoy.


Oct 28 2007

The Gift of Tea


teamap.jpgThe leaf that has been at the center of wars and peace, meditation and socialization, health and illness controversy, seems so full of mystery and intrigue. But it should not be a mystery to you. If you would like to develop a beginning knowledge of this ancient drink, there is still room in the class being held through the Old Orchard Beach/ Saco Adult Education program. The class will take place at Nellie’s Tea and Gifts next Sunday, November 4, 2007 from 2 to 4:00 P.M. To register or for more information, please visit their website at www.oobsacoadulted.com

Registration is ending soon. I hope to see you there!


Mar 8 2007

The Fun Continues!



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.



Feb 16 2007



With regret I must reschedule those planning on attending the Tea 101 Class scheduled for this Sunday February 18th. Unfortunately, I have a broken bone in my foot and am wrapped in a clumsy, ski-boot like apparatus. Until I feel more confident getting around in it, I do not want to be demonstrating to folks while carrying boiling water. My plan is to pencil those registered into the next class, scheduled for Sunday March 18th. My sincere apologies for this disappointing news.


Feb 4 2007

February is a Wonderful Month!


valentinetag21.jpegI’ve always loved the month of February. For such a short month, it has a lot going for it, don’t you think? I mean, it starts out with Groundhog Day where we predict the coming weather. Then add in the birthdays of two of our most revered and important historical figures, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Of course, the most exciting and widely celebrated day in February is that all important February 14th, the day that can make or break the future of your relationship with that significant other. From childhood to adulthood, Valentine’s Day is full of anticipation and excitement. Flowers, sweet frilly lace, rich smooth chocolate, heart shaped meatloaf…or cake…or cookies…all of these images explode in a sea of pinks and reds, and purples and lavenders. I mean, seriously! don’t you just love February?