Before the craziness of the holidays, I was trolling through some of my favorite bloggers and catching up on 2 weeks worth of reading that I had missed. It's a busy time of year and I lag with the blogging in November and December. I noticed that a few of my friends had been "tagged" and I was green with envy. And then I got a notice on Facebook that Audrea and I had been tagged by Geoff of Steep Stories and I jumped for joy! I eat this stuff up! So here goes...Audrea and I are going to try our best to behave and answer the questions about our tea experiences! We've opted to answer them separately, kind of like The Newlywed Game minus the word whoopee every 5 seconds. And we are going to try to behave. (Speak for yourself Naomi. I ain't promising no one to behave!! - A)
(1) First, let’s start with how you were introduced and fell in love with the wonderful beverage of tea.
N: Sarah (sister) and Audrea (cousin) moved to Chicago a few years back and introduced me to loose leaf tea via a cute tea shop in Forest Park, IL. Sarah and I attended a green tea tasting and I was a goner after that! (I appreciate that you kept the dates vague. I want to be young forever. - A)
A: I was introduced to Chamomile tea by my mother & initially I hated it. My grandma used to make her spiked Chamomile when she was sick but my mom never gave me the "good stuff." Overtime though, I got into drinking iced tea. My dad used to make huge pitchers of (bagged - gosh so embarrassing) Lipton iced tea & I thought he hung the moon so I copied him. Thankfully, Chicago had a local tea shop that introduced me to the good stuff & it's been all uphill from there. (Thank God for Chicago! -N)
(2) What was the very first tea blend you ever tried?
N: Bagged - Bigelow's Constant Comment. Loose - Lung Ching
A: Genmaicha. I don't remember much about it except it was when I was in Chicago, at a local tea shop & I thought adding toasted rice into a green tea was brilliant. Like rocket science brilliant, but then again, what do I know about rocket science?
(3) When did you start your tea blog and what was your hope for creating it?
N: The blog was started in April of 2010 along with the online shop. I originally launched it to help boost my SEO, but absolutely loved writing about tea so it turned into more of a place to share and interact with fellow tea lovers. I'm actually really terrible at using the blog for SEO. And I like it that way.
A: Luckily for me, Naomi did all the work here. I just get on & make an idiot of myself. It's a full time job guys. (She speaks the truth. -N)
(4) List one thing most rewarding about your blog and one thing most discouraging.
N: As far as rewards go, I have met some of the most wonderful tea folks from around the world via tea blogging. People that I now consider more than just "tea nerds" but actual friends that I have met in person, shared tea and meals with, etc. Tea is unifying in that aspect. As for discouraging, I find that I blog in spurts which is rough. I am always thinking about things to write, but finding the time is something totally different. (If it would help, I could threaten to take away your CAH time. I bet that would motivate you. Am I right Geoff & Chris?!?! - A)
A: I think the most discouraging is how many blog authors there are for Joy's Jabberings & what blog slackers we all are... But I think the most encouraging thing is how no one (including us) seems to mind. This blog is fun & hopefully informative without being too snobby. We get to chat about stuff we love & things that make us laugh. (Like cats, dressed as sharks, riding on a Roomba. -N It's awesome!! - A)
(5) What type of tea are you most likely to be caught sipping on?
N: I think I'm the politician of tea drinkers because I flip flop around...a lot! At the moment, I'm on a Ceylon kick. But just last month I was chugging oolongs (specifically LiShan and Blue Beauty) like my life depended on it. Sencha is another one that I am constantly coming back to.
A: Anything from Joy's Teaspoon is the easy answer because I make Naomi give me tea a lot. But if I'm being specific, I love me a good sultry Chinese black tea or a respectable Earl Grey (I even like disrespectable earls but that's another matter). (Is disrespectable a word? -N Technically, no but I could care less. I'm like Sarah. I am an academic. I can make words up as I need to. - A)
(6) Favorite tea latte to indulge in?
N: I'm not a tea latte fan. I am a coffee latte fan. It helps mask the taste of coffee which I am not overly fond of. Thus the reason, I don't do it with teas.
A: Admittedly, I've only ever had an Earl Grey latte from Starbucks & it was gross. I do LOVE adding heavy cream or full fat coconut milk to my chai tea though. Does it count as a latte if I don't overpay for foamy milk?
(7) Favorite treat to pair with your tea?
N: If I'm drinking it for fun, and not sampling for buying reasons, a handful of nuts or a couple of pieces of cheese will do. We're working on a healthy lifestyle up in this house and if I had a sweet treat with every cup of tea I drank I'd be in trouble.
A: A good book & my couch. This might not seem like the world's best treat but I don't get to enjoy it as frequently as I'd like to. I've also been known to double fist a good oolong & a glass of red wine from time to time.
(8) If there was one place in the world that you could explore tea culture at, where would it be and why?
N: Sri Lanka. Not to say I wouldn't love to travel to India, China, Japan, etc. and really dive into the tea cultures there, but there is something about Sri Lanka that I find utterly captivating. Tea is a huge part of their GDP, and there are some social movements happening there within the tea growing communities that I wish to see firsthand. (Me too! What she said. - A)
A: Is it weird that my first thought is Russia? Or possibly the Ukraine? I think Iran would be cool too. I don't really have a good reason for my choices. They are places I find fascinating & have tea cultures we don't discuss as frequently. Does it make me a hipster to be listing places that are a little obscure for tea? (No. What makes you a hipster is your comment about "overpaying for foamy milk" above. You hipster... -N)
(9) Any tea time ritual you have that you’d like to share?
N: It's not necessarily a ritual, but I love sharing tea with my friends and family. Not in a snooty "you must try this blah blah blah tea that I found while scaling the Alps" kind of way (insert snooty accent here). More like "let's sit down, have some tea, catch up, laugh and possibly make fun of some people" kind of way. (Every time you lie about being snooty, an angel loses a bell? Wait, how does that go again? - A)
A: My favorite is probably not *technically* a ritual. One of my favorite tea times is at Naomi's place. I only get to make it into the office at Joy's Teaspoon one or two times a year & it's always awesome. We stay up late giggling, sniffing & sipping all the new teas, playing with the new teaware, brewing pots of our favorites. While in Vegas I get to relax into a world surrounded by tea & laughter. It's almost as good as Christmas but without the stress of the holidays. Sharing tea with "JT Herself" is my favorite tea ritual regardless of whether we're bothering with ritual (which chances are we aren't & we've over-steeped everything). (And she does mean...everything. -N)
(10) Time of day you enjoy drinking tea the most: Morning, Noon, Night or Anytime?
N: I'm more of a late morning, early afternoon tea drinker. Caffeine keeps me up so I have to cut it off around 5ish and I'm not a huge herbal drinker.
A: Anytime is a good time for tea. I do tend to change what I'm drinking depending on the time of day though. I'm so cliche. I drink darker oolongs & black tea in the mornings. I switch to lighter oolongs or green blends in the afternoon & I drink red wine at night because herbals are for pansies! (I feel like I should apologize here to anyone who likes herbal teas, but it would be half-hearted because red wine is awesome.)
(11) What’s one thing you wish for tea in the future?
N: There are two things that I am hopeful will be successful for tea in the future (I can't choose just one!). The first is that I would love to see more and more tea companies and tea consumers become educated about the impact they can have on the lives of the tea growers, pickers and processors. Simple questions can ensure that tea is purchased from environmentally and socially responsible sources. The second wish is that US grown tea will become a viable and successful crop here in the USA.
A: I'd love to see the future of tea be a clean, safe and sustainable source of income for the farmers & all the workers. I'd like to see more people get into tea in a way that actually helps promote the land, the culture, the people producing the tea rather than just see tea be a hip thing. I'd like to see more small shops selling small quantities of quality tea over a boom taking place with the larger retailers. I'd love to see tea as a movement for positive change in the nations it's grown in & in the nations it's purchased in. Lastly, I'd like to see Naomi send me more samples… but large sized samples, maybe extra large.
Technically, we were supposed to tag some additional tea bloggers but most of my friends were tagged. So, if you'd like me to tag you, shoot me a note and I will do so publicly!! -Naomi