Last Tuesday, a co-worker sent me a link to the Kulov Tea Festival and I was overly excited with joy that something like this existed. Even though it was in LA (and I’m in Northern CA), I knew I had to be there. The festival took place over this past weekend (5/13-5/15) at Royal T in Culver City, Los Angeles. I bought my flight on Friday AM and flew in Saturday morning for the first official day of festivities at 10AM.

It felt wonderful to be among other tea enthusiasts who share my love and interest in this miracle drink. The festival consisted participating local tea companies who displayed their varietals and knowledge, tea labs (tea tastings), and educational tea classes. I attended Diane Hubbin’s Tea Meet-up session on how to meet other local tea enthusiasts and Tanya William’s “Everything you wanted to know about green tea, but were too afraid to ask.” It was awesome to hear about the differences in Chinese and Japanese green tea production, technique, and culture. Even though Dragonwell green tea is the most “economical” and tame in quality, it is still the best tasting to me ūüôā

Some cool facts:

  • The best harvest period for green tea is from April – May (1st Flush)
  • Green tea was considered high society in China (reserved for the dynasty) and was not passed to commoners until the 1500s.
  • Best temperature for green tea is between 170-180 degrees¬†Fahrenheit
Some other local tea companies that have me saying “yay!”:
I’m testing out some oolongs from Naivetea (very cute Korean entrepreneur couple)…and Algabar sample mix. Will let you know which ones I like the best.
Oh, and the World Tea Expo is in Las Vegas in June 24-26th. I’m so bummed I can’t go, but for all you tea lovers out there I’m sure this is the largest show with other tea enthusiasts, producers, manufacturers from all over the world.
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If you would like to learn more about the history and pleasures of tea , this site provides an extensive list of  people and organizations that schedule  tea classes, lectures, tastings, fees, and reservations.

http://www.holymtn.com/tea/teaclass.htm

Enjoy!

Mount of Olives: Jersusalem Mint

Mount of Olives: Jersusalem Mint

Lately, I’ve been really into finding new and unique teas at specialty food discount stores (i.e. Marshalls, Tuesday Morning, etc). I’ve found that because consumers are typically not willing to pay premium prices for tea (especially in this economy), a lot of good teas often go to discounted retailers pretty quickly. Yes, the risk is always that the tea leaves are not their freshest – but I use these as an opportunity to give something new a try (at a low cost of entry). I’m usually pleasantly surprised at the teas I find…and if I’m not, then it’s not a big loss.

Last week while I was supposed to be furniture shopping at Marshalls, I of course got side tracked and not only unexpectedly indulged in buying a new purse, but also came across Mount of Olives Treasures Tea: Jerusalem Mint with Pomegranate. Being the mint tea lover that I am combined with a name like that, I had to give it a go. I’ve been pretty obsessed with this tea lately. I’ll be honest, I can’t really taste of the pomegranate (which I frankly don’t mind since I’m not much into fruity teas). But, it has a nice cool mint taste that is soothing and not overpowering.

Quick Description:

“From ancient days to modern times, mint tea has been a beverage enjoyed throughout Jerusalem. Feel refreshed and revitalized with this unique, lively combination of cool mint and soothing lime tree blossoms. The perfect way to regain perspective and inner peace, our modern blend of ancient ingredients is specially designed to relieve tension.” (Side note: Do I detect BS? Why yes, yes I do)

Directions:

Use one bag per cup. Pour boiling water over tea bag and steep 3-5 minutes. If desired, serve with honey or other sweetener. Also delicious when iced.

EVALUATION

Presentation: Pretty generic package. Comes boxed with 20 tea bags – pretty standard.
Content: Each bag contains the perfect amount of tea for one cup – a nice blend of peppermint spearmint, little mint with lime tree. I do not see any pomegranate though. The ingredient list states: peppermint, spearmint, lime tree, little mint, olive leaves, lemon grass, grape leaves, pomegranate leaves, hyssop. Ohhh, pomegranate leaves….that’s why I’m not seeing the pomegranate, nor tasting it for that matter….

Taste: I’ve tried this tea several times and really like the taste. The mint is definitely present but not overpowering. The primary leaves I can taste is the spearmint, peppermint, and olive. What I also appreciate is that you can keep the tea bag in the cup without the taste becoming overwhelming. I like to sweeten the tea with either Agave, honey, or raw sugar. While I don’t know the age of the leaves – the “best before” date states 07/2012, so I am fairly confident in it’s freshness.

FINAL VERDICT:
I’d give the Mount of Olives Treasures Tea: Jerusalem Mint with Pomegranate¬† a 3.5 stars out of 5. For a simple tea to enjoy any time of the day, this is a great pick. Sure it’s not the top of the line, but it is refreshing and soothing.¬† I purchased this tea for about $2.00 (a pretty good steal), but would be willing to pay a premium in the future.

Imen Shan, Owner

"There's a transcending level of this tea. It's a very personal, life-altering experience," Imen Shan says. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Imen Shan is SERIOUS about her tea. After reading this article I am blown away by her knowledge and almost divine allegience to tea.

One of the world’s leading experts on Chinese single-tree teas purveys her rare brews in an unlikely locale: a shop in a run-of-the-mill South Bay Mall

Read the rest of the LA times article here
Tea Habitat, 21B Peninsula Center, Palos Verdes. (310) 921-5282. www.teahabitat.com