Part 3 of 22: Tea Folks take on a great tea gift idea

Sad news. Tea Folks is closed. The website closed – April 30th, 2017.

Helen Schussler had her company table ‘Tea Folks’ next to ours at the 2017 Southwest Tea Festival. She and her assistant were very knowledgeable about tea and very friendly.

Even though her store is closing, she had a great tea gift idea.

Create your own tea blend! Tea Folks was selling a variety of delicious teas and tea blends. What was unique to Tea Folks is that they also offered an option to make your own tea blend. The adventurous tea drinker picked a plain tea base; green, black, or herbal tea. Then there were many taste tempting options to add to the plain tea base to create your own tea blend (see the photo below).

We saw many people throughout the Festival take advantage of the opportunity to make their own signature tea blends. So I knew this was a great tea gift idea before I approached Helen later in day on Sunday and asked her opinion on what a great tea gift idea would be.

Keep a look out for other tea companies that offer the opportunity for you to make your own tea blend. Local to me, Steepers in downtown Campbell, CA, has a tea blending station where one can create their own tea blend. If you know your gift recipient well, create a signature tea blend for them with their favorite flavors. If you do not feel that brave, give them a gift certificate so they can create a tea blend themselves. If possible, share the experience with the gift recipient. A recurring theme in great tea gift ideas is sharing yourself and tea with someone you care about.

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Part 2 of 22 Wholesale tea company Tealet at the 2017 Southwest Tea Festival

Representing the wholesale tea company Tealet at the Southwest Tea Festival this year – 2017 –  were Founder and CEO Elyse Petersen and her brother, Michael Petersen, Marketing and New Media Director (and photographer extraordinaire), as well as Rie Tulali, General Manager and other team members.

Tealet partnered with Naomi Rosen of Joy’s Teaspoon to present the Southwest Tea Festival.

Tealet’s mission is to connect tea buyers directly with small family farms around the world. Through Tealet, tea lovers can learn more about the people behind their teas, and access quality teas from around the world. Tea growers can become empowered to take their specialty tea craft to the next level of quality and consciousness.

Their goal is to be a transparent platform for the tea industry. In turn tea lovers get to experience better quality tea and provide a sustainable future for tea.

The Tealet grower network is composed of family farms and independent cooperatives in 8 different countries and 15 different growing regions, all with a dedication to their craft and their communities. Elyse explains, “Through our online platform you can trace our teas from field to cup. From videos from the tea gardens, to detailed profiles of each farm, we have designed our platform to make it simple for you to source the best teas from independent growers around the world”.

I encourage you to check out the videos and the teas descriptions at their online  tea chest.  Very well done documentaries personally introducing us to tea farmers around the world. I found it a very unique experience.

A way to help support these small family growers is through purchasing a tea subscription.

$49.95 (at this writing) for a two month supply of tea; 60 grams of a variety of teas direct from the grower – enough to make 120 cups of tea – enough to share. You will be able to connect with the grower and learn more about their community and tea cultivation history via online videos and content for each tea.

In answer to my question, Elsye’s great tea gift idea is their four tea Global Tea Taster Box $50. It cannot be ordered directly from the website but send her an email and she will make it happen for you.

Read their Blog, or sign up for their newsletter. They distribute the Tea Journey publication and Tea 101 videos. To further support their efforts, tea shirts (get it, tea shirts J) are available for sale online.

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New Green Tea Magnet & Infuser Set

Green Tea Magnet & Infuser Set, introduced recently by the Charles Viancin Group (known worldwide for their nature-inspired silicon lids and kitchen/bar tools) is a very attractive, fun new tea infusion set – a great tea gift idea.

Their products can be viewed and purchased at their online store – just opened in 2015. On their website, I did not see information that their products can be found in any brick and mortar stores. I have not ordered one yet.

I read about and saw the photo for this new tea infusing set in the March, 2017 Kitchenware News trade magazine under the Gadget of the Month section and was immediately attracted. To date, I have not found any tea related anything sporting actual tea plant art – and tea plants with their flowers are very beautiful indeed. That was the first thing that attracted me to this new set – that the form resembles the tea plant.

I personally like using silicon products in the kitchen. They are colorful, flexible, clean easily and are almost indestructible. This product is dishwasher safe, oven safe up to 250 degrees and BPA free. A favorite of ours and another great tea gift idea are the silicon Tuffy Steepers available through Tea Lover Teas.

Beyond the silicon, I felt good about the stainless steel basket. The precision holes seem small enough to keep rooibos and herbals inside the infuser basket not floating around in our infusions. But there are enough holes to allow water to move freely over the leaves. Not all infusers can do both.

What is unique about this set is the magnet. On the  bottom of the silicon tea plant (handle) is a magnet. We use this magnet to lift the infuser basket out of the water. Our hands stay dry and clean. There are matching accessories, we can buy separately, in which to set the infuser basket. The mug has a very artistic rendering of a tea plant painted on it. The mug comes with another version of the infuser basket. Check out their website under tea accessories for more information and a video of the Green Tea Magnet infuser set.

If you would like to try out a Charles Viancin Group product before making a purchase, check out tomoson.com. Once you set up a free account with Tomoson, you can apply to get a Charles Viancin overboil ring free in exchange for reviewing the ring on your social media sites. Sadly, they do not have their tea accessories available to review currently.

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Friends of “R” House Annual Spring Tea

A great tea gift idea: take a friend out to a special afternoon tea hosted by the staff of an historical venue.

“R” is Rengstorff House, the oldest historic home in Mountain View, CA, located at 3070 N Shoreline Blvd AND one of the finest examples of Victorian Italianate architecture on the West Coast hosts an Annual fundraising Spring Tea.

I heard of their event from a tea meetup group and learned it sells out. So I stayed up late the night before the tickets became available and at the stroke of midnight, I was able to access Eventbrite and secure two tickets for a favorite friend and I.

We were very pleased with the entire event from start to finish. A volunteer greeted us in the parking lot and directed us both to parking and where to sit once we entered the house. A thoughtful, welcoming touch.

My friend and I were seated in the cozy music room at a table for four with two other women, with whom we enjoyed chatting and getting to know. The table was set beautifully. We each had a mismatched teacup and saucer set to enjoy with our meal. We were given the opportunity to purchase our teacup and saucer set after the tea, all proceeds going to Rengstorff House.

Design with Flowers and Ralston Florists  provided the unique and attractive table centerpieces, they were available for sale after the event too.

Prompt volunteers kept our tea cups filled with Peach Strawberry, Earl Grey Floral or Boysenberry Decaffeinated teas. We enjoyed Mimosas or Punch cocktails to start. The tea foods were catered by Lisa’s Tea Treasures.

Rengstorff House Annual Spring Tea was catered by Lisa’s Tea Treasures located in Santana Row, San Jose, CA.

For the scone course, we were given one each of peach passion and cranberry orange scones accompanied by lemon curd, strawberry preserves or Devonshire cream.

The sandwiches were fresh and tasty. We each were given a tea sandwich of pesto, traditional cucumber, chicken waldorf, classic egg salad and aged cheddar cheese and tomato fillings.

Desserts were sweet and simple: chocolate iced eclairs and tartlets.

Rengstorff House volunteers encouraged us to come back on Saturday, May 6, 2017 from 11 AM to 4 PM for the 150th Anniversary Rengstorff House event. For the 150th Anniversary celebration, “R” House will host an antique car show, demonstrations, lectures, crafts for kids, live music and food trucks. Sounds like another great gift idea!

When we were finished with our meal, one of the docents volunteered to bring us on a tour of the house. It was a great way for my friend and me to end our delicious afternoon tea at the Rengstorff House. This is an event we recommend and in which we plan to attend again.

 

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What would you love to receive in a tea gift basket – SW Tea Festival style?

What would you love to receive in a tea gift basket? We ask that question of folks signing up for our newsletter and entering our frequent festival prize drawings.

75 tea aficionados completed this survey at our booth at the Southwest Tea Festival held in Las Vegas at the Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, February, 2017.

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There were several surprise results. 27 people said they would love to receive a gift of Oolong tea – 30 said black tea. This is a real turn around. Historically, oolong tea gets very few votes. We had assumed most tea drinkers were not as familiar with oolong tea.

At the Festival this year, several tea vendors offered really good oolong teas and folks were enjoying them. We think this may be why so many more tea drinkers indicated they would like a gift of oolong tea.

The most requested tea was green tea at 36, followed by black tea at 30, oolong tea, as mentioned, at 27, white tea at 18 and, lastly herbal tea at 16.

Another surprise was the tea bag vs loose leaf tea preference. In the past, tea drinkers have been embarrassed (we guess) to admit they prefer tea in bags – the ‘right’ way to enjoy tea is to prefer the leaves loose. Of the 75 survey completers that responded to this question, 37 preferred loose leaf tea and a brave 18 tea drinkers admitted to preferring tea in bags.

We contend however you enjoy drinking tea is the right way for you. There is poor quality loose leaf tea as well as poor quality tea in tea bags. More and more now, we have the opportunity to experience better quality tea in better quality tea bags.

32 survey completers would prefer a gift of tea to be organic, 23 fair traded. Again, this is a significant increase from prior survey answers. Could the tea industry as a whole be doing a good job educating people about tea production? Maybe it is the vibrant tea culture in the Las Vegas area?

What was not a surprise was the tea treats. If you want to give a tea drinker a gift that will make them happy, it must include cookies first, tea cake or tea candy second. An interesting note here, someone expressed a desire for a gluten free option. When gifting anyone, please pay attention to their special concerns. Do not give someone who cannot eat flour, a treat with flour. If someone supports organic and fair trade, do not give them tea that is not those things. Sounds simple, but gift givers do sometimes have these oversights.

Elegant and English Tea biscuits

The number one tea tool survey completers requested was a tea infuser – 46 of the 75 responders said this. A tea thermometer, tea measuring spoon and tea scale listed similarly; 16, 19 and 12 requests.

The number one tea ware requested was a teapot, 38 requests, followed by teacup and saucer at 28, mug at 25 and tea spoons at 24.

teapot with infuser tea gift ideas

Teapot with infuser Tea Gift Ideas

Tea accessories were not ‘hot’ items. Of the 75 survey completers, 21 would enjoy receiving books about tea, 23 a tea wallet, 22 tea themed stationary and 27 tea themed gifts like candles and picture frames.

How tea wallet works photo

Tea Wallet Tea Gift Ideas

In conclusion, the perfect gift for our survey responders at the Southwest Tea Festival in Las Vegas, February, 2017 is a gift containing these things: Organic and fair traded green, black and oolong tea, a teapot and tea infuser (some teapots have built in infusers) and lots of cookies!

Thank you everyone for completing a survey and congratulations to those who won the 6 tea sampler prizes. Extra 6 tea sampler prizes as well as the other items we had for sale at the show are available at Tea Lover Teas and Tea Lover Gift Baskets. 10% off with code TEAFEST applies through Mother’s Day.

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Southwest Tea Festival – a great tea gift idea! (part 1 of 22)

I’ve written before bringing another tea lover to a local tea festival is a great tea gift idea. Admission costs are reasonable and usually there are educational options available. Not to mention all the tea you get to taste, free. Most of us are ‘tea drunk’ by the end of the day (or two days) but very happy.

Admission and your company at the annual Southwest Tea Festival which happened recently (Saturday and Sunday, February 25th and 26th, 2017) at the new Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino is Las Vegas, NV is a perfect example of a great tea gift idea.

In the words of lead organizer, Naomi Rosen, “The Southwest Tea Festival aims to unite tea educators, retailers, and growers with tea drinking consumers and hobbyists. This two day festival will provide tea knowledge, cultural experiences, tastings, cuppings, pairings, and demonstrations for tea enthusiasts throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.” And that is exactly what happened. A photo of Naomi and her beautiful family at their joy’s teaspoon table at the Festival is below.

We (Tea Lover Gift Baskets and Tea Lover Teas) had a table at the show this year. In the few quiet moments I found, I talked with the other vendors asking the question “What is a great tea gift idea?” In the articles that follow, I will share all the wonderful ideas experienced tea professionals shared with me.

The sponsors of this year’s Southwest Tea Festival were; The Lucky Dragon Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Tealet whose mission it is to connect tea buyers with small family farms around the world, joy’s teaspoon encouraging communication over a cup of good tea, Kleff Premium Loose Leaf Tea the go-to tea source in the Rocky Mtn region, Purple Cloud Tea Housetea house in Auburn, CA, The Tea House Times and the new Tea Journey publications, and stickermule, an online sticker company.

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Tea Lover Gift Baskets and Tea Lover Teas go to Vegas!

The Southwest Tea Festival, sponsored by Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, aims to unite tea educators, retailers, and growers with tea drinking consumers and hobbyists. This two-day festival will provide tea knowledge, cultural experiences, tastings, cuppings, pairings, and demonstrations for tea enthusiasts throughout Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

Tickets are available and with code: TEALOVERS get 25% off. It is a two day festival; Saturday, February 25 from 10-5 and Sunday, February 26 from 10 to 4.

This weekend, Tea Lover Gift Baskets and Tea Lover Teas are 100% into preparing to participate in the Festival next weekend. We will be loading up our Santé Fe with boxes of tea ware and tea themed foods this Friday, February24th and heading to Vegas, Baby. We will be staying with the other vendors at the Lucky Dragon Casino hotel over the weekend. We understand the Casino is new, just opened this past December.

If you live in the area or plan to be in Las Vegas next week, come by the Festival. Enjoy tea, shopping and the variety of cultural experiences – maybe learn a thing or two about tea. Tea culture is inclusive and comfortable, come see for yourself. Be sure to stop by our booth for 10% off purchases of $10 or more.

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