Saturday, May 31, 2014

Beauty and Serenity at the World Tea Expo 2014

Tea Master Yoon Hee Kim at World Expo 2014

Today at the World Tea Expo 2014 in Long Beach California, tea master Yoon Hee Kim demonstrated the beauty and serenity in the traditional Korean tea ceremony.  Yoon Hee Kim is a certified tea master with the Tea Culture Association of Korea and she teaches and performs the traditional art of the Korean Tea Ceremony.  Yoon Hee is also an instructor for the U.S. Tea Association’s SpecialtyTea Institute (STI). [1]

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chai Mookie

I love chai, so when we passed by the Chai Mookie stand at New York City’s 2014 Coffee and Tea Festival, I had to stop.  It was hard to reach the stand because of the crowd gathered around it, sampling and buying the tea.  My friend and I sampled their Coco Mookie – it was clearly a favorite with the crowds.  In just one sip we both knew why and we immediately bought some to take home and enjoy.  The stand sold out just as we bought the last two bags of the day.

Click here to find a blend on
My Coco Mookie chai tea blend came in a neatly folded and crisp brown bag with the name of the company, Chai Mookie, written in large letters.  Chai Mookie, I soon discovered sells exclusively organic and fair trade chai and has created so far about seven signature blends.  Chai Mookie expands upon the tradition of masala chai from India, which is typically made with black tea and spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom.[1]  

I met the founder of Chai Mookie, Martin Fitzpatrick at the festival.  My first question for this striking, over 6’2” inches, dirty blond and blue eyed American man, raised in a small town in Vermont, was:  how did he get into the business of India style tea?  He told me that he grew up with Indian spices because his parents just liked to cook Indian food.  Later, while working in Brooklyn New York City as a barrista for a coffee shop, one of Fitzpatrick’s customers kept asking him for decaffeinated chai, so he decided to make some for her.  She loved it and encouraged him to start selling it.  He launched Chai Mookie in 2011 and mixes his spices in Brooklyn.

Fitzpatrick told me that his nickname is Mookie.  Like his unusual nickname, Mookie makes unusual chai.  The “Dirty Mookie Blend” combines ground espresso beans and chai tea.  “Coco Mookie” has no tea in it at all and instead contains raw cacao beans (the chocolate bean) ground to a fine powder.  Even though traditional India chai has black tea, Chai Mookie’s “Classic Mookie” version as no tea in it at all but does have the traditional chai spices.  “Wake Up! Mookie” has Assam black tea in it, for those traditionalist chai drinkers. 



Friday, May 16, 2014

The Amish Drink Tea, Too!

Amish Buggy in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA,  Author: TheCadExpert
The oldest and largest Amish community in the United States, numbering about 30,000, lives in bucolic Lancaster County. [1]  This April I spent an afternoon there as a tourist in the town of “Bird-in-Hand”.  Visiting the Pennsylvania Amish is like visiting a bygone era as the Amish community avoids the modern world and lives like it’s still the 18th century when their ancestors first came to Pennsylvania.  The Amish are a distinctively conservative Christian group who limit their interaction with outsiders and shun modern conveniences such as electricity and machine made clothes.  In fact, their modest handmade outfits reminded me of the television show, Little House on the Prairie. 

Author:  Ad Meskens  Kick Scooter
The Amish don't drive cars or ride pedal bikes.  The horse and buggy is the most recognizable Amish icon.  But I also saw these unusual kick push scooters everywhere.  Even though the Pennsylvania Amish church placed a taboo on the bicycle, these non-motorized, non-gear scooters are allowed. [2]

Aunt Ruthie didn't mind me sharing a photo of her at work at her kiosk.
Because the Amish are well known for living a simple and humble life, I wasn’t expecting to meet an Amish tea vendor with exotic and creative tea blends.  I was pleasantly surprised to encounter a kindred tea spirit, despite the technological divide and the religious and cultural chasm. At the Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market, I met Aunt Ruthie, the owner of Aunt Ruthie's Specialties - Spice, Herb & Tea Haus.
Aunt Ruthie has a wide selection of teas, which she buys in bulk and repackages. Her tea includes exotic blends like her Passion Fruit Tea and Mango Green Tea.  She said her favorite is the Queen Elizabeth Tea, which is a black breakfast tea.  She also recommended her Pear Tea, particularly as a cold drink.  I purchased the Pear Tea and tried it at home – it was as good as she promised! 


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