For some this is just another holiday to get together with family they never see, but hopefully like and to eat far too much food.

Consider taking a moment this year though to look around you and give thanks. Sometimes we need to look at the literal words in front of us…thanks giving. Look around you and give thanks for the people you have. Give thanks for what you are given. Give thanks for what you give. Be Present…Be Grateful…Be Awed.

And if that doesn’t work…make a pie!!!

I send you all my thanks, my gratitude and my love for being a part of my world.

Merriment ensued after hours this past Sunday during the annual Tea Emporium Summer Party. On this year’s menu: a taco bar! Steamed wraps, pulled pork, breaded tofu cubes (for the one vegetarian in our midst), guacamole, salsa, and cheese. Served alongside these self-serve beauties is the white-bean salad with cucumber, red onions, tomatoes, and lots of fresh mint; this was a real hit – the salad was devoured and there were hardly any leftovers.

Starters included a veggie platter, a minty-yougurty soup, warm olives with rosemary, succulent shrimp with Mexican spices. Thirst-quenchers: sangria and a basil-infused lemonade.

The dessert was a real treat to the eyes (eye-candy) – a candy bar! Also on the dessert menu, a platter filled with mini Belgian waffles served with a delicious caramel sauce.

The tying of the traditional obi was one of the many highlights of the gathering. Mariko was quickly joined by other members of the staff, who struggled to tie the obi into a somewhat respectable-looking bow, much to the delight and amusement of Shabnam, who kept asking, “How many people does it take to tie an obi on me?!”

Our revelry moved to the tunes of Metric and the Black Keys (both the preferred bands of the summer), and play-doh worlds were created by Anna and Tom’s adorable kids.

All in all, an amazing past Sunday and a great way to cap off an extremely busy summer, with the brand refresh still on its way to completion.

ūüôā

Well here it is…our new website. Yes – everything is a work in progress, but isn’t that what life is all about?? Working on and improving and tweaking and and and and…

I’ll be sending out our new format newsletter shortly and hope you all love the updated version of us!!

Please let us know what you’re thinking because you know I love hearing from you all!

One doesn’t generally stand in silence enveloped by tranquility when walking a trade show floor; and yet that is exactly how I found myself in Las Vegas when I stopped to see Michele Brody’s ‘Reflections in Tea’ art installation. ¬†She was inspired by the tradition of drinking and sharing tea throughout the world. ¬†When she started her project, she invited participants to share a cup of tea with her served in paper tea filters and then transcribe their conversation onto ¬†stained bags that had been dried and flattened. ¬†This resulted in her paper quilt.

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Brody’s art inspired World Tea to use her art as a way of reaching out to the people of Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. ¬†Delegates were invited to write a message of hope or prayer onto the stained filters to be hung and make a donation to the relief fund. ¬†The display was truly breathtaking and beautiful and serene in every way possible.

Brody is now taking her exhibit to New York where she will cover the walls of the Hudson Guild Gallery with 500 of these messages on stained paper that from a distance will form a rolling landscape – and up close will show messages inspired by tea drinking.

As much as tea touches my life every single day, I am still in awe of how it inspires beauty and serenity and community above all else.

DAD

Yes, it’s Father’s Day on Sunday. ¬†The quiet little celebration between Victoria Day and Canada Day. ¬†A sometimes forgotten holiday that has us spending $5.2 billion less on gifts than we do on the other parent…our mothers! ¬†There has been all sorts of pontification about why that is, why we celebrate our mothers more than our fathers, but let’s face it, pontification is all it will ever be. ¬†The holiday was started in 1910 to a not very receptive audience. ¬†It was mocked mercilessly. ¬†Let’s face it, even the poor tie has gotten a bad rap as a gift of any sort as it has been associated so poorly with the ‘standard Father’s Day gift’.

So this year, we propose you throw out the go-to necktie gift, forget the million gadgets dad has…and give him the gift of tea. ¬†Pay tribute to the man who is the strong silent one. ¬†The man who pulled out the thesaurus at 11pm to help you with your science project you forgot about. ¬†The rock who looked at you and didn’t quite know what to say when your heart was broken for the first time.

Say thank you with the same strength and silence that he has shared his love for you with.  The quiet peaceful strength and wisdom of a cup of tea.

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The Tea Emporium took part at the Las Vegas Convention Centre for the World Tea Expo just this past weekend, from June the 1st to the 3rd. Here is a small smattering of the many photos that were taken during the three-day event.

Shabnam Weber delivered a talk on the morning of the 1st. ‘How to Compete with the Big Guys‘ was the title of her presentation, ¬†and her aim was to give those who own small tea shops a leg up against some of the bigger tea companies who want to open a chain of stores in every corner, Starbucks-style.

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One of the highlights of her trip was meeting the legendary James Norwood Pratt of Tea Society Classics. His article, Love the Leaf (Why and How Coffee Shops Should Do Tea), is one of the many articles this widely-read author on tea has written. Julie Beals, editor-in-chief of Fresh Cup Magazine, writes of James, “After a short time with Norwood, one becomes imbued with the notion of tea as poetry, both being art forms that require reverence and reflection to fully appreciate.” A thorough reading of his many articles and literature on tea proves exactly this.

As Shabnam approached James Norwood Pratt to say hello, there was a look of recognition from the man himself, evidently aware of the work Shabnam Weber does with the Tea Sommelier Program in Canada. James has even expressed interest in taking her course, much to an incredulous Shabnam, who exclaimed, “There is absolutely nothing I can teach you about tea! Nothing!”

Laughs and smiles were shared, as evidenced by this very star-struck Shabnam, who describes her meeting James Norwood Pratt as something akin to meeting The Beatles.

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And they say tea drinkers don’t know how to have fun… ūüėČ

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Here’s a re-cap of our favourite moments on IG. Lately, our feed has been full of our favourite hot teas made iced, only because it really is that time of year — iced tea time! Don’t know how to make iced tea out of our loose leaf tea? No sweat! ¬†Here’s a post we did last year on how to make the perfect iced tea.

And now, on to our visuals!

Row by row, L – R:

1) Sampling iced Rooibos Sweet Embrace at our Eglinton store. 2) Moroccan Mint iced tea for a busy (and hot!) day. 3) Iced Fields of Peaches. 4) Afternoon snack treat: Cream of Avalon with a splash of milk and a chocolate & fleur de sel cookie! The perfect combo. 5) Our Spring Blend won’t be here for much longer, as we make way for our Summer Blend. Here, I have it iced, of course! 6) Breakfast. Imperial¬†English Breakfast — with a splash of milk and a touch of honey. 7) Sampling iced Spring Blend at our Danforth location. 8) Iced Matcha Chiller – the perfect mid-day pick-me-up.

  

L – R:

9) David and Oscar = the Tea Emporium’s new mascots? We’ll have get back to them on that. 10) Tea and Journal gift set at our Maple Leaf Gardens location: $18.95 11) OMG! Our FYI mugs are back in stock!

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From the rolling tea plantations…

…to your own backyard grilling?

I mean, why not?

It depends, of course, on the type of tea you choose to prepare your succulent grilled meats. The tea that you choose has to be able to stand up to the smoke and the spices you put into your favourite barbecue sauce recipe.

My go-to-tea for grilling meats? One of my favourites – Lapsang Souchong.

Here are some ingredients:

5 tbsp. finely ground Lapsang Souchong leaves
5 crushed dried chilis
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
2 small cans crushed diced tomatoes
2 cinnamon sticks
3 dried bay leaves
3 whole cloves, finely ground
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
1 tbsp. finely minced garlic
1 can of San Pellegrino Limonata (I know, I know – it’s strange – but it works. Something about the fizz and the lemon and the sugar… it tenderizes the meat!)

soy sauce…

…and some meat of your choice. I like to use pork chops for this, with a moderate amount of fat (not too much, just enough). Ribs would be a lovely option too!

I usually do not measure my ingredients; I eyeball them. The above is really just a basic idea of the proportions you will be using for this marinade and glaze. Before you add the liquid to the meat, give it a taste. If the marinade tastes great to you, it will taste amazing on your meat of choice. I also like to season the marinade with soy sauce instead of salt. Again, adjust according to taste.

Mix all the spices together – wet with dry. Reserve half of it and set aside. Take the other half and immerse your meat in the mixture. Cover the meat mixture with plastic wrap and let it marinade in the fridge for at least 24 hours.

Meanwhile, take the reserved half and boil it down until it has a thick and syrupy consistency. Wait for the mixture to boil before reducing it to a medium heat and let it reduce that way. Set aside for glazing your chops or ribs or chicken the next day!

Tip: Make sure you bring your meat to room temperature before putting on the grill! You want your meat to cook evenly, and if your meat’s core temperature is still cold when it hits the grill, you may end up with a charred skin, but a somewhat raw center… Not a very appetizing way to start your barbecue season.

Make sure you serve these wonderful tea-infused barbecue meats with sides of your choice (maybe a potato salad with our Rooibos Seven Spice?) and some refreshing iced tea.

Here’s to a glorious May long weekend, everyone!

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The Tea Emporium, in case all you lovely readers didn’t know, is now on Instagram! We have opened it up for our lovely [Android-and-iPhone-equipped] staff to capture any tea-related goings-on in all four of our locations. Below is a selection of our IG photos during the week. Feel free to tweet us with an instagram photo of your own when you do come into any of our stores!

Our Instagram handle: @theteaemporium
Our Twitter handle: @teaemporium 

Happy snapping… and sipping!

Row by row, L-R:

1) Tasting our new Darjeelings for our blog review. For a list and description, go here. 2) Matt had a birthday, and we bought him a huge banana-caramel-pecan cake! Of course, we served it with our tea! 3) Merchandising window at the Danforth set up by one of our staff, Heather! 4) FYI mugs featured in the Spring/Summer shopping cataloque for First Canadian Place. 5) The Tea-of-the-Hour at our Maple Leaf Gardens location – A Lemon Darjeeling! YUM. 6) A cup of our Yellow Dragon Pu-ehr + a sushi lunch = feel-good eats and cold-buster! 7) Iced tea season is here! I had a small pot of our Pina Colada. Look at that colour! If that does not cheer anyone up, I don’t know what will! 8) Details of a Sakura cast-iron that was unpacked at FCP. 9) ‘Skipped lunch and want something quick, filling, and refreshing? An iced Ginger-Matcha latte should hold you for a wee bit until you get yourself a snack!

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and the weekend is going to give us lots of sun… so… what to do? What to do? What to do?

The nicer places for brunch will be packed, and you are racking your brain trying to figure out how to celebrate…

Well, why not a tea party in her honour? Set up a place setting in your backyard or porch or living room, and nibble on some tea-infused goodies.

So… ‘like this idea but you don’t have much time? Let us help you!¬†Here are some tea-inspired menu ideas to get your tea party with mom going!

Chipotle-Lapsang Chicken Sandwich

The trick to preparing this sandwich within your limited time-frame is buying one of those pre-made rotisserie chickens from your favourite grocery store. Some stores carry these in two or three different flavours; pick up the classic-style.

2 tsp. Tea Emporium’s Chipotle-Lapsang spice rub
1 stalk of celery, finely diced
1 green onion, minced
1/4 cup pre-grated carrot shreds, finely minced
3 tsps. mayonnaise (I like to use lemon-aise for a lower-calorie version)
salt and pepper to taste

2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
3 cups cubed rotisserie chicken meat

bread (sourdough is a good choice, or any whole-grain alternative)
butter lettuce or frisse lettuce

Combine all the wet ingredients together first, then add in the chipotle-lapsang spice. Fold in the chopped vegetables and the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust flavours; sometimes I like to add a squeeze of lime to round out the sweet-spicy of the chicken salad mixture.

Spread the chicken salad on slices of toasted bread. Top with lettuce of your choice. Remove the crusts and halve OR quarter sandwiches for the tea tray.

Serve with our iced Moroccan Mint.

Jasmine-cured Salmon bites with Lemony Creme-Fraiche

This takes about 48 hours to be completed, so give yourself Friday and Saturday for this, depending on how thick your salmon is. Make sure you lay the salmon flat¬†on a shallow container; moisture will be extracted during the curing process and it will pool around your plate. After all, we don’t want any of those juices dripping all over your refrigerator.

5 tbsps. Imperial Jasmine, ground
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 side of wild salmon, skin left on

Lavash crackers (or any cracker brand of your choice)

craime fraiche
lemon zest
capers
dill
salt and pepper to taste
cucumber slivers (optional)

Lay salmon flat on your platter, skin side down. Mix the ground jasmine tea, sugar, and salt together before coating the surface of the salmon meat with this mixture. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and leave in fridge for 48 hours. Check after 24 hours to check the curing process; sometimes, it can take less than 48 hours to completely cure the salmon. We want a silky consistency; over-curing it will result in a tough, jerky-like texture to your salmon.

Slice the salmon in delicate ribbons and lay them over your crackers. Just before serving, finely mince fresh dill and capers over your creme-fraiche. Grate in some lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix the creme-fresh mixture, and spoon over the jasmine-cured salmon. Garnish with a tiny sprig of fresh dill and/or cucumber slivers.

Serve with that very same Imperial Jasmine tea you used to cure this salmon!

Rooibos Seven-Spice Cucumber and Watercress sandwich

1/2 cup softened cream cheese
1 tbsp. Tea Emporium Rooibos Seven Spice
1 tsp. grated lime
1 tsp. sriracha sauce
salt and pepper to taste

cucumber slices
watercress leaves (some alternatives: alfalfa sprouts, pea shoots, broccoli sprouts, garlic sprouts)
multigrain bread

Combine softened cream cheese with the sriracha sauce, spices, salt and pepper, and grated lime. Spread over bread of choice, on both sides. Lay on the cucumbers and sprouts. Slice off crusts. Quarter or halve.

Serve with our buttery White Needle.

We all know baking takes time, so unless you *do* have that time, I suggest buying a small selection of scones and treats (french macarons, anyone?) from your favourite bakery. Some tea-infused jam, like our Apricot Ginger and Lemon Darjeeling Marmalade, or Blueberry Kombucha Lime¬†jam will go wonderfully with scones. Don’t forget the butter!

Some tea selections to go with your sweet treats: our famous Cream of Avalon¬†(perfect with a splash of milk), Rooibos Provence,¬†or an iced Margaret’s Hope (unsweetened) or Pina Colada (sweetened OR unsweetened) should get your tea party going!

Happy sipping, and a happy Mother’s Day weekend to all of you!

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