Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can I get a good cup of tea in LA?

I guess the answer is no.
Had a business meeting at Joan's on Third. Really like that place and wonder if I will be making enemies if I say that their iced tea was terrible. I just thought I'd have an iced tea to drink. It was so bitter and strong, I had to add sugar, something I rarely do to tea. Also what is up with putting the drinks in to-go cups when I asked for it for here. Ok, still on the look out for a good cup of tea in LA. Any suggestions? Still love Joan's, just won't order iced tea again.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Lamill Coffee in Silverlake

Lamill Coffee in Silverlake is from the name, the place to get coffee, not necessarily tea. This is a coffeehouse but they do have a nice and well balanced list of teas. Went for lunch here and overall a good experience. I ordered a green tea they had on the menu, and even though I know quite a bit about tea, I didn't know how to pronounce the Chinese name or know the tea. So being adventurous I wanted to try this one, organic magnolia Yuncui green. When I said to the waitress, I would like this green tea, not sure how to pronounce it, hoping she would help me out, she responded, "I don't know either." Ok, not the answer I was expecting, but it is a coffee place. One friend got a silver needle, white tea and the other ordered iced tea. The iced tea was said to be a green tea. When it came it had other flavors in it, and having allergies my friend wanted to know what else was in the tea. That took quite a while and ended up having flowers in it, so she chose not to finish it. Side note food was excellent. Both the white & the green tea were bitter, again this could be due to too long steep time or too hot water. The tea came in a glass pot and the leaves had been removed, which is fine for presentation, but re-steeping, especially oolongs is important. The white tea was listed as a silver needle, but the waitress when asked said that all the teas were blended with lots of other ingredients & that nothing was pure tea. I didn't correct her, but my tea & the silver needle from flavor appeared to be just tea, not blends with herbs & flowers. They menu had cool names for the blends, but when asked what the ingredients were in the blends, the waitress responded, "there are 8 million ingredients in the blends," and therefore couldn't really give us a better idea of what was in the tea.
Things they did right:
- nice atmosphere & good music
- cool descriptions of tea, not the usual flowery, fussy, but modern & hip
- nice presentation with glass pot
- loose leaf tea (assumed because we didn't see the tea)
- tea given equal time in the beverage menu (beverage menu much larger than food)
- loose leaf tea tin available for purchase
Things that were off:
- staff knowledge of tea (might just be our particular waitress)
- took forever to find out what the iced tea was made of & it was a standard menu item
- tea preparation seemed flawed, not sure of the problem, but outcome was bitter tea
- no leaves so re-steeping isn't an option
- different cups for different tea, but no real reason
- price warrants better knowledge of what they are selling
Side note, the bench seats are uncomfortable & hard to get in & out of, recommend sitting in chairs.
3 leaves out of 5
For trying to make tea hip and atmosphere.
They might want to up their training of staff on tea, since about half the people were drinking tea.

Tea Review of Bird Pick Tea and Herb

This weekend did some more checking out tea in Los Angeles & Pasadena.
I had been hearing about Bird Pick Tea & Herb, for over a year. Finally getting to check out the place. It is located in Old Town Pasadena in a great storefront. The shop is calming right when you walk in and you are greeted by friendly and knowledgeable staff. I didn't really quiz them but they were attentive and helpful. My friends both ended up buying tea accouterments. They have a wide selection of pots, cups, tools and everything you need to make a good cup of tea, and lets face it lots of things that you don't need but are cute and make nice gifts. I found the displays a bit overwhelming & the pre-made gift baskets not to my liking. The packaged sets were nice and so were the teapots available. They offered tea samples and I tried a gen mai cha, Japanese green tea with toasted rice, and a keemun, a Chinese black tea. Here is were they really fell down in my book. Both tea samples were bitter, I don't know if they steeped too long, or used too hot water. My friends thought the gen mai cha was terrible, I agreed that it wasn't good. But I didn't blame the tea, which I love normally, while others don't care for it, I blamed the preparation. I also think the way they display the tea is pretty, with large clear glass containers, but it is the worst way to store tea. Tea should be stored in a cool, dry location away from light. They even had matcha tea powder out in the sun, which I have always been told needs to be refrigerated in a airtight container to keep it fresh. I think they could keep the tea in glass for display only, but have other containers that they pull from to fill orders. I would not buy my tea from a vendor that stored tea in clear glass, because freshness means more flavor & more beneficial anti-oxidants.
Things they did right:
- greet customers & offered samples
- good location & atmosphere
- lots of choices for loose leaf tea
- lots of choices for teapots and accessories
- tea cart with on the spot preparation, cool feature
Things that were not great:
- tea stored in CLEAR glass containers (they did have air tight lids) in the SUN
- tea preparation not great or had changed in flavor sitting in airpots
2 out of 5 leaves
Mainly for the staff & atmosphere and bringing tea to the masses, but I would not recommend the store for buying tea, just tea accessories.
Since they are opening up 2 more stores in the Los Angeles area, they might want to re-think the clear glass jars!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Musings on a Rainy Day

Finally got some rain. Not a lot yet, but it is fall in LA & that means the start of what I hope to be a good rainy season, and snow in the mountains. We are officially in a drought and on restricted watering for yards. Since I really don't have any grass, that has not been a problem. I ripped out my front yard slowly, but the change over the 8 years I have lived here are dramatic. I am posting a picture of the house when I first moved in & today. It has been the most interesting thing to witness the changes in wildlife to my yard. I have bees, butterflies, moths, birds, and all sorts of bugs. Some of them are beneficial & some not so much, but being eco-friendly/organic means not using chemicals on my yard. So I hope for ladybugs & use my spray bottle of dish soap & water on the plants. An easy eco-tip is use the dish water from the sink to water any plants with pests on them. You are using greywater that would go down the drain & the soap helps get rid of the pests.
I have lots of testing to do about tea & have to write about what I have found out, but just wanted to put this note in, on this rainy day in LA.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Eco Ideas large & small

I was planning to do a second eco-salon, but the first Sunday of the month was Labor Day weekend & then I just didn't get my act together to do it the 2nd Sunday, so next month will be the 2nd eco-salon.
The reason I didn't get my act together was I was in the Rocky Mountains at the Telluride Film Festival. It was beautiful as always and they are doing some really cool eco friendly things with the fest. I worked the Festival as the assistant manager of the Abel Gance, the outdoor theater in the middle of town. Beautiful to see films under the stars, but it gets cold & there was some rain. That didn't stop us, we still showed movies.
Back to the eco/green ideas. Biggest one was they had Brita as a sponsor & every pass holder & all the staff were given Nalgene (BPA free of course) water bottles. Then they set up Water Filling Stations around the theaters so people could fill up. They lost out on the revenue of selling bottled water, but what a great idea. The water was just filtered town water, filters provided by Brita, naturally. The Wastemasters (trash pickup by the staff) were so happy. They said the worst part of the job was picking up the trash with so many 1/2 empty bottles of water, super heavy & messy. They had to empty them to recycle them.
NOTE: The lids on bottles are usually not recyclable so if you leave it on, it may get thrown in the trash to save time or it has to be twisted off by a sanitation worker to be recycled. So REMOVE YOUR LIDS when recycling plastic bottles. Or better yet, don't buy them & use a refillable bottle.
Ok enough about that, they also had Alice Waters consult on the food provided by the festival. She made a menu that took advantage of locally grown ingredients and organic ingredients. Funny thing is Ann Cooper used to do the food program & is now big in revamping school food programs, check out her lecture on the TEDtalks program. Will try to post a link for that.
So getting back into the swing of things here in Los Angeles. Miss siptea and talking tea, so tonight I am going to see Gail at Algabar, a great place to buy tea in Los Angeles, that is also closing it's doors. I think LA needs to pick up it's game in the world of tea & all things green. Prove me wrong, tell me about green things happening in LA.
Will post soon lots to blog about. Forgot how good it feels to get some of these things out there.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


So it's been awhile & I finally put together something I had been planning for a while. An eco-Salon at my house. We had the first one on the 2nd of August. There were about ten people here, our guest of honor was Erik Knutzen. He lives in my neighborhood and has a blog. also has a book, called "The Urban Homestead." It was fun and topics ranged from greywater, to chickens, to gardening. It was a fun mix of people and made me realize I needed to have a sign in sheet or some way to keep track of the people who came & the interest & expertise. Lots of knowledgeable people. The next one is set for the 2nd Sunday in September. Hope to be better about blogging closer to the event and want to start a link database for the sites/resources that were talked about.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Intelligentsia for Tea

Another in the series of reviews of tea in Los Angeles.
Intelligentsia in Silverlake
I ordered an Oolong, Iron Goddess of Mercy $4.50 (I think that was the price) Sat down with my friend who had a Cafe au Lait, which they messed up by giving her a regular drip coffee but soon corrected. Had a nice chat in the sun after having hiked in Griffith Park and had 2 steeps out of the leaves of this fabulous Oolong tea.
Good things:
-Loose leaf tea! No teabags!
-Nice setting with outdoor seating.
-Good but small selection of teas.
-Tea presented in a glass double wall cup without handle & small glass teapot. Cup looked to be about a 6 oz. cup, but might have been 8. Teapot was perfect size to fill cup completely.
-Glass pot let you see the leaves as they opened up.
-Wood tray to hold cup & teapot.
-Told by staff that I could get another refill on water. Nice, especially for an Oolong.
-Tea smelled wonderful and could tell it was quality just from the scent.
Things not up to the level of the coffee preparation:
-Don't know when the water went into the pot & no instructions about how long to steep from staff, so guessed when the 3 min were up. Standard steeping time for an Oolong, but I guessed wrong because the tea was already a bit bitter. Still could tell it was a really nice Oolong.
-Seems like they put too much tea in the pot. I recommend 3g per 6oz. water or approximately 1 table spoon per cup. Looked to be about 2 times the tea I would recommend. Just makes for a stronger cup, but shouldn't be bitter if steeped properly, just strong.
-Glass cup was nice, but couldn't really see the color of the liquor, the tea took on the color of the table & changed with the color of the wood tray. Still prefer white porcelain. Points in my book though for the non-traditional presentation, very nice with the glass pot.
-2nd steep I thought I would have more control, since I brought the pot in to get refilled so I could see when the water was added. Here was the DOWNFALL of the whole process, ONE water boiler, I assumed set at boiling, so the tea was in water that was too hot.
-Tried to compensate with a shorter steep, but still slightly bitter, most likely due to the water being too hot.
-No mention either time how long the tea needed to steep from the staff.
-Tea seemed an after thought for the staff.
-Price reflected the quality of the tea, but not the preparation or training of the staff on tea. Seemed overpriced for what I was given.
Seems like tea is still a second class citizen in the coffee-centric US & Los Angeles. I have read about the person who buys tea for Intelligensia & he seems very dedicated & as concerned with quality as the coffee roasters. The website even mentions that the tea needs to steep at a lower temp. & recommends a 30sec steep, which wasn't relayed to the customer by the staff. I think the quality of the tea was done a disservice by how the staff prepared the tea. They need to get another water boiler, or have a way to hold water at different temperatures. It would have ruined a good green tea, if I had order that. Intelligentsia is giving people who want to try tea a bad taste in their mouth, bitterness rather than the sweet variety of an outstanding Oolong Iron Goddess of Mercy.
4 out of 5 leaves for the quality of the tea

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sunday Salons

So the website is up but still needs some tweaking. Need to add the teapots & other products to buy.
Getting ready for a yardsale, had to make room for the stuff from the store to go in my house & then on to new adventures.
My latest idea is to do monthly (at first, then might increase in frequency) Sunday Afternoon Salons. There would always be free tea tastings and then demonstrations & information about green practices, products, and people in Los Angeles. There are so many people doing great things but only a handful of people know about them, so want to raise awareness & give out information to people that want to learn how to incorporate green practices in their life easily & have fun doing it too. Doesn't help that they get some free organic tea in the mix. Details will be coming soon.
check out the website.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jin Patisserie Tea Review

Another in my series reviewing tea service in Los Angeles.
Jin Patisserie in Venice on Abbot Kinney.
I had been here a couple of years ago, when they were carrying teas from Le Palais des Thes, a French company with a branch here in Beverly Hills. They have lovely teas, pricey, but very nice. Jin Patisserie is now carrying a new French tea line, The O Dor, don't know that name, but the menu says it is a newer company. The setting is great with a small enclosed courtyard around a central water feature. My friend & I had tea, plus a chocolate that they had samples of at the register, don't miss out on the samples! It was a passion fruit chocolate. Incredible intense flavor in such a compact package, really lovely. My friend had a blend with roses & I had a Lotus green tea. I am not remembering all the information on the teas & didn't take good notes, so thought I would just get it off the website, but no such luck. Another pet peeve, websites with music, please stop, plus the pretty site was hard to navigate & get info. Next step was to phone, but must have called at the wrong time, no answer. This is from memory so if I get some details wrong oops.
Things they did right:
-Lovely, peaceful setting, that isn't overly fussy.
-Tea is brought to you already steeped with the leaves removed, so no over steeping at the table.
-White porcelain cup & teapot. White color is the best to show off the color of the tea liquor.
-Perfectly steeped tea, they do know what they are doing.
-Pour the first cup for you, a nice touch.
Things that bugged me:
-Were there any organic options?
-Tea is brought with tumbled raw sugar lumps, and pretty big in size too. So if you wanted sweetener you would get lots.
-They remove the tea leaves. Which as I said above is good, but what if you want a re-steep? You have to buy a second pot, which I'm fine with the paying for more tea, but what if you get an Oolong? The 2nd steep is usually better than the first because the tea has a chance to open up. It just seems a disservice to tea in general not to let people see & smell the leaves & get to experience re-steeping of a good tea.
Liked the white cup, but not crazy about the handle on the tea cup, I kept trying to cup it like a Japanese style cup. This is my preference & I know many people like handles especially for black tea. Style points for the pot & cup being simple not flowery.
On a personal note, I think I picked the wrong tea for me. The Lotus tea I had was interesting & I had never had that particular tea before, so I got it to expand my taste palette, but liked it, wasn't in love with it. That is not part of the review but my own take on the tea.
In general, Jin Patisserie has good tea & even better chocolates & desserts.
Still in search of a perfect tea in Los Angeles, besides the ones I make at home.
4 out of 5 leaves

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tea Nazi Looks at Tea in Los Angeles

I was called the Tea Nazi by Ed Fuentes. Now that siptea is closed I am on a mission to educate & inform Los Angelenos about tea. Proper, good, tasty tea. Here is my first review of tea in and around LA.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Blueberry Pomegranate Oolong special on Steeping sign)
First the positives:
-Equal time to tea in the name & inside the store. Signage is the same for tea & coffee, not a second class citizen on the signs
-Asked if I could get it in a cup/mug rather than paper & they gave me a glass mug
(Tea, and coffee for that matter, taste much better in ceramic or glass than paper.)
-A decent selection of all types of tea, except pu'erh (didn't see any, but might have missed it)
-Loose leaf tea sold in tins (protected from moisture & light)
-Tea bag was pyramid style with loose leaf blend inside
-Proper use of "steeping" on the signs rather than "brewing"
Now the negatives:
-A tea bag, nuf said
-One source for hot water, so no temperature control, just boiling (so water was hotter than it should be for Oolongs)
-Didn't see any Organic options
-Tea bag was pretty stuffed when done steeping (a problem with tea balls, tea stick & bags in general - not enough room for the tea to fully expand, especially an Oolong)
-No place to put the teabag, just put it on a napkin on the table
-Flavor was okay, but thin & didn't really taste like an Oolong, blueberry & pomegranate flavors (chemicals?) took over tea taste
-Tea bags stored in glass jars (HUGE pet peeve, looks pretty, but the essential oils that make the taste & have health benefits, need to be protected from sunlight.)
-2nd steep was blah, nothing left & this is usually a better cup for a true Oolong, so makes me question if it was an Oolong or a mistake on the sign (left the bag in for the rest of the time drinking)
-No mention from staff on when to remove the teabag from the water & really not expected to, since it was tied around the mug handle
Well less than stellar example of tea in LA, no wonder people aren't drinking more tea, if this is what they normally experience.
2 leaves out of 5 for the things they did right.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Still working on the online shop. Hardest part is the descriptions. Have lots of pictures of tea, sharing some of them here.
Just to give you a heads up, there is someone taking over the lease, and it is an amicable take-over, so they are going to try to transition into the space for the next 3 months, while siptea goes online & looks for a new location. So the space will look the same, with slow changes happening as the new owner takes over. They like the teas & the service so will be carrying siptea, along with juices & coffees. About half the teas will be represented, which are the most popular ones, hopefully your choices will be included. Will keep you up to date on what is happening as soon as I know it.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

getting punched in the gut by a former customer

The blogdowntown is a great source for LA to read about what is happening in our city, specifically downtown. Ed Fuentes wrote a really nice send off piece about siptea closing our doors. I just want to say that the economy & difficulties in opening my business in general made it hard to weather the storm here in a slightly more desolate section of downtown. Yet there are successful restaurants that have made it right around the corner, so I know that there might be other factors. Well I got two blogdowntown readers views & felt like they (really one in particular) punched me in the gut. I guess my response would be how the next writer responded, why didn't you say something? The one writer didn't like any of the seating, "uncomfortable", didn't like the food, didn't like the staff, I was listed as "ok", wanted us to carry the NY Times, wanted sofas & comfy chairs, too expensive, layout bad, signage bad, erratic hours, wanted more non-caffeinated options, wanted more events. I know that comments tend to the negative & that his bad review prompted another bad response, but really, what is the point of kicking someone when they are already down. I am not in business anymore & you could have said all that in a more positive way or if you felt so strongly & came in 15 to 20 times over the 7 months, couldn't you have said at least one thing? I know that no one suggesting getting the newspaper, it was suggested to be open on Sunday so we were, sometimes making as little as $50, we never closed early. We had a small selection of teas, that did increase over time & we tried to get things people asked for, I don't remember being asked for more decaf options. I know I could improve the staff's customer service & that will be something I learn from this, but as a business owner here is my advice to my customers, if you want something different ask for it, there is no way to serve the customer if we don't know what you want. I will do more surveys & have a suggestion box at the next location & would love to have your comments here so I can learn from them. You can email me too with complaints or suggestions on our 1st location & would love to hear how to improve what some people loved & others obviously thought was severely lacking in many ways.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

rantings of a tea addled brain

I sit here after basically drinking tea all day long, a lovely Bai Mu Dan & now I need to vent. Customers are wonderful & also weird. Someone came in the other day & asked me, the owner of a tea house that sells bulk tea, if there was any place downtown I would recommend to buy tea. Huh?! I replied fairly politely, "besides here, no." WTF! You can buy tea wherever you want, but our teas are all organic. Think about the fact that tea is picked, then withered & processed, there is no cleaning or rinsing. So if you have chemicals on your tea plant, you are now pouring hot water on those chemicals & drinking them down. Tea should be organic. I think all food should be organic, but I am a crazy eco/green/liberal/tea drinking/prius driving/solar panels on house/greywater/native plant/permaculture/chicken raising/Los Angelino. So there!
Here are some pictures of my chickens, my neighbors are upset with them right now. Well I guess I should say they are upset with me, I was letting them free range in the whole backyard. Now they are coop bound, it's a big coop & they are fine. I need to be a better neighbor, have been at the shop too much, yard is a mess & my garden is in need of some major weeding/tending. Filled up my green bin in a couple hours yesterday on my day off. Well sort of day off, had bills & food to pick up so more like 1/2 day off. I think that siptea may have to become more of a tea/dessert place less of a lunch place. Too much work & not enough pay off. We have changed the hours, opening later in the mornings, 10am and closing earlier 7pm, except on Friday.
Tell me what you think siptea should be. Would like to expand the retail with more eco-friendly products, and cut down on the food.
What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Birthdays!!

We are extremely pleased to announce that Rosalyn Grant, had a little baby girl this morning. So excited for Jesse & Rosalyn that they had a 7lb. healthy, and according to her father, beautiful baby girl. Of course she would be beautiful. Rosalyn had the baby naturally & without any drugs, just like she wanted. It is extra impressive, that she was working at siptea until the 10th of April! All I can say is, WOW & that we are so happy for her. Can't wait to see the new little baby girl, who is now sharing a birthday with me & the earth.
Our Earth Day Green tea discount was a success & we gave away chico bags to customers who brought in their own cups. Kudos to you who made the extra Earth Day effort!
Thanks to our great customers & Rosalyn for making this a very special Earth Day indeed!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Educating & Adapting

Yesterday a woman came in and ordered a green tea, I will clarify, a tropical pineapple green tea. We do have lots of people come in for green tea. Unlike the grocery store there is not just one "green" tea, we have a few, and that confuses some people, because they do sell tea called "green" tea in the grocery store, right next to the box labeled, tea. She gets her tropical pineapple and asked if it could be made hotter. I said it was steeped at a lower temp. because of the type of tea it is, so it isn't bitter. She just wanted it hotter & asked to microwave it, which we don't have. So the conversation continued with her asking if she came in & asked for it made with hotter water, would I do that? I replied, I would warn you it would be bitter & would probably suggest a tea that is made with hotter water. She seemed to be testing me to see if I would make a bad cup of tea if I was asked to, the final answer is yes. That is the art of tea, you can make it any way you like, I would just like people to have tea prepared the way it is recommended first, then they can make it anyway they want. I am trying to educate as well as serve the community.
Being adaptable is the only way to survive & I would give any customer what they want, after saying my disclaimer. Another way we are adapting is that we are going to change our hours. Starting May 5th we will be open from 10am to 6pm Tuesday through Friday, with Saturday & Sunday hours staying the same, 11am to 6pm. The economic downturn has been rough on everyone & to stay here and survive we need to adapt and shorten our hours. Hopefully in 6 months we will be open longer hours.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter & Passover

Flowers from my yard.

random acts of destruction

I just don't understand some people. We have 2 rolling planters outside our storefront. They have been there 6 days a week for 6 months now. We get occasional trash thrown in, now more than ever since the trash can on the street corner was removed. What is up with that LA? Bring our trash can back, but that is another story. Today I look out to see that someone has uprooted a plant in the planter. The vine that goes up the trellis is out of the soil & laying on the table next to it & when I investigate further, another plant, the vinca is also uprooted & left on the rock mulch. WTF people? Why would someone rip a plant out of the soil? It took some force, because they broke some of the roots. And on Easter Sunday to boot! Come on, I just don't understand, they didn't even take the plants with them. That is what they do in my neighborhood, just steal the plants with a shovel. This was just random destruction of plant life. It makes me sad & I hope that it doesn't kill the plant. I replanted it, but with the roots torn it could cause problems. Arrgh! Let's hope it doesn't die & becomes the Easter vine.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Thanks to Jessica Needleman

Today we had some people stop by from the Eastern Columbia building. They didn't even know we were here, been here six months, directly across from them, but they never had seen our storefront. Jessica Needleman, who is the daughter of Steve Needleman who owns the 9th & Broadway building (where siptea is located), the Orpheum Theater & all the Anjac Fashion buildings you see in Los Angeles, sent them an email. So nice that people are watching out for us, we a small place, and don't have a large advertising budget, so any help we get is just wonderful. So here is a public thank you to Jessica for promoting us to the neighborhood.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


So trying to spread the word in downtown about siptea. We got some postcards made, with recycled paper, and now are making them into coupons by putting stickers on them. The stickers are also recycled and it makes the postcards very adaptable & hopefully they will end up in the hands of happy tea drinkers and not in trash/recycling bins.
Only 21 days until earthday, which ironically is my actual birthday! Seems I was born to be green.
If you start stopping by siptea, we have a frequent buyer program, so ask us about it & we will start you on your way to a free tea.
On a happy & sad note, Rosalyn is going to be leaving us soon to have her baby & enjoy the joys of motherhood full-time.
We are planning to do a green event for earthday & it is also going to be Fiesta Broadway on the 26th of April, so are thinking we should get some green/eco info set up to give out to the hispanic community.
If anyone has any ideas on green companies or products that need an outlet, hook me up, would love to make this a great community event.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


okay I think I made a mistake with the twitter address, it is
hope this helps

Sunday, March 22, 2009

twitter & other things

siptea is on twitter, if you want updates daily on what we have as special, our soups, etc. you can follow us,
We have some followers already, so join in & get up to the minute updates.
Also wanted to let everyone know we have 11 award winning organic teas for you to try. Every year the World Tea Council judges the teas at the World Tea Expo & hands out prizes for the top 5 in each category. Some of the winners are not organic, but we still have almost a 3rd of our teas that have won awards. We do have two new teas to try, a Tropical Pineapple Green tea & a Blueberry Pomegranate White tea. Both are good hot & iced.
Next Friday & Sunday we will be open a bit later because of shows at the Orpheum, will twitter the exact times on the day.
Also welcome our newest member of team siptea, Jasmine. How appropriate right?!, she's still learning the ropes so be gentle. And maybe have a Jasmine Pearl green tea in her honor!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Photo of Broadway Last Sunday

Here is a photo of the view out the front when a TV pilot, Flash Forward took over Broadway last weekend.

Afternoon Tea

We found an organic baker, Oh My! Bakery in Glendale, and we are now serving afternoon or some call it high tea. We have a full afternoon tea that is a real meal or a mini tea that is sweets only. Both afternoon tea choices come with an organic pot of tea. Really excited to see if people respond to this & want to see if we get any feedback on doing afternoon tea in downtown. It's a bit different than what the Biltmore offers, so not sure if that is what people are looking for.
Tonight there is another show at the Orpheum so will have a later closing than usual to accommodate the crowd.
Also on a crazy note, we were recording when the slow dude (a guy who walks around downtown extremely slowly, more like a shuffle) passed by our storefront. We had him coming by between 3 & 4pm and then he was not seen for 3 weeks. Now you may think we just missed him, or he came at another time, or we were busy when he walked by, but let me just say that he walks so slow, it takes almost 5 minutes to clear the front, and we think one of us would have seen him. Plus we were on the look out to record his time, so we thought maybe something happened to him. As the weeks passed we were getting concerned about his absence. Well happily he returned on Wednesday & everyone who works at siptea let out a cheer! So he is alive & well and still walking slowly around downtown.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Mayor of Los Angeles

Celebrity sighting here at siptea! Antonio Villaraigosa came in today to have a pot of green tea & a meeting with Jessica McLean of the Bringing Back Broadway Project, along with his bodyguard. I used the opportunity to mention the green roofs project that the Mayor of Chicago started and that we should use some of the green stimulus money for putting green roofs in downtown LA. He was interested in the build out of the space & I told him we followed LEED standards, but couldn't afford the certification, because you had to have an on-site LEED representative to certify your project. Too large a cost, $25,000 to $50,000, for a tea house. He said that was something the city should look into for small projects and small businesses.
He also got a kick out of the bathroom & the fact that I put Councilmember Jose Huizar's plaque up in the restroom.
Some of the customers texted friends of the Mayor sighting. Overall very cool & receptive to the place & what we were trying to do as a green business.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Okay so the issue is the modem, maybe? Everything is working but I can't get on the internet in windows mode, only Mac mode, which is cool with me. Hopefully next Monday will solve the problem, getting a new router.
Looking to get some new teas, people have asked for something with ginger, still looking for that one, but found a great tropical green tea. Also want to get a kukicha, japanese twig tea. Need to get another pu'erh and more oolongs. Any other suggestions?
So here is the scoop on the frequent buyer card. We are holding onto it, it has the customer's name on it, so you don't have to remember to bring it in, just remind us to stamp it when you get a tea so after 12 you get one free. Some people are already a quarter of the way there!
Made some apple crisp in the crock pot that worked out.
Looks like we have an organic baker, so in March we will start doing high tea on the weekends.
Not sure if anyone reads this, but have been surprised by people mentioning things from my blog, so I guess someone does.
Our new green tip: If you buy bulk tea from us, bring back your pouch & get 75 cents off your tea refill. Another way to reduce/reuse/recycle.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bad Techno Day

Ok, so usually I'm not a complete dunce when it comes to technology. I do have to admit to not really understanding all the geek talk, but most things make sense. Full disclosure, I use a Mac. Today everything technical seemed to go haywire. I couldn't get the printer to print out some labels for my new postcards. Got around it in a really strange way. I have to have my Mac in Windows mode to run the cash register, ended up emailing a pdf of the menu & labels to print them in Windows mode, because Mac mode wasn't able to print. Then the cash register (pos) system went down, wouldn't run credit cards, then wouldn't respond quickly to the touch screen, took forever to get an order in, literally 3-5 minutes to type it in, hopefully without any errors. Arrgh! Don't know what is wrong with technology & me today, maybe it is something in the air.
Then the tech problems seemed to spill over into other areas, someone took my compost bin from the alley & they didn't send the replacement like they said they would. Had an event at 'Pussy & Pooch', doggie tea party, we provided the tea. Try to find a place to park after 3pm over at 5th & Main, yikes! Got the stuff to them after a 1/2 block walk, carrying everything at once, only to get a call from siptea saying I forgot the pump for the airpot & so drove back to Pussy & Pooch to give them the pump. Double Arrgh!! I just want the day to be over so nothing else can go wrong. (by the way the labels didn't work with the printer after all, they were labels for a laser printer & the ink jet just smeared :( so had to hand write the coupon on the postcards, not very professional double frowny face :( :( )
Here's to a better day tomorrow.
So we are starting a frequent buyer card, buy 12 teas, get one free! Come in & ask us about what else we have coming up!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

To Go or Not To Go?

So that is the question we ask people when they order from siptea. Is that for here or to go? Most people answer with what they are going to do. But we do have the occasional person who says "to go" then sits down & eats the whole thing in house & throws the box & utensils in the compost (thanks at least for doing the compost part). This is because they think they are leaving or might not finish everything and want to take what is left with them. Okay, that's nice, but the amount of energy & resources that go into the to go container, is so much more than our dishwasher uses. Also if they don't eat everything, we have smaller to go containers that are less trash & also happen to cost us less. The urge I have every time is to tell the individuals that are doing this, that they are wasting compostable containers and we would much prefer to give them a plate/glass/cup and wash it & maybe even give them in the end a to go container for the remainder of their meal/drink, then give them one in the beginning. We don't have many people ask for doggie bags, so if you think you want to stay, but might have to leave early, still say "for here" that is the better choice.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


So the tree was hit by a UPS truck, if you didn't read the comments. I don't know if it is being replaced, but sounds like the Eastern wants it replaced.
We are going to have paintings by Todd Becraft up for Thursday's Downtown Artwalk. Stop by & also check out Gary Leonard's new gallery 2 doors down from us. He will also be open til 9pm for Artwalk.
Friday Night Flights are lots of fun, slowly catching on, we are hopeful people will get into them & tea as much as we are. This Friday we will be open to 11pm for a Poetry reading event. More details to come & will post links too.
Just wanted to let people know what we are up to!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Trees Cut Down on Broadway

So this morning I get to work to see one of the ficus trees in front of the Eastern Columbia building, is now in pieces on the ground. Within a few hours the tree was chewed up & gone. I don't know the reason, roots in the sewer? The trees were just trimmed a few months ago, at the buildings expense, and now the city cut the tree down. The stump is still there & if I know ficus trees that thing will be a crazy looking bush in a matter of months & I don't know if the city will remove the stump, but if they don't the roots will still be an issue. What gives LA? I thought we were suppose to be planting trees not cutting them down.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Musings on Life Downtown

Crazy stuff.
The bunny guy. The older gentleman who wearing a suit, pushes a baby stroller with a live rabbit in it, around the city. I love this guy!
The (ex-pimp?) preacher who wears matching suits and hats, I've seen purple & white. The hat is trimmed with fur & usually has a rhinestone cross on it & also he has a flashing colored light cross on his breast pocket. Makes you know there is a god.
The slow waking guy, who shuffles by everyday, except one day he was moving at a normal pace? Hmm.
The woman (?) in a spacesuit looking outfit with so much make-up on it was practically dripping off her face. She left & the smell of Brut stayed for about 45 minutes.
The lady who stole our trashcan from the bathroom. She came in with lots of big bags (I suspect full of stuff from other places) ordered a tea & used the restroom. Then left with her tea & our trashcan! We know who you are lady & are keeping an eye out for you.
The adults who think it is okay to take the rocks out of the planter, why? I am crazy too, because if I see it, I run after them & ask for it back. They always say sorry! Sorry that I saw you, or sorry for taking something that doesn't belong to you? (I usually look the other way when it's a kid, but come on people, you're an adult, what do you need a rock for? It's mulch for the plant, not a free sample)
The guy who took the time to pour out the wax from the outdoor votive candles, so he could stuff the glasses in his pockets. I chased him down & got them back, with an "Oh sorry" from him.
The guy dressed like the Lakers Jesus, walking down the street. In white robes with a purple sash & gold crown of thorns. I think he was a true Lakers fan!
Of course these are the exceptions to the generally lovely & nice people we have everyday, but they sure are fun stories to tell.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Parking at siptea

So lots of people ask me about parking. Well the bad news is there is no real free parking. The 9th & Broadway building is surrounded by parking lots, and there are meters on 9th. Sadly most of the meters end at 3pm (some end at 4pm), but they are free after 7pm. The meters are also $3.00/hour. I don't many people who keep a sack of change in their cars, so that is another drag. Don't forget to read the signs on the meters, the tow trucks come out at 3pm & it's expensive to get your car back - $250 or so. I now owe a friend big time who came down & ended up getting towed, luckily she got the car off the truck, but not before having to fork over, on the spot, 250 buck. Liz you get free tea for life for that one! So sorry!
The lots vary from $5 to $10 per day. The cheapest lot is south of 9th on Broadway. On the west side of the street, right after the Tacos Mexico stand. (Which I recommend if you want meat. Of course come here first for your Jamica - Hibiscus tea. So you can have some organic tea with your Taco.)
Basically if you are coming for more than an hour it is cheapest to go to a lot. We looked into validating, but it is too expensive at this point, still going to try to work a deal.
Here is the scoop for free (not guaranteed) parking. On Sunday the lot behind the Eastern Building is usually unattended, ignore the "no free parking anytime" signs. Also meters are free on Sunday. Broadway's loading zone, right in front of the building is free (?) after 7pm, at least according to the signs.
There is also a bus stop right in front of our door. So have an adventure and use public transport!
Hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


So we had positive feedback from our Obama promotion, it's still going on for a few more hours.
It has been an emotional day. I don't know if it's the heat or the events in Washington, but I am hopeful and feel I need to get things rolling her at siptea, got to start moving the economy.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Everytime I spell inauguration, I always think it looks wrong. I know it's not, but it's still a weird word.
Tomorrow is the big day for the USA & I am really glad & a slight bit worried some crazy white guy is going to try to disrupt the events. (Keep knocking on wood)
So in honor of our 44th president taking office we are offering a 44 cent discount on any purchase at siptea.
Tomorrow is going to be a great day!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

notes about tea & more

Okay my crock-pot love is waning because the breakfast casserole was crappy. It was overcooked, and just not good. Made more bread pudding & that was excellent again!
So I took some photos and have some information to give out about tea in general & our tea in particular.
Did a little photo shoot of tea bags, one regular and two specialty tea bags. So first off let me say if you are using a regular tea bag, open one up and see what is inside. It is probably dust and small pieces of tea, called fannings. It will make a strong cup of tea with flavor, but will not take a second steeping to save it's life. The tea in the tea bag looked similar to ground pepper when we opened the bag up. If you are spending 25 cents for a tea bag and a dollar for a pot of specialty tea it seems that the tea bag is cheaper. You need to factor in the steeps you get, if you get 4 steeps out of the specialty tea, you have the same price value. You also get 4 steeps that especially with oolongs or pearls, can actually change and get better with multiple steeps. They say the 2nd steep on an oolong is always better, because the first steep only partly opens up the leaf.
The specialty tea bags are better, you can re-steep, but some of the twisted types of teas, like ooloongs just don't have enough room in the bag to open up fully. That is one of the reasons I don't like teabags or balls. The best way to get the most out of your tea is to put it in a pot loose to interact fully with the water. Then you can re-steep the tea as many times as you like, basically till you get something that doesn't satisfy you, then you start fresh with new tea leaves.
Okay I am new to this & don't know how to easily change the order of the photos, so they should be looked at from the bottom up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I know this is stupid, but I think I'm in love with my crock-pot. Since we can't really cook here, we've become creative in ways to get things done. Actually have to credit my friends Amy & Susan for the idea, they use one at home. So we made bread pudding yesterday in it, excellent! Used some leftover organic baguette, almonds, currants, apricots & of course eggs, milk, cinnamon & some cardamom pods. I had some for breakfast this morning with cream drizzled over it, yum.
So back to the crock-pot, it has a timer so when I leave tonight I have it set to make a breakfast casserole to be done for Sunday when we open. Pretty cool, gotta love technology & the human ability to adapt. Hope this works, we will see tomorrow.
2009 seems to be looking better for siptea already, still some bumps, but the word is getting out & we are getting more new faces. Always nice to meet our neighbors & people who work in the area. Also nice to get cooking again.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


I usually don't make resolutions or even really enjoy New Year's Eve. I like New Year's Day.
This year I didn't do my New Year's Day Party, with Collards & Hoppin' John, mainly, because just didn't have the funds. I would like to think everyone will get money & luck even if they don't come to my house & eat on New Year's Day.
So the world seems to be in even more screwed up than ever, yet I am somehow hopeful. I think our economy will bounce back & maybe it will make people more decerning consumers. I never liked the blind consumerism that has been overtaking the US, and even though I started a business, I am trying to follow the tenant of natural capitalism, not consumerism. Maybe this is just to large a subject to get into...
Lets just say I resolve to have hope for the coming year.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Resolutions for 2009

To blog more.
To promote siptea more.
So here I go with doing both in one fell swoop.
Things that I need to write about are tea, weight loss & new hours.
We have genmaicha now, that great japanese green tea with toasted rice. Reminds me of childhood & having puffed rice for cereal.
We got another mention in the world tea news! Will post the link.
On a personal note, not that any of this isn't personal, but I have lost 2 dress sizes in 3 months of working at siptea. The only thing that has changed is eating organic and drinking lots of tea daily. No change in exercise, or types of food, still eating bread, but it's organic. I think it's the tea, of course!
We surveyed our customers, at least the one's on the email list & found out that people think we should have more breakfasty stuff & be open earlier. So starting Tuesday the 6th, we will open at 8:30am.
We have two breakfast panini's & french toast w/organic maple syrup. Can't really do anything else with the lack of a kitchen. Will experiment with some pastries/muffins but they will have to be purchased somewhere else & brought in, due to no cooking on site.
To clear up any confusion the issue is ventilation & there is no possible way to correct the problem in the space we have. There is a possibility of sharing a vent hood in the next space over, but that all depends on who moves in next door. It is something we are actively working on, but would be months before that happens. Thanks for all your suggestions.
Here is to an awesome year for siptea, our country & the world!