Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Gypsy Tea Experience: a Tea Tour

This past Sunday I went on a tea tour to Ojai. The whole event was coordinated by Kulov. He's the energetic and visionary force behind the local Tea Festival. The next festival will be held on May 13-15, 2011 at Royal/T in Culver City. So save the dates and in the mean time check out Royal/T and Kulov.
So the day started at Royal/T with a brunch and a tour of the Warhol art exhibit by the owner of the cafe and also fantastic art collector, Susan Hancock. She is amazing and interesting and you should check out the exhibit if you get a chance.
Then we got on a big blue bus and headed to Ojai. Once in Ojai we were treated to a delicious lunch at Azu using tea as a main ingredient. We met Zhena, the founder and creative whirlwind behind Zhena's Gypsy Teas. Zhena was very engaging making the lunch fun and showing her love of tea and Ojai in everything she did. After the lunch we walked over to her headquarters for a tour and then the fun really started, we were allowed to make our own tea blend to take home. Zhena blends teas like a perfumer, using high, mid and low notes to give a complete experience to the cup. I made a white cucumber tea. Using Silver Needle and Bai Mu Dan, I added cucumber essence and combined them to give a really nice spa blend. It was subtle, but I was very happy with my choices. All the ingredients were organic and fair trade, Zhena's mantra. I have to say I came away really respecting what she has done and is continuing to do for the tea industry. It was also inspiring to see her success and know that what I am doing with siptea is on the right path.
Our last stop was at Barrel 33 in Ojai for drinks made with Zhena's teas. They were great and a nice end to the day, but we still had the drive home. On the way back Kulov showed the Les Blank documentary "All in this Tea." Which I had been wanting to see and was really great to relax and take in on the drizzly drive back to Culver City in weekending traffic. (The only small negative of the whole trip, but nice that we weren't driving!)
Overall highly recommend Kulov's tea tours and Zhena's Gypsy teas.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Busy Sunday in LA!

Still getting over a cold, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to the monthly Backwards Beekeeper meeting and Go Green Expo at the convention center. The beekeeper meeting was first. It is run by Kirk Anderson or Kirkobeeo is his twitter handle. He should have his own show and puts things in terms most people understand. The setting was Farmlab's outdoor space under Spring Street. Very urban and cool space to learn about bees. They are located by the park & do amazing things in LA. Kirk was talking about small cell bees, which kind of was way more advanced than my knowledge. My interest was what brought me there, but literally that was it, I hadn't even read much, just heard from my friend's Max & Steve that it was great and Kirk was hilarious. They were right on both counts. After the class I looked up a bunch of things online & now understand more about things he was referencing. Basically Kirk's philosophy is let bees be bees. Don't use chemicals, or do much of anything to the bees, they will do it all. The CCD, Colony Collapse Disorder, most people now feel is due to limited gene pool and man's interference with pesticides and other chemicals to control pests, like mites. Kirk feels that healthy bees will survive and that the mites aren't going away. So lets make beekeeping sustainable, by cutting out the chemicals & human interference as much as possible. Besides being really funny and a total character, he gives you great information.
The next stop on my busy Sunday was the Go Green Expo, my friend at Ecosaveology wanted me to get some photos of Mariel Hemingway & the expo, so ran over to try to hear her talk. Missed the talk, but caught the Q&A after and got some ok pix. I found the expo a bit on the slim side, lots of Solar panel info, electric & hybrid vehicles, lots of things I don't consider green, and a smattering of cool & new products. They had a whole section for pets that was interesting. The products I liked the most were: O'Bon, cool school supplies; Soda Stream, make soda at home; Vapur, foldable, reuseable water bottle; Hydro Flask, double walled hot or cold water bottle; ecousable, water bottle with built in filter; Reverse Vending Machine, recycle on the spot & get money.

Good Cup of Tea in LA

Went to Intelligentsia in Venice a few weeks ago & finally got a good cup of tea. The green tea was not bitter and the only bad thing I could say was it was a bit thin on flavor. Might want to use more tea leaves the next time. Oh I should add that they also took the leaves out of the pot, so no re-steeping, bummer. Also had a great muffin from Cake Monkey, love them.
4 1/2 out of 5 leaves!
Success at last!