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.