While recently traveling in Turkey, we were lucky enough to visit a lovely specialty tea cafe named “Dem” in the up-and-coming Karakoy neighborhood of Istanbul. Voted the best cafe in Istanbul for 2013, Dem has been in operation for only 1 year and its owner, Ömer Çagatay, is already prepared to open a second location. While tea service is an age old tradition in Turkey, specialty tea is only now catching on in this ancient city. Dem is definitely a front runner in this arena. Their tea menu features over 60 teas that are sourced from all over the world including: black, green, oolong, white, pu-erh, and herbal teas. However, Jeremy and I were most excited to try Dem’s Turkish tea offerings. Yes, Turkey has a small tea growing region in the northern coastal area near the Black Sea. Turkey manufactures mainly black tea and produces barely enough to satisfy the country’s own demand, exporting virtually none, which is why it is not well known outside of the Turkish borders.
While at Dem, we tasted two Turkish teas. A tirebolu tea from Giresun. This tea was produced from tea grown at higher elevations of the Eastern Black Sea region and was one of the best Turkish teas we tasted during our entire stay in Turkey. We also tasted an organic hemsin tea from Rize (a well known tea growing region). Tea grown in Rize is also available in many Turkish supermarkets. Both teas were tea bag cut leaf – the predominate cut in Turkey – and produced a straightforward liquor, reminiscent of a low-grown Ceylon. Additionally, we tasted Dem’s version of Turkey’s ever-popular herbal Apple Tea. We were delighted to find that their version is much more than the usual instant powder that produces a highly-sweetened and tart apple brew. Instead, Dem has a lovely loose herbal blend that includes actual pieces of dried apple, offering a slightly sweet herbal concoction that our children (ages 4 & 5) loved!
In Turkey, tea is everywhere! It is a traditional offering to guests and is important in Turkish culture as a form of hospitality. It is traditionally brewed in a two-tiered, stacked, samovar-like apparatus. The smaller top teapot contains a concentrated brew of tea that is kept warm by the lower vessel. The concentrated brew is called “dem”, which is also the namesake of the cafe. The larger, lower vessel contains water that is heated to piping hot. The liquid from the two vessels are combined to create a tea of varying strength. A tea drinker can ask for more dem or less dem to specify a stronger tea or weaker tea depending on personal preference. The tea is served in lovely small, tulip-shaped clear glasses on saucers. In some cases, multiple glasses of tea are transported on silver hanging trays. The flawless transportation of these trays was particularly impressive to witness at the bustling Grand Bazaar where there was a near constant stream of HOT tea deliveries to the vendors.
While we enjoyed tea throughout all of Turkey, our favorite cafe to relax in and have a glass of tea was definitely Dem Cafe. Next time you’re in Istanbul, plan a visit! Also, be sure to try their scrambled eggs — some of the creamiest (and best) scrambled eggs we have ever tasted!
Every day, Arbor Teas is honored by the patronage of our amazing customers, the dedication of our team, and the support of our community. Every once in a while, however, honor comes from unexpected places. Some of you may have heard by now, but last month Arbor Teas had the special honor of being inducted into the International Green Industry Hall of Fame!
The International Green Industry Hall of Fame (IGIHOF for short), is a non-profit based in California that recognizes individuals and organizations committed to creating a better environment through green practices. After a blind nomination process and a review by their Board of Directors, Arbor Teas was selected for conducting our business with a genuine commitment to environmental stewardship. Other inductees this year included the likes of Interface, Roz Savage, URBEE, Nest, and many more – talk about honorable company!
Two weeks ago, a small contingent of us from Arbor Teas headed to the big island of Hawaii to see what this exciting new tea growing region had to offer. Many suggested that a trip to Hawaii was simply an excuse to dodge the relentless cold and snow of southeastern Michigan’s winter. They were, of course, partly right. But after adding a couple exceptional green teas from Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Tea Farm to our catalog several months ago, we had other motivations, too!
At Arbor Teas, we’re regularly challenged by our customers to track down new and interesting organic teas from exotic locales. At the same time, we’ve seen increasing interest in domestically-grown sources of organic tea. It’s fascinating to think these seemingly opposite trends led us to the same place – aloha, Hawaii!
We are delighted to add two amazing NEW Organic Green Teas from Korea to our catalog! Most people associate green tea with China and Japan, but few know that Korea has an almost 2,000 year old history of tea production and tea culture within its borders. Widely unknown, Korean Green Tea is one of the best kept secrets (shhh!). We are delighted to add these excellent representations of Korea’s top two teas – Organic Woojeon Green Tea and Organic Sejak Green Tea – to our catalog on Valentine’s Day. Who said “green” can’t be the new “red”?! Grown on the volcanic island of Jeju, these organic certified teas are infused with the salty sea breezes and fertile soil of this pristine area of the world.
Organic Korea Woojeon Green Tea
This is an excellent representation of the highest grade of organic green tea from Korea. Plucked in early to mid-April, this tea has a beautiful, smooth cup of concentrated vegetal flavor that lingers in the mouth and evaporates on the mid-tongue. The tight, small dark green leaves have the occasional bright green wisp of a curl that hints at the light yellow, jade-like liquor to come. Its cup is thicker in mouthfeel than our other Korean green tea, Organic Sejak, and represents the most premium of Korean Green Teas.
Organic Korea Sejak Green Tea
More akin to a Japanese green tea flavor profile than a Chinese green tea flavor profile, this Organic Sejak Green Tea has a brothy and boldly vegetal cup that pleasantly lingers in the mouth with smooth, mild astringency. The liquor color reminds of an early spring dandelion and the wet leaves smell of dried straw and cooked asparagus with a brighter and thinner cup than our Organic Woojeon Green Tea. PS – If you like Sencha Green, then try this tea! It is a great alternative for someone looking to replace their Sencha with a new organic tea or want to mix it up.
To ensure delivery by Dec 24 please refer to the following shipping schedule:
USPS Parcel Post
We do not recommend choosing USPS Parcel Post for holiday deliveries
Order by 12 noon EST, Tue, Dec 10
Order by 12 noon EST, Tue, Dec 17
USPS First Class
Order by 12 noon EST, Fri, Dec 20
UPS 2nd Day
Order by 12 noon EST, Fri, Dec 20
Free Delivery in Ann Arbor
Order by 9 am EST, Fri, Dec 20
Also, plan ahead as Arbor Teas will have Reduced Hours for the Holidays: Dec 24, 2013 – Jan 3, 2014:.
Arbor Teas will have reduced hours for the holidays, Tue, Dec 24 – Fri, Jan 3. We will still accept online orders and make shipments during this time, but please plan for a slower turnaround (expect 3-4 days before an order is shipped). Free Delivery in Ann Arbor will continue as planned each Friday during this time period.
Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Holiday and Happy New Year!
Believe it or not the holiday season is just around the corner. This year Arbor Teas is has brought back all of its usual holiday treats plus two new ones:
Our gourmet Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles are back for the holidays! We have offered these tasty little treats during the holiday season for 5 years in a row, brought back each year by popular demand. They are amazing! Each truffle is infused with a different variety of organic tea, carefully matched with the perfect combination of chocolates to highlight the unique characteristics of each. Flavors include: Earl Grey; Coconut Rooibos; Masala Chai; Jasmine; Matcha; and Lapsang Souchong. Available in a 6-pack and 4-pack assortment.
Enjoy sweet and smoky tea infused artisan caramels. Last year we introduced our Tea Infused Caramels based on Olivia May’s most popular recipe from the Arbor Teas Cooking with Tea section. They were a huge hit! In fact, they sold out in the first few weeks forcing Olivia to run back to the kitchen to make more caramels by mid-November. This year, Sweet Gem Confections is re-creating Olivia’s recipe so that we can offer these tasty treats again for the holiday season. Think buttery sweet smoke wrapped in one amazingly gooey and salty caramel!
Organic Holiday Spice Black Tea (NEW — available in decaf too!) A perennial favorite for the holiday season (and only sold in November and December), our organic and Fair Trade Certified Holiday Spice Black Tea is now joined by its decaf companion. Both pair bold organic Indian tea with generous doses of orange, cinnamon and clove flavor! Like all of our flavored blends, our Holiday Spice Black Tea uses only the highest quality organic loose leaf tea, essential oils and botanical ingredients, insuring an excellent cup every time.
New for this holiday season! We have teamed up with our friends at Sweet Gem Confections to create fun and Fabulous Tea Infused Lollipops. Yes, you read that correctly! These unique handmade hard candies make a one of-a-kind gift for yourself or fellow tea lover and contain a concentrated infusion of our organic tea. Available in 3 distinctive “grown-up” flavors (as seen in the photo from left to right): Southern Sweet Tea; Matcha Mint; and Crimson Berry. Sold in sets of 6, every package is tied with a ribbon and includes 2 each of the 3 flavors.
Holiday Gift Sets are Available! Choose between two tea inspired gift sets (regular and deluxe) for the tea lover or the tea novice in your life. The gift sets are tied with a raffia ribbon for a festive touch and shipped in an eco-minded kraft box. Plus, the price already includes a built-in 15% savings!
Arbor Teas customer, Michael, recently made this pair of “goggles” for his son Gideon. To make the goggles Michael re-used the stretchy elastic band that wraps around the Arbor Teas bulk sized packages and an old tea ball with a broken clasp. Michael notes “The goggles have a kind of ‘steam punk’ look to them!” While Gideon wears them for fun and sometimes as eye protection if he is watching his Dad use power tools, we think they could also make an awesome accessory to a Halloween costume!
What is Fair Trade?
Millions of growers and workers worldwide have dedicated themselves to the production of tea. We have their knowledge, skill and artistry to thank for this exquisite product. Most tea is grown and manufactured in developing countries, which often lack fair wages and suitable working conditions. However, the best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that high-quality specialty teas depend on the people and the environment that produce them. Fair Trade Certification verifies and acknowledges the commitment of these producers to meeting internationally recognized Fair Trade standards, which include:
• Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
• Absence of forced or child labor
• Freedom of association and organization
• Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals
• Adherence to national and international labor protections, including those established by the International Labor Organization of the United Nations and, in India, by the Plantation Labor Act
Over the years, we have received many requests for an organic USA-grown green tea. But, unfortunately our search was fruitless because the United States is not an ideal tea growing location. The 5 traditional tea producing nations (China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Taiwan) have specific climates and soils that are perfect for tea growth and production. With the exception of a few successful (and many more unsuccessful) tea gardens on mainland USA, tea production in the USA has been fairly non-existent. Further, an organic certified tea garden has been unheard of.
Recently, Hawaii has begun to make its mark in the tea world. With support from the University of Hawaii, tea production in Hawaii has been encouraged and developed. When we found a USDA Organic Certified tea garden on the Big Island we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Cultivated on the misty slopes of the tallest mountain in the Pacific Ocean, this tea is harvested and manufactured in micro-lots on the Mauna Kea Tea Farm in Hawaii. Its namesake, Mauna Kea (pronounced “MOUN-na KAY-a”), means “white mountain” and provides a rich base of volcanic soil for this small, family-owned tea farm tucked away at 2,000 ft above sea level on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.
Organic Hawaii Premium Green Tea
Handpicked from the newest spring growth and pan-fired, this Premium Hawaiian Organic Green Tea is a work of art. Each dried twist reminds of a bonsai limb artfully created to reveal the whole leaf and bud. The brew is a beautifully clear, light yellow-green that is subtly complex: delicate; smooth; buttery; green; and sweet. Enjoy the slight dryness felt on the backend and note how it becomes more astringent as it cools. A USA-grown green tea that can stand up to its international counterparts — a true delight!
Organic Hawaii Sweet Roast Green Tea
The Organic Sweet Roast Green Tea is selectively harvested, processed, and roasted to accentuate its naturally sweet character, reduce astringency, and add a slight roasted quality that hints at grilled sweet corn. Easy to prepare and easy to drink, the Sweet Roast is a popular drink in Hawaiian Farmer’s Markets and is delicious hot or iced. The wet leaves smell of sweet hay and create a brothy, vegetal cup that has a bright note felt at the back of the throat.
Ann Arbor-based food blogger, Willow Arlen, is the creator of the blog Will Cook For Friends. Willow is a writer, photographer, and lover of food. She started blogging back in 2011 as a way to combine her passions. Her blog has stunning photography and tasty recipes!
Of her Chai Iced Tea Cubes recipe, Willow says: “I love to wrap my hands around a nice hot chai in the winter, but in the summer months I prefer a cooler option. That’s where these super-concentrated chai iced tea cubes come in. Just add a couple cubes to a glass of milk (or dairy-free substitute), and you’ve got a refreshing glass of iced chai tea.”
We think Chai Iced Tea Cubes is simply a brilliant idea!
This blog serves as a more casual forum for news and updates about Arbor Teas, as well as issues related to tea and sustainable living. Check out Arbor Teas for one of the largest selections of organic and Fair Trade Certified teas available!