Leaf Love

Red, white, black or green. Steaming hot or ice cold. Served in cups, pots or glasses. With milk, honey, lemon or sugar. David is crazy about mint. I have always liked mine green. We both love masala chai. Tea is my latest obsession! Everything from the pretty tea bags and the nitty tea pots in beautiful colors, to the scent in a tea store and to choose what goes hand in hand with your mood, feelings or need.

I am also a huge fan of tea salons. When I was 9 months pregnant and couldn’t move, David carried me to the tea salon in our neighborhood, and got me herbal tea and scones. When my mom turned 50, I invited her to a tea salon in Copenhagen, where they made us green Japanese Matcha tea. And the next time I’m having a party, it is definitely going to be a tea party!

During our time here in Asia we have tried so many different teas – Jasmine, Lotus, Artichoke, Rose, Mint, Green Sencha and the beautiful Dragon ball tea, that opens up and becomes a flower. Inspired by all this, we decided to do a blog post about tea. But even though we love to drink it, we are not in any way experts on the subject. So we turned to tea consultant Alexis Siemons, from the lovely blog Teaspoon and Petals, to give us some tips on good equipment, tasty teas, food that pairs well, and her favorite tea spots. Here are her answers:

If you want to go a little further than just a tea bag and a cup of hot water, what kind of equipment do you need to make good tea at home?
There is a simple art to steeping loose tea. While traveling, I often bring a box of individual paper filters. Just fill them with tea, fold over the paper flap to seal, add water, and steep. Although, if you prefer to treat your eyes to the visual delight of the steeping process, I adore using a large or small glass teapots and an infuser. It is truly wonderful to watch the tea leaves dance about as they paint the water. Beyond the paper filter, tea pot and infuser, you’ll need a tea kettle to warm the water (I have a standard kettle on my stove, but am looking intro electric versions that differentiate temperatures for different types of tea). 

Can you recommend five teas that we always should keep at home?
Tea selection is so very personal, but if I were to give a friend 5 teas this is what I would send her at this very moment:
1. Sencha Japanese Green Tea
2. Masala Chai Tea
3. Wen Shan Bao Zhong Oolong Tea
4. Bai Mu Dan White Tea Or White Rose
5. Moroccan Mint

What is your favorite tea right now?
In Philadelphia, we are in seasonal limbo as winter is waving goodbye and spring is skipping in. On the chillier days, I’m still reaching for a lightly roasted oolong tea (Wen Shan Bao Zhong) that is smooth and subtly sweet with floral/nutty notes. It’s truly comforting. Although, I’m looking forward to welcoming a warmer season with a cup of Sencha, a Japanese green tea with a bright, vegetal flavor that reminds me of spring.

What do you prefer to eat with to your tea?
It truly depends on the tea, as I recently started to explore food and tea pairings. I love to nibble on cookies and sweeter treats with malty, rich black teas (Chinese Golden Monkey). While I like to sip lighter, refreshing teas (like a Moroccan Mint Green Tea) after a hearty, spicy meal. White teas are lovely when paired with crackers, as the flavor is often delicate. I even recommend cooking with your tea. I whisked Matcha Japanese green tea powder into grapeseed oil, freshly squeezed orange juice, honey, sea salt and water for a lovely salad dressing served over mixed greens, orange slices and goat cheese. I even steeped thin slices of a sweet potato in oolong tea, and then baked them for a tasty snack with a subtle hint of smoky flavor from the roasted oolong. In fact, my love of tea and food inspired me to create a series on my blog, teaspoons at the table.

Where is your favorite place to go to for good tea?
Even though I often purchase teas online from around the world to steep at home, I enjoy stepping into a local tea shop to see and smell their selection. I’ve learned so much about tea just by talking with shop owners and fellow tea lovers. While in Philadelphia, I can be found at Tbar or Cups & Chairs. Although, when I am visiting my home away from home, New York City, I escape to Radiance Tea House (I love their menu of Wellness Teas). 

Ps. We have finally created a Facebook page for Green Kitchen Stories – where we will show our new posts, previews and answer your questions.

Ps 2. We also wanted to tell you that we were listed in Babble’s Top 100 together with some other amazing bloggers and friends. Thank you Babble!

Ps 3. If you have any other questions about tea, feel free to write them in our comment field and we will try to answer them with some help from Alexis.


  • tunie
    I love green tea as long as long as I only have one cup at a time - more than that puts my nerves on end! Have you tried Japanese barley tea? It's usually served ice cold in summer and it is delicious that way, but I also like it hot for winter - it's nutty and comforting in both seasons.
  • Rudrani
    Hi, I was looking for dragon fruit receipies and just bumped into your blogand no wonder I have already started liking it :). Awesome way to keep the visitors engaged and great presentation. I surely will visit ur blog for more to learn. Simply loved it. You rock :)
  • Love your photos! Especially the overhead shot of all the tea, ware and herbals
  • Laura
    Great post! However I often have had problems when going to a tea shop and asking for tips, do you recommend any good tea shop or tea salon in Stockholm? Thanks!
  • Jessica Sandoval
    Love the post. I love the pot and cup pictured above, where did you get the set?
  • love your blog! and this post it's absolutely TEArrific! take a cuppa on Tea&co. @teuss
  • Really love your blog, recipes, and photos. I used some of your images to promote your lovely blog, hope you don't mind! http://tmcollection.blogspot.com/2011/02/blogs-we-love-green-kitchen-stories.html Keep the good work. Congratulations!
  • thank you for this post. you've inspired me to visit a new tea salon that's opened in Sydney.
  • Valeria
    Lovely photos as usual (: How refreshing to see a post about tea. I enjoy it so much, yet never noticed there's a whole world of teas to explore outside the usual Earl Grey and Queen Mary. Can't wait to start trying new flavors. Congratulations on making it to Babble's top 100!
  • Amanda
    Fantastic post! I look forward to testing out the teas you suggest! I am also a recovering Mariage Freres addict.
  • Å vilken härlig post om te! Jättefint o bra blev det ju. Men måste säga att det bästa teet ja drack i Thailand va de jag drack med dig ;) även det som kostade 200 bath haha
    • Hahaha ja det var gott! Tack söta, snart får vi dricka massor med te tillsammans :) /Luise
  • Love tea :) Those photos are stunning...so amazingly pleasing to the eye :)
  • george
    Hi Alexis, I wonder if you have a good and simple recipe for ice tea, that you could share (and which tea to use)? They tend to either be too bitter or too sweet for me. And David & Luise, gorgeous photos!
    • Hi George, Here is a post that I wrote about throwing an iced tea party, with iced tea tips http://teaspoonsandpetals.typepad.com/teaspoons-petals/2010/07/my-entry.html Best of luck with your chilly sips of tea. Let me know if you have any other questions.
  • what gorgeous photos...what a gorgeous site! so glad i found you.
  • My parents are from India, so when I was growing up I had a cup of milky black tea every morning-- made with black tea leaves and steeped with ginger and honey. Since then, though, I've expanded my tea repertoire quite a bit-- and this is such a beautiful and informative post! It's interesting that Alexis mentioned favoring different teas during different seasons-- I definitely find myself doing the same thing! P.S. I tried your recipe for "World's Greatest Vegetable Lasagna" when visiting my parents over the weekend-- it was a big hit and I'm sure it's destined to become a family favorite!
    • Wow, Thank you Squill! Glad everyone liked it! Say hi to your family from us, we love India and their black tea, lucky you!! /Luise
  • Lillemor
    Så fin bloggen blev!! Min favorit när jag provsmakade var Dragon Ball tea!
  • Fantastic post! I ADORE tea, in fact I have a massive collection of different teas for all occasions. It's soothing, warming and delicious and I love curling up with a cup when it's cold or sipping iced tea on hot days. I love your photos, absolutely beautiful! By the way, artichoke tea sounds interesting. Never had that one before.
  • Thank you so much for your kind words David, much appreciated! I am a huge tea fan myself so this post was perfect! :-) xx
  • Hello David, Luise and Elsa. Great post, great blog, great spirit, great bloggers, great photography! All the best.
  • Janet
    Hi Alexis, how long time do you usually let your green tea steep? A friend told me that it is only supposed to steep for a minute. But I have read somewhere else that it is supposed to steep for a long time. Now I don't know what to believe?
    • Hi Janet, It's best to steep green teas for about one minute. Also, make sure that your water temperature is 170-180ºF (If you bring it to a boil, let it cool for 5 minutes).
  • It's so funny, because me and my hubby have been addicted to herbal teas for a year now. But I guess it's a good kind of addiction, so it's not bad at ll.. hehe:) Thank you for this informative post, and the pictures you guys take are just always SO BEAUTIFUL! :) Roiboos vanilla tea is definitely one of my fave and also the dragon ball teas! We always use that trick to entertain our guests. We drop one in a clear kettle and then everyone is always to amazed to see it open up in hot water into a flower. :) xx Mimi
  • Julia E
    What gorgeous photos (as always)! You've written about a topic near and dear to my heart! The blossoming teas make such beautiful table decorations when inside a clear glass teapot at the table. One of my favourite teas is the Marco Polo from Mariage Freres, and I highly recommend it as a must-try. And I definitely agree on sencha. I used to buy a beautiful sencha rose tea back in Australia. I usually buy tea whenever I travel, and I have a collection that is far too large! I'd love to know your thoughts on the best way to store teas. I have some in tins, some in heavy-duty bags that seal, and some in lined paper bags. I'd also love to hear any recommendations on books about tea. I've been wondering about purchasing a copy of _The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook_. Thanks!
    • Hi Julia, A sencha rose tea sounds like the perfect steep to welcome spring! In terms of storing tea, it's best kept in lined/sealed bags or air tight tins away from light, heat and moisture to preserve its freshness (try this tin http://www.chicagoteagarden.com/buy/tea-storage/airtight-tea-tin). I'll have to think more about your question on tea books (my tea library is slowly growing), but I've heard wonderful things about The Tea Enthusiast's Handbook. Also, a friend just recommended A Tea Lover's Travel Diary: Phoenix Single-Tree Oolong Tea Tie Kuan Yin Oolong Tea (http://www.amazon.com/Tea-Lovers-Travel-Diary-Single-Tree/dp/0982654006). p.s. looking forward to trying Marco Polo tea.
    • Julia E
      Thank you, Alexis, for such a quick response! I appreciate it and will investigate the things you mentioned. Don't blame me when you get addicted to the (not exactly inexpensive!) Marco Polo tea! Just about everything from Mariage Freres is delightful.
  • As usual, a beautiful post with gorgeous photos! And I'm so happy to see the new Facebook page. Gave it a big "Like"!
  • Susan
    Just found your blog. I am looking forward to spending some time with it today. Beautiful!
  • I love this post!! I am new to tea and this post is absolutely perfect for me. Oh, and a tea party?!? Couldn't think of anything better :)

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