Tag Archives: Kenya

My Tea and Sweets Cafe’

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Good things come to those who wait! All in good time….. Sayings that I have ingrained into my existence. I knew when I started my ‘TEA’ experience, there would be hills to climb, obstacles to surpass, and trials and tribulations – so goes life! After all, I was embarking on the adventure of tea –  a tonic that has been around since the Shang Dynasty as a medicinal drink, dating to the 3rd century AD. Drinking tea became popular in Britain during the 17th century. To enter the Tea World – one must pay respect and some dues.

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When I completed my degree from UNT, I was elated, mostly because now, finally – now, I could dedicate my time to my new tea venture – 9 Lives Tea House. The website had been designed and a preliminary launch was accomplished in 2014. E-commerce has been a rough learning curve. The technology expands and adjusts at a lightening pace. I have been ‘technically’ challenged, or technically hesitant, however you wish to look at it. My website – although secure and sound for today’s mobile market, already needs a major upgrade and revision. One I am about to undertake….. all in good time.. lol

My ultimate dream in the tea world was to take 9 Lives to a physical presence – a brick and mortar, where I can offer the tea experience to my clients and share what I have learned about this delightful indulgence. I have tried many times to secure the perfect location to open my tea shop. Every time, there was something in the way; the timing was not right, someone else won the bid, the owner of the ‘perfect’ building decided to sell it instead of lease. I met with frustration at every turn. But, I am not one to give up easily, after all – there was the ‘all in good time’ part of my mantra.

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Well – last week, my opportunity finally came! A building I had been looking at and wishing to acquire for 10 years – became available for lease. An 1800’s building in Old Pilot Point Square, formerly an antique store, will now become my first Tea House. In addition, I am in the process of acquiring a well-established candy business – another long-time dream from my childhood. Words cannot describe how excited, hopeful, and blessed I feel about the opportunity before me.

Though it will take me a bit to get it all set up, I hope to open my new tea and sweets shop early 2018. If I can at all make it happen – perhaps by Christmas Season 2017, but it has taken me this long to get to this point, a few months is not too much longer to wait.

And – with that – my third and fourth mantras:

Patience is a virtue!

and then,

On to the next!

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Watch for my formal announcement and in the meantime, ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ – everyone, tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames

9 Lives Tea House and Candy Shoppe

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What’s New at the Zoo?

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Well, well – back from the Tea Expo and back into an insanely rushed 5 week course at UNT. But, I had to get it done. I am a bit late with the news and review for the Expo, but here goes. It was marvelous – of course! The new venue in Long Beach was a nice change from the awful hot of Las Vegas. It was really nice that after three years, folks on the show floor actually recognized me from previous Expo’s. I took that as a good sign. I am always amazed at the new items and niche items the vendors bring for display. There was some outstanding packaging ideas – which I have been seeking, and some delicious products such as icing made from tea and herbals by The Modern Girl Tea group! Those girls were busy dishing out the samples. It took me three days to get to the booth, but it was well worth it. ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? There is always new tea maker products and this year the vendor with the crowd was Alpha Dominche with their Steampunk Tea Brewing System. I just might have to get me one of those….. Here is a YouTube link for the ‘Steampunk Machine’. This is demonstrated for coffee, but the system can be used for tea as well. Since tea  – good tea – requires brewing at the correct temperature and for the correct length of time to enjoy the tea at its best, this system is really cool.

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The educational courses offered this year were top-notch. I enjoyed a class with Scott Svihula, Tea-smith, China Mist Tea Company about problems that can happen in the process and handling of tea that seriously effect the taste. Scott’s courses are always outstanding and I learned much about identifying the processing errors. The Expo is never complete without taking a Legal Course for all of the new rules, regulations, and laws that affect the tea industry. This course was presented magnificently by Mr. Dan Dwyer of Partner, Kleinfeld, Kaplan and Becker. If this is the only class I can attend, it always has something new that affects the tea business and as a retailer, new regulations we must follow for advertising and labeling our products. I think though, I have to say my favorite course this year was the Pairing Cheese and Chocolate with Tea taught by Chef Robert Weischner. It was one of the most informative and educational for this year and for the future of our tea business. I will be incorporating these tastings in my product presentations going forward!

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For those of us who may find goat cheese a bit ‘strong’, paired with the right tea, that bite is lessened and a good goat or blue cheese is very enjoyable. Of course my mind was running faster than I could keep up with in ideas for doing Tea Parties using chocolates and cheeses. I will have to work on the format for that one. There is a new coffee-house opening in Pilot Point, Texas that may be interested in hosting these pairing parties – we shall have to look into that possibility.

The World Tea Tour – with tastings involving 25+ teas from 7 countries, is always a delightful way of starting the program. I can never hear enough from folks like: Jane Pettigrew, Rona Tison, and Thomas Shu and his lovely wife.

My stay on The Queen Mary was great – except for the fire drill about 5:00pm on Saturday – that was a bit strange. But, the ship does have her own stories of ‘odd happenings’.

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Well – back to work! 9 Lives Tea House is making a huge leap! We are in the process of developing our own label of teas. We will let you know when they are ready to ship. It has been a long-time coming, but we are finally ready to take the leap.

In the meantime – ‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ – Everyone, Tip Those Tea Cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

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Be a Tea Fashionista!

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???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Tea is trendy! Tea is hip! Tea is cool! Tea is replacing coffee as the go to ‘it’ drink. And why not? One doesn’t have to follow the crowd. One can ‘try on’ many different styles, colors, and flavors. Tea is an elegant drink; the drink of kings and queens, emperors, and lords and ladies. Tea is a casual drink – it’s the perfect ‘take a break’ drink, afternoon drink, and a great compliment to an evening dessert. Tea can sooth a sore throat and settle an upset stomach. And best of all – who can resist a tall, cool, refreshing glass of iced tea in the hot summer. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Tea is one of those beverages that can lift you away to different countries and cultures. With each sip, you can experience China, Sri Lanka, or Nepal. Even though the tea leaves come from the same plant, each region and climate create unique and individual flavors and tastes. Even the processing technique used makes for many flavor variations.

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Some people are tea purists – preferring the least amount of processing possible, brewing mildly processed tea leaves. Others prefer blends – combining different regions or adding an organic botanical to the tea leaves such as lavender, mint, or cinnamon. Then there are some people who choose to forgo tea leaves all together and simply brew herbal combinations. What ever your choice – enjoy with pride! It is your unique you! Your unique style!

Tea allows a person to be adventurous. With each variety, new flavors dance off your taste buds. You will experience grassy, floral, and smoky flavors. Some varieties inspire memories of  fresh-cut grass, aged hay, fields of wild flowers, and the woods after a spring rain. The liquors’ range in colors is just as wide as its flavors; from pale green to sunny yellow, burnt orange and bold, rich, browns. Tea can transport you to any country or beloved area of your memory in just one cup. Wear your Tea choice with pride! It defines your style!

With tea – you will never be out of style! And just think – as the seasons – and the fashions, change, you can move along to try on the newest designer blend to see if it fits your unique style and personality. So, Drink Up! – the 2014 season is just starting!

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‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

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The DANGERS of being a Tea Proprietor

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Tea – it sounds benign and all, but little do you all know that once you have been bitten by the tea bug, it holds you under its spell. I thought coffee was addicting and it is – that caffeine rush in the morning to wake you up and get you started on your day. The thing I do not like so much is the coffee jitters from that caffeine. And though there are various roasts – coffee pretty much tastes the same, like – coffee!

Now tea, it has caffeine also, but you can find decaffeinated and herbal blends that are caffeine free. The dangers with tea is that it comes in so many glorious flavors. There are thousands of blends and combinations one can create with just a little ingenuity. There are floral, fruity, and spicy; white teas, green teas, and black teas; Christmas blends, dessert blends, and morning blends, and heck – they even have blooming flower teas! There are more combinations than any one person can count. And all one needs is a little imagination and the will to be creative.

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And there in lies the danger of being a tea proprietor. You place your order with the tea distributor with all good intentions of receiving the tea or blend and selling this wonderful product to your devoted and loyal customers. You order one pound, then 5 pounds, then on to the 10 pound bags of your favorite teas. With each shipment comes “Quality Control”. To be a proper business – one must open, inspect, smell, and then ‘taste’ or sample each order – just to be sure it meets your standards. Quality Assurance requires that you select samples of your bulk order and retain them for future testing if the need arises. I am familiar with all of these rules from my days as a QA/QC manager in a product development lab, so I select, catalog, label, and then place in storage a sample of every tea that comes through our door.

Even though I know the rules, I find that those samples call to me. And lets face it – they make a great ‘personal’ stash of your favorite teas. Before you know it – the samples have disappeared and more samples are needed.  This continues until you find that you have confiscated the entire bag – 1 lb., 5 lb., and even 10 pounds for your own use. You justify your addiction with phases like – “I’m going to use this for my free samples” , and “This will last me the entire year!”.  Before you know it, you are calling your supplier and ordering more, knowing deep down that with the new arrival, the process starts all over again!

Being in the tea business is hard! And from one who enjoys the product so much – expensive!

Oh well – I guess there could be worse indulgences. I could be addicted to chocolate – which in my personal opinion would be much worse. And – besides, I can always find a chocolate tea for that addiction if I needed to!

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To all of my fellow Tea Addicts – it’s OK – we can start a support group – order our favorite teas and just brew away! After all – it’s Winter! and all of the new varieties and new blends are just coming available! Until then…..

‘Find Your Zen and Do The Brew’ Everyone tip those tea cups!

Judith A. Ames

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas

 

Ajiri Tea is coming to 9 Lives Tea House!

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kenyanmapLet me introduce you to Ajiri Black Tea from Kenya. I first met these wonderful folks when I attended the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas, 2012. I  made a point of visiting their booth at the World Tea Expo, 2013. Their mission is more than admirable and I knew I had to include this tea and support this project once we launched 9 Lives Tea’s website.

Ajiri Tea comes to us from Kenya. Their mission is two-fold; to create employment for the women of western Kenya and to educate orphans by paying school fees, purchasing books, uniforms and the supplies they will need while attending school. Kenya has been hard hit by HIV/AIDS and many of the orphans are either under the care of single parents, grandparents, or other caregivers. The education is free, but families are still responsible or the students school supplies. Many of the secondary schools are boarding schools and along with their school supplies, students are required to bring their own mattresses, and basins for drinking water and to wash their clothes. The average fees range from $625-$800 per year.

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The beautiful packaging immediately catches your eye. I learned that each label was hand-made by the ladies in Kenya from dried banana tree bark. Each is a work of art. According to their brochure, Ajiri, which means ‘to employ’ in Swahili, currently has 5 women’s groups totaling 60 plus women creating the labels for Ajiri Tea Company. Each box contains 16 tea bags that are tied off dried banana bark twine and beads made from recycled magazine paper – all made by the ladies.

kenyancrafts-women     Ajiri Tea is grown by small-scale farmers in western Kenya. The farmers grow the tea on small, 1-2 acre farms in the Kisii Highlands. The leaves are hand-picked, placed in baskets, and then carried to the community tea-buying center. The tea is then brought to the factory and is processed through withering, cut, then oxidized, dried and sorted. All profits are returned to the communities to  be used for the children’s education expenses.  Ajiri black tea is bold with a rich-flavor and has the certification of the Rainforest Alliance.

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9 Lives Tea House is excited to add this tea to its selection and to support the work of the Ajiri Foundation. Please visit their site at www.ajirifoundation.org for more information.

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Judith A. Ames-Hardman

9 Lives Tea House

The Great State of Texas