Tag Archives: San Francisco

Review of Red Blossom Tea Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Tea tasting equipment at Red Blossom Tea Company in San Francisco. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the current Secretary of State, was in the Bay Area last week conducting fundraisers, and stopped off in San Francisco to meet Mayor Ed Lee at Red Blossom Tea Co. in Chinatown. They enjoyed a tea tasting with tea shop owner Alice Luong, and Secretary Clinton purchased a cup of tea to take with her, and some loose tea as well. According to Luong, Clinton “asked quite a lot of questions” about technical aspects of tea brewing, like proper water temperature, and seemed to be a regular tea drinker who prefers “stronger, darker tea.”

Red Blossom Tea Company is one of several tea shops in San Francisco’s Chinatown along Grant Avenue, which offer informal tea tastings for free, as well as more formal tastings, like the one Clinton and Lee enjoyed, for a fee. The shop is a traditional Chinese tea shop, with lots of wood tones, red and black in the decor. The company specializes in fine oolongs and other rare teas; I tasted a few teas when I was there several years ago with friends, and purchased their Orange Blossom Phoenix Oolong. Continue reading


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Filed under Events, Product Reviews, Tea Tasting, Tips, Vendors and Shops

San Francisco International Tea Festival returns to the Bay Area in November

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Francisco International Tea Festival banner from 2012. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The 3rd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival is scheduled for Sunday, November 16 at 10 a.m. Held at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, the festival is a gathering of tea vendors other related business owners, along with tea scholars and tea drinkers from all over California.  The festival website reads: “Discover teas straight from local and global producers, Free swag bag includes your very own teacup to savor tea market offerings, Taste hundreds of different types of tea, Connect with five of the biggest names in tea, Learn how each cup of tea can be a different experience, Enjoy a meal and shopping in the Historic Ferry Building Marketplace, Live music by local artists.”

The event features an exhibit hall where the industry participants offer free samples of some of their tea products, along with tea, tea books, and tea equipment for sale.  There are formal tea tastings and educational lectures from tea experts like the Imperial Tea Court’s Roy Fong, and popular tea and food author and speaker James Norwood Pratt.  Well-known local tea brands are represented among the vendors, including Harney & Sons, Ito En, and The Republic of Tea.  The teas that are featured are high-quality, almost all loose-leaf, with a focus on unflavored teas, and tea as a beverage, rather than “Tea” as a social event.

The event will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the 16th; admission is $25 per person, which gets you into the main exhibit hall, and perhaps into the lectures, although the formal tea tastings are first-come-first-served and cost $5 each.  Tickets can be purchased from the festival website, and may also be available at the door on the day of the festival.  Each attendee also receives a gift bag with more tea samples from the vendors, a special tea tasting cup to use at the festival, and contact information for all the vendors at the festival.

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2nd Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival comes to the Bay Area

San Francisco International Tea Festival welcome banner

San Francisco International Tea Festival welcome banner

The San Francisco International Tea Festival, open to tea lovers outside the professional tea trade, has succeeded for the second year in a row. Housed in the historic Ferry Building in San Francisco, the festival sold out before the event began, in its first year (2012), and was similarly popular this past weekend. Attendees received a small bag of promotional handouts, a few samples of tea, and an official tasting cup, at the festival entrance.

Tea vendors from all over the United States, and some international tea merchants, set up exhibits of their newest and most popular products and offered tastings of their teas to the attendees. Experts, including San Francisco’s Roy Fong of Imperial Tea Court, and James Norwood Pratt, author of The Tea Lover’s Treasury and other books, gave lectures and hosted private tea tastings. Various vendors downstairs in the Ferry Building Marketplace featured tea-related products as well, and tea books and magazines were offered for sale in the festival area as well as the Ferry Building Marketplace’s permanent bookstore. Authors James Norwood Pratt and Babette Donaldson, author of the Emma Lea’s Tea series of children’s books, were available for autographs.

While the festival was a really fun and interesting event, it is still in its “baby” phase when it comes to certain aspects, like pricing and tickets. It cost $20 per person to attend, but the attendance fee didn’t cover any of the lectures or private tea tastings, which were $5 each, and then a $5 processing fee was added to each ticket, and a $2.50 processing fee added to each lecture or tea tasting cost. Paying $25 to get in to see 16 exhibitors and vendors – and do nothing else but shop – is a bit steep for a lot of those who aren’t making money from tea! People were also disappointed that it cost a minimum of $32.50 just to get in and attend a 30-minute to one-hour lecture or tea tasting, because the increased cost wasn’t publicized until you got to the online ticket order form.

Tickets were sold through an online service from the San Francisco International Tea Festival website, and the service had several bugs in its workings that made it difficult for some people to purchase their tickets: it wouldn’t process some credit card transactions, and charged some people twice for the same event. The service also wouldn’t accept PayPal or any other type of payment, and it prevented me from purchasing my own ticket! Last year they only provided for 1,000 tickets – and had to turn some people away – and this year’s attendance seemed about the same or a bit less.

All in all, however, the San Francisco International Tea Festival is a great event for Bay Area tea-lovers, and it’s small enough that you can see everything in about 2 hours. It is easily accessible by BART (Embarcadero station) and MUNI, and while it takes 2 hours to get there from San Jose on public transportation, the festival makes for a fun day out in The City, meeting and chatting with other local tea lovers. The festival is expected to return to The City in 2014, and it looks like the organizers are limiting attendance to 1,000 tickets, so buy yours as soon as they go on sale next year!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my other blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
Ferry Building Marketplace website
2012 San Francisco International Tea Festival
James Norwood Pratt website
Imperial Tea Court website
Babette Donaldson website
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival – accessible to San Jose tea lovers”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival: Feb. 25”
“Where to buy books about tea in San Jose”
“5 books that should be on the tea-lover’s bookshelf”

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Tea savories are at home on the Super Bowl buffet table

Gingerbread football cookies.  Image: MorgueFile.com

Gingerbread football cookies. Image: MorgueFile.com

All of San Jose is excited for Super Bowl XLVII because local favorites, the San Francisco 49ers, are playing for the championship! While tea-lovers who aren’t also football fans may want to escape to another room, or to another building altogether – such as one of San Jose’s tea shops – when the game starts, there are many tea table savories that are equally suitable for the game day buffet table;  look in your tea party pantry and see what you can use!  Tea-loving football fans can brew up a sturdy black tea like an English Breakfast, or even add tea leaves to their barbecue spice rub, that will pair well with the strongly-flavored foods on the buffet table, and enjoy one of San Jose’s unofficial holidays, “Super Bowl Sunday.”

Show your support for the San Francisco 49ers with red and gold-colored foods, as well as the themed napkins, paper plates and team memorabilia that decorate every fan’s home. For example: make a chicken salad with honey mustard, and serve it in mini red Bell pepper cups. Make grilled cheese and bell pepper finger sandwiches on sourdough bread. Make a fruit salad with lots of bananas, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or maraschino cherries for color.  Or, try an old California recipe from 1915, invented for the San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exposition. If you have a food processor, it’s a really quick addition, too:

Fry six thin rounds of bread. Chop three tablespoons of cold chicken or ham and two anchovies, and pound to a paste. Add a tablespoon of thick cream and season with chile powder. Then spread on the toast. Sprinkle with grated cheese and brown in the oven.
— from The Pan-Pacific Cookbook: Savory Bits from the World’s Fare by L.L. McLaren.

In more modern terms the recipe could look like this:

6 slices sandwich bread
1 cup cooked chicken or ham, chopped
2 anchovies, boned
1 tablespoon heavy cream, plus extra
1 teaspoon chile powder
grated cheese, to taste

Toast or pan-fry the bread on both sides until browned and crisp. Use a 1-inch round cookie or biscuit cutter to cut at least 2 rounds from each slice of bread. Set aside. Add chicken and anchovies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until ground to a paste. Add a tablespoon of cream and the chile powder to the meat and process, adding more cream as necessary to make a spreadable, but not runny paste. Spread the meat paste on the toast rounds. Sprinkle with grated cheese and broil until the cheese is melted and browned to your liking. Makes about 6 servings.

This makes a quick, easy, and slightly healthier addition to all those hot wings, jalapeno poppers and chips that will be on your game day buffet table. If you use cheddar cheese, and garnish with paprika or roasted red pepper, it will even be a red-and-gold colored appetizer! Other traditional tea savories like sausage rolls and smoked salmon finger sandwiches would also appeal to the beer-drinkers, and you can make iced tea punches and spritzers with fruit juice and carbonated water for the kids and those who want an alternative to beer. Go ‘9ers!

Copyright 2013, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, The Cup That Cheers, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea or Pinterest!

For more information:
“How to incorporate tea into your Super Bowl party”
“Super Bowl Super Fan: New Orleans Tea cocktail from The Spice and Tea Exchange”
“Super Bowl ‘tea’”
“What should I keep in the pantry for tea parties?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Give an open house with a tea buffet for your favorite graduate”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”
“Bottled tea may contain fewer antioxidants than freshly brewed tea”
“Barbecue with tea”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Menu tip: 5 teas for San Jose’s beer fans”
“Use tea in refreshing fruit spritzers”
San Francisco 49ers Menu from Epicurious
Super Bowl recipes from the NFL blog
Easy Bacon Cream Cheese Roll-ups recipe
San Francisco recipes from Allrecipes.com

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Filed under Holiday, Party Ideas, Recipes, Tea, Tips

Downton Abbey Season 3 comes to the Bay Area

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James.  Creative Commons 2.0

Highclere Castle, the setting for _Downton Abbey_ Series 3. Photo: John James. Creative Commons 2.0

The BBC’s hit Downton Abbey returns to PBS on January 6, 2013, and will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on Sundays until February 17th. Local tea and history-lovers are planning to make a special event of watching the first episode of Season 3, and today KQED is holding a free preview and tea at their headquarters in San Francisco, which is about 45 minutes northwest of San Jose. *Note: the KQED website has been updated with information about Season 4.*

The KQED website reads: “You’re invited to join KQED and Downton Abbey fans on Saturday, January 5, 2013 for tea and an exclusive sneak preview screening of Season 3, Episode 1. Celebrate the return of the Grantham clan as the English country estate enters a new era post-WWI.”

What: KQED Downton Abbey Season 3 Preview
Where: At the KQED headquarters: 2601 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA
When: Saturday, January 5, 2013, 2pm (2pm Tea, 3pm Screening) – RSVP
Cost: FREE, but Space is limited. RSVP required for you and one guest; R.S.V.P. by visiting their Eventbrite page.

If you miss the KQED event today, next weekend there will be a lecture and tea in Woodside, at the Woodside Library, which is about 35 minutes northwest of San Jose. The library website reads: “Come learn about the world of Downton Abbey! In a fascinating illustrated lecture, DiAnn Ellis covers everything from the real Highclere Castle where the popular PBS series is filmed; to the beautiful Worth gowns; to the real work day of a person in service. Questions and tea and cookies will follow the program.”

What: Downton Abbey Culture event
Where: at the Woodside Library, 3140 Woodside Rd., Redwood City, CA 94062. For more information or to R.S.V.P., call (650) 851-0147
When: Saturday, Jan 12, 2013 1 p.m.
Cost: FREE, but space is limited. Please R.S.V.P.

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The first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival.

The Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

The first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival last weekend was a success! All available tickets sold out ahead of time, and the upstairs hall and conference rooms at the Ferry Building were full of Bay Area tea-lovers attending the lectures, tea ceremonies, tea demonstrations and other activities. The guests were greeted at the door by the Festival staff, who collected the tickets and exchanged them for a gift bag containing a handful of tea samples, brochures from tea vendors, and an official tasting cup with the San Francisco International Tea Festival logo.

Roy Fong, founder of Imperial Tea Court, and Norwood Pratt, celebrated

Roy Fong and Norwood Pratt opening the San Francisco International Tea Festival, 2012. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

tea author and speaker, opened the festival with informative and humorous speeches. Young women from the Yunnan region of China appeared in traditional dress to hand out beaded pendant necklaces for good luck, and the vendors began their tea tastings. Attendees went from booth to booth viewing the tea and other products from around 15 tea companies, tasting the various teas and other foods, including tea-infused ginger ale and  chocolates. Meanwhile, the various lectures and demonstrations began, including “The History of Tea in the United States” with Norwood Pratt, “The Great Teas of China” with Roy Fong, “The Healing Power of Green Tea” with author Ying Compestine, “Green Teas of Japan” with Rona Tison of ITO EN, “Great Teas of India” with Devan Shah of International Tea Importers, “Northern Japanese Tea Report” with Masahiro Takada from Kyoto, and “Rooibos, the Wonder Herb from South Africa” with Kristina Richens from The Republic of Tea.

Tea smoked mushrooms on crostini from the "Cooking with Tea" demonstration. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

As for demonstrations, many vendors offered samples and exhibitions of their products; Roy Fong led a Gongfu Tea Ceremony, and Masahiro Takada led two Chakabuki Japanese Tea Ceremonies. There was also a book signing with Babette Donaldson upstairs in the conference hall, and with Norwood Pratt, Scott Chamberlin Hoyt, and Phil Cousineau at Book Passage, a book store downstairs in the marketplace. A few cooking demonstrations, including “Cooking with Tea” with chef and author Robert Wemischner, were on the schedule, as was a screening of the documentary The Meaning of Tea.

Harney & Sons Fine Teas. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

Lectures and demonstrations were standing-room only, and there was even a bit of a snafu when a group of people entering the tea ceremony room were surprised to discover, despite the announcement at the opening of the festival and the notice in the program, that they had to sign up in advance for the tea ceremonies and couldn’t just go in early and sit down! However, there were plenty of things to do, with the festival happening on the same day as the farmer’s market with all the market vendors open as well. The space given to the tea festival was a little smaller than I had anticipated, but the organizers didn’t know what to expect from the first International Tea Festival in San Francisco, so next year’s festival will surely be bigger. The tea celebrities were very accessible, especially the authors signing their books, which made it easy to chat with them one-on-one. All the tickets sold out in advance, so that’s a good sign that there will be a second San Francisco International Tea Festival in 2013!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
“San Francisco International Tea Festival happens this Saturday!”
“San Francisco International Tea Festival: February 25, 2012”
“1st Annual San Francisco International Tea Festival” review from Tantalizing Tidbits blog
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“How to prepare matcha tea”
“Review: Orange Blossom 100% White Tea from The Republic of Tea”
Imperial Tea Court
James Norwood Pratt, Tea Society
Ying Chang Compestine
International Tea Importers
The Republic of Tea
“Gongfu (Chinese) tea ceremony, 2011 World Tea Expo” video on Youtube
Babette Donaldson
Scott Chamberlin Hoyt interview
The Meaning of Tea project website
Phil Cousineau website
Robert Wemischner Cooking with Tea book webpage
“Spring soba salad with matcha tea-marinated tofu” recipe from Chef Wemischner, presented at the tea festival

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San Francisco International Tea Festival: February 25, 2012

San Francisco International Tea Festival tasting cup.

The San Jose area is becoming more and more a part of the tea world! Not only do we have the Winter Fancy Food Show, which includes tea vendors and products, and the Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival, but on February 25th the first annual San Francisco International Tea Festival will be open to the public as well as those in the tea trade. $20 gets you admission to the event, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ferry Building. The Ferry Building is most famous for housing an indoor public market, and it’s less than an hour from San Jose by car, and also accessible by BART.

The convention hall will be full of tea exhibitions, vendors, and authors, and will feature tea celebrities James Norwood Pratt, Roy Fong, Devan Shah, Masahiro Takada, and Mike Spillane. Lectures, classes, tea tastings, demonstrations, and more will make the hours fly for those who attend this convention. For more information, visit the website, or send a S.A.S.E. to:

San Francisco International Tea Festival
P.O. Box 2137
Nevada City, CA 95959

The festival organizers recommend that everyone purchase their tickets in advance, because they may not have them available at the door. They have also been holding ticket sweepstakes for the past few weeks, so visit their Facebook page for information about the one going on now. Keep your eyes on the San Jose Tea Examiner column for a full write-up of the San Francisco International Tea Festival!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea

For more information:
San Francisco International Tea Festival website
S. F. I. T. Festival schedule
S. F. I. T. Festival exhibitors
San Francisco International Tea Festival page on Facebook
S. F. I. T. Festival ticket sweepstakes page on Facebook
“San Francisco International Tea Festival” article on the C.U.E.S.A. site
“A la carte: San Francisco’s first ever tea festival, plus Republic of Tea turns 20” from the Mercury News.
Winter Fancy Food Show
World Tea Expo
Berkeley Coffee & Tea Festival
Los Angeles International Tea Festival
Northwest Tea Festival
“San Jose’s Satori Tea Company going to the World Tea Expo” 
“Global tea culture” from the Bon Teavant blog


Filed under Events, Health, History, Tea, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

San Jose’s Asian New Year celebrations call for tea!

Small Chinese teapot. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach

San Jose’s large Asian community enthusiastically celebrates the lunar New Year with nighttime firecracker explosions, dance, music, and of course, traditional foods and tea with family. Bring your tea with you by filling up your favorite travel mug with tea instead of coffee, or go tea tasting first.  Here are some Bay Area Asian New Year celebrations that you can attend:

Jan. 21-22: Vietnamese Tet Festival.  San Jose’s 30th Tet Festival will take place at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds with a wide variety of activities including lion dances, crafts, fashion shows and photography, as well as food booths. Tickets are $12 per adult or $8 per child, and parking is $10.

Jan. 22: Lion Dance Performance: Enjoy a live performance by the Far East Dragon Lion Dancers in celebration of the new year in the Seasons Marketplace at Landess shopping center in Milpitas. The performance is free and begins at 1 p.m.

Jan. 22: Free Street Fair in Foster City: The Foster City Parks and Recreation Department will transform the William E. Walker Recreation Center into a traditional Chinese street fair with musical, acrobatic and lion dance performances, a tea ceremony, martial arts, calligraphy, brush painting, storytelling, and Chinese-opera-style face painting from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The 12 Chinese zodiac animal characters will be there to greet children.

Jan. 28: Penmanship Contest in Milpitas: Milpitas Community Chinese School, which usually holds Saturday classes, will have no classes Jan. 28 in order to host a penmanship contest, during which students compete in calligraphy as part of the school’s Chinese New Year celebration.

Jan. 28-29: Crafts and Shows at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose: Children can watch cultural performances and receive hands-on lessons on traditional Chinese crafts for the weekend, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Feb. 4: Spring Festival Silicon Valley: The Chinese Performing Arts of America will present a musical, “Legend of the Dragon,” as well as dances, magic and martial arts at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25, $38, $50 and $100 with a 40 percent discount for seniors and children. Call 408-973-8276 for tickets.

Feb. 4: Free Museum Day, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. , at the San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S Market St., San Jose. Featuring Traditional Lion Dance by Rising Phoenix Lion Dance Association, Dance performance by Sukyung Choi’s Korean Dance Academy, Cultural crafts, hands-on activities, family fun, and more!  http://www.yelp.com/events/san-jose-free-museum-day-lunar-new-year

Feb. 11: San Francisco Parade: Now sponsored by Southwest Airlines, the San Francisco tradition that started right after the Gold Rush will bring out over 100 units this year, including a 250-foot golden dragon carried by a team of over 100 men and women throughout the streets of San Francisco. The parade, starting at 6 p.m., will be broadcast on KTVU Fox 2 and KTSF Channel 26.

January 2012 to February 2013 is the year of the Dragon, and those who follow the Zodiac consider Dragon years to be the luckiest.  Whether you forsee the same luck for San Jose that they do, you can still take the opportunity to enjoy some traditional Asian treats, like Tea Marbled Eggs, dim sum dishes, and plenty of tea.  What with the recent week of rain and wind, we could all use the warmth and hydration contained in multiple pots of hot tea!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read?  Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea

For more information:
“Celebrate Chinese New Year with dim sum and tea!”
Chinese Lunar New Year Calendar and Zodiac Animals
Patch Guide to Lunar New Year Celebrations
Chinese Marbled Tea Egg recipe
“Tea 101: what is pu-erh tea?”
“Chinese black tea in San Jose”
“Where to buy Chinese tea in the San Jose area”
“Tea-tasting San Jose area day trips: San Francisco’s Chinatown”
“Review: Vital Tea Leaf Angel green tea and Siberian Rose tisane”
“Japanese tea from San Jose’s Japantown”
“Chinese oolong tea in San Jose”
“Tea bricks: what are they and should they be used?”
“What are the different kinds of green tea available in San Jose?”
“Bubble tea: one of San Jose’s most popular drinks”

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Filed under Events, Health, History, Holiday, Party Ideas, Tips

Winter Fancy Food Show in S.F. will feature lots of tea.

Teatulia products at Winter 2011 Fancy Food Show. Photo: National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Used with permission.

The Winter Fancy Food Show, hosted by the National Association of Specialty Foods, is scheduled for Sunday, January 15 through Tuesday the 17th at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, and will feature the best food and drink from around the world. The Northern Ireland Naturally organization is one featured group, and they will have a booth at the show, introducing a variety of environmentally-friendly Northern Irish companies, and all-natural products “with heritage and provenance” including Grace’s Irish Biscuits, who will also launch their “Titanic” line of jam in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the H.M.S. Titanic; Pujana Tea, who will present their Irish Breakfast Tea and green tea as well as peppermint and camomile tisanes; Suki Tea, who will present their gourmet tea blends including one called Belfast Brew, and Alfee’s Flatbreads.  Look for some of these products on shelves in San Jose!

The trade show, which is unfortunately not open to the public, will also feature lots of American specialty food and drink companies. Many of them are familiar to San Jose tea-lovers, including Oregon Chai, Numi Tea and Stash. Because most, if not all, of the overseas companies also do business internationally, some or all of the following tea-related products may become available in San Jose:

Ajiri Tea, Kenyan Black Tea -- Sofi Award Winner from 2011. Photo: National Association for the Specialty Food Trade. Used with permission.

Aiya’s Matcha Zen Cafe Blend
Bhakti Chai
Boston Tea Company
Ceylon Teas
Choice Organic Teas
Fivemiletown Creamery
Honest Tea
Irwin’s Bakery
Numi Organic Tea
Oregon Chai
Ridgway’s Tea
Sencha Naturals – Green Tea Inspired Foods
Stash Organic Teas
Teatulia Organic Single Garden Teas
Tea Forte, Inc.
The Republic of Tea
Tipu’s Authentic Indian Chai
Two Leaves and a Bud Tea Company

Gluten-free baked goods, perfect to eat with a cup of tea, will also be included.  Local stores that carry one or several of these products include Walmart, Dean & DeLuca, Whole Foods, Andronico’s, Lunardi’s and other specialty food shops as well as British Imports in Campbell. Keep an eye out for new tea products appearing throughout the South Bay this year!

Copyright 2012, Elizabeth Urbach.

Like what you read? Leave a comment below, click on “Subscribe” above, visit the San Jose Tea Examiner page on Facebook, read my blog, or follow me on Twitter @SanJoseTea!

For more information:
Winter Fancy Food Show website
National Association of Specialty Foods website
Winter Fancy Food Show 2012 Press release
“2012 Dine about town and Fancy Food Show attract gourmets to SF”
“Fancy Food Show in San Francisco January 15 – 17, 2012”
“Gluten Free floods Fancy Food Show in SF”
“5 ways a tea-lover can be environmentally friendly”
“American Tea Mavericks interviewed in San Francisco”
“Review of Oregon Chai Original Chai Tea Latte concentrate”

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Filed under Events, Health, Tea, Vendors and Shops

Review: Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Dickens Christmas Fair

Commemorative teapot from Cuthbert's Tea Shoppe. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Having afternoon tea at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe at the Dickens Fair is a popular holiday activity in the Bay Area.  The tables are full of Dickens Fair patrons from the time it opens in the morning until the last tea seating in the late afternoon, and for good reason: having tea at Cuthbert’s is a wonderful way to spend some time at Dickens. The staff, and many customers dress in Victorian costume, and add to the seasonal atmosphere, making the people-watching inside the tea room as much fun as it is outside the tea room.

If you want to have tea seated inside the tea room, you’ll need to make a reservation first thing upon arriving at the Dickens Fair, or make your reservation in advance, online. Otherwise, you can take your chances that they’ll have room for walk-ins, or order your tea and treats a la carte from the take-out window at the back of the shop.

The English afternoon tea in the shop is a fun way to refresh yourself at the Dickens Fair, however. Pots of tea and treats are available a la carte, but the most popular choice is to order the afternoon tea for $21 per person. This includes: a pot of tea (regular, decaf or herbal), scones or crumpets with butter, cream, lemon curd and jam, assorted tea sandwiches (choice between salmon, cucumber, watercress, or egg salad), English trifle, and a commemorative teapot to take home.

The San Jose Tea Examiner met with some members of the South Bay Ladies’ Tea Guild, the Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild and the San Diego Costumer’s Guild, for tea at Cuthbert’s. Several of us ordered tea and sandwiches a la carte, but most of us chose the prix fixe afternoon tea.  The food quality is good, it is tasty and filling; most of it is purchased, but the tea and sandwiches are made on site. The tea is loose-leaf, served in individual teapots, and you get a choice of lemon curd, cream, or jam with your scones or crumpets (you get two small scones or crumpets).  The sandwiches are large; basically they make a whole sandwich with two full slices of bread, cut off the crusts, cut the sandwich in half, and serve you both halves. You get two large tea sandwiches, both with the same filling; I usually order the smoked salmon, but the other fillings are also tasty. Although it’s not listed on the menu, the Rum Cake served at Cuthbert’s is apparently famous for its richness and flavor, and you could probably ask your server to bring you some rum cake instead of English trifle! Your take-home teapot is brought to you with your bill, and it’s a small 2-cup teapot with the Cuthbert’s logo on it. Altogether, the tea is a good value and worth $21.

There is some room for improvement, however. Since Cuthbert’s is so popular, it is always crowded, and the servers often get flustered with all the customers and are not entirely organized. The last time I was there, we had our food order mixed up several times, and we seemed to have three different servers waiting on us. Also, the lemon curd, jam and cream are served in tiny bowls, containing one spoonful to share with everyone in your party, and you have to flag someone down to ask for more. I briefly considered bringing a jar of my homemade Meyer lemon curd to the Dickens Fair with me just to avoid this! Also, the tea leaves are left in the teapot when it’s served to you, so the tea tends to get bitter by the end of your tea time. A tea strainer comes to the table with the teapot, so try to strain and drink your tea quickly! However, these are small quibbles compared to the fun of participating in the whole scene, especially if you have dressed in costume! It is also a wonderful photo opportunity.

To get to the Dickens Fair from San Jose, take 101N, towards San Francisco, and take Exit 426 A/Brisbane. Merge on to Bayshore Highway, and take Bayshore to Daly City. Make a left off of Bayshore and onto Geneva Ave. once you get to Daly City, and follow the signs to 2600 Geneva Ave. Parking is $10 per car.  You can also take BART to the Dickens Fair and use your BART pass for a discount on your entrance ticket!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:
Dickens Christmas Fair website
Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe website
“By Dickens, a Victorian Pacifican serves up delectables at Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe”
Review of Cuthbert’s Tea Shoppe on Yelp!
“How to have afternoon tea at the Dickens Fair in San Francisco”
“When the exhibits are people: first-person cultural interpreters at Dickens Christmas Fair.”
“Favorite tea-time recipe from Gourmet magazine: Meyer lemon curd”
“Where can I have an English or European-style afternoon tea in the San Jose area?”
“Tea 101: what do we mean when we talk about tea?”
“What you need to make a good pot of hot tea”
“Tea and San Jose’s Christmas in the Park”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco (photos)”
“Victorian costumes at the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco”
“The Great Dickens Christmas Fair launches SF’s holiday season”
The official Dickens Fair costume guide
Food booths at the Dickens Fair
“Take BART to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair”


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