A “Tea Cave” in Vermont

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Today Talking Tea is in Middlebury, Vermont, at Stone Leaf Teahouse, a unique tea space in this bucolic town. Joining us is John Wetzel, founder and owner of Stone Leaf.

The town of Middlebury may be best known for being the home of Middlebury College, but since its founding 10 years ago Stone Leaf has also become well-known in and beyond Middlebury for the quality of its teas and for the warmth and tranquility of its teahouse. We chat with John about Stone Leaf’s origins, how he developed his vision for the space and for the company, and how he drew on both US coffee culture and tea culture in Asia and Europe as influences for his design. The teahouse sits partially underground (it’s built into a slope), and though John half-jokingly calls it a sort of “tea cave”, he also explains how he used this feature as part of his design, to create a space well-suited for the storage, preparation and enjoyment of tea, a space that allows for both focus and connection.

Stone Leaf carries a wide variety of teas, and we chat about one of their newest teas, a hongcha (red tea, known as black tea in the West) from Alishan in Taiwan. Alishan is usually known for its oolongs, and this tea is in fact made from the oolong Jin Xuan cultivar. We talk about the use of this cultivar in making a hongcha, the influence of cultivar and terroir on the tea’s flavor, aroma and appearance, and about emerging trends in making new styles of teas from cultivars and regions traditionally associated with different varieties.

More information about Stone Leaf, including the location of the teahouse, its online store and special event info, is at its website, stoneleaftea.com. You can  also find Stone Leaf on Instagram at stoneleafteahouse  and on Facebook at Stone Leaf Teahouse

 

Talking Tea is produced and hosted by Ken Cohen. You can follow Ken on Twitter @kensvoiceken  

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The views and opinions expressed by guests on Talking Tea are those of the guests and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Talking Tea or its staff.

 

This podcast features music from “Japanese Flowers” (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii/japanese-flowers) by mpgiiiBEATS (https://soundcloud.com/mpgiii) available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). Adapted from original.

 

Image of interior of Stone Leaf Teahouse, courtesy of Stone Leaf Teahouse.

Header image “Raw Puerh mid 1980 Menghai” by Cosmin Dordea, used under a Creative Commons CC By-SA 2.0 license. Adapted from original.

Pairing Tea and…Cheese?

 

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Most everyone is familiar with pairing wine and cheese, but pairing tea and cheese is much less well known and less understood. (By the way, that’s tea in the glass in the photo above, not wine.) Some tea drinkers may even find the idea of tea and cheese pairing a bit counterintuitive, if not a bit, well, odd. But at Talking Tea we’ve experienced some delicious pairings of tea with cheese, so we wanted to explore the issue more in depth.  Read the full show notes

Chaxi: Harmony, Art & Expression in Tea

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We’ve been wanting to explore chaxi on Talking Tea ever since we visited the Tea Institute at Penn State University back in 2016. Tea was prepared and served to us by students in the Chinese tea track at the Institute with a degree of artistry and calm precision we had never quite witnessed anywhere else, and when we asked some of the students where they learned to prepare tea in this way, they suggested we speak with one of their teachers and mentors, Stéphane Erler, to learn more about chaxi, an artistic expression of tea originating in Taiwan.  Read the full show notes

Dark Tea Comes Out Of The Shadows

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Today we’re chatting with Zhen Lu and Phil Rushworth of Zhen Tea about a category of tea that’s not widely understood outside of China or even within China, and that’s heicha, or “dark tea”, hailing from outside the pu erh region. You may remember Zhen and Phil from our earlier episode “Lapsang Souchong – Beyond the Smoke”, and today we’re chatting at the Zhen Tea headquarters in Ottawa, Canada.  Read the full show notes

Choosing Teaware for Flavor, Aroma and Experience

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Today we welcome back to the show Kevin Gascoyne, of Montreal’s Camellia Sinensis Tea House, to chat with us in depth about how our choices of teaware impact the flavors, aromas and overall experience of the teas we drink. Kevin is often seen sporting his signature Royal Albert teacup, and that prompted us to ask Kevin what’s the deal with this oh-so-English-looking cup. His initial answer inspired us to want to explore more fully how our choice of cup and brewing vessel affect our enjoyment of tea.  Read the full show notes