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

Chabana: Flowers for Tea

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As December comes to a close and winter deepens here in the northern hemisphere, we’re continuing our turn inward as we conclude our two-part series on the spirit of tea as reflected in chado, the Japanese way of tea. Today we’re focusing on chabana, the art of flowers so integral to Japanese tea ceremony.  Read the full show notes

Okakura and the Spirit of Tea

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We’re getting a bit contemplative this time of year here at Talking Tea, as the weather turns cooler and our bodies and minds begin to turn inward. So this December we’re offering two episodes exploring the spirit of tea as reflected in chado, the Japanese way of tea. To kick off this two-part series we’re looking at the life, work and influence of Kakuzo Okakura (pictured above), best known for his modern classic The Book of Tea.  Read the full show notes

Tea Cocktail Experiments

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Today on Talking Tea we’re doing something a little different from our usual format. A few weeks back we were invited by the folks at Tea Dealers and the 29b Tea House (featured in our prior episode Ambassadors of Tea) to join them in conversation at an evening of tea and alcohol experiments they were planning and record the event for Talking Tea. We did just that, and we’re pleased to bring you the event as a Talking Tea episode.  Read the full show notes

Glimpsing Tea’s Past, Finding Tea’s Presence, at New York’s Floating Mountain

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Today on Talking Tea we’re witnessing tea history brought into the present at the serenely beautiful Floating Mountain teahouse in New York City, where ongoing programs on tea history and tea meditation are opening fresh perspectives on tea preparation and on tea as a contemplative practice.   Read the full show notes

Ambassadors of Tea

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There is an amazement of tea that’s hard to capture in words. It can happen when we experience a tea for the first time and are astounded by flavors and aromas unlike anything we’ve experienced before. Or when we revisit one of our favorite teas and find elements we never noticed before. Or when we find ourselves drinking a tea that’s been expertly prepared and artfully presented in a way that awakens all of our senses. 

Today we’re at 29b Teahouse in New York City, where the owners and staff strive to create and recreate these moments of tea amazement every day. We’re talking with Stefen Ramirez and Andreas Vagelatos, two of the owners of 29b, about their unique philosophy and approach to tea.   Read the full show notes

Growing a Tea Meetup

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One of our guiding principles here at Talking Tea is that conversations about tea and tea culture have the power to deepen our understanding and enhance our experience of tea. Today on Talking Tea we’re exploring one of the ways people are increasingly coming together to share and talk about tea: tea meetup groups. We’re joined by Roy Lamberty, founder and organizer of the New York Tea Society, a popular tea meetup in New York City.  Read the full show notes