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

Dong Ding: Everything Taiwanese Tea Has to Offer

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Today we welcome back to Talking Tea Shiuwen Tai of Seattle’s Floating Leaves tea to chat about one of our favorite teas, Taiwan’s celebrated Dong Ding oolong.

Shiuwen believes that Dong Ding represents everything that Taiwan has to offer in terms of producing tea, and we chat about the qualities that make Dong Ding unique in this capacity. We discuss three basic styles of Dong Ding – traditional, fragrant and charcoal roasted – and together we taste and compare both a traditional and a charcoal roasted Dong Ding.  Read the full show notes

Bitten By the Bug: Oriental Beauty, With Té Company

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To kick off Talking Tea’s fourth season, we’re at Té Company, an exquisite teahouse in New York’s West Village, talking about an exquisite tea – the aptly named Oriental Beauty.  Read the full show notes

Learning Tea With Babelcarp

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We’re calling this episode “learning tea” because learning about tea can be like learning a language – like learning English, or French, or Chinese, or any other language. There’s a vocabulary to tea, and the world of tea is so vast, with so many words, facts and concepts to learn and keep track of, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Compounding this in the English-speaking world is the fact that tea terms are often actually in another language – most commonly Chinese or Japanese. So what’s a tea drinker to do?   Read the full show notes

Arriving At The Source

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Most tea consumers never have the opportunity to visit the source of the teas we drink – the tea growers and tea makers in the various tea-producing regions around the world. So here at Talking Tea we’ve been wanting to hear an insider’s take on sourcing trips, to get an idea of what sourcing trips are like and what tea retailers look for when they source their teas.  Read the full show notes

Focusing on Taste

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Today on Talking Tea we focus on the nuances of flavor, and how to fully appreciate the taste of tea by engaging all of our senses. Guiding us through this exploration of tasting is Billy Dietz, a tea development specialist based in Montreal. We chat with Billy via Skype as he shares a little of his own remarkable tea journey and then takes us through two methods of preparing a tea he selected for this episode, a Muzha Tie Kwan Yin oolong from Taiwan provided by Naivetea.
Read the full show notes

Tea Goes to College

An institute dedicated to intensive, interdisciplinary tea education and research is not something you’ll typically see at a college or university in North America – or anywhere else, for that matter. But it’s exactly what you’ll find at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where an initiative originally undertaken by students has resulted in the groundbreaking, university-funded Tea Institute at Penn State.  Read the full show notes

Baozhong: Born in China, Rooted in Taiwan

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We’re continuing our exploration of Taiwanese oolongs this week with a focus on one of the most celebrated of Taiwanese teas, Baozhong. Shiuwen Tai, of Seattle’s Floating Leaves Tea, gave us such a fantastic and comprehensive intro to Taiwanese oolongs in our last episode that we had to invite her back to give us some more in-depth knowledge, and we asked Shiuwen to talk about Baozhong because, well, it’s one of our favorite oolongs.  Read the full show notes