Recently, Redfin asked us about our favorite tips about creative home decor tips for the New Year and we were happy to oblige. Obviously, loose leaf tea consumes our lives daily, but our passion for tea also ties in with our passion for home decor with natural scents and candles like eucalyptus, or even tea accessories that could help add to a space.
No matter if you’ve recently moved into a new home or have been in the same place for a number of years, the new year is a great time to consider re-doing your space. We are always reworking our space from florals, to candles, to pottery, there are countless creative home décor and art pieces you can bring into your home, no matter where you live.
That’s why Redfin asked us, along with other expects to share our best advice to find the right creative home décor. Check out what we had to say so you can make redesigning your home meaningful as you begin another new year…of course, you know tea was part of that and our natural outlook on things.
Mariah Carey is used to packing concert halls and stadiums, but now she’s filling a new kind of space: tea rooms.
This New Year’s Eve, Carey attempted to redeem herself from a technical snafu that ruined her televised performance the previous year. As she took the Times Square stage in freezing temperatures, she told the crowd that she “was told there would be tea,” but, alas, there was no hot tea to be found on the stage. She soldiered on, and after a performance that silenced the haters, the world waited on baited breath to see if the “Honey” and “Sweetheart” songstress would find that elusive cuppa. Find it she did, posting a picture of herself sipping tea on Instagram with the caption, “Found my tea!”
New Yorkers took a collective sigh of relief, and then, apparently, dashed out to get their own tea.
The Whitby Hotel, the Peninsula Hotel, the Plaza, and the Taj Hotel in New York City have all recorded increases in patrons ordering tea service.
While the record low temperatures in New York are likely a big contributor in the rising high tea bookings, Carey put drinking tea on the minds of millions of New Yorkers at the start of the year, and her influence is not to be discounted.
For those thirsty for tea in other cities, here’s a list of high tea services that we dare say would be Mariah-approved:
Enjoy “tea by the sea” at the world-famous Getty Villa. The Mediterranean menu features the produce grown at the Villa’s recreated first century Roman gardens. Served in the beautiful Founder’s Room, come here to enjoy tea and baked goods in an iconic setting.
Treat yourself to sweet and savory snacks and teas of all varieties at the Peninsula. Teas include black Mandarin rose petal tea from China, genmaicha from Japan, and orchid oolong from Taiwan. Bites to look forward to include: wild mushroom quiche, chocolate citrus lollipop, and homemade scones with clotted cream, lemon curd, and raspberry jam.
Relax with a cuppa and a plethora of sweet and savory bites at The Rittenhouse’s Mary Cassatt Tea Room. Teas include: Floral Jasmine Green, Organic Peppermint, and the Rittenhouse Blend which features Ceylon bergamot, rose petals, cardamom, and borage. Sweets include a pistachio cheesecake and almond and poached pear cake. Savory delights include scones and radish served with edamame hummus.
If you’d rather stay at home than dress up and shell out for a fancy afternoon tea, you can still exhibit the Mariah Carey effect by drinking out of a mug bearing the phrase “I was told there would be tea,” now for sale on Carey’s website.
Restaurants are seriously stepping things up when it comes to tea. Consumers are no longer satisfied with a boring black tea bag or a simple iced tea. They want cool flavor combos, natural sweeteners, memorable accents, texture, and document-worthy experiences. To meet the high demands of foodies across the country, these restaurants are offering creative tea options. From chains to independents, check out these menu items to see how operators are elevating the tea sector:
1. Plum Ginger Hibiscus Iced Tea – Panera
This iced tea from Panera combines flavors of hibiscus, apple, blackberry, rosehip, pump, carob, and ginger for a complex, sweet profile. Ginger is hot hot hot right now in the culinary world, and mixologists are finding creative ways to combine and showcase it, like this. Flavor for the win!
2. Raspberry, Mango, Pomegranate, and Kiwi Iced Tea – Applebee’s
These iced teas from Applebee’s reflect the rising demand for unique flavors in the tea world. Applebee’s diners can choose between refreshing glasses of raspberry, mango, pomegranate, and kiwi iced tea.
3. Fruit and Milk Teas – Panda Express
Panda Express has an entire tea bar catered to your Asian-inspired tea needs. Choose from fruit or milk/boba teas. Fruit teas include: Strawberry, Raspberry, Hibiscus, and Passion Fruit. Milk teas include: Thai, Matcha, and Crème Brulee. To meet consumer expectations for customization and the rising demand for textured beverages, Panda Express offers the following add-ons to any drink: honey boba, jelly (coffee, tea, or grass), fruit jelly (rainbow or lychee), aloe vera, pudding, and chia seeds. Talk about thorough options!
4. Blackberry Tea Thyme – California Pizza Kitchen
Consumers want twists on the familiar, and California Pizza Kitchen delivers with this modified Arnold Palmer, which combines freshly brewed Gold Peak iced tea with lemonade and accents it with blackberry and thyme sprigs. The chain also features many flavored iced teas (Mango, Peach, Strawberry, Raspberry) and a Passion Fruit Mango Iced tea bursting with tropical flavors.
5. Rooibos Tea with Coconut Milk and Maple Syrup – Sqirl
LA foodie haven Sqirl is the place to look for what’s trending in the food and drink world. Their tea menu includes this iced tea, which exemplifies the natural sweetener and alternative milk trends by sweetening rooibos tea with maple syrup and adding coconut milk for a non-dairy boost. The restaurant also features a Laura Palmer, which satiates consumer demand for unique flavor combinations and updated classics by pairing black tea with grapefruit juice.
6. Matcha Limeaid – Bon Matcha
Washington, DC matcha haven Bon Matcha serves up a refreshingly sour take on the earthy flavor with its matcha limeaid. Limeaid is having a moment, and what better to pair with it than tea’s reliable rising star, matcha?
7. Earl-Grey Infused Whiskey – Steak + Whiskey
Tea continues to elevate cocktail menus, like it does at Steak + Whiskey in Hermosa Beach, California. The cocktail named Bill The Butcher pairs earl-grey infused bourbon with Americano and velvet falernum. Elsewhere on the cocktail menu, the O-Ren Ishii pairs matcha with vodka, yuzu, mint, and orgeat. All over the place, mixologists are turning to teas and tea-based syrups to specialize alcoholic offerings, so be on the lookout!
Cheese tea is a new trend that’s sweeping across Asian cities, and it’s starting to pop up in the United States.
Chinese tea companies started whipping up the new beverage a few years ago, topping green and fruit teas with frothy cream cheese.
Regiustea is a leader in the cheese tea trend, placing a layer of frothy cream cheese on top of tea | Facebook
The drink has become very popular in Chinese cities, inspiring people to form lines that spill into the streets, drawing comparisons to the cronut and cupcake crazes that have drawn similar crowds in the US.
People line up for cheese tea at HEYTEA in Guangzhou | LINK
Popular chains serving the hip new tea in China include Regiustea (72 stores), Royaltea (130 stores), and HEYTEA (50 stores).
Some have the compared the beverage’s taste to cheesecake, while others have praised the drink’s complementary sweet cream cheese and bitter tea flavors.
The Chinese diet has not traditionally incorporated dairy, but thanks to our increasingly global society, that is changing:
According to Bloomberg, dairy exporters are working hard to encourage Chinese chefs to incorporate milk and cheese by hosting educational workshops to teach chefs how to work with dairy and make Western dishes that call for cheese. Fonterra, the world’s biggest dairy exporter, reported a 36% increase in milk exports to China between October 2015 and 2016. Overall, Fonterra says its exports to China are growing by over 10% a year. Pizza, whose menu penetration has doubled in China since 2010, is driving much of the country’s dairy consumption, and now cream cheese-topped teas are poised to do the same.
Check out this video from Fonterra about its role in the rise of cheese tea in China:
Many Chinese people are lactose-intolerant, but as Western dishes like pizza, condiments like butter, and drinks like cheese tea are introduced to younger consumers, that intolerance can decrease.
Most teahouses that serve cheese tea feature an 80/20 ratio of tea to cheese, although some operations offer customizable amounts of cheese for patrons who tolerate dairy unequally. Some outposts sprinkle sea salt or matcha on top of the cream cheese, while others keep things sweet without any additions.
Sellers recommend you do not stir the tea—the tea and cream cheese layers should remain distinct. To drink, tilt the cup back 45 degrees and the tea will pass through the cream cheese layer. When the tea is gone, tip your cup back to enjoy a tea-infused gulp of cream cheese that will most likely give you a cheese moustache. In our increasingly Instagram-driven culture, the cheese ‘stache has been a draw for foodies on the hunt for a great pic and a great selling point for operators.
The cheese tea trend has proven so successful, with many stores in popular Chinese cities selling more than 1,000 cheese teas per day, that the drink has spread to other Asian countries, most notably Malyasia and Taiwan, with the expansion to Singapore and Vietnam on the horizon.
The trend has already spread to the United States:
New York City’s Happy Lemon features Salty Cheese Tea. The Flushing, Queens store features black or green tea topped with cream cheese and rock salt.
And Milwaukee’s Artisan Ramen, opening soon, will feature cheese tea on its menu.
Be on the lookout for cheese tea in more stores, as we expect trend-forward operations to hop on the cheese wheel in the months to come.
Purple tea is the latest innovation hitting the tea industry. This colorful variety of the tea plant, camellia sinensis, is starting to crop up in the US after a few decades of development overseas in its native habitats. Marketed as a healthy option up there with green tea, could purple tea be the next big trend in the beverage industry? Whether it becomes a big deal or just a cool fad, let’s learn the basics about this pigmented variety.
A purple tea bush grows in Kenya | Tea Research Institute
Kenya Leads the Way
Purple tea is a tea plant that has anthocyanins in its leaves. Anthocyacins are an antioxidant that fight free radicals and give the camellia sinensis plant a purple tint. (They’re the same thing that give blueberries and acai berries their blueish purple color.)
Purple tea can be found growing in China, Japan, Sri Lanka, India, and Kenya. Bushes take 3 to 6 years to mature, and only a few hundred farmers in the world grow it.
To date, Kenya is the leader in purple tea development and exportation. As the third biggest tea exporter in the world and the largest exporter of black tea globally, Kenya has invested in purple tea to diversify its economy. 25 years ago, the government created the Tea Research Institute to develop and commercialize purple tea. After years of R&D, the Tea Research Institute developed a hybrid purple tea that is high-yielding, drought-resistant, frost-resistant, pest-resistant, and big-leafed for easy plucking. Since Kenya is currently experiencing a drought, this drought-resistant hybrid is especially exciting. By 2011, purple tea from Kenya was ready for export, adding revenue to an industry that generates 25% of the nation’s export earnings and employs 4 million people.
While Kenya has been investing in purple tea for over two decades, recently-discovered purple tea bushes in India have thrust India into the purple tea game. India’s tea infrastructure is more diversified than Kenya’s, so we may see competition between the two countries for this specialty market in the future.
For more on Kenya’s purple tea industry, check out this news report:
Health Benefits Drive Purple Tea Marketing
Purple tea sellers are touting the variety’s health benefits to consumers, namely purple tea’s high levels of antioxidants and its cancer-fighting properties.
Two studies have people excited:
In the first study from 2012, scientists found that the properties in purple tea were able to inhibit the proliferation of colon cancer cells by blocking cell cycle progression and inducing cell death. The researchers said that their results “showed that [purple tea extract] is a potential novel dietary agent for colorectal cancer chemoprevention.”
Translation: purple tea extract can kill colon cancer cells! In a lab at least. Further studies are needed in humans.
In the second study, results in mice found that anthocyanins can cross the blood brain barrier that often prevents compounds from entering the brain, meaning that mice brains enjoyed an antioxidant boost. The researchers behind the 2014 study were excited at the potential their results could mean for humans, including protection from neurodegenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Translation: Purple tea can treat mice brains to neuroprotective antioxidants. Next up: trials to see if the same is the case with people.
You may find purple tea at high-end specialty tea stores, often in a blend to encourage experimentation, or you can purchase a batch online from Kenyan Purple Tea, which offers loose leaf purple tea, bottled purple tea blends, and purple tea extract capsules.
Bottom Line: Keep your eyes peeled for purple tea. It may be the next big thing!
As more and more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, the food and beverage industry has responded by offering cannabis-infused products to consumers. Fortune reports that the marijuana industry is even exploring ways to penetrate the fine dining sector, with some saying that in the future, wine pairings will have competition from marijuana pairings at restaurants. The tea industry has gotten in the trend, too, with oils extracted from marijuana and powdered cannabis finding their way into teabags and bottles. The following brands have already released cannabis-infused tea products, and we expect that over the next few decades, this market will explode.
1) Jane’s Brew
Jane’s Brew sells cannabis-infused teas to California consumers with a doctor’s recommendation. The company lists several advantages to consuming cannabis via tea, namely discretion and the absence of a marijuana scent. The company’s teas are infused with cannabis oil from fresh ground cannabis buds. The effects of the cannabis can be felt within about 15 minutes and last for 3 to 5 hours. Jane’s Brew teas come in teabags, Keurig-sized cups, and 12-ounce bottles.
Teabag and Keurig cup flavors include decaffeinated chamomile tea, caffeinated chai tea, and lightly caffeinated green tea, with varying doses of THC.
Bottled teas contain 100 mg of THC and flavors include Green Tea, Unsweetened Black Tea, Sweetened Black Tea, and Tropical Passion.
This female-driven company caters four cannabis teas specifically to women. Each low-THC tea is tailored to a specific need:
1) Positivi-Tea for Mood
2) Sensuali-Tea for Libido
3) Sympa-Tea for Pain
4) Tranquili-Tea for Sleep
Simply steep sachets as you would a normal tea bag.
The company states that while most edible cannabis products feature THC levels around 30 mg, their teas range from just 3 to 10 mg. Kikoko products are riding the microdosing train, filling the demand among consumers for low-THC products. If you’re looking for a low-dose of THC to go along with the other properties and effects of cannabis, this is the perfect tea for you.
Kikoko uses cannabis that is grown in Mendocino, California’s “Emerald Triangle,” and when possible, by female farmers.
Since 2007, Mad Hatter Coffee & Tea has manufactured and distributed cannabis-based teas. Each tea bag contains 20 mg of THC. Varieties include DeiTea, which blends green tea and lemon grass with cannabis, and PuriTea which blends fermented black tea with grape skins, berries cocoa nibs, and cannabis. Other offerings feature rooibos and chai tea-based blends.
BrewBudz, a new player in the cannabis industry launching soon in Nevada, is hoping to capture the hearts and dollars of environmentally-conscious consumers. The company has developed compostable single-brew cannabis-infused tea pods that fit Keurig home brewing machines. BrewBudz has also put innovation first in the manufacturing process, swapping traditional cannabis oil extraction for a process that powderizes the cannabis plant. Aiming to promote a “sophisticated, sustainable shift in cannabis culture,” BrewBudz offers black tea, green tea, and chamomile. Product THC levels range from 10 to 50 mg.
Say goodbye to Teavana—its stand-alone stores at least. Starbucks will shutter all 379 Teavana stores located in Canada and United States malls by Spring 2018. Starbucks will continue to sell Teavana products at its stores worldwide.
The closure of all Teavana stores will cost 3,300 people their jobs, but Starbucks hopes to keep those workers employed within the Starbucks family, where the company expects to see an increase of 68,000 jobs over the next five years.
A Teavana store in Palo Alto, California | Courtesy Starbucks
Starbucks acquired Teavana in 2012 for $620 million, including its stand-alone retail stores located at upscale shopping malls, which have proved disappointing.
In a Q3 Earnings report, newly appointed Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson characterized Teavana stores as “consistently underperforming.” He explained, “We conducted a strategic review of Teavana mall-based store business and concluded that despite our efforts to reverse the trend through creative merchandising and new store designs, the underperformance was likely to continue.”
Some analysts point to consumer behavior to explain Teavana’s failure, arguing that people are simply accustomed to buying tea at the grocery store, not the mall. And we are creatures of habit, after all
While Teavana stores may not be minting much profit, the brand is a success inside Starbucks stores:
Tea is the fastest-growing category in Starbucks sales. Starbucks’ tea business has risen 40% in the US since its Teavana acquisition, and 60% over the past year in China and Japan.
You’ll still be able to get Teavana products at Starbucks stores, like these ready-to-drink teas. | Courtesy Starbucks
Starbucks stores have been generating about four times as much Teavana revenue than Teavana mall stores were able to do. Closing these locations and shifting costs from maintaining Teavana stores to promoting Teavana products within Starbucks stores makes fiscal sense.
Johnson expects Starbucks to sell more than $1.6 billion of Teavana beverages in 2017 worldwide.
Starbucks is committed to tea innovation with the release of products like these Shaken Iced Tea infusions | Courtesy Starbucks
That includes the recently launched Shaken Iced Tea infusions, available in three delicious flavors:
1) Pineapple Black Tea
2) Peach Citrus White Tea
3) Strawberry Green Tea
Despite closing all Teavana stores, Starbucks remains committed to innovating within the tea market. Said Johnson, “We have big plans for tea in Starbucks retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods) globally.”