It's tea time whenever this person says it is.

It’s tea time whenever this person says it is.

Saying that the last 10 years as a tea company has been fun and rewarding and full of important business lessons… well, that’s great and all, but let’s get right down to it, shall we? Our favorite part of this business is meeting you guys.

Which got us thinking: could we recognize a fellow fan of Two Leaves and a Bud just by sight? Probably not, unless your travel mug is sporting a string with a TLAB tag sticking out of it. (Although, some of you love your loose tea on the way to work … so there goes that theory).

We came up with a little list so you diehard Two Leaves and a Bud people could recognize yourselves.

Top 10 Signs You’re a Serious Two Leaves and a Bud Fan:

1. You think Camellia would be a good baby name, especially if the middle name is Sinensis.

Tea to go. Forever.

Tea to go. Forever.

2. You carry sachets with you as a matter of course, wherever you go. That’s why they’re so portable, right?

3. The only thing that’s constant in your schedule every day is tea time.

4. Sometimes you wish your job would just pay you in loose tea.

5. You’d rather teach your kid all about tea than watch another tea party take place where only air is served.

6. You’ve never thought, “I overdid it today,” while steeping your eighth cup of tea.

7. 7 a.m. means Organic Better Morning Blend, 1 p.m. means Organic Better Belly Blend and 8 p.m. means Organic Better Rest Blend.

8. Someone has asked you out to coffee and you’ve replied, “As long as I can have tea.”

Loyal to the cup.

Loyal to the cup.

9. You are the owner of the best tea stash in your office, and proud of it.

10. You’ve snorted tea out of your nose — or spat it at a computer screen — because of a great joke.

What score did you get? (And if all of these apply to you, are you wondering if you have a problem? You might have a problem. And we might be in love with you.) We want to know from you true Two Leaves and a Bud people — what’s missing from our list? Comment here or on Facebook or Twitter, and we’re prepared to reward FREE TEA to our favorite answers!

Fair warning: We’re working on a mega-contest to find out who our biggest fan really is. We’re planning a few hoops you’ll have to hop through (none of them are on fire, though), and a BIG prize that makes being a our biggest fan truly worth it. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the details, which are coming up!

It doesn't have to be a *big* tattoo.

It doesn’t have to be a *big* tattoo.

And while we’ll note that Googling tea tattoos is super fun, we promise we won’t ask any of you to tattoo our logo on yourselves. That would be crazy.

Cheers, tea lovers.

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We're 10 years old this year! That's a lot of tea we've sold ... loose and otherwise.

We’re 10 years old this year! That’s a lot of tea we’ve sold … loose and otherwise.

It’s our 10-year anniversary! According to Hallmark, a 10th wedding anniversary is traditionally known as the “Tin/Aluminum” anniversary, which really sounds about as romantic as … well, as giving someone a canned good as an anniversary gift. What would anyone have to say about the 10th anniversary of a small, independent tea company?

I had a chat with our CEO and Founder, Richard Rosenfeld, about how this anniversary snuck up on us, and here’s a nugget that has to do with you, dear tea lover: “Things I’m especially proud of include our loyal consumer base — the people who look for our products out there. Consumer loyalty comes back to the product itself: Our tea has to deliver on the promises we’ve made. Every single time someone drinks our tea, it’s gotta taste good.”

But I’ll stop right there before this starts to sound like a business seminar.

Because here’s what I think is interesting: We’ve evolved! And I’m not just talking about the little things like product names, some ingredients and all that. If you’ve been paying attention for the past 10 years (or even the past four years) you’ve seen us going through some packaging changes, and we promise we’re not doing that just to drive you crazy. It’s hard work trying to stand out from the pack in a very crowded aisle of tea.

TL_OldTagLine_ABetterCuppaWe started this journey 10 years ago with the words, “A better cuppa’ tea” on our boxes, which makes a lot of sense if you know our brand story. Here’s a short version: Richard began to love tea because of all the business he was doing in Asia, where he was served a lot of tea. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t find the same delicious tea when he got back home to the United States, so it makes sense that his company’s motto for the first several years was exactly that — giving people better tea than they’d had before.

He put organic, whole -leaf tea inside pyramid-shaped sachets (a relatively new technology at the time) instead of paper teabags, and Two Leaves and a Bud Tea Company was off and running. We’re not saying we were the very first using sachets, but it was definitely an idea with legs. Pretty soon more tea companies were offering whole leaf tea in convenient sachets, and it wasn’t as hard to find “a better cuppa’ tea” in the supermarket.

TLABgothereBut you know what else we’ve always done that makes our tea great? We “Go There”! We take time to travel to the tea gardens, developing relationships with organic farmers who are growing the leaves we want to steep. We have photos from the first and subsequent trips when Richard dragged his wife, Pam, into tea gardens, meeting the pluckers and deciding which organic growers were the best for our company. Pam brought her camera and took those photos of her then-ponytailed husband planting tea bushes. Many years and a few haircuts later, we’re so happy to have proof of Pam’s positive effect on Richard’s style experience there in the field: literally witnessing the work and care that goes into a superior cup of tea.

And after a few more years of crafting great cups of tea, seeing more and more large companies enter the specialty tea industry we realized: Our strength as a company is, in fact, how very small we are. The eight of us who are in the office together in Colorado — and one person on the East Coast — drink a lot of tea. Tea tastings are open to everyone on staff, and I’ve never heard a single person at a tasting say, “I don’t have an opinion.” We regularly talk to tea fans all over the world via social media or e-mail, and we love when they tell us their own tea concoctions, offer constructive criticism that we find really helpful, or call up with a few good ideas that we take to heart. Tea lovers who discover us often travel with our sachets, so wherever they go, they’ll have a delicious tea when they get there.

We do all of those things too! Tea affects our lives quite personally, just as it affects yours. Hence, “We take tea personally.” If one phrase can possibly sum up how we feel about our place in the huge, occasionally impersonal tea industry, we think that’s darn close.

TLAB_Logo_TakeTeaPersonally

So what’s next for us? World domination! Just kidding … sort of. You see, we do want to be recognized as the best for what we do, and we do want to land in the hands of tea lovers everywhere, whether those tea lovers want loose leaf tea, sachets, tea bags, or even the really, really hard to get limited teas. But we’re not going to do that at the cost of changing who we are — a small, independent company who can focus on quality, sustainability and the tea lovers themselves.

We’ll get back to work making great tea while the next 10 years go by. You guys just keep on drinking.

Just a reminder for you!

Just a reminder for you!

Posted in News from two leaves tea company, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Response
Step 1: Add water Step 2: Wait

Step 1: Add water
Step 2: Wait

When time is on your side, as it may be during a lazy summer day, maybe it’s time to try something new with your tea leaves.

We have to chuckle a bit at that sentence. Can there really be something “new” with a drink that’s thousands of years old, and about as basic as it gets? Tea is leaves and hot water … what could possibly be new?

Here’s what: the temperature of the water. Lately we’re hearing a lot about “cold brew” for both tea and coffee, and it’s exactly what it sounds like: brewing tea (or coffee) for a long period of time in cold or room temperature water.

Voilà! Something new. Well … or just something new to you.

June is National Iced Tea Month, and while National Anything Months amuse us to no end, we’re still going to use June as an opportunity to sell you on the virtues of iced tea … because you know … it’s summer, you’re thirsty, and we sell tea. This doesn’t take a marketing major, people. (And that’s a good thing, because no one in our marketing department — cough, cough, including the company blogger — majored in marketing.)

Our favorite description of why cold brewing works for our favorite beverage is actually in a 2011 New York Times article by Harold McGee (“The Curious Cook”) and we’ll quote from it here:

Give cold brew a shot with any kind of tea — black, green, white or herbal. There are no rules!

Give cold brew a shot with any kind of tea — black, green, white or herbal. There are no rules!

As water moves into the coffee particles or tea leaves, it dissolves or suspends hundreds of different substances and extracts them from the solids. If the water is hot, it extracts more rapidly and completely. Hot water also cooks as it extracts, forcing chemical reactions that transform some of the extracted substances into other things, and driving some aroma substances out of the liquid. Cold water, in contrast, extracts more slowly and selectively, produces a simpler extract, and doesn’t change the original flavor substances as much.

So cold-brewed teas and coffees are chemically different from their hot counterparts. They tend to contain less caffeine and less acid. And, of course, they taste different. If the flavor of hot tea or coffee is your gold standard, then cold brews won’t measure up. If you think of hot and cold brews as different drinks, just as a lager isn’t the same as a pale ale, then you may find that you enjoy both.

We went looking for someone who swears by cold brew, and we found her: Facebook fan Cady Mae says cold brewed tea is now her favorite method.

“The taste is clearer or purer somehow,” she says. “Not applying any heat at all to the leaves seems to keeps ALL the bitterness out. It is cold clear flavor, if that makes any sense. Every single person that tries my iced tea first exclaims: ‘That’s GOOD!’ and then asks how I make it.”

Cady’s answer is six tablespoons of loose tea to two liters of water, but cold brewing tea is “new” enough in the café industry that the jury’s still out on this one — plenty of tea experts have their own ratios that they prefer.

And she’s right about a lack of bitterness — hot water pulls both polyphenols and caffeine out of tea leaves, two components that are known for being astringent and bitter. Cold water, on the other hand, is able to slowly pull flavor out of the tea leaves without those other characteristics. Thus, you’re more likely to notice flavors in your tried and true tea leaves you haven’t tasted before.

As a recent article in Fresh Cup magazine by Cory Eldridge explains, the only real downside to cold brew (besides having to prepare it ahead of time) is the amount of space a jar of cold brewing tea can take up in your refrigerator before you drink it. Some of us tea lovers would say that’s well worth a new(ish) favorite beverage, right?!

We will warn you though, tea lovers: there are some companies specially making packets for cold brew tea. We tried one of them recently, and found it to be ick. (That’s a technical tea term. Ick.) Our best advice is just to do like Cady does: Take some of your favorite loose tea, add water, and wait. Prepare to be surprised by a smoother flavor. Isn’t it time your electric kettle got a little summer vacation?

Cheers!

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Our new logo, as well as our refurbished name, celebrates our 10 years in the tea biz. That means we're 85 in tea industry years.

Our new logo, as well as our refurbished name, celebrates our 10 years in the tea biz. (That’s 85 in tea industry years.)

The bud is back, baby. The bud is back.

What? Oh – maybe you didn’t realize that a couple of years ago we changed our name from “two leaves and a bud tea company” to “two leaves tea company.” And if you weren’t aware of that, go about your business, because technically to you, nothing’s changing.

To the rest of you: We’re changing it back! You spoke, we listened, and we agree with you. In an attempt to streamline and simplify our name, we removed a key part of our personality. And in this small company, our personality is who we are.

We took to Facebook this week to chat about “and a bud” with our fans, who are a thoughtful bunch. And surprise, surprise … Gail Bull nailed it. She said, “‘Two Leaves and a Bud’ has a certain rebellious charm to it. It seems to be saying, ‘yeah, our tea company’s name is longer than most, but we aren’t just any other tea company!’ Which is absolutely true.”

Gail, we’re pumping our fists at our desks. You totally get it.

As we say around here, “We take tea personally.”

(Inspirational music is swelling in the background as you read this next part.)

To us, this is more than a business — it’s personal. Our company is all about the tea. We’re not about wacky flavors, fancy packaging, or the latest fad being hyped in this industry. We make tea we love to drink because we know you tea lovers are addicted to our very high standards. And you guys, just like us, are full of personality.

If anyone can handle a name that’s nine syllables long and might start a conversation about tea, it’s you. Here’s how that conversation might go:

Friend/coworker/relative/neighbor: Hey, what’s that you’ve got there in your travel mug? I see you with it every day.

You: It’s my two leaves and a bud. I’m totally addicted.

Them: Two leaves and a what?

You: It’s tea. No wait, let me clarify — it’s the best tea. The highest quality tea in the world comes from the top two leaves and a bud of the tea plant.

Them: Whoa. You seem to know a lot about tea. You’re kind of awesome.

You <blushing graciously>: Here – I’ll give you a sachet. I realize I sound like a total tea dork, but if you try this, you’ll see what I’m getting at.

… and so on.

It’s a long name, and yeah, a bit clunky. But it’s also an accurate name … and the closest we can get to announcing who we are without wearing shirts that say “Hey – we’re resolute tea nerds.” (Although we’d totally wear those shirts.)

See? Two leaves and a bud!

See? Two leaves and a bud!

Because as you told your friend in an imaginary conversation (is this getting weird?), “two leaves and a bud” references the part of the camellia sinensis plant that makes up our tea. And a company’s name is more than factual — it’s emotional. Facebook friend Annie Bryant said,

“Two Leaves and a Bud was a fun name. Two Leaves seems like the company is growing up and becoming more serious. I liked the Bud.”

Whoa. That made us think. Our company is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year! You could say we are growing up. Ah, those halcyon days back in 2004, when we had four employees instead of 11. But you can’t force us to be more serious. Our anniversary this year will come with a new logo (see above), a redesigned website and a packaging refresh, but we’ll hang on to our sense of fun with a death grip.

So in that spirit, we say yeah, we made an error of judgment, and don’t want to screw with your heads. We find an easy laugh is the best policy. Check out this handy infographic listing some reasons why we may have decided to bring back the “bud”:

Bud is Back

Cheers, tea lovers. Drink that two leaves and a bud with pride.

Posted in Customer Survey, News from two leaves tea company, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses
A Russian art print by  Helen Vladykina

A Russian art print by Helen Vladykina

Let’s face it: as a blogger for this tea company, sometimes I’m just a girl with a strong Internet connection and a penchant for Googling things about tea. In a quest to provide you with interesting, relevant tea info, I decided to find out what I could about Russian tea culture and report back to all of you, since the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, begins on Friday, February 7.

So imagine my surprise when, thanks to the wonder of Wikipedia, I discover that the prime tea growing part of Russia is, in fact, Sochi! Turns out that while the Russian settlement in the area was named Sochi in 1886, the first tea plantations were established there around 1903. But it took a few tries before tea was successfully grown there. In fact, it was a Ukrainian peasant named Judas Antonovich Koshman who worked for a tea factory on the Black Sea coast and who brought tea plant seeds to Sochi, (or more specifically, the sub-tropical climate of Dagomys, 30 km south of Sochi.) He developed a brand of tea which was both resistant to cold temps, and resulted in a rich taste.

Check out this traditional Russian samovar.

Check out this traditional Russian samovar.

This tea resulted in Krasnodarsky Tea, a brand that is still the most prominent Russian-grown tea and is one of the northernmost tea plantations in the world.

Very cool!

So the next obvious question is, how do Russians like to prepare and drink their tea? This answer is also very cool: with a samovar. We’re posting a picture so you can admire how ornate these tea dispensers can be. Basically, it’s like an electric kettle (they used to be heated with coal or even dry pinecones) that heats water to a perfect boil.

Sitting around the samovar (family portrait in 1844 by T. Myagkov).

Sitting around the samovar (family portrait in 1844 by T. Myagkov).

Up above the heating compartment, a strong tea concentrate is kept warm. It seems that the way to drink tea traditionally in Russia is to mix that tea concentrate with hot water, at roughly a ratio of one part concentrate to 10 parts hot water.

The Russian phrase “to have a sit by the samovar” means to have a leisurely talk while sipping tea. Sounds lovely. These days a samovar is seen as a symbol of hospitality and comfort. There are more gorgeous tea accouterments in Russian tea culture, like pretty tea glass holders.

As for how the Russians take their tea, well, lots of different ways, but typical stir-ins include lemon, sugar or jam. We’ve got to try that! I also liked learning that in the 19th century it was popular to drink tea with a cube of sugar held between your teeth.

If there's a photo of tea drinking in Russia, there's usually a samovar in it.

If there’s a photo of tea drinking in Russia, there’s usually a samovar in it.

Since I think you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on some Russian tea in time for the Winter Olympics broadcast, I’ll leave you with something you can make for your Olympics-viewing tea time: Russian Tea Cakes. Fair warning that no one really knows the association between these cookies and Russia since they go by lots of names, including Mexican Wedding Cookies. Some people think the recipe may have migrated to Mexico with European nuns.

Russian Tea Cakes: Probably not *that* Russian, but delicious all the same.

Russian Tea Cakes: Probably not *that* Russian, but delicious all the same.

My own mother used to make them at Christmas time, and we called them Crescent Cookies, because they can be shaped as pretty little crescents. (And yet, in my family, Crescent Cookies were always just made to be round — a mystery that endures in my mind to this day.)

I’ll leave you with the recipe. And let’s all agree that during the Winter Olympics, we’ll whip up a batch, nibble them while sipping tea on the couch, and reflect on the things we miss about Apolo Ohno. That soul patch just doesn’t have the same swagger to it now that he’s just a commentator, does it?

Enjoy the Olympics, everyone. Cheers! Oh- in Russian, that’s На здоровье (Nahz dah-ROH-vee-ah.)  Now you’ve really earned a cookie.

 

Russian Tea Cakes

-Makes 4 dozen cookies, so invite your friends over-

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
  5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

 

Posted in Recipes with Tea, Tea Education, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses