Gourmet Tea is fast becoming a hot item, and a couple of new companies have hit the market with quality product from such diverse regions as Boston and Tahiti. Tea Forte from Concord, Massachusetts, was founded by designer Peter Hewitt in 2003, and the hiring of Richard Guzauskus last year as Tea Master has really put them on the map.
The Tea Forte blends are enclosed in hand-packed and patented silken tea infusers, each topped with a designed hand-wrapped wire and "leaf", acting as a handle. The idea is to take the cup of tea into a ceremony as you entertain guests with a luxurious afternoon tea.
The Ribbon Box ($20-$25) that contains 20 infusers is a perfect way to try these delicious teas at an excellent value, and a typical box will include selections ranging from Earl Gray, Darjeeling, Chamomile Tisane, Bombay Chai to African Solstice. New items include Ginger, Jasmine Green, White Ambrosia and Green Tango. The Ginger is a particularly bold and enticing sweet ginger tea with a touch of lemon verbena, and a dash of black pepper for a spicy afterglow.
Tea Forte has also introduced the world to the Cafe Cup, a porcelain tea cup with a custom cover that keeps tea hot while brewing. There are other tea accessories that are well displayed in the excellent catalogue issued by the company, and we highly endorse this product.
From another part of the world comes Tahitian Noni teas that by all accounts were one of the more popular gift samples at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The company was founded in 1995 to promote the Noni plant to the world outside of French Polynesia, and the six new teas are led by the superb Tahitea Spiced Chai. The Noni leaf is an antioxidant rich tropical fruit that protects the body against free radicals. It is also excellent for supporting proper indigestion, and it can be mixed with water or milk, and of course, all the teas are naturally caffeine-free.
The Noni Jasmine Green Tea combines the elements of the flavor of jasmine flower with the well known benefits of the noni leaf and green tea. The delicate harvesting and drying process enhances the full-bodied flavor of the noni leaf, and Jasmine Green is probably the healthiest in the range of the company.
Fans of the classic Earl Gray will probably want to try the Tahitian version that adds the classic Bergamot flavors and essence of citrus to the mix. The idea of this tea is to promote the feelings of peace and tranquility. Noni Lemon Iced Tea adds the flavors of sweetened lemonade to the noni leaf, and the Tahitian Serenity Tea blends chamomile, lavender, hibiscus and noni leaves.If you are into tea, then either or both of these products are a must for you.
Mike HepworthDecember 2006