Saturday, October 30, 2010

Blends with Benefits! (tm)

Time sure flies.  It's been over three months since my last blog post, and I'm sure that many people think I disappeared.  Even my family has been wondering what's going on with The Good Leaf.  So, here's what's been going on.

After 3 years of bricks and mortar business, moving to an online based operation has taken some adjustment.  I thrived on the customer interaction, and on being able to help people choose their perfect tea.  You see, when I started the business, my focus was on providing a wide variety of traditional and gourmet teas, organized by tea variety.  But over time I noticed that more customers came into the shop looking for a tea to help them solve a problem than customers looking for a particular variety of tea.  Maybe it was because of my background in mind/body and health psychology and how excited I was about the benefits of tea, but I became aware of how many of my customers were looking for results - better health, relaxation, weight control, tea to help them study or meditate, or to help them feel better when they were under the weather.

Helping my customers find their perfect tea was amazingly gratifying, and a real win-win.  I was thrilled to see that I was kind of good at designing and recommending teas by function.  And, based on customer feedback, it worked!  People experienced results; they were drinking more tea, choosing the right teas, and the best part was that some were telling me how they were making other healthy choices in their lives, on the foundation of their "tea-infused lifestyle".

After I closed the shop, I began to lose energy and enthusiasm around the company.  It's not that I lost interest in tea at all, but I traded in daily interactions with fascinating and happy people for solitary time assembling boxes and printing postage. I debated whether to continue....

But then a few weeks ago, after waking up with the first signs of Upstate New York winter head, that sinusy feeling that comes the moment I close the windows and turn on the heat, I instinctively entered the herb room and proceeded to blend some eucalyptus leaves with mint, a few other herbs, and then added some essence of crisp grapefruit.  I put on the kettle, brewed up a pot, and was instantly soothed and able to take on my day with a clear head.  And with my clear head, I knew that I would not give up The Good Leaf.  And that thought resonated with my heart.

I realized it was time to change my approach and design my website as best I could to function the way the teashop functioned.  Just as the title of this blog states, The Good Leaf really is about using tea to improve life, and the real mission of  The Good Leaf is to offer my customers the easy and delicious way to experience the good life.

So, I re-designed the website and have made a few alterations to the tea line to truly focus on wellness blends.  You can still select by variety because that method works perfectly for many people, but you can also choose teas for stress relief, weight control, teas for awakening, for lifting your mood, indulgence blends, and teas to help you feel better.  The teas are now my Blends with Benefits (tm).

I do miss the interaction I had with you when the shop was open, but I'm sure that with the new website organization, you'll get the delicious and life enhancing results you want from your tea.

I welcome your feedback!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back Online and New Stuff Available

As promised, we're back online at www.goodleaftea.com.  Hey, even before I anticipated.  I'm still not fully stocked, so some orders may take a couple of extra days, but I'm on my way.  I even have two new blends to debut, Cinnamon Peach Oolong and Strawberry Lemonade Yerba Mate.  I got myself all jacked up on the Strawberry Lemonade Mate yesterday.  I had that good mate buzz; that's how come I was able to get the website up.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

coming back soon

just a quick note - i've been in a semi hiatus since closing the shop.  setting up for our expanded online and wholesale business - i hope to be rolling again by August 1.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sentimentali-tea

I'm feeling pretty sentimental tonight. EJ made me a soylent green bubble tea and it almost brought me to tears!



Not because soylent green is people, but because I will miss you people. I will miss our Lark Street oasis and all of the time spent, connections made, and deliciousness shared.

And where else can you get fresh soylent green.

(If you don't know the reference, it's a classic 1973 Charleton Heston movie; stream it when you have a chance)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's Next?

Here's a big, exciting announcement:

For those of you who have wondered where to find The Good Leaf gourmet teas after we leave our Lark Street location, I'll tell you where:

At our Lark Street location!!!!

After we move out at the end of June, Victoria Luciano will be taking over the space and promptly opening up Lil Buddha Tea!  I am so excited.  Victoria will be keeping our decor and the general feel of the space, and infusing it with her warm and calm energy. She'll be carrying about 25 Good Leaf teas, and serving a tea based menu that will include specialty drinks and Bubble Tea.

But there's more: Victoria is a holistic health enthusiast who believes in the healing properties of quality food.  She'll be offering a healthy and delcious cafe style menu at Lil Buddha Tea.  Her menu is in development, but she was kind enough to offer me a peek, and I can't wait to visit as a customer.  Finally, wholesome and healthy foods will be available on Lark Street.  We haven't seen that since Shades of Green closed.

I'm very excited about the upcoming evolution of 274 Lark Street and will keep you posted!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Facebook

Are you a Good Leaf Tea Co fan on Facebook?  Right now, Facebook is the best way to stay updated to what's going on during our last few weeks on Lark Street.  I do post to this blog sometimes, but have found Facebook to be the most effective way to stay in contact.  Here's the link: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Good-Leaf-Gourmet-Tea-Company/131528578630.  Thanks!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

More Stuff We're Selling

Do you like the atmosphere of our shop?  We're selling our furniture, as well as some of our appliances including our nice refrigerator.  (Not the buddhas).  Stop in or email or contact us anyway you would like to inquire. Some items can be purchased but not picked up until we close (like the fridge).

Rooibos on Sale

The first of our promotions is on selected varieties of our Rooibos.  Starting today, and as long as well feel like continuing this promo, our Vanilla Infused Rooibos, Sweet Orange Roobios, Sweetheart Red Rooibos and Rouge de Provence are all on sale for 50% off.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Closed for the holiday weekend

We'll be closed for the holiday weekend from Friday through Monday.  When we return, we're gonna start some sales and promos for our final month on Lark St.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What's Next for The Good Leaf


If you get our emails, this post is identical to the email I sent earlier today:

It’s been an interesting few months, and I’m writing today to let you know about some very important changes for ahead The Good Leaf. 

Here’s the biggie:  as of June 26th, I’ll be closing the doors at our Lark Street shop. 

I have such mixed emotions about this.  As I have always shared with you, creating and running the little teahouse has been among the highlights of my life.  I set out to create a unique little space where you could come to experience tranquility and peace; where you could explore the varied and exotic world of fine tea in a warm and friendly environment and; where you could enjoy traditional teas from all over the world and also have fun with contemporary specialty drinks like home-made bubble teas, tea lattes and Jasmine Champagne. 

In that regard, I hope I succeeded, and I am more grateful than I can express for a loyal and growing base of wonderful customers and a great staff.

But I can’t pretend that these aren’t tough times, and there’s no need to share specifics.  We’re all going through it.  Anyway, after much soul searching, I recently realized that it’s time to make a change that will both protect The Good Leaf and allow it to move in an exciting new direction.

About the new direction: Over the years, I’ve become more and more focused and interested in blending and flavoring teas. Having started in 2006 with not a single signature blend, I am now regularly blending dozens of signature varieties.  With interest in these blends growing, the company has reached the point where I’m able to cross into the next frontier.  Starting in the fall, several of our popular blends will be available in eco-friendly biodegradable pyramid tea sachets.  (That’s a long way of saying teabags!)  This is exciting news because, as much as I am a proponent of loose tea, I am really, really into convenience and practicality, and nothing beats teabags for convenience and practicality.  The beauty of the pyramid sachets, aside from the aforementioned eco-friendliness, is that they are designed for fine loose leaf tea, and the sachets allow enough room for the blends to brew perfectly. 

So while our bricks and mortar operation will be closed, The Good Leaf Gourmet Tea Company will remain very much in operation, and moving in exciting new directions.  You’ll always be able to contact me if you want your favorite signature blend, and I’m going to be actively seeking out new wholesale outlets throughout the region.  In fact, if you happen to know of any shop, restaurant or spa that might be a good match for our products, please let me know!

From now until closing (after a weekend off – we’ll be closed for Memorial Day weekend) we’ll be running all kinds of sales, promotions, and even looking to sell much of the furnishings of the shop.  I invite you to stay updated via our blog.  You can also access our facebook fan page and twitter page at our website.

Thank you again for your continued interest, support, and for making our two years on Lark Street such a great time!  I will miss seeing you there, but am looking forward to an always interesting future.  

Saturday, May 22, 2010

a Bubble Tea making Starter Kit for You

Many, many people have asked us to sell bubble tea supplies, so we're doing it.  We have a great deal for you if you want to get into making bubble tea at home.  We're offering a 6.6 lb bag of Grade A Tapioca, two packages of bubble tea straws and a half pound of almond black tea - all for $20.   That is supplies for 80 to 90 servings of bubble tea.  It's a ridiculous value.

Here's how you prepare the boba:

  • Bring water to a boil - use a large pot, the boba expand and need room so they don't stick.
  • Add boba, reduce heat, cover and allow to boil for 35-45 minutes.
  • Shut the heat, keep the lid on and let the boba continue to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse really well.
  • Soak in sweetener; you can use corn syrup or simple syrup (to make simple syrup, take 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water, heat to a boil and until the sugar is completely dissolved).

The thing to remember with boba is that it doesn't keep well.  Do not refrigerate it, and use it within several hours of preparing it.

Real Tea Bubble Tea

Many, if not most, bubble tea establishments make delicious and beautiful bubble teas in yummy and exotic flavors like Taro.  The drinks are fun looking, brightly  colored, and super sweet.  They are usually created with a powdered mix loaded with chemicals and calories.  When I started serving bubble tea, I read the list of ingredients and couldn't sell those in good conscience.  You know, a teahouse is a place to get healthy drinks and tea should be healthy.  So I worked out a formula for real tea bubble tea and Almond, as a traditional bubble tea favorite, was my first success.

To make a real tea bubble tea, the concept is simple:  brew yourself some concentrated iced tea, sweeten liberally, add milk (or half and half) if desired, and shake, shake, shake until it's all BUBBLY!  Put a quarter cup of boba in your glass, pour the drink over it, grab your big fat straw, insert (with the pointy side down!), and enjoy!

I enhance the flavors of many of my bubble teas with coffehouse syrups (like Torani, Monin or Davinci) as sweeteners, but simple syrup, honey, agave nectar, and stevia also do the trick.

I estimate the calorie count of a serving of boba to be 80-100 calories, tea is healthy and calorie free, and how you deal with milk and sweetener is up to you.  But all in all, a real tea bubble tea is an fun indulgence that's not bad for you.

Now, I don't have a liquor license so I can't sell these, but but here's a thought for you when you're making Bubble Tea at Home:  Bubble Tea Cocktails!

Come and get it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tulip Fest is Tomorrow - Yay!

Well, the weather may or may not hold up for tomorrows Tulip Fest.  I've been to a few soggy ones in my day; I prefer the dry ones but they're fun in any event.  It should be a busy day at The Good Leaf so we'll be offering a special festival menu and came up with a few new drinks to debut.  Here's a preview of what we'll be offering (unless I change my mind about something):

Teas:  Orange Pekoe black tea, Almond black tea, Root Beer black tea, Tropical Fantasy green tea, Nectar white tea, Formosa oolong tea, Strawberry Fields rooibos and Sweet Tart tisane.

Bubble Teas:  Nectar White, Mango Green, Cinnamon Bun Milk Tea, Black Milk Tea, Almond Milk Tea, Root Beer Float Milk Tea (sorry, without ice cream), Crunch Berry Milk Tea

Specialty Drinks:  Festival Lemonade, House Root Beer, Lark Street Pop and Oolong Ale.  Yeah, they're all tea; check 'em out.

We're getting very excited and hope to see you!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kelsey at the BID - Naturally Nature

I am excited to let you know that beginning this First Friday at the Lark Street BID, Kelsey will be showing photography from her trip to Costa Rica last summer.  The show is called Naturally Nature. I invite you to check out her website and visit her exhibit.  The opening reception is this Friday at 5pm and the show will continue all month.  Good job, Kels!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Albany Institute of History and Art

I am pleased to let you know that a small selection of our favorite warm weather teas are now being carried at the Museum Shop at the Albany Insitute of History and Art.  The gift shop features pottery, jewelry, books, local food products and much more.  It's so well stocked it spills out into the museum itself. I tend to love museum shops as a rule, and this one doesn't disappoint, especially now that it carries our tea! But don't just visit the gift shop; the museum is a real find; http://albanyinstitute.org/index.htm. Current exhibits include the Hudson River Panorama and a collection of gorgeous photos of Egyptian ruins.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Purple Haze - all in my cup!

Kelsey created an awesome new drink that's hitting our menu today; it's the Purple Haze Hibiscus Cooler.  She made me one yesterday and I downed it in seconds.  Its sweet but not overly so and the sweetness is nicely balanced with tart hibiscus and a little citric acidity. Delicious, and yes, it's hazy purple!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Strawberry Fields!

One of our new delicious teas for Spring is Strawberry Fields Rooibos.  Naturally sweet strawberry flavoring combined with organic rooibos.  It's nothing to get hung up about - just one of my new favorite flavors.  It's become my new morning tea at home. I like to start each day with a brightly flavored rooibos because it tastes great, wakes me up, and is super-duper hydrating for my morning workout.  I had been drinking Rooibos Lemon-Aid for the past many months, and was ready to change it up. 

Closing This Saturday

We will be closed this coming Saturday, April 17th.  Sorry for any inconvenience.  We'll be back on Monday. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Expanded Weekday Hours Begin Monday

Starting Monday, April 5th, we'll be opening at 10:30am on weekdays.  It's a great time to stop in for a quiet cup of tea in our cozy and peaceful little teahouse. In the upcoming weeks, we'll be adding a few additional treats to complement a morning cuppa. Mid-morning is also a great time to explore our ever expanding menu of loose teas.  It's a particularly pleasant time of day in the neighborhood and plenty of parking tends to be available right across the street in the morning. 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tea Party

I know it's an obscure use of the term, but a tea party can refer to people gathering to drink tea.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Got Tests?

We're here to help!

Today I'm introducing our Exam Survival Kit.  It contains two teas that will help you ace your exams.

Focused Mind
This brand new yerba mate and tisane blend will help you when you need to meet a deadline or pull a late night study session. The combination of botanicals in this blend will keep you awake and alert, yet calm and open to focused thinking and creativity. Customers often comment on the very pleasant "buzz" they experience when drinking this delicious and healthy blend. And with yerba mate providing the energy, there are no jitters and no crash!

Relaxin'
This tisane will help you chill out when the studying is all done and you need to unwind and get some rest. It is chock full of all kinds of relaxing and restorative herbs, and if you pay attention, you can literally feel the tension release from your body with each sip. You know how sometimes when you're hyped up, it's hard to unwind even when you want to? Caffeine-free Relaxin' will help.

It's not just for students: this package can help if you need to meet a work deadline, if you're a writer, or you simply have a life or job that requires you to be "on" for extended periods.

A Bonus!
The Exam Survival Kit comes with a fun perk too: a coupon for $1 off any specialty drink at our Lark Street teabar. That includes our wildly popular home-made Bubble Teas. What a way to reward yourself when exam week is over!

The Exam Survival Kit is just $!5 and offers over 70 servings of delicious and functional Good Leaf Signature Tea.  Click here to order, or stop by the shop anytime.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Smart Tea Making and Clever Coffee Brewing



Anyone who has been to our teashop probably knows how much I love the Smart Teamaker.  I think it does the best job of extracting the full flavor of the tea, easily, practically, and it's fun.  I use Smart TeaMakers to brew teas to go at the shop, and use them to brew my tea concentrates at the shop and at home.  What's great about the Smart Teamaker is that it allows the leaves room to fully open, and dance around in the water like they seem to enjoy doing.  When the tea is done steeping, you simply place the Smart Teamaker on top of your teacup or mug and a valve opens from the bottom to allow your tea to pour into the cup, extracting every bit of delicious flavor as gravity does its thing.  It is the placement on top of the cup that opens the valve; it never leaks or drips, and clean up is super-easy! 

For the next part of this post, I offer a disclosure: I love coffee.  Yes, I cross the aisle. I especially enjoy dark roasts like Sumatra and West Coast style blends.  I kinda like all things beverage, except juice and Southern Comfort.

Anyway, I have long been searching for the perfect brewing method for my morning cup of coffee.  (Yup, I start my day with a cuppa Joe, then switch to tea).   Well, I recently found it, and it's the brother to the Smart Tea Maker.  It's the Clever Coffee Dripper!

When asked about their preferred brewing method, most coffee aficionados recommend either french press or pour over.  The thing about the Clever Coffee Dripper is that it offers all the positives of both french press and pour over brewing methods and does away with the negatives.  Coffee offers full flavor when allowed to brew in a full immersion method, the grinds get to spend enough time in the water to allow for optimal extraction; and that's the benefit of french press brewing.  French press coffee, though, is often muddy, and I really don't enjoy coffee grinds in my coffee. 

Pour over brewing, on the other hand is believed to accentuate the subtle notes in the coffee flavor and to offer a clean cup of coffee.  Coffee shops all over the country are returning to one cup at a time manual pour over methods.  The downside to pour over is that in most cases, it's terribly difficult to control the amount of time the grinds spend in contact with the water, and oftentimes, the extraction is weak because water flows through too quickly.

That's why the Abid Clever Coffee Dripper is so... clever!



It works just like the Smart Tea Maker, allowing full immersion, gravity extraction, and delivering a clean and robust full flavored cup of coffee.  I am really happy to have found this method to brew a fresh, clean, perfectly brewed cup of coffee.  I also feel happy to have found some similarity between coffee and tea brewing because in this age of partisanship, it gives me hope to find common grounds, even if it's just in the beverage arena. 

Like, if coffee and tea can get along, think of the possibilities.

Anyway, the Abid is not widely available in the US, but we have 'em at The Good Leaf.





Saturday, February 13, 2010

MOCHI!

Last fall we started selling little rainbow mochis; kinda like the ones you get at Pinkberry (the frozen yogurt shop that isn't in Albany but everyone seems to know about it).  Mochi are confections made from glutenous rice flour; they're pretty sweet and have a consistency similar to marshmallows.  They are delicious and they are back in stock!  And they brought some friends with them.  Black mochis that taste like Chinese sesame donuts.  We also have some other fun snack bags that I don't think you'll find anywhere else in Albany - like Gummi Penguins!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Help us Help Haiti!

We will be donating 50% of the proceeds on all sales of Organic Assam and Cocoa Loco Verde teas to Oxfam for Earthquake Relief.  You can check out this site to see their relief strategy.  http://www.oxfamamerica.org/articles/first-phase-of-haiti-rehabilitation-to-focus-on-water-sanitation-and-shelter Thank you!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Re-Opening Monday

I want to thank everyone for their patience during our transitional time.  Finally, on Monday, February 1st, we'll be resuming normal business hours.  We'll be open Monday - Saturday from 12-7.

I'm happy to introduce Kelsey Lane, who'll be working at the shop most days.  Kelsey has been a regular and loyal customer, and I am thrilled to have her working with me.  She brings her warm and engaging personality, interest in tea, and a fantastic energy to The Good Leaf!  She's also a great photographer and I invite you to check out her photos at http://www.kelseylanephotography.lifepics.com/.  Stop in and introduce yourself!

Number one and only son, EJ, will also be infusing The Good Leaf with his.... um....... EJ-ness.  You'll find him perfecting drink recipes (I think I have to credit him with the Green Tea Egg Cream), suggesting new blends (Sweet Sin Rooibos was his idea), and making magically delicious Bubble Teas.  And when he's off duty, he's quite the guitarist.  Check him out! 
We, the little Good Leaf team, commit to doing our very best to provide you with what we hope is a delicious, pleasant and enriching experience.

See you soon!




Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Getting back to normal

Thank you so much for bearing with us through this transitional period.  We are getting ready to return to normal.  For the remainder of January, we will be open this Thursday, Jan 21 from 5:30 to 8pm, then Jan 26-28 from 5:30 to 8pm.  Beginning February 2nd, we will return to our normal hours, from 12-7 Monday - Saturday!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Re-Opening Date

The Lark Street Shop will be open as of  Tuesday January 19th - limited hours (TBA) will remain in effect.  Details to follow.