Friday 12 December 2008

Happy Christmas!

Tis the season for warmth and merriment! And lots of hard work before we all get a well deserved break with our family and friends.
We just finished the RDS Craft Fair in Dublin last Sunday and overall, it was a good show. We sold out of nearly all of our teapots and only have a few of our lovely cups with strainers left. We also sold out of all but two of our special Christmas teas, so get some Winter Apple (cinnamon and spiced apple) or Rooibos Chai (warm spices and mellow rooibos) to enjoy in from of a roaring fire!
So a good Craft show - lots of work and long hours, but we get to see returning customers, meet new tea lovers and share our love of tea with the crowd. We also enjoy seeing all of the lovely artists and food artisans again and see their new work over the past year.
I picked up some beautiful gifts this year, though I think the selection is a bit more careful this year (and we are making a few gifts - Colm also makes furniture and he is whipping up some lovely solid wood cutting boards for friends and family - take a look at his portfolio at, spending our money wisely is key!
Best quote overheard from a customer at a jewelry stand, "I just got tired of all of the rude shop girls and decided to do all my shopping here at the craft fair this year instead!" Customer service is always better when you are dealing with the creative force behind a small business. In these difficult economic times, it pays to be good to your customers! We certainly appreciate ours!
We wish you a very happy Christmas, Channukah, Solstice or Holiday this winter season!
All the best to you and yours,
Mico and Colm

Monday 24 November 2008

A Very Festive Season

Well, we missed the Dun Laoghaire People's Park Sunday Farmers Market yesterday, but promise we will be there every Sunday from now until Christmas (weather permitting!).

And we will be at the Dublin RDS Craft & Design Fair in the spectacular Christmas Food Emporium Hall at Stand S45 again this year from 3-7 December! The Craft Fair is a great place to do all of your Christmas shopping. You will find thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list and support local artisans and small business people at the same time. Keep the local economy thriving!

We may add some other Christmas markets if we can find the time and I'll let you know as soon as we do. Maybe we will pop up in your area, too (if you know of a great market in your area that you'd like to see us at, drop us a note and we'll see what we can do!).

Also, we have added a new section to the website with our Christmas Teas and Tisanes - special flavours just for the season and packed in lovely red bags. The flavours are fruity, spicy and very festive. Great for these chilly winter days and nights!

I will also be adding some special sampler packs to the website - these have been requested in the past and are great gifts for those who like trying out new flavours or are looking for an introduction to a type of tea.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Matcha - the new health craze!

Two years ago the craze was all about Pu Erh (you know, that tea that Victoria Beckham claimed helped her stay thin). It was being sold in spas here at over 20euro for 15 teabags! Yes, according to Chinese medicine, it does have lots of health benefits, but I'll leave that for another issue.

This time I wanted to talk a bit about Matcha, which has suddenly gained popularity on out shores. While we are not experts or connoisseurs, we know a bit which you may find interesting. And I've got a recipe at the end...

So, Matcha is a finely ground green tea which is used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony. The veins and stem of the Sencha green tea leaf are removed and the leaf that remains is steamed, dried and then ground. The resulting powder is quickly used or vacuum packed to keep the nutrients in the powder and the flavour fresh. Once the tin is opened, it is best to use all of the Matcha within 3-7 days and it is best to store in the refridgerator. The less access to air, the better.

To prepare a hot cup of Matcha, place about 1/2 teaspoon of powder into a small teacup. Add about 2/3 cup (200ml) water at about 70celcius (below boiling) and whisk quickly until foamy. Traditionally, a bamboo whisk would be used, though a small metal whisk could be used in a pinch.

The reason for the recent interest is that when you drink Matcha, you are ingesting the whole leaf and therefore a greater amount of the anti-oxidants and polyphenols inherent in the plant. The caffeine content is higher than a cup of green tea, though not as great as a cup of coffee. The interesting thing is the caffeine gives a different buzz than both tea and coffee. It is a gentle energy release which lasts 4-6 hours and fades without the drop associated with coffee. Green tea is also considered helpful to de-toxing your system and possibly to assisting weight-loss.

There are different grades of Matcha, depending on the type of leaf it is made from. I am not an expert on this, but that information is around, if you want to get specific. You can get Matcha from Japan or China, though the flavour of Japanese Matcha is generally considered preferable (though the cost is much greater!). The flavour should be clean and fresh with grassy or seaweed notes, a slightly chalky feel in the mouth and a sweet aftertaste. Think of it as an alternative to wheatgrass juice - with a caffeine kick!

Also, just a note - it is generally preferable to use organic Matcha, as the leaf is being ingested and non-organic could contain pesticides that you might not like to introduce to your body, especially if produced in a country with lax pesticide regulation.

We are coming into winter, but this recipe is still a great flavour and can be made hot too!
Making An Iced Matcha Latte

1 teaspoon (or to taste) matcha
3 teaspoon sugar or 1 tsp honey
1/2 cup hot (not boiling) water
1/2 cup of cold milk*
1 cup of ice cubes

Put matcha into matcha bowl or teapot, add hot water & then sugar or honey. Stir to dissolve matcha preferably with matcha whisk. Pour matcha mix into a tall glass with ice and then fill the glass with cold milk. Alternatively, put the matcha mixture and ice cubes into a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Sunday 19 October 2008

Our Summer Report

So, we had a busy summer and are gearing up for a busy Winter season (what better on a cold winter morning than a steaming cup of your favourite cuppa??).
First off was a number of rainy Sundays and a few picture perfect ones at the Dun Laoghaire Farmer's Market in the People's Park. Nice to see our regulars and meet new folks there. Best sellers for the summer - Mango Black Tea, Sencha Rose Garden and, of course, Pure Chai Black Tea, which I brew up every Sunday morning to bring hot to the market. Get there early - it often sells out by 3pm!
Next up was the Green Gathering near Kiltealy, Wexford. A great weekend with the ubiquitous mud, music and great food! We sold tea (and milkshakes and matcha lattes and lots of chai) in the Love Cafe with our coffee/hot chocolate friends.
Then the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire - first day was rainy, but tea is perfect on a rainy day, so we did ok. Sunday was beutiful and sunny - great for the wonderful ice cream next to us! And good for us too!
We just went to the Shop Expo at the RDS in Dublin and met lots of other small Irish business showing there - we've got some great entrepreneurial spirit in this country! Also, quite a few people who are hopeful about business in spite of the gloom and doom in press and government and economy these days. The small businesses will be the backbone of our future prosperity.
Two weeks ago we went to the Festival of World Food at Marlay Park. Once again, Saturday was hit by bad weather - howling winds and rain, but lots of people showed up anyway and enjoyed lots of great food. Sunday was much milder and a great day was had by all!
So, now for a bit of down-time before the next run comes along. See you at the Sunday Market until then!
Until then, enjoy your hot cup of Kingfisher Tea (I had Gen Mai Cha and Earl Grey today)

Ginger - Tasty and good for you, too!

As you may already know, we have a great assortment of tisanes - fruit and herbal blends without caffeine. One of the most popular is the Fresh Ginger blend, because of its great taste, but it also has some great benefits, thanks to the abundance of dried ginger root. Fresh cut ginger root is even better and you can always try adding some to other types of tea and tisane to get more benefit in your favourite beverage!
Health Benefits of Ginger!
- relieves symptoms of cold, flu, and coughs
- helps relieve indigestion, cramps, nausea
- increases circulation, warms and increases energy
- cleanses colon, fights colitis and diverticulitis
- eases symptoms of hangover and general debility
- helps relieve arthritis

Our Fresh Ginger blend also contains liquorice root (natural throat soother), lemongrass (cooling and relaxing to the stomach), peppermint (relieves bloat), black pepper and lemonpeel (for more flavour!)
Enjoy in good health!

Tuesday 30 September 2008

Festival of World Food

Come see us this weekend, 4-5 October, at the Festival of World Food in Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin! We will be in the cafe area across from our coffee-selling friends. There will be all sorts of great food, music and culture from around the world. Hope to see you there!
Also this week, we are at the Shop Expo at the RDS in Dublin, talking to current and potential wholesale customers for Kingfisher Tea. So, if you are in the business, come on down and see us at Stand F20!
I will post pics from these two events early next week and let you know how they went!
And another note, we were in Paris last week and visited Mariage Freres, one of the most amazing tea shops on the planet. We picked up some new darjeelings for Colm and a nice scented Tibetan tea for me. Had a great time!
More next week...

Sunday 21 September 2008

Amazing Rooibos

Rooibos is a plant native to South Africa, where it has been used to make a beverage for generations. The 'tea' has no relation to ordinary tea and thus should be called a tisane or infusion. It is also called Redbush Tea, for the dark red needles and stems.

The infusion is a lovely deep reddish-orange shade and has a sweet and earthy flavour. It blends well with fruits and spices and so many of your favourite flavours in ordinary tea blends can be very tasty when blended in a Rooibos base.

Rooibos has no caffeine and very little tannins, making it easy on the stomach and gentle enough for children. Rooibos can also be made with milk and sugar and so can be a non-caffeinated drink for those looking for a tea substitute. It is a great evening and before-bed drink, too, since it is caffeine free.

All this aside, Rooibos has additional health benefits that can make it even more enjoyable. Studies have shown rooibos to be anti-mutagenic, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. Rooibos is just full of anti-oxidants, one of which is unique to rooibos alone.
Health benefits:
  • alleviates nervous tension
  • aids digestion
  • can be used to alleviate colic in babies
  • can alleviate allergies, such as hay fever
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-viral
  • anti-oxidant, reducing free-radicals
  • promotes healthy liver function
So, especially for those who want a healthier option than traditional black tea or with less caffeine than green tea, rooibos can be a tasty and enjoyable beverage!
I love our Rooibos Orange Eucalyptus when I have a head cold - soothing and great for opening the sinuses! Colm has a cup of Organic Rooibos most evenings before going to bed - calming and warming!
We hope you try this great infusion...let me know your favourite way to drink rooibos, too!

Sunday 14 September 2008

Traditional Chai

For my very first posting, I thought I'd respond to the most asked question at our little tea stall at the Dun Laoghaire Farmer's Market - Dublin
"How do I get my Chai to taste like your Chai?"
The answer?
It may take a bit more time, but the flavour is worth it!

Directions are for a 4 cup teapot
Put 3 cups of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil
Add 4-5 heaping teaspoons of our Kingfisher Tea Pure Chai Black Tea (or Rooibos Chai)
Gently boil for 15-20 minutes
Add sugar or honey to taste (I usually use about 1 teaspoon per cup)
Add 2 cups of milk or soymilk
Bring just barely back to a boil (milk doesn't like boiling)
Strain off the tea leaves/spices, pour into cups or a teapot and enjoy!

Some notes - Chai needs to boil in order for the flavour of the whole spices to be released. The sugar/honey also helps these flavours come through. If you don't want to add sugar, try using rice milk, which is naturally sweet.

Next week - The Amazing Benefits of Rooibos!