To many people, a cup of tea is a quick process - open the box, pull out the tea bag, and add it to piping hot water. But, what if there's more to it? We sat down with Niraj Lama and his wife Mary Boland, owners of Happy Earth Tea, to find out just what we were missing... Tea is not a new passion for Niraj and Mary, he is from Darjeeling, India (which is where they met), and it was there that they owned their first tea company, Darjeeling Tea Exclusive. After moving to New York with his family, this company became Happy Earth Tea, and we quite like the fact that they landed here in our city!
After sitting with Niraj for only a short time, we quickly realized there was more to learn about tea then we imagined. There are a lot of factors we don't think about, from where the leaves are grown, the climate, side of the mountain it is on, to the elevation and more.
It even breaks down into seasons. First Flush teas come from a spring harvest, Second Flush is a summer harvest, and lastly is the aptly named Autumn Flush. Each produce a slightly different bodied tea as well - either a lighter or stronger tea. Each tell a story of where it came from.
And the major difference between green teas and black teas? The oxidation process. Green teas are less oxidized and black teas are completely oxidized. Can you see the difference?
For a great description on what happens to tea leaves once they are plucked check out Happy Earth Tea's blog post entitled What is oolong? Part 1 - Manufacturing.
Loose leaf tea is nothing to be afraid of.
Whether you have a tea pot with an infuser...
... or an infuser that sits right inside of your mug...
... loose leaf tea is easy. Here's a quick introductory video of Niraj making Darjeeling: How to make a good cup. You don't have to be a tea expert to enjoy a good cup.
Rochester has been a home away from home for Niraj and tea is a big part of their lives, especially for Niraj. It reminds him of his home in Darjeeling, their way of life, and even the scents of the forests and wildflowers.
Tea is an experience, it's a journey, every cup is a new discovery. Stop in to Happy Earth Tea in the Hungerford building and enjoy the simplicity of tea.
Address: The Hungerford 1115 East Main St., Suite #228 Rochester, NY 14609