Friday, August 26, 2011


This is the friendly greeting you receive everywhere in Sri Lanka.  Lalith Guy Paranavitana, owner of Empire Tea Services is offering his wonderful Tea Tour of Sri Lanka again this coming January.
If you are even remotely thinking about going, don't hesitate a minute longer.
It was the trip of a lifetime, will be long remembered for its tropical beauty, kind and gentle people, and of course, all that wonderful fresh tea!
Here are a few photos of our memorable trip.
This official greeter at the Galle Face Hotel has been at his post for something like 70 years!
Beautiful Hotels 
Ladies Plucking Tea -- only two leaves and bud for all tea from Sri Lanka!!!

We even plucked some ourselves!
 We visited 4 factories and saw how tea is made from start to finish!  First it is withered in large bins shown here, then rolled to crush the leaf and open the cells so that oxidation can begin.  Then leaves are put on tables to oxidize.  Then dried and sorted by leaf size.  Then, lots of tea tasting.
We asked one of the experienced tea tasters how long it took to become proficient at tasting.  He said, "Well, I've been tasting tea every day now, 7 days a week, for 10 years, and I think I am just now getting good at it!" 
The tea tasting at each estate was so much fun. I have never, and may never again, tasted such fresh tea--some that had just finished that day!  That fresh tea aroma in the factories is something I will never forget. 
We got up close to the elephants!

And visited many temples and famous Buddhist sites.

Who knew Cocoa bean pods were this big?

I had to be drug out of this batik store! Beautiful wares!

Majestic waterfalls

The Jeep Safari was so much fun.

We waded in the Indian Ocean.
Wove through narrow, winding mountain roads.

And saw beautiful vistas in every direction!  It's easy to see why Sri Lanka is now one of the top tourist destinations in the world!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

NYC & Tea

Just got back from a quick trip to NYC to celebrate one of those milestone birthdays with 3 other gradeschool/high school friends.  One of them lives in SoHo, so we were a few short blocks from Harney's new digs and of course we had to stop in for tea one day.  It was great, and John's grandson, Emeric, was most gracious and gave us a complimentary tea tasting.  My friends mostly like the flavored teas, and we thoroughly enjoyed them all.  I can't remember exactly which ones we tried, but I do remember that they were perfectly prepared.  That's always such a treat for me--a rarity to find well prepared tea anywhere outside my own shop.  But, I expected as much from Harney and Sons and was delighted with our tea and the melt-in-your-mouth scones. 

Afterward I took a stab at reading my friends' tea leaves.  I only found out a couple of years ago that my paternal grandmother read tea leaves.  I wish I'd known that when she was with us, but somehow it never came up.  So, I've decided I must carry on the tradition.  It was great fun, and something significant seemed to show itself in each cup!

Another quite new shop we had lunch at was the "Bosie Tea Parlor" at 10 Morton Street.  Again, the tea there was supurb.  I was very impressed with their extensive selection, and I felt right at home when the waiter had to interrupt taking our lunch order to answer the tea timer from another customer's pot of tea.  You know you're in serious tea territory when the tea pot takes priority over everything else! 

Their food was quite good.  The variety was excellent for a tea shop, the service and presentation elegant.  I do wish the scones had been warmed just a bit as they were served cold.  But, all in all, another lovely tea experience and I would highly recommend Bosie's to anyone passing through lower Manhattan.