Welcome! Today we're chatting with blogger and artisan Verity Fisher of Joie de Tea. In addition to her blog, she also creates custom tea blends and tea-related items to sell in her Etsy shop. Brew a cuppa, and sit with us awhile...
Q. Why did you decide to blog about tea?
A. It was almost by accident, really. I have loved tea for quite a while, and last year - as I was living in a new city with few friends and more spare time than usual - I started to explore more into the different kinds that are available, for something to do. I wanted to share my experiences with people, and it was actually my husband who suggested that I start a blog (he came up with the name too!) - prior to that I really didn't know anything about blogs in general, or tea blogs in particular. It's been so exciting to discover that there are so many other people out there with whom to share tea musings and experiences - I get a thrill every time a new reader (or a regular one for that matter!) posts a comment or otherwise responds to my blog!
Q. How do you decide which teas to review?
A. Generally the teas I blog about are ones which I've purchased myself (or that were gifts from my husband or friends) and which I happen to be drinking at the time, so it's fairly random rather than systematic! I also generally don't consider them 'reviews' per se - a review seems a little formal and I would rather have a more casual feel. That said I did recently receive my first ever batch of tea to try from a vendor - Tony from High Teas - and I've just 'reviewed' the first of those on my blog.
Q. What’s your favorite kind of teaware to brew in?
A. Definitely a teapot - I have quite a few different ones and my most-used are my two 'Zero Japan' teapots (also known as 'Beehouse' teapots) - they're simple and elegant, have a removable mesh strainer, keep the tea warm and pour reasonably well!
Q. Do you prefer a cup & saucer, mug, glass or gaiwan?
A. It depends a bit on what tea I'm drinking - for a special treat, or to really get a good idea of the colour of a new tea that I'm drinking I'll use a cup and saucer (I have lots of vintage ones, and a couple of modern ones, that are mostly plain white inside so you can really see the tea). In general for herbal and black teas I will most often use a mug, though - but I have some small Japanese handle-less cups that I tend to use when brewing sencha, because they match the pot I use for that.
Q. Do you take your tea straight up, or with sugar and/or milk?
A. Usually straight up. I'll usually brew chai masala with soy milk, and occasionally nothing else will do apart from a good strong Assam-type brew with milk and a little sugar. I quite like a slice of lemon or orange in my Earl Grey, as well, or in a Ceylon black tea.
Q. Do you remember the first cup of tea you drank? How was it?
A. Not specifically - but I do remember that my Dad used to make a pot of loose-leaf tea - just some very ordinary black tea brand, probably Bushell's or Tetleys or something like that - each morning and we would all have a cup with our breakfast, with milk and sugar. Dad got out of the habit of doing that eventually... not sure why. Teabags took over!
Q. When did you make the switch to loose leaf teas (or have you)?
Q. I think it was probably when I first started seriously learning about and drinking herbal teas - I would grow and dry some of my own herbs, and buy others from the co-op at my university. It's only relatively more recently that I've discovered the joys of loose-leaf black and green teas - definitely no looking back there though!
Q. Do you drink tea predominantly for health or enjoyment – or both?
A. Predominantly for enjoyment, I would say - seriously nothing gives me joy like a cup of tea - it's nice to know there are health benefits but I'm not really hung up on them, especially when there appears to be so much confusing and potentially misleading information about those benefits out there.
Q. What are your three favorite teas?
A. This is a really tricky question, because it depends on so many factors, but I would say that overall my three favourite teas are: Buddha's Tears (rolled jasmine-scented tea) - the one from T2 is lovely; Ujinotsuyu sencha, which is a really nice inexpensive sencha from the local asian grocery (particularly good cold-brewed in summer - it's so smooth and clean-tasting); and first-flush Darjeeling from Risheehat Estate - I bought some of that from Larsen and Thompson last year and it was an absolute revelation, it really set the bar for an exquisite black tea. There are so very many more teas to keep trying though... I'm looking forward to discovering new favourites all the time!
Q. What’s your favorite pairing of food with white, green and black teas?
A. I like Japanese food with Japanese green teas, especially genmaicha; Chinese greens I usually drink on their own, and the same for white teas. I'm most likely to pair black teas with food - Earl Grey with an almond croissant is a particular favourite of mine.
Q. Do you have a favorite tea company? Which one, and why?
A. There aren't as many and varied tea companies around in Australia as there seem to be in the US; and a lot of places seem to just replicate the same old flavoured blends, with slightly different names perhaps! I've bought or been given quite a lot of tea from T2 (www.t2tea.com.au) and they are definitely one of my favourite tea companies - they have an interesting selection of flavoured teas (particularly their rooibos blends) and are also starting to stock more fine exotic teas (and they have a great range of beautiful teawares as well, oh my!). I like Larsen and Thompson teas (www.larsenandthompson.com.au) as well - they do mainly Estate Darjeelings and Assams as well as fine Chinese teas, so they're a great company to go to for something out of the ordinary.
Q. You've started blending/selling tea and tea related items on your Etsy shop - how's that going, and what are your goals for that in the future?
A. It's going really well actually, better than I had even hoped! I have had such lovely feedback from all my customers so far, which has been extremely exciting - it's so much fun to have the chance to be creative with something I'm so passionate about and have people respond well to that! I'm definitely going to keep on with the online shop but my ultimate goal is to have a really funky, fun bricks-and-mortar tea house where people can come and enjoy teas of all kinds - that'll be a way down the track though, but I'll be working towards it bit by bit!
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
A. I think that's everything (but of course I'm happy to answer any questions at all!)... thanks so much for interviewing me Jamie, it's been an absolute pleasure.
Special thanks to Verity for the wonderful interview! I wish you the best of luck with your store, and your tea journey as well. You can contact Verity through her blog, her Etsy shop, on Twitter @joiedetea, or in the comments below.