Steeped in Gratitude

Posted on May 20, 2012 by LISA KUNIZAKI | 0 Comments

 Springtime’s almost over – When did that happen?

Time’s a funny old thing. It can drag (waiting for a great date), tease (oh, insomnia), and speed by (seasons, holidays, meals shared with friends).

Spring springing by has us aware of all the things that make us grateful. There are many: laughter, friendship, creativity, parks, cats, dogs, health, inspiration . . .

Inspiration’s a good place to dwell. Many people have inspired us.

Long before our executive director, Lisa Kunizaki, became a certified tea master, some Chicago chefs introduced us to their favorite tea importer: Rodrick Markus, of Rare Tea Cellars.

Chambre de Sucre’s line was smaller then. Lisa was importing Sucre Rond, Sucre Carré, and pretty pastels, including the crystalline Rainbow Sugar.

We’d always loved tea, but when you’re importing sugar from a company that’s older than America, you pay more attention to where that sugar’s landing – and many of our sugars are stirred into tea.

Back then, we sold sugar only to consumers, and Rod sold tea only to restaurants. Luck, food, and friendships joined our paths. (See all that call for gratitude?)

Rod imported vintage puerh, and sold it straight, blended with blood orange, or mixed with rose petals. His Gingerbread Dream Rooibos was pure Christmas comfort; Fields of France Rooibos, with lavender, rose petals, elderberries, rosehips, and currants, a sweet holiday; Lapsang Souchong, impeccably smoky; and Moonlight Jasmine Blossom, a walk in a garden ofnight-blooming flowers. He brought great gifts to the table: determination to find the best producers, respect for tradition, and a will to be creative.

That’s our playing field. When we bring out our teas – to paraphrase Stephen Sondheim, “Soon, we promise” – we want to be setting standards for elegance, changing the way people taste tea.

Some of Lisa’s blends are intricate. This week, though, we found clean, simple inspiration at New York City’s Union Square farmers’market. Several farms, including Stoke’s Farm (which has gorgeous tomatoes in season), brought potted herbs. We went on a mint binge: lemon, orange, and even chocolate.

One of our staffers got hooked on mint green tea during a trek around Morocco. Naturally, some of our mint found its way into the teapot.Start your morning Marrakech bright. When you steep green tea, toss in a few leaves of fresh mint. Play with spearmint, chocolate mint, lemon mint, bergamot orange mint; each will round out your tea in a different way.

We’re happy to be playful. Our minty teas were sweetened with Mini Flowers. With green tea, delicate blossoms, and clean aromas, its gardening even a city dweller can do.


Winners’ Circles – A horse race may have one, but we have two. We’re giving you our hearts.


Our 600th giveaway (Six hundred – Can you believe it?) features fleeting treats and keepers: one box each of Sucre Rond and Sucre Carré, and a sugar bowl and creamer set from the Yedi Inside-Out Heart Collection.


The one-thousandth person to LIKE us on Facebook will win a six-piece heart-shaped cups and saucers set, and a tube of the sugar of our choice.Yedi’s classic shapes and cheery colors make tea an occasion as modern as it is elegant.

We’re looking forward to Father’s Day, Summer Solstice, Spa Infusions, tiny hugs, and a Love Spell of a tea. We’ll start spilling details next week!


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