Natasha lives in New York and is the tea-genius behind The Snooty Tea Blog, a blog I am a big fan of in which she curates, reviews, and extensively discusses tea. I reached out to her to find out more about her inspiration, and below are her delightful responses. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter!
Do you remember your very first cup of tea?
We’ve always had some form of tea in the house, and one of the first cups of tea that I can remember was made by my grandmother, who was staying with us for the winter. It was a mug of Celestial Seasoning’s Red Zinger, which she had doctored up with honey and lemon because I was suffering from some flu-y thing or another. She had made one for herself as well–maybe I’d tasted hers and requested one of my own. Dangit, the more I try and recall exactly what happened, the blurrier the details get. Call it senili-tea.
How did your passion for tea start? How did that segue into the The Snooty Tea Blog?
My passion for tea started after ordering up some Adagio goodies during the “Woo, green tea is the magical skinny-bullet!” craze of ’09. Since I wasn’t keen on purchasing creepy tablets of tea extract, I went the more natural route and decided to treat myself to some high-quality full-leaf bags. I became so enamored with the tea itself that I wanted to try more and more, as many varie-teas as possible–which is still true today.
The Snooty Tea Blog came about because all that sip-‘sploration had accumulated with it a hefty load of senseless tea knowledge. With nowhere else to put it, I dumped those tidbits and tea-scoveries onto a cabin-fever-inspired blog that I had started, but never had any real goals for. As it turned out, people liked reading my posts! Go figure. Everything else fell from there–getting contacted by tea companies for reviews, starting the Youtube channel, meeting some really amazing tea folks like Elyse Peterson of Tealet, Jeff Fuchs of Jalam Teas, and Nicole Martin of Tea For Me Please… Ece-tea-ra.
For a black tea, gotta hand it to Joseph Wesley Black Tea–the Lapsang Souchon just about floored me. Similarly did Yezi Tea’s Master Grade Dragonwell green tea; they call it “master” for a reason. With white teas, you can’t go wrong with a silver needle; that stuff is pretty much a sweet treat for your mouth. Teavivre does them really well. They also do some pretty fantastic oolongs, but Tea Setter’s Oriental Beauty takes the cake for a mind-blowing oolong.
The reviews are here:
The three teas you would take with you to a desert island:
Here’s hoping the desert island has hot water! My tea preferences change all the time, but if the ship left tomorrow, then I’d bring:
1. San Mai from Jalam Teas. This Sheng Pu-erh is just. Phenomenal. One sip is like sinking back into a warm hammock while the sky is alive with sun and breeze. Yeah, it’s that good.
2. Adagio’s Hojicha, a roasted green tea. Has this weird little blueberry aftertaste to remind you that it’s not coffee.
3. Steven Smith Teamaker’s Peppermint Leaves. The description says “Perhaps the world’s best peppermint tea,” and their self-assurance is most certainly jus-tea-fied.
Talk about the difference between loose leaf and bagged tea.
I did a post on this a while back, when the blog first started.
Basically, with loose leaves you’re more likely to get better flavor, since the leaves are intact. Mainstream bagged teas are mostly leaf dust, so you get a good hit of the first infusion if you’re just grab ‘n-go-ing it, but ultimately it winds up as a weaker cup. Bagged tea also offers you only one measure of tea, as opposed to loose, where you can play around with how much or how little you want to put in.
Loose is also more likely to be higher leaf quality in general, and depending on who you buy it from, the sale may benefit the tea’s origin communi-teas.
I’m not saying one is better or worse than the other. They simply have different characteris-tea-cs. In the end it’s up to you, the drinker, to tea-cide.
Do you have a favorite tea brand? Tea-related product?
I don’t have a favorite–every brand offers something different. One company may do incredible herbals but mediocre blacks, and another might have wicked blends but unspectacular single origin teas. It’s apples and oranges. (Fun fact: “orange” is as un-tea-pun-able as it is un-rhymable.)
What are your other interests besides tea?
When I’m not Iron Man, my spare time is usually spent buried in a book, marathoning a series that everyone already saw 5 years ago (‘Sup, Ugly Betty), cooking obscure dishes of the type that may or may not involve chicken gizzards, and people-watching. Somewhere in all that mess fall comics, video games, and gender theory. Then a touch of feminism, a dash of yoga and Bruce Lee…
Four favorite books?
It’s easier to choose favorite teas than favorite books! Good god. Among many, many others:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Hamlet, by Willy Shakes
Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine
A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R.R. Martin (Ok, it’s five books so far, but hush.)
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
I studied abroad in Montpellier, France and it has effec-tea-vely stolen my heart for good.
What would you say to someone who has only ever tried grocery-store bagged tea and doesn’t particularly like tea so far?
Tagged: Adagio tea, black tea, creativity, curator, curator interviews, Dragonwell green tea, green tea, interviews, Joseph Wesley tea review, oolong tea recommendation, Oriental Beauty tea, peppermint tea review, Steven Smith Peppermint Leaves review, tea, tea blog, tea reviews, Tea Setter, Tea Setter tea review, tea specialist, Yezi Tea