Q&A with Rachel Rachana Carter of @iheartteas on the #NYCTeaTour

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Powerful things happen when a group of women get together – especially when that group of women has a deep knowledge of tea, a sense of adventure, and a taste for creativity. 

During the last weekend in July, an eclectic group of influential tea bloggers joined forces to explore the New York City tea scene. Rachel Carter, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Tea Specialist, and Tea Blogger of @iheartteas and @mindbodykarmalife, set out to meet Sara Shacket of @tea_happiness, JoAni Johnson of @agiftoftea and @joanijohnson6000,  Nicole Wilson of @teaformeplease, Connie Tsang of @teainspoons, and Verna L. Hamilton of @msvlh.

They called it #NYCTeaTour – and their readers and followers joined them virtually on their journey.

Rachel spoke with us about her time on the tour… and convinced some of her friends to share some of their favorite parts too.

What tea places did you visit on the #NYCTeaTour?

My friends made sure we hit as many places as possible.  Being local themselves and totally in touch with the tea scene, I left the planning to the experts.

Saturday:     
Sunday
Monday
  • Bibble & Sip 
  • Finally, an impromptu lunch with Sara and Jo at Radiance Tea.  
Cha Bay Handmade Wood fired Ceramics
Photo courtesy of Rachel
Tell us a little bit about who you were with.

All of us are bloggers but with different focuses. Jo, Nicole, and Sara inspired my visit. We have known each other for a long time. This trip was made special because of these lovely ladies.

Sara is a Certified Tea Sommelier that does wonderful work regarding tea and history.  She also dabbles in growing tea plants at home. She has quite the green thumb – I saw for myself.

Jo is a Certified Tea Blender, educator, consultant, and has her own children’s book about tea. Currently, she is one of the hottest ageful fashion models.  She modeled for Fenty, Rihanna’s new fashon line and has a new campaign in Sephora. She has been in Elle, Vogue, Allure, and the list goes on. 

Nicole is an award-winning blogger and Tea Speaker. She won the 2018 World Tea Award for Best Tea Blog. Her next engagement will be at the Chicago Tea Festival this year. 

Connie is the newest addition to the tea blogging family. Her trip to New York serendipitously coincided with mine. We were the visitors of the group, her from Ontario and me from Chicago. She loves to travel and discover teas and then writes all about it. 

Verna has extensive knowledge in the tea industry, having spoken at several World Tea Events and traveled to Istanbul to speak about tea. I had connected with her several times at The World Tea Expo.  She is definitely a tea enthusiast and lover of matcha. She loves tea history and dance.  It was great to connect with her again.

From Left to Right: Verna, JoAni, Nicole, Connie, Sara, and Rachel
Photo courtesy of Rachel
How did this trip evolve – what started it all?

This all started a few years back. Every time we got together at The World Tea Expo, Jo, Nicole, and Sara said I really needed to visit the tea scene in New York. Who could argue with them? After this last expo I decided enough was enough.  

Sara is an excellent planner and combined with Jo they both came up with the tour spots.  Only thing I did was show up and create a hashtag. The local ladies know the spot and the people behind them.  I’d follow Sara, Jo, and Nicole anywhere. Note: they know all the foodie and fashion spots too. A girl can get lost in New York and certainly go broke too, if not too careful. 

So, to answer your question the #NYCTeaTour was a group effort between myself, Sara, Jo, and Nicole.  I will say our trip wasn’t just about tea. We also incorporated a lot of foodie stops. We love our tea, food, and fashion.

Will #NYCTeaotur become an annual pilgrimage?

Oh, my I hope so. 

What were some of your favorite parts?

Unforgettable moments include the Aged Tea & Chocolate pairing at the Baccarat. We did the suggested tea with the two chocolates but we mixed and matched to see what we would like as well. It was educational and fun and beautiful. We started out with a big bang. 

Chocolate from the Aged Tea & Chocolate Pairing from Mansa Tea at the Baccarat Hotel.
Photo courtesy of Rachel

Sparkling Darjeeling at 29B. I’m not much of a sparkling person but however they made it, the bubbles were super fine – it was the champagne of tea and we paired our tea with a cheese plate – it was the sweet/salty/crunchy experience.

Cold Brew Oolong and Pineapple Linzer at Te Company.  That was special. They’re not only known for their tea – but also their desserts. Specifically their pineapple Linzer– I paired it with a roasted cold brew oolong. It was perfect, especially since it was hot that weekend, we were drinking a lot of things to offset the heat.

Roasted Cold Brew Oolong from Té Company
Photo courtesy of Rachel

Best overall was spending time with my tea friends. They truly made this trip spectacular for me. 

What new things did you learn/taste?

The new stuff for me was the chocolate and tea pairing, hojicha soft serve, avocado green tea with cheese top, and sparkling Darjeeling.  I learned that you can find anything in NYC which is saying a lot coming from Chicago.

What did you guys talk about over tea?

As tea geeks do, we talked about flavors, compared notes.  We have a tendency to geek out when we all identify similar layers in the tea.  Then we discuss the food we paired with the tea. Of course, we also talked about what to have next because there is never enough, and the constant topic of conversation always started with, “When you come back….”


Sara, Nicole, and Constance also reflected on the tour with their fellow bloggers and friends:
Sara:

It was such a special experience to see our NYC tea shops through the eyes of Rachel, who experienced them for the first time. I was able to appreciate all the amazing tea resources we have in a new way. There were so many wonderful teas, and I’m still savoring the iced watermelon matcha we had at Setsugekka. I’m so glad we were able to create this NYC tea tour for her.

Read up on some of her favorite teas on Instagram and online.

Nicole:

My favorite part of our tour was spending time with friends that I don’t get to see very often. None of us would have met if it hadn’t been for tea. The entire trip was also a great reminder to not take all of the wonderful tea places in my backyard for granted. We’re lucky to have so many to choose from. I’m a bit biased but my favorite pairing was definitely the cheesecake covered in wildflower honey alongside Té Company’s Graceful Hill oolong. It was a match made in heaven!

Don’t miss her recap of the tour on Instagram and her tea reviews.

Té Company’s cheesecake and oolong.
Photo courtesy of Rachel
Connie

I have always wanted to visit NYC because I‘ve heard of the rich tea culture there. I was lucky that Rachel was visiting the weekend I was considering, so, I decided to go as well. It was lovely to hang out with my tea friends who I met last June at the World Tea Expo, such as Sara, Jo, and Nicole. I was really grateful for Sara and Jo planning out a weekend tea excursion! While many of the tea shops were lovely, my key highlights were Té Company, T-shop, and the tea and chocolate pairing at the Baccarat with Mansa Tea! I can’t wait to go back.

Be sure to look out for her Top 5 list of places on the tour online and on Instagram.

Teapots at T-Shop
Photo courtesy of Rachel

Rachel said they would get lost in conversation over tea. While they kept on schedule, they left room for inspiration and impromptu stops, which included shopping, more tea and food, and King Kong on Broadway.


We love conversations with Tea Bloggers! Have you read this one with Notes on Tea?


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About Author

Amanda is a writer who loves fire trucks, yoga mats, and a strong cup of matcha. amandarmurphy.com

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