February 2021 Newsletter

February 2021 Newsletter

Published by Modern Steep on Feb 2nd 2021

If it seemed like 2020 lasted 10 years, then January 2021 lasted about 10 minutes! Poof, here we are in February already. We do hope you are well and thank you for joining us for this month’s updates.

The Latest

We remained busy throughout the month of January filling orders, gearing up for Valentine’s Day and getting some new blending equipment set up and running. With the new blending machine, we have expanded our capacity to blend larger batches of some of our custom blended teas to help ensure ample supply throughout the year. Of course, we’re always dependent on supply chains and timely delivery of ingredients to keep things in stock. Toward that end, we have experienced a variety of delays associated with the pandemic, both on the receiving end and shipping end. When delays result in a specific item being “out of stock,” we’re trying to be diligent about updating online descriptions with estimates on availability based on the information we have at the time.

On the shipping side, while most orders we ship out to west coast destinations have been relatively on time, we have seen some of our mid-west and east coast customers wait two weeks or more to receive their “2-3 Day Priority Mail” packages. Wowza! All that said, and with Valentine’s Day right on the horizon, the mantra remains: Plan Ahead.

Sharing Tea With Your Valentine

As cupid’s big day arrives, we have several tea gifts ready to send to your sweetheart, friends and family. Check out our gift boxes and gift tins or come up with your own assortment. And don’t forget, we’re offering Fair Trade, Organic Theo Chocolates just for this season of love. Sale Ends 02/10/2021.  Gift Sets & More

Requesting a Moment

The online retail world has undoubtedly experienced exponential growth over the past decade and even more so since the start of the pandemic. Online reviews of a business can really impact one’s decision to choose one company over another. As we moved to our online platform in 2017 from a more traditional brick and mortar location, we immediately lost several hundred reviews thoughtfully posted by our customers. Our efforts to rebuild those have been impacted by Google’s continuation (on some servers) to tie us to our old physical location, calling us “permanently closed.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

We now have a direct link to our current official Google review site. With your help, we hope to shine our light a little brighter within the online tea world. Online advertising at any effective level can be extraordinarily expensive, especially for a small business like ours. Whereas, a positive review status can do a lot to generate interest while helping us to keep advertising costs down and prices lower. We’d be delighted and sincerely grateful if you could spend 1 or 2 minutes to share your comments and/or a quick rating using the link just below. Thank you for your consideration and a big THANKS to those who have already shared in this way. Review Link

Tea Trivia: Growing Tea

Camelia Sinensis is the scientific name of the revered tea plant. Its medicinal and practical usage date back several millennia, predating written history. It is widely attributed to originating in the Tibetan Plateau in northwestern China, including the upper portions of the Yunnan Province and eastward to the point where Myanmar and Tibet meet.

In Myanmar, the healthy tea leaf is used to make Lahpet, a pickled tea leaf salad. In Tibet, milk tea is a popular hot beverage in which tea is combined with barley meal, salt and yak butter. Hearty! And there are plenty of examples of using tea in culinary dishes from desserts to elegant sauces and savory dishes. Most of all, though, tea is consumed as a simple beverage by people all around the world. In fact, tea is the second most consumed beverage on the planet following water!

While we are accustomed to seeing the tea plant growing on hillsides in manicured hedges and shrubs, the Camelia Sinensis can mature into full grown trees of 30 to 50 feet in height. Tea plants for making the tea we drink are most often kept at shrub height for ease in harvesting the leaves. In contrast, we do offer a few teas in our Pu-erh collection made from leaves hand-picked from centuries-old, full grown wild tea trees. These are a rare and exceptional treat in every sense.

In general, the tea plant thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. And, many high quality teas are grown at altitudes of up to around 6000 feet. Given the desirability of higher altitudes and tropical conditions, it’s understandable why relatively little tea is grown in the U.S.

Speaking of the U.S., there are a couple of commercial tea gardens and a growing number of small and/or experimental gardens mostly in the south and even one in Oregon. The largest domestic commercial operation is the Charleston Tea Garden located on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina, coming in at 127 acres.

In 2017, it was estimated that there were about 60 tea gardens in the United States, most being quite small -- think ½ an acre to a couple acres each. (For perspective, there are over 186 Million tea acres in China alone.) Many domestic growers are experimenting with various tea cultivars to identify those that work best in our part of the world. There are many parallels to early domestic experimentation and cultivation of grapes for wine production in the U.S. And, we've certainly seen how that took off.

While there are hints of a promising future for increased tea cultivation in the U.S., one of the additional challenges limiting marketplace accessibility has to do with labor rates which are significantly higher here than elsewhere in the tea growing world, fair trade or not. For now, most domestic teas are considered to be a novelty with few bargains to be found while “quality” and variety hopefully continue to rise. Stay tuned!

Thanks again for joining us for these updates and tea trivia. We wish you a February filled with joy, good health and much love.