Steeped Book

Tastemaker Tea Podcast: Episode 4 – Numi

tea podcast- numi organic teas

In Oakland, over on Broadway, there’s a co-working space in a bustling complex known as the Hive. As you open the front door, you’ll probably see the smiling face of Numi Organic Tea co-founder, Ahmed Rahim. He and his sister Reem are the founders of local and nationally distributed tea company Numi Organic Teas. I had been familiar with their teas and their social initiatives for a while. But, it took me moving to Oakland to truly understand how they embody the spirit of this city in the diversity, activism, and attention to ingredient sourcing, and so, I’m pleased to welcome them as the next guest on my tea podcast.

As uptown Oakland continues to grow and thrive, it’s no surprise that the Numi Organic Tea offices are tucked into a back corner of the Hive, which is a hub in the city. It’s been interesting to see how Numi has defined itself as they’ve grown over the years. At a natural product tradeshow many years ago, I still remember the creative approach Numi presented by flying out tea artisans to stitch together their flowering teas as a way to launch them. It was a creative approach that connected with tradeshow attendees as large crowds gathered on the tradeshow floor. 

tea podcast - reem rahim painting

Through the conversation, I learned how both Reem and Ahmed have an artistic bent– I profess to miss the original tea bag packets that featured Reem’s black and white paintings like the one above and caught a glimpse of some of Ahmed’s photos hanging in the Numi headquarters lobby. For the fourth episode of Tea with Tastemakers, I’m happy to bring you a chat with the founders of Numi. Tune into the tea podcast here or click the image below. 

tea podcast

Steeped Book

Tea with Tastemakers Podcast: Episode 2

tea with tastemakers tea podcast

Do you have a car ride ahead of you for a certain holiday of thankfulness this week? To sweeten the miles, our newest episode of Teatime with Tastemakers tea podcast is up! And, good news—we are in the process of getting the podcast up on the iTunes store. Stay tuned for that update.

Expo West 2015

But, first, I felt it fitting to invite you to a conversation with another local tea maker, this time we ventured past San Rafael, California and our first podcast episode with Silk Road Teas to Novato, California and a tea company where each employee is designated as a minister.

Rose and Cabernet Iced Teas

When I think of Republic of Tea, my mind jets through the flavor rolodex of taste memories to the Bazaar Café in San Francisco. It’s not a flavor from their line of Grateful Dead teas or even from the newer line of Downton Abbey teas that comes to mind.

Chardonnay Tea

Instead, Blackberry Sage black tea, Ginger Peach black tea or Wild Blueberry black tea bloom into focus. (Do you sense a trend? Republic of Tea boasts 300 teas / blends.)

Rose Tea

At the 2014 San Francisco Tea Festival, I chatted with one of their ministers of trade about working in the tea industry. Another time, I sat next to the minister of innovation  who has overseen product development for many years–her sources of inspiration on new flavors fascinated.

Chardonnay Tea

Their new releases of teas and tea lines remind me of fashion collections (which might make sense given they were originally started in 1992 by former Banana Republic co-founders, Mel and Patricia Ziegler {along with Bill Rosenzweig}, though the Rubin family has been at the helm of ROT since 1994, under the leadership of Ron Rubin until recently in May when son, Todd succeeded him).

Sonoma Tea Tasting

Earlier this year at the San Francisco Fancy Food show and then at the Natural Products Expo West show, I had a chance to visit their booth and see their flavor innovation at work. Their expansive line of flavors has included recently Matchia or Chia Chai which are both fun to say and to sip / chew.

Hot Mulled Tea

This spring, they introduced a Sonoma Tea line… made of spent wine grape skins that really surprised me with the clever approach and collaboration with wine country company, WholeVine. I had a chance to try the sangria teas at their Expo West booth in Anaheim and then later received an invitation from them to attend a luncheon to taste the teas in action, paired with cuisine concocted by the chef at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco which was a fun way to experience the tea flavors in context.

Sonoma Teas_anneliesz

A vegetable-centric amuse bouche came out as another server poured Chardonnay iced tea. Salad with a citrusy yogurt smear paired with Rose Tea. Seared duck breast was served with Cabernet tea. And a decadent chocolate dessert introduced the hot mulled Zin tea.

Sonoma Teas

After the luncheon, I caught a few minutes with Kristina Richens, the minister of englightenment to talk a bit about Republic of Tea, the Sonoma teas, and their philosophy on cooking with tea.

Tune in below:

Steeped Book

Tea with Tastemakers Podcast

tea with tastemakers podcast

In college, I worked at the campus newspaper and moonlighted down the hall at the radio station, KPNI. It was there I learned the value of not popping my P’s or T’s and developed an appreciation for techno music from the station manager. My show lasted for an hour during which I would read PSA’s as breaks and attempted to ad-lib throughout the hour. I worked on fading in songs and how to select them by length and sonic resonance with the preceding song. When I look back on that time, it feels almost mythical. Our station team consisted of a spirited crew. We were a band of misfits and I loved every minute of my time in the studio—even the mandatory rotation shows each of us got assigned, playing songs from a limited selection of CDs. In the studio, I set aside my shyness of being in front of crowds, channeling my energy into the music and weaving songs together to tell a larger story. I considered the small space private and the microphone as a rhetorical question issued into the silence.

silk road teas

When Steeped began its locomotive journey out of me, into the kitchen, and onto the page, I knew that I wanted not just to include my story of how I got steeped, but those of friends and tastemakers in the tea world. A cup of oolong tea offered along with an engagement ring at a jewelry shop prompted my former bosses to completely shift direction from their current careers into one deeply steeped in tea. The tea world is full of people whose passion for the leaf transforms their lives. Those stories fascinate me and need to be told. They are the focus behind my new podcast.

silk road teas

You heard that right: I have been working behind the scenes to bring all the pieces together to create a podcast for tea lovers. Expect episodes highlighting conversations over tea with some of the people behind specialty tea companies who are informing and shaping the direction of tea in the U.S.

silk road teas

Living in the Bay area, there is a proliferation of specialty tea companies headquartered within close proximity of each other. Tell me in the comments if there is a tea company you would like to see featured. The first Tea with Tastemakers podcast episode is up!

silk road teas

Silk Road Teas offers exquisite rare artisan teas and has quite a storied past. Based in San Rafael, their focus on quality and reputation in the industry make Silk Road a sought after purveyor of teas. I sat down with president, Ned Heagerty to hear how he got steeped. He and his wife Catherine source and procure stunning teas that are starting to become more available in specialty markets as well as online. Tune in and join us for tea by clicking below to listen.