Friday, January 27, 2012

Where to Drink: Tea to Go @ Teavana

The Drinks: Herbal/white/green/oolong/black and rooibos teas, cold and hot

The Vibes: Casual and quick

Good for: When you need a naturally refreshing energy booster

The $ Factor: Not too Bad ($2.99, $3.99, $4.99 per cup); Pricing is broken down into three distinct tiers, depending on the type of teas you order

The 4-1-1: Teavana is a specialty tea store that mainly sells loose-leaf teas and tea accessories (teapots, tea canisters, tea mugs, etc.). Looking around the store, it's easy to assume that’s all they have, but there's also a tiny tea bar, where you can order fresh cups of tea to-go. That's where the magic is.

I’ll Be Back…: Forget get coffee breaks; I’ll be back for my afternoon “tea” breaks

They got me with the samples. 

I was minding my own business, doing some unnecessary shopping at Westfield Century City when I heard:

“Would you like to try our teas?”

My head immediately jerked to the left, where the sound had originated.

A twenty-something young man with flawless skin was smiling at me. With a dignified grace, he effortlessly balanced a tray of tea samples in his hands.

“Come in. Try some of our teas,” he beamed.

I looked around reluctantly. I was on my lunch break and needed to head back to the office…but…since I’m never one to turn down tea, I took him up on his offer and ventured into Teavana.

Now let me just interject and say this: I’m a die-hard tea fan. I drink gallons of it by the hour. Yet the thing is, most of the time, my cups of tea aren’t that memorable: hot water, a sprinkle of leaves and herbs, perhaps a squirt of honey, if I’m feeling adventurous that day.

But standing in Teavana, sipping the samples of Youthberry White tea and then the White Ayurvedic Chai, and then the Peach Momotaro, and then the Monkey Picked Oolong, I realized that there was something special about these Teavana teas. After each sip, I felt as if my mouth had just lit up with a burst of intense aromas. The flavors from the tea sort of sit and settle into your mouth before the tea goes down smoothly like golden liquid. I guess it should, since Teavana exclusively sells the top 5% loose-leaf teas of the world.

My Teavana tea expert slowly walked me around the store, energetically showing me products, pushing more and more samples towards me, excitedly explaining the health benefits of the different teas I savored. He then proceeded to show me the good stuff: the tea leaves.

The strawberry, blueberry and raspberry mate teas, pictured below, smelled as divinely as they looked. So when you order your tea, make sure to get a few whiffs of the different tea leaves that will be used.

Of course there’s a catch to tea that tastes, smells and looks so divine; it’s expensive. A 16-ounce canister of loose-leaf tea can easily cost up to $100, especially when you start talking about the specialty teas. I suppose depending on how you look at it, maybe the price isn't too bad, considering a 16-ounce canister roughly yields 100 cups of tea. 

But most of the time, while it can be hard to walk away without buying a canister or two, I manage to settle on a cup of tea for the afternoon. I always find myself coming back because I appreciate how friendly and chill the Teavana staff is. They’re totally fine if you take a billion samples, and they’re always quick to share the various benefits of all of the teas.

I highly recommend stopping by Teavana the next time you’re in need of a quick energy booster that’s extremely beneficial for your health. It’s perfect on the go, or to savor back at the office or on the road. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though: Teavana can get really addicting. At one point, I was stopping by and drinking a cup a day for months.

Nonetheless, go check it out. Perhaps I’ll see you there soon!

P.S. – If you like your tea on the sweeter side, request to have the special German rock sugar added to your concoction. Made from beet roots, it’s all natural and unprocessed, allegedly making it a healthier alternative to regular white granulated sugar. Before it’s added to your tea, it looks like large crystallized rocks; in your tea, it’s a syrupy consistency that’s not overpowering in taste. Delish!

For more information: Teavana, @Teavana

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