Kwanzaa Culinarians

Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora

“Black Tea” and Kujichagulia

tea leaves

In these erratic days of turmoil and uncertainty, taking time to center ourselves is sorely needed, and what better way to do this than sitting down to a serene cup of tea.

For those who may be unaware, tea drinking has increased in popularity and growth over the last few years. It has taken on a new perspective as many food and beverage companies relook at both the health benefits and the simplicity of the brew.

In addition, the focus on sugar and artificially sweetened products on the grocery store shelves have lost their luster as our nation addresses the American obesity issue.

Tea consumption has taken on many new forms from ready to drink products to mixoligist cocktails and can even be found in food recipes.

Our marketplace has been laden with Tea of all types both loose-leaf and bagged.

The question arises what is best for you?

The answer, trust your palate and your sources.

At the onset of this “Tea Revolution” several women of color have entered the arena of the leaf and are both collectively and independently offering fine quality teas to the marketplace. These women have been trained and have studied tea for a number of years and have, in the spirit of Kujichagulia, proceeded to have an impact in the tea marketplace. Unlike many of the larger branded companies we are not as well known and promoted, so I take this opportunity to introduce you to some of the “Leading African American Women In Tea”. These ladies bring their acquired knowledge back to their communities and the marketplace instructing on tea cultures, tea varietals, brewing and all things tea. They each have their own companies and join together offering support to each other in the world tea arena.

Pictured Above; Darlene Meyers-Perry, Jo Johnson, Erica Morrison, Angelina Lundy, and Verna L. Hamilton at the World Tea East, 2012

Pictured Above: Darlene Meyers-Perry, Jo Johnson, Erica Morrison, Angelina Lundy and Verna L. Hamilton at the World Tea East, 2012

Many of us have formed a Tea Consortium, where we assist each other in areas of service, buying power, education creating a presence in this marketplace.

As a group we met through our love of the leaf and have formed a bond that has surpassed all expectations with an ongoing vision of success.

We host events locally, nationally and one of our members represented the United States speaking tea, in Istanbul, Turkey.

Each of us has brought our love of the leaf and corporate experience to the education, promotion and service of tea throughout the region. This unification brings with it both rewards and challenges. I take this opportunity to introduce to you some of our members with short bios and web links.

Our mission is to bring tea to all those interested with focus on education, quality product offerings and love. We have defined ourselves, named ourselves, create for ourselves & speak/write for ourselves in a growing industry where we are few.

Pictured: Verna L. Hamilton, Darlene Meyers-Perry, Jo Johnson, Erica Morrison, Tiffanydenise at World Tea Expo 2013

Pictured: Verna L. Hamilton, Darlene Meyers-Perry, Jo Johnson, Erica Morrison, Tiffanydenise at World Tea Expo 2013

Verna L. Hamilton of Tea Philosophy LLC, is a prolific writer, a clear communicator, an engaging speaker, and an unapologetic tea aficionado. Fueled by a passion for everything tea, she combines grace and wit while educating others about tea history, its customs and the cultures tea represents. Verna has also presented at World Tea Expo and represented the United States at the Global Tea Expo in Istanbul, Turkey last year.

Darlene Meyers-Perry of The Tea Lovers Archives, finds great pleasure in working in an industry where she can share her passion and creativity with others.  This Certified Tea Specialist and tea entrepreneur has been featured on News 12 Spotlight, a speaker at the tea industry’s World Tea Expo, an exhibitor at Coffee & Tea Festival and the owner of the tea blog “The Tea Enthusiast’s Scrapbook” where she shares her love of “all things tea”.  Her passion for tea has taken her on many journeys around the world.  Places like Hong Kong, China and Taiwan where she has studied first hand about tea.

Erica Morrison of TeaFieldsWhether building a start-up gourmet tea brand from the ground up or leading an established organization to record-setting revenues, Erica believes that the ability to surpass the competition begins with a focus on execution, accountability, and people. A tea industry speaker & educator, she founded and grew a successful small business, Tea Fields, that in 2011, received top honors in the Best of Bergen Readers Choice award for one of the best tea shops from a loyal customer following. She is a Certified Tea Specialist, with over 10yrs experience in the tea industry, is certified in Tea Blending and currently consults with small business owners to share her expertise on products, marketing, and operations.

Renee Rubens-Muhammad of Symphony Of LeavesRenee Rubens-Muhammad; Symphony Of Leaves: Soon to release her online tea venture, Renee is a self-motivated & highly competitive business development professional with more than 10 years of achievement driving growth & profitability Her talents include, digital advertising, branded events, web-based events, mobile, digital and print advertising, and customized events. She is a mom with 3 amazingly talented, smart & beautiful daughters…and has an interest in the arts and understands how essential it is for us to support creative endeavors…she spends her spare time studying teas. Imbibe! She states” am truly blessed to love the work that I do…I connect people and businesses through various media platforms…I am a die hard New Yorker and I thrive on the frenetic energy of the city”.

Jo Johnson; A Gift Of Tea: Tea Consultant, Certified Tea Blender, Tea Pairing Specialist, Tea Speaker. Jo a creative entrepreneur is the lead coordinator of The TeaBloggers Roundtable a collective of tea bloggers who have presented at the World Tea Expo. A World Tea Expo speaker herself, she has over 10 years of experience in the tea industry. Her experience has afforded her many opportunities, most recently a presentation pairing for KINDSnacks at the Coffee & Tea Festival, PA. Featured in “O Magazine”, May, 2014, issue article “Tea Nation”, Jo finds tea blending just one way to satisfy her creative muses and along with Erica Morrison has begun a new company focused training individuals on the artistry of tea blending Tea Blending Sisters (the courses are offered both online and on site).

Verna, Darlene and Erica’s tea offerings are currently online and have tea available for purchase. Tea Blending Sisters currently accepting students for both their on-line and off-site tea blending and education classes.

As part of this reflection submission we are asked to include a recipe for your experience pleasure. As a Certified Tea Blender I have included a blending offering I hope you will enjoy.

As we brace ourselves for changes in our climate and the need for a bit of calm after the Holiday season a cup of tea can be just what is needed to re-center and relax.

Blending your own can be fun and cost effective, in addition to making it to your palate preference. Here is a base blending offering that you can tweak to your liking.

This will make one cup of tea I suggest you make a one-cup trial and adjust the recipe to your palate preference.

Rooibos, Peppermint, Ginger Tea

By the cup       (6oz)                               By the pot 4 cup size (24oz)

½ teaspoon Rooibos                               2 teaspoons Rooibos

1/8 teaspoon Peppermint                       ½ teaspoon Peppermint

1/8 teaspoon Dry Ginger                         ½ teaspoon Dry Ginger

¼ teaspoon dried Orange Peel             1 teaspoon dried Orange Peel

Bring 6oz of bottled water to a rolling boil; add the ingredients (as this is loose leaf tea you can choose to use an infuser or tea bag to hold blended contents), steep for 5 to 6 minutes. You can add sweetener if you desire a bit of agave mellows out the punch.

I want to thank Sanura Weathers for inviting me to participate in another Kwanzaa Culinarian event. Each year look forward to this time of reflection and spiritual renewal.

You can contact us for tea or tea information/events at our various websites and I encourage you to “Take Some Time For A Cup Of Tea”

About agiftoftea2014

Tea Consultant, Tea Blender, Principal instructor/coordinator Tea Blending Sisters

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Learn more about Kwanzaa

The word "Kwanzaa" comes from the phrase, "matunda ya kwanza" which means "first-fruits." Kwanzaa's extra "a" evolved as a result of a particular history of the Organization Us. It was clone as an expression of African values in order to inspire the creativity of our children. In the early days of Us, there were seven children who each wanted to represent a letter of Kwanzaa. Since kwanza (first) has only six letters, we added an extra "a" to make it seven, thus creating "Kwanzaa." To learn more about Kwanzaa, visit the Official Kwanzaa Website.

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