Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Light of Day - "Green" Tea in Northern Michigan

Hello TEA Friends,

Another adventure in "serendipi-tea" brought us to Light of Day, a true "green" tea business that is dedicated to providing organic products that are high quality, healthy and, I'll readily add, simply delicious.

Two weeks ago, BTS took a trip to Traverse City for the annual Cherry Festival. This area has long been known for its scenic bay views, resort living and, of course, cherries. In recent years, however, entrepreneurs have embraced this region's natural resources and the northwest sector of the lower peninsula has seen the proliferation of wineries and gourmet restaurants. This little city, where years ago we brought our kids every summer for putt-putt, water slides and parasailing, is now attracting the nobility of the haute cuisine, including celebrity chef Mario Batali, who has a summer home just northwest of this cherry capital.

So, we started our adventure at Trattoria Stella, a charming, brick-walled and arched ceiling restaurant whose menu, filled with dishes prepared with ingredients supplied by local farms, will meet any epicurean's expectations. Their daily lunch menu offerings include local cheeses and fruits, salads and tramezzinis (sandwiches) on crunchy homemade bread and, something new to us, "Light of Day" teas. Sampling one of their exciting black teas, we knew we needed to know more about them. Who knew it be in less than an hour?

From Trattoria Stella, we made our way through wine country and stopped at what have become some of our favorites: L.Mawby, Chateau Chantal and Blackstar Farms. At Blackstar, outside their retail store, we were met with quite literally, another sign, that pointed to Light of Day. Was this fate?

I was convinced it had to be at our next and final destination: the Cherry Festival in downtown Traverse City. We had ordered tickets to the first ever "Global Wine Pavilion" at the festival and, while this was supposed to be our reason for being there, we found we were pleasantly sidetracked.

On the way to pick up our tickets at the hospitality tent, we again saw the Light of Day sign inside the Sleeping Bear Gourmet booth! Here we met Bob and he allowed us to sample a variety of Light of Day teas including Honu Chai and Creamy Earl Grey. All of the teas were amazing and, because it was an usually hot day in northern Michigan, he'd alternate serving the teas hot and cold. Tasted great either way.

Bob explained that Light of Day was the creation of Angela Macke who is both a registered nurse and a horticulturist. Her farm practices Biodynamic agriculture and supports Free Trade tea. Everything is quality, right down to the packaging which features polished tin containers (which boast the "Made in USA" stamp) and labels that are designed and printed locally. Imagine drinking a delicious cup of tea and feeling so gosh darned good about it!

So, I'm getting ready to place another order with Light of Day. My newest addiction is Creamy Earl Grey. It really delivers on what it advertises - this is a silky smooth black tea that needs nothing added to it. In my unscientific dining room test market, both my daughter and husband, who ALWAYS add milk to any tea, were happily satisfied drinking this one au natural.

Enjoy the rest of your (Light of) day and this beautiful, summer weekend.

Yours in TEA and Friendship,


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Karma Tea and Tonics Will Get You Instantly

Hello TEA Friends!

As soon as you walk in the door, Karma Tea and Tonics will get you. . . . from its sleek, contemporary furnishings to its gleaming wall display of loose tea selections, you'll feel like a superstar - and how right you are!

It's a stretch, I know, but as a life-long Beatles fan, I can't help but think of John Lennon whenever I hear "karma" and, although his "Instant Karma" had nothing really to do with tea rooms, it does seem to have some application to this unique establishment: an uncluttered, yet sophisticated interior that any individual or group will feel comfortable at. It's a place, if you will, where we can all shine on. On the particular day of our visit, we saw an eclectic group of visitors from small families, to students, to office professionals, sipping tea while conversing, reading or looking over laptops.

We met the owner, Terri Heard. who has been running Karma Tea and Tonics since 2008. According to Teri, the tea room was the kind of business she was looking for - a gathering place to serve quality teas and host special events like poetry readings and book signings. In fact, Terri's daughter has written three books of poetry which can be found on the gift shop shelf occupying a portion of the tea room's east wall.

The teas, of course, are the focal point and they come in selections of choice, premium and elite; going up the scale of quality and price, accordingly. I sampled Monkey Gold, which is a hearty black tea. I found it smooth and nutty. My only regret was not trying a tonic. These are liquids comprised of fruit and herbs that add flavor and other benefits to your drink. That will give us something to look forward to at our next visit.

In addition, you will want to check out the display of loose teas - as fun to look as it is to sample. Every tea Karma sells is on exhibit in a clear glass container. You can open any one of them up to inspect and inhale the aroma of the tea inside. Aside from trying out a tonic, next visit I'm certain to ask for a pina colada tea. It had me at first sniff.

We were served tea in paper cups, which works well for some occasions, but not all. However, we were told china is available, so if that's your preference, make it known when you order.

So, when in Ferndale, check out Karma Tea and Tonics and - you knew this was coming - "dine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun".

Karma Tea and Tonics, "Bar-style Tea Lounge", located at 309 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale, MI.