STeaP: The Tea Vodcast

STeaP : Officially Retired

Thanks for stopping by the site! Despite my continued love of tea and my sadness that the show isn’t still a part of my weekly life, STeaP is officially being retired. It was a great run, with a lot of fun memories (both those created with the original co-host Joe, and those created with temporary co-hosts).

I still hope to review tea from time to time, but it will be an unscheduled part of my daily tea drinking journey. You can find an occasional review on my personal site, or through my Steepster account. :)

Feel free to browse through old episodes!



Tea Company Spotlight: Felicitea

Welcome to another spotlight on a tea company we’ve reviewed here at STeaP. I recently asked a few questions of Summer Plum, the “Owner/Founder/Blender/Tea Mistress” of the tea company, Felicitea. I also want to mention that, in addition to having her own little tea kingdom, Summer has just agreed to join the STeaP family.

What does this mean? Well, for starters, you’ll be seeing Summer on the blog as one of our contributors. The other thing you will be seeing down the line is occasional footage (especially tutorials) on tea that Summer will be doing specifically for STeaP. We’re very excited to have her, and I’m happy to share the interview below with all of you. Enjoy!

When was the company founded, and where?

What eventually became Felicitea was founded in 2001 in Lancaster, PA and was called Seasonal Touches with a focus on more then just tea. When I went to massage school, it was changed to A Touch of Autumn focusing on teas and massage.

Then, in October of 2007, we found the perfect name in Felcitea, a company focused on bringing everyone a taste of happiness through tea, massage, and related gifts.

Talk a bit about starting your company.

When I was 14, we lived in a little town called Wharton, about an hour south of Houston, TX. There was a small cafe/coffee shop/book store there that I simply adored called the Blue Moon (something or other). I decided, upon my first visit, that I wanted to have something like this when I grew up. I still do.

I hung on to this dream all through my teens. I wanted to pursue this actively but was nay-sayed and doubted by many around me. Then a friend saw me scribbling a sketch of store front ideas. She asked what I was doing and I told her about my dream. That night she said, “Let’s do it!” The next week we ordered our first small batch of teas. Refreshing Afternoon and Day Dream blends were created out of that first batch of herbs.

I started there because as a child my mother would make herbal remedies when we were ill. These helped but tasted awful. I wanted to create blends that were good for you AND tasted good. I think I’ve managed to find a good balance between health and taste.

We started with green and herbal blends, and have included oolongs and blacks as both our market and my palate increased.

Wholesale, retail and custom blending is not where I pictured being when we started, but I’m very happy with the organic growth and change we’ve experienced. I love tea and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

What are your company’s specialties?

Felicitea is special for a number of reasons.

First, we’re tiny. And every customer gets to interact with the owner/blender. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am involved in every step of the process.

All of the blends are special. They were created in the test kitchen based on what I liked, enjoyed and thought would go well together. Many we custom made for friends, and then happily shared with the world. Each blend has a true story, something you’ll only find at Felicitea.

I think the best service/product we offer is custom blending. Find the story that a customer wants their tea to tell, and creating a blend that does just that. I think of it much like creating a play. The customer gives me the lines, and I fill in tone, set, props, costumes, music and lighting to create their vision in a cup.

I also do these custom haiku tea cups. You can get a tea cup with a tea related haiku on it – customizable to an idea or a name.

What do you sell the most of?

My best selling tea is Sloth Tea. It’s a delicious blend of gunpowder green tea, peppermint, catnip and chamomile.

I think it’s one of those teas that offers a little something for everyone: it tastes great, it’s good for you, it’s fantastic iced and hot. It’s the tea I offer people who say, “but I don’t like tea.” I haven’t met a single person who’s tasted it and walked away still feeling like they don’t like tea.

What tea would you recommend to a novice tea drinker, and why?

Sloth Tea, again, because it’s easy and if you over steep it the herbals mellow any bitterness from the green tea. It’s a strong tea that can handle a little scalding or over steepage, and it just wonderful when made perfectly.

What is your process? How does your company work?

I select herbs from a number of sources. I try to get as much local, organically grown herbs as possible. What I can’t I get from a sustainable, earth-friendly source. Teas also come as close to the estate as I can manage.

From there teas are blended based on my awareness of flavors. I love playing with flavors and using just a hint of this to add a touch of sweetness or spice to a tea. I think some of the best tastes, in tea and food, are the little surprises you find in your cup or plate and I aim to bring that to my customers.

What is YOUR favorite tea?

This is tough! I carry at least 20 blends currently.

Lately I’ve been drinking this new blend called Earl Grey Brandice ;) in the mornings. It’s delicious and I think it’ll be my winter favorite. Though Oolong Summer is my favorite oolong, and Sloth Tea is my favorite green blend.

In the summer I love Oolong Summer and Sloth Tea iced. Made double strength and poured over ice, blended with juice, lemonade or even some vodka, they’re awesome.

For caffeine free yumminess I go with the Rooibus Sweet Tea, which simply rocks my world with a touch of local honey!

I told you – tough to choose just one.

Do you offer purchasable samples of your teas?

I do!

I offer sample tins that cost $2. They hold enough for 3-5 cups of tea, breaking it down to 30-50 cents a cup. A deal for a tasting.

Plus, the tins are recyclable. I use them for paper clips, spices, stitch markers, any small sewing notions, spare screws.

Take a look at what Felicitea is offer right now during the holiday season!


STeaP is going on Thanksgiving Break

Yep, it’s true. STeaP is taking a holiday break, or rather, I (Brandice) am taking a holiday break from filming STeaP. The blog will continue, and I’m very excited about a couple of people that we’ll have as contributors to the blog in the near future, but there will be no new episodes until December 15th, at which point we’ll get started up with the weekly schedule again.

The plan is to get the domain moved from Joe‘s hosting to mine, eat some turkey over the Thanksgiving season, figure out a schedule for the new contributors (including some possible video footage!), make some adjustments to the website once it’s moved to my hosting, get a large backlog of prizes mailed to most of you, get some raw STeaP footage piled up for a few episodes, and then jump back into STeaP before Christmas so that I can give away some Christmas goodies to all of you (of which I have many!).

In the meantime, enjoy some more activity on the blog outside of just podcast entries, and please let me know what you want to see and read from STeaP as we continue to evolve into something that I hope will be increasingly successful long term. :)

To make up for no episode this week, check out Anthony Bourdain’s tasting of Uzbekistan tea? Sounds a bit like the men are the only ones who get to enjoy it, but the customs around the tea are interesting… how much tea to put in a cup, etc. If anyone finds any and send it my way (or just tell me where I can order it), there will be tea prizes!

See you on the forums and on the flip side!


STeaP #PLZ – Please, Revision3?

This week’s episode is an application to join Revision3 Beta, in hopes of eventually becoming a Revision3 show. It’s not a full review episode, but next week will bring a special episode with several reviews done solely by yours truly, so stay tuned.

I promise you that we will not be wearing the head gear any longer after this week, and if you’d like to leave some “Yes, STeaP is Revision3-worthy!” comments in the timeline to encourage Revision3 to give out some tea love, please feel free.

As always, you can discuss the show here in the comments or at the Ning community (did you know that you can view the STeaP community on your mobile device in mobile format?), on Twitter (@STeaP), or by emailing Brandice at brandice [at] steaptv [dot] com.

Stay tuned for next week’s review of Mighty Leaf’s Holiday Tea Box!


STeaP #57 – Releasing on Tuesday

This week, STeaP will be released on Tuesday, partially because I’ve been out of town since Friday afternoon, and partially because I am very likely to start releasing the show on either Tuesday or Wednesday on a regular basis because that setup works better for my work flow and it allows for extra time in the event of failed uploads or out-of-town weekends.

I hope this doesn’t cause too many glitches in your viewing schedule, and I appreciate the patience you’ve all communicated to me while I’ve been learning and adapting to the workflow of STeaP when doing the back end of the show entirely solo.

*Note: This was scheduled to post this morning at 8:00 a.m. Gads.


STeaP rated on The Clip Show

Woah, Nelly! The Clip Show reviewed STeaP on their 100th episode, with guest co-host, Molly Lynn, and we received the following COGDN:

Take a peek at their 100th episode (great job on guest-co-hosting, Molly!) to see what they had to say about STeaP. They picked some very, very early episodes to feature clips of, but I think a rating that implies cookies is definitely A-okay with me. :) Enjoy the episode!


Donate/Subscribe Options Now Available

STeaP is now offering a few different ways for you to support the show financially, for those of you who have been requesting this option. It’s important to us that you know that we certainly don’t require or demand financial support. The show remains completely free to all and we have no plans to ever change that.

That said, if you’d like to support us, you may do so by clicking the “Donate/Subscribe” button in the right hand column of the site, or you can click HERE.


Congratulations, Brandice!

Brandice is now a happily married woman! Be sure to congratulate Brandice and Jim on their marriedness in the comments.


Boulder Tangerine Giveaway

As mentioned in our recent episode, we do indeed have an extra tin of Boulder Dushanbe’s Boulder Tangerine Herbal Tea:

The first person to email me with the name of the Arkansas Razorbacks mascot whose name is relevant to our recent episode will receive the tin.

GO! :)


New Feed: Audio Only

We now have an audio only mp3 version of STeaP. This is brought about by popular demand and is perfect for listening during a long commute. If you like STeaP but can’t find a way to fit it in your schedule, this just might help you out a bit.

It’s not in iTunes yet, but should be within a week.

Do you have a suggestion for us? Let us know in the comments or on steaptv.ning.com.