Edible Finds

Loose leaf tea is gaining in popularity in Northeast Ohio so we sought out some expert advice about favorite teas and ways to use them. Here’s what we found…

Amber Pompeii, Cleveland Tea Revival in Hingetown, ClevelandTeaRevival.com

Why are you passionate about tea?

Tea connects people. It connects continents and generations. Most of the tea farms that we get our tea from have been growing and drying tea the same way for hundreds of years. So, when you come to have a cup of Pu-erh or Darjeeling, you are often drinking tea from a tea plant that is 100 years old, grown in a tea garden that has been owned by the same family for multiple generations.

What is your favorite tea?

We have a lot of favorites around here. For me, it depends on my mood, the season, and how much caffeine I need. We drink a lot of aged Pu-erh. It’s known to be a fat-burning and stomach-soothing tea.

Do you have any unique uses for tea other than for drinking?

I like to use tea for everything, but my favorite use this summer was using chamomile as a natural hair lightener. It brings out highlights and smells so lovely. We also recently started using our teas to make kombucha.

Bob Holcepl, The Tea Lab in Cleveland and Lakewood, TheTeaLab.us

Why are you passionate about tea?

It’s a delicious and healthy alternative to the over-sugared, preservative- filled soft drinks most people drink. A touch of sweetener is fine if you like, but the 8–10 spoonfuls that most soft drinks contain is not healthy.

What is your favorite tea?

Nilgiri Special Frost Oolong from the Blue Mountain region of southern India. It has a very nice aroma, honey color, and some sweetness, with citrus, oak, peachy, and pecan notes.

Do you have any unique uses for tea other than for drinking?

Here’s something that most people don’t think of — pickling. When you do lacto-fermentation, it really helps to add some tannins into the mix to maintain crispness. A bit of black tea is a good source and in a subtle way adds to the pickles’ flavors.

Lapsang Souchong or our Genghis Khan blend will add a smokiness to the profile.

Gloria Cipri-Kemer, Emerald Necklace Inn B & B Tea Room in Fairview Park, EmeraldNecklaceInn.com

How did you get started with tea?

It used to be whenever a guest asked for a pot of tea, I would provide hot water, sugar cubes, and a bag of Lipton’s tea. Then in 2002, a lovely lady pulled me aside and said, “Honey, may I suggest that you really should consider serving loose leaf tea?” I looked at her with surprised eyes. Loose leaf tea? That’s when I discovered a whole world of tea to explore. It didn’t take long to become spoiled. When you put loose leaf tea in a teapot, and pour hot steeping water in, a flavor emerges like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

What is your favorite tea?

In the fall a favorite tea is our Almond Spice — a full-bodied herbal tea with almond and hints of cinnamon nestled between hibiscus and rosehip. This tea is wonderful hot or iced, and it’s caffeine-free. We also use it in our Almond Tea T-spice used to make our cheesecake dessert.

Do you have any unique uses for tea other than for drinking?

In our tea room we have a green T-spice that our cook adds to salad wraps, a smoky T-spice that is blended into our vegetable tomato rice soup or chicken salad tea sandwiches, and Happy Ginger Chai T-spice that we add to bakery.