Christmas blends in decorative tins are available at L'Epicer.
T is for tea
Tea is available most everywhere, but if you need advice making the right choice for the right person, head for a tea shop. Here you can find help keeping your pekoes straight from your oolongs.
At the Tea Chest, 500 Alakawa St. (behind the new Costco gas station in Iwilei) owner Byron Goo suggests teas from the Ono-en Garden, imported from Japan. The green tea is from an imperial line, first grown in the royal family's summer garden.
The line includes the tea currently in vogue -- macha genmai cha, or puffed-rice tea sprinkled with the green powder, macha, used in the traditional tea ceremony. Ono-en teas are sold loose for $9 to $19.95 for 2 to 3 ounces.
The Tea Chest's Island Essence line comprises signature blends of black, green and herbal teas, often merged with fruit or floral flavors such as pikake and Maui lavender. They come in pink 3-ounce tins for $11.95, and in gift packs including a tea infuser for about $20.
Tea Chest items also may be ordered via www.teachest.com.
The latest entry to the retail tea scene is the year-old L'Epicer in Ala Moana Center, the first American outlet in a chain with 70 tea shops in Japan.
L'Epicer sells an international variety presented in rows of tins that may be opened, examined and sniffed. You will be quite clear on what you're getting.
Buy your selections in tea-bag form, or have loose leaves packaged in 50-gram bags. Pay $2 more for a reusable tin.
Loose teas sell for $3 to $50 for 50 grams, in traditional jasmines and darjeelings, as well as blends flavored with the likes of bourbon, lemongrass, coconut, vanilla or pineapple.
If you're looking for tea cups, pots or other accouterments, you'll find them here as well.
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