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Star-Bulletin Features

Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Leaf Lovers Club members get samplings
of exotic teas monthly.

Leaf Lovers
open their doors
to the world of tea

Once you move beyond the Lipton's tea bag, you enter an exotic world of loose leaves, of blacks and greens, of nilgiris and darjeelings. A tour guide would be nice.

For this, the Tea Chest created the Leaf Lovers Club, a monthly membership club for imbibing and education. The club has been slowly steeping since October, but picks up steam this month, which happens to be National Hot Tea Month.

Members receive a monthly sampling of two types of teas, enough to make 20 to 30 cups per sample. Some of them are quite rare. Cost of membership is $9.95 per month if you pick up your teas; $16.40 to have them shipped.

Tea Chest owner Byron Goo says he has about 25 members, most of them from the mainland, who've joined through his Web site,

The prime client is someone who likes tea, but doesn't know much about it, he says. "They grew up with a tea bag or an English breakfast tea and they want to expand."

With the teas come summaries that cover the history of each variety and flavor highlights that read like wine notes.

This month, for example, features Tiger Hill Estate nilgiri, a black tea from India, "fragrant with pronounced floral tones indicative of greener leaves." Members also receive Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls, the tea leaves rolled into tiny balls. (An interesting side note: nilgiri has 30 to 50 mg of caffeine per 6 ounces; jasmine has 6 to 12.)

Included are brewing instructions: 3 minutes at 175 degrees for the nilgiri, 2.5 minutes at 165 for the jasmine. A lot more sophisticated than "boil water, pour over bag, drink whenever."

And that's the point.

For information call 591-9400, or join via the Web site.

Betty Shimabukuro, Star-Bulletin

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