One of SerendipiTea’s 175 teas, chosen from choice plantations all over the world.
MELODY LAN now reaches for a cup of chocolate tea to curb her cravings.
Serendipitous Herbal and Loose-leaf Teas
CAPSULE REPORT: SerendipiTea is an online tea purveyor with an extensive inventory—175 loose-leaf teas and herbals gathered from 14 different growing regions around the globe. There are Fair Trade and organic teas, standard and exotic teas—something old and something new for everyone. You can purchase individual teas, but two sampler kits let you try smaller amounts of a dozen teas in two families, and make wonderful gifts. SerendipiTea is committed to tea exploration and education; the website has brewing tips, tea history, and tea recipes—including those for savory dishes that use tea.
Unlike many companies that specialize in the tea of one region—China, Japan or India, for example—SerendipiTea is a generalist. For almost ten years, the company has been offering premium loose-leaf teas from the finest growing regions around the globe—from more familiar ports to Africa and Sri Lanka. While there are some 175 selections to choose from, quantity doesn’t trump quality—the tea leaves and other ingredients are premium. Blending is done in-house by hand in small, controlled batches. All varieties are handcrafted to order and packaged in biodegradable materials.
There are organic, Fair Trade, single estate and premium teas. There are the familiar—Assam, Earl Grey and Gen Mai Chai, e.g.—and the exotic, infused with tropical fruits, real chocolate nibs, spices and flower petals that offer exciting new flavors. One of our favorite groups is the chocolate teas!
When we asked Linda Villano, co-founder of SerendipiTea, about the company’s name, she explained that it is more than a pun on finding great teas. The word serendipity was coined after the Persian fairy tale, “The Three Princes of Serendip.” In their travels, the princes were always making discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of—i.e., finding things they were not searching for. The Isle of Serendip, their home, is what the Arabs called the country that is today known as Sri Lanka, previously known as Ceylon and one of the largest tea-producing countries.
High Marks For SerendipiTea
You might be able to find your teas serendipitously, but we’re here to provide some help.
- So many choices can be daunting, but even if it sounds frivolous to you, we strongly endorse the Chocolate Tea Sampler (photo at right), which includes twelve .75-ounce tins of assorted chocolate teas. Yes, they really do taste like chocolate because they contain nibs of real chocolate, which don’t add to what is pretty much a no-calorie brew. What sounds gimmicky is actually wonderful. (Click here to purchase.) For people who like decaffeinated teas, there’s a Fruit Tea Sampler and a Flower Tea Sampler. All are beautifully packaged in gift boxes, and the teas are available individually as well.
- If you know what tea you want, SerendipiTea has an easy-to-use Tea Selector that allows you to pick teas by either ingredients, tea type (green, black, herbal et al) or origin. Simply check your preferences and it will pull up the teas that match them.
- Every tea page specifies the proper steeping method, which is important. Delicate green and white teas don’t get steeped with boiling water—or for as long—as hardier black teas.
- SerendipiTea also lets you voyage around their “Tea World”: a section that educates you on everything tea. Of special interest are recipes that incorporate tea into savory dishes, like Tea-Smoked Pork Loin with Sri Lankan Black Tea.
Eight Irresistible Picks
It’s no easy feat choosing teas among an offering of 175. Here are some of the most popular teas from the collection (you can click on the links for more information or to purchase):
- Cha Cha Chai Tea: SerendipiTea makes six different masala chai blends, and chai-lovers will want to try them all to find “the one.” This special standout was awarded the Best New Tea of 2005 by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (photo at right). This black tea spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cracked black pepper and ginger is a spicy, complex flavor experience. By the way, masala is the Hindi word for spice, and chai means tea.
- City Harvest Black Tea : Black tea is blended with orchid and vanilla for for a deep vanilla-flavored tea with an exotic twist. Twenty percent of all sales of this blend, along with the company’s City Harvest Green, a jasmine, apple and green tea blend, are donated to City Harvest, a non-profit organization in New York that provides food to the needy.
- Earl Grey (Organic) Tea : A favorite among SerendipiTea’s Earl Greys, this fine organic black tea from Sri Lanka is all about the Bergamot flavor—the way Earl Grey should be—for even the most discerning Earl Grey enthusiast.
- Fiji Tea : Winner of the 2004 Take Me 2 Tea Expo’s Best Iced Tea Award, this blend is organic green tea leaves combined with overtones of juicy pineapple and papaya, bold and authentic fruit tastes that don’t overpower the earthy green tea flavor.
- Lili'uokalani Tea : A black tea fruit blend with nuances of apple, mango, orange peel, papaya and peach, and named after the last queen of the Hawaiian Islands. With its tropical flair, it’s delicious hot; when iced it whisks you away on a mini-vacation to the Islands.
- Once Upon a Tea: Tea for the chocolate-lover, this tisane* is caffeine-free, made of rooibos tea mixed with chocolate nibs, mint and vanilla. The chocolate nuances are distinct, with hints of caramel and vanilla. A SerendipiTea signature tea, it’s the first member of their family of thirteen of chocolate blends—and it’s terrific!
*An herbal infusion, often drunk for a medicinal effect.
- Really Goethe Tea : Green tea with a gorgeous blend of jasmine petals, laurel, lemon myrtle and rose buds and petals, this tea could be mistaken for potpourri (photo at right). But we’d rather brew it for its delicately sweet flavors and floral aroma. Inspired by a poem by Johann van Goethe (pronounced ger-te), the great 18th-century German poet who made important discoveries in connection with plant life, this fragrant tea is romantic as well as beautiful and tasty.
- Zzz Tea : A caffeine-free tisane made with elegant Egyptian chamomile flowers and French lavender with a touch of apple and honey notes. One of the most popular herbal teas for its tranquil effects and soothing floral flavors.
For those seeking decaffeinated tea, Fair Trade and organic teas, the website offers its bounty of 175 selections. No matter what teas you try, your experience will be serendipitous indeed.
Premium Loose-Leaf Teas and Tea Blends
Certified Fair-Trade by TransFair USA
Click On Links To Purchase
Four-Ounce Boxes Of Tea:
For other products, flavors and sizes, visit SerendipiTea.com
Also available at fine retailers nationwide.
Chocolate Tea Sampler
Premium loose leaf teas and tisanes blended with real chocolate nibs. Packaged in attractive, refillable tins in a handsome, wooden display box. Selection of 12 includes Ambrosia. Buccaneer, Chocolate A-Peel, ChocolaTea, Currantly Cordial, Faux Cocoa, Cocoa Loco, Once Upon a Tea, Pagan Alms, San Jose, Slim Mint and X-Chai.
Fruit Tea Sampler
12 fruit tea and tisane blends including Ambrosia, Black Jack, Mango Ceylon, Fiji, Fresh Phrase, I of Newton, Lili’uokalani, Par Amour, Passion & Envy, Chaucer’s Cup, Persian Nectar, Ruby Sipper
Flower Tea Sampler
Blossom, Cotillion, Jasmine Yin Hao, Marquise Grey, Neruda’s Ode, Orchid, Really Goethe, Rose Alongi, Shanghai Rose, Smart Tart, Twilight and Zzz
Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change.