Tea Sparrow’s co-founder/tea connoisseur Michael Menashy’s 15-year passion for tea began in China when a factory owner showed him how to brew tea in his boardroom. That day still holds fond memories for Michael, as he remembers the floral-scented oolong that tasted like toasted walnuts. The experience left Michael with a desire to explore the world of tea.
Together with culinary critic/co-founder Zeta Newis, tea masters Jenny Dent and Darcy McMurray, plus international Tea Sommelier Jane Pettigrew, Tea Sparrow has evolved into a curated monthly tea delivery service.
International Tea Sommelier Jane also happens to be part of the training team at World Tea Expo, an annual event in Las Vegas (recently moved to Long Beach) that provides training sessions for new tea business owners, tutored tasting events, discussion groups, and lectures. She’s also authored 13 books on tea; Jane’s articles and essays on various tea-related subjects have been published in newspapers and in magazines around the world.
Tea Sparrow samples dozens of teas each month, with no affiliation to blenders, choosing blends that inspire them to share with their customers. The team regularly samples and scores the teas for look, region, aroma, and taste, with the goal of bringing world-class blends to your door. Teas with the highest combined scores make it into the monthly kit.
Each tea’s origin is noted both on the website and on its packet, giving tea companies the chance to connect with Tea Sparrow’s customers.
I recently learned about Tea Sparrow through the upcoming West Coast Christmas Show, where Tea Sparrow will be a vendor. I also met Michael and Zeta at the Inaugural Vancouver Tea Festival in False Creek earlier this month.
Last week, I received the October Tea Box to see how the service works and to sample the teas. White Wedding Tea, Manhattan Earl Grey, Organic Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos, and Nutty Almond Cream formed the selection.
Subscribers to the service receive a mix of four premium loose-leaf teas each month. Each box includes a selection of both herbal and caffeinated blends for making between 35-40 cups of tea in total. Tax and free shipping is included in the $20 monthly price. If you don’t finish your tea by the next shipment (or plan to be away), it’s easy to pause and restart the account via a link on their website.
White Wedding Tea combines fresh white Bai Yun tea leaves with caramel and notes of roasted chestnut. The mix is flavorful with a sweet jasmine floral bouquet. White Wedding Tea is ideal served iced by simply letting it cool, then pouring it into a tall glass with a few ice cubes. White tea helps promote dental health as well as build a stronger immune system.
Manhattan Earl Grey is a full-rounded Earl Grey with a light and mild taste, perfect for a gentle morning wake up. My husband found it an easy sipper for his afternoon tea with shortbread cookies.
The Organic Earl Grey Vanilla Rooibos contains the same fragrant bergamot as the Manhattan, with the addition of a rich vanilla taste. Rooibos tea is known to fight off cardiovascular and liver diseases, and lower blood pressure.
Tiesta Tea’s Nutty Almond Cream creates a pinkish-coloured tea that’s sweetened with apple and cinnamon. The tea’s unique nutty flavour is derived from crushed almonds; beetroots give it that pink colour.
We found this a great way to inexpensively sample a different collection of teas each month. Many of these teas aren’t available in Vancouver (such as Boulder, Colorado’s The Teaspot’s White Wedding Tea, a new favourite) but can be ordered online.
Disclaimer: We were sent a Tea Sparrow monthly box for the purposes of sampling and of writing this article.