After a few weeks on the road, I returned to Sarasota for a few days of R&R before heading out again. As usual, on my first day back I stopped by my favorite coffee shop, Pastry Art On Main, for a cup of java. Instead, on this particular day the owners of the shop, Forrest and Alex Shaw, invited me to sample a cup of Samboya Tea, a new brand they would soon be serving.
I am no stranger to tea – my kitchen shelf is lined with many flavors and several different brands. But though I keep trying to find one I like, every brand comes up short. Some are too bitter. Most don’t even taste like the flavors they represent. So I was game to sample a new brand, especially since Forrest insisted that once I tried Samboya, I would never again want to drink tea bought at the grocery store.
A delicious fragrance immediately suffused the air when the Earl Grey tea was set before me. Raising the cup, I inhaled deeply, enjoying the musky scent reminiscent of exotic Indian cardamom and turmeric spices. I sipped and rolled the tea around in my mouth like a fine wine, enjoying the mild flowery taste before swallowing. A pleasant licorice/anise aftertaste burst as I swallowed; Forrest was right – this was undoubtedly the most flavorful, delicious tea I had ever tasted.
I learned that by the time regular teas are harvested, packaged, transported, auctioned off, repackaged (numerous times), and have arrived on store shelves they are four or five years old. No wonder they usually have a bitter aftertaste. Samboya, on the other hand, is made from fresh tea leaves harvested from private plantations in Assam and Darjeeling, India. After processing, it is packaged and marketed by the Samboya family – the same people who own the plantations – arriving in the U.S. within weeks of harvest.
Even Samboya’s appearance is different from what I am used to. Store-bought bags are filled with “tea dust” – literally the dregs left over from the processing of tea leaves. Samboya Tea leaves are much bigger, which is important because the larger the leaf surface the longer the tea lasts and the better preserved the flavor. Sealed airtight and stored at room temperature, Samboya tea will last up to one year.
So now, in addition to the coffee at Pastry Art, I have another choice of beverage. Unfortunately, I had little time to enjoy this new variety because I was home just long enough to unpack, do my laundry, get caught up on my mail, and head back out. This time I am bound for North Carolina, where I will be completing my annual continuing education requirements for my real estate license. Along the way, I’ll be investigating various areas of Georgia and North Carolina. I only wish Forrest and Alex had been set up to sell Samboya Tea in bulk before I left – I would have loved having some along on this trip.
So, if you happen to be in Sarasota, do stop in to Pastry Art at 1512 Main Street in downtown Sarasota. Not only do they have great tea, but they were recently voted Best of Sarasota in the cafe and bakery categories. They have awesome espresso coffee drinks and all their pastries are home made – baked fresh every day by their very talented pastry chef.