Tea Shop Spotlight: Tea Thoughts

My favorite tea gifts themed shop is Tea Thoughts. Actually it is the only shop I know of that specializes in tea themed products. Tea Thoughts is run by Nazanin Yousefnejad, who is based in Maryland. She is a brilliant and highly talented one woman show, writing the Tea Thoughts blog and fully running the shop. She designs the products, hand creates some of the products, designs and decorates the packaging (making each and every order feel like an extra special treat). The products range from pottery to jewelry to stationary and more.

Tea Thoughts: Stickers, Pins, Magnets, Paper Clips, Keychain

My favorite products are definitely the tea themed pins. These come in both enamel and wood styles and are so beautifully designed and crafted. The most common style is her gaiwan pins. There is a whole line of different gaiwan pins, some with flowers, some with fruit, one with a phoenix. So far I have two, both of which turned out to be even more beautiful in person than they are online. I plan to keep collecting more as she designs more and I just ordered the blue pomegranate gaiwan and two new yixing pot designs.

Nazanin updates her shop frequently, launching new items based on the season and with these shop updates come chances to get special products and discounts if you order quickly.

Now hands down her greatest creation so far is her curated countdown boxes. These are fantastic seasonal or holiday inspired boxes of tea and treats and what’s inside is a surprise (though she does give some hints). She curates these boxes with her own products and designs as well as teaware, snacks, fun little gifts, and tea from other small businesses. A wonderful thing about these boxes is that buying one not only gets you a fun and unique experience but you also support the Tea Thoughts small business as well as several other small businesses. I have purchased three of these boxes and have been introduced to so many wonderful businesses.

Spring Countdown Box 2021: 7 Wrapped Days And Extras

The boxes are themed, and the theme is carried throughout the packaging and decorations. This past Spring box was a sakura blossom theme. They are in a countdown style, being that each of the days is individually wrapped and numbered. You open one a day to count down to events like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Spring. Most of the boxes are seven days but the Christmas one was twelve (and she hopes to eventually do a twenty-four day countdown). These boxes can help make the build up to the holidays or seasons even more special. You can also choose to open these boxes any way you want, just be careful of releasing spoilers if you post about it. For example, I chose to make the February Valentine’s box a countdown to celebrate my birthday instead of Valentine’s Day.

The boxes are in very limited supply due to the fact that Nazanin is one person organizing and hand wrapping and packing all of them. So if you want one you need to follow her on Instagram and sign up for the shop’s newsletter so you are ready when they release. They usually sell out quick and this past Spring box sold out in one day. They release about a month before the first day to open to allow plenty of time for delivery. So sometimes if you get yours really early you have to hide it from yourself to stave off temptation. She does include an introduction letter and some small unwrapped gifts like stickers to tide you over.

Extras For The Spring Box 2021

Inside the boxes are a range of things, several types of tea (usually pure unflavored teas), candy (like the best caramel I’ve ever had), cards and stationary products, tea infused lip balm (my new favorite kind), hand-made pottery, ornaments, teaware, jewelry, and more. If you want a closer look, I’ve done videos on YouTube (Tea Fueled Writer) opening the Valentine’s and Spring boxes. Many of my fellow TeaTubers have done videos opening other boxes too like Tea With Jann and Jackie Allen. Watching their videos of past boxes drove me to a need of having to get one for myself and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Bunny Bowl With Lid: Spring Box 2021

Nazanin has big plans in store for the rest of the year with some really exciting sounding ideas. Lots of new designs, smaller gift boxes, and teaware are some of the things she has hinted at being in the works. Nazanin is such a special and sweet person and I have come to develop a lovely online friendship with her.

If you would like to check out Tea Thoughts, click here.

Thank you for spending some time with me and letting me share. Hope you have a lovely rest of your day!

Let’s Talk Bowl Brewing

A simple practice , but like most “new to me” tea steeping styles, bowl brewing felt a bit intimidating at first. After a few times, I have come to view bowl brewing now as a wonderfully calming and beautiful way to make tea. My favorite things about it are that it is very easy, super simple clean up, and you get to watch the unfurling of the leaves right under your nose.

So what is bowl brewing? It is a simplistic way of making tea and really is perfect for beginners starting their loose leaf practice. Similar to grandpa style brewing, but from what I can find, grandpa style is using a cup while bowl brewing uses a small bowl.

I have been aware of bowl brewing for a little while, but never thought much about trying it out. Then in my Tea Thoughts Countdown to Spring Box there came this adorable bunny bowl and instructions on how to bowl brew. So I thought, now I have the perfect opportunity to test this out.

Tea Thoughts Countdown to Spring Box, Day 1

I had some purple bud puer tea from Mountain Stream Teas that mentioned in the instructions it is well suited for grandpa style brewing. So I measured out a few grams of that into my new bowl and poured some water onto it at the recommended temperature and filled it nearly full. The first thing I noticed was that this bowl gets pretty hot, especially if your tea needs higher temperatures. I let it cool down to a drinkable temperature and wrapped a tea towel around the bowl to hold it. It was wonderful. The beautiful tea is right there for you to watch steep and open up. You can see the color intensify and smell the aroma. Most of the leaves should sink to the bottom but you can strain any others with your lip or teeth as you sip. I find it a very relaxing and beautiful experience, really getting up close and personal with your tea.

Bowl brewing is not well suited for all teas, you probably want to use teas that have larger leaves or that are rolled into ball or twisted shapes so they will slowly infuse. I have used the compressed puer, a large leafy white tea, and a ball rolled oolong so far and all have turned out well.

Dry Oolong Tea Leaves

Some more things I have enjoyed about bowl brewing is that it’s hard to mess up. If you get it too strong take out some leaf, if you get it too weak , throw in a little more. Also you don’t necessarily have to reheat the water all the way back up to the original temperature again when you refill. I have let it drop about 20 degrees or more. This allows the tea to keep infusing and it doesn’t take as much time to get back to a drinkable temperature.

Oolong Just After Water Is Added

This method is perfect to practice while you are working on something because mostly the tea sits there and all you have to do is add some more water every so often. Which leads me to think this will be a perfect method for enjoying tea outside. All you need is a brewing vessel, tea, a thermos of hot water, and off you go. I am really looking forward to trying this out soon.

A quick tip, when you are drinking most teas are going to get very concentrated as your water level gets to the bottom and this can be intense and possibly bitter, so you will probably want to refill when you are down to about a quarter of the water left.

Some teas will be able to last you for hours or even all day depending on how fast you drink and how often you refill. Others won’t go as long but you will discover this as you experiment. Try things out and keep going until you are done or the leaves stop producing flavor.

Four Seasons Oolong Bowl Brewed

Casual, peaceful, beautiful, easy, everything I could want in a nice tea session. Don’t get me wrong though, I still love my gaiwans and will use them in abundance to explore through the layers of flavor of teas.

If you haven’t yet, give bowl brewing a try. You don’t necessarily need a tea bowl, you can use a mug. If you have tried it, tell me what your favorite tea to bowl brew is.

Thanks for joining me today!

The Joy of Tea

Sakura Ryokucha Tea Review

The joy of tea can come in many forms and can be sparked or reignited by the simplest of everyday things. Take, for example, the mail truck driving down the road. This just happened and my immediate thought was, “Yay, new tea” because it happens to be one of those fortunate days where I have a tea order coming with a brand new tea I’ve never tried but am so anxious to.

This order is from Den’s Tea, a company I have only recently found out about, but already love. They are based in California and specialize in Japanese teas. Now if you follow me on Instagram or YouTube, you may be aware that I really love Japanese teas, especially genmaicha and hojicha. The tea that is currently being tucked into my mailbox however is something a bit different (well actually there’s some genmaicha in the box too). It is called Sakura Ryokucha and is a blend of sencha, kukicha, and sakura flowers. This tea is only available in Spring, only while supplies last, and looks to be selling out fast. When I saw it in the email announcement, I knew it sounded too good not to try, after all I love green tea and floral teas.

I adore sakura blossoms and have been lucky enough to see their beauty in person many times on Ohio University’s campus in Athens Ohio. They have a little grove of them planted along the river and when they are in bloom it is a sure sign Spring is in full swing.

Photo Credit: Joseph DiBenedetto

Anyway back to tea. I think I am going to film an outdoor tea session trying out this tea for my YouTube channel, so I’ll pause the blog post here and come back to you with a review after I’ve done that…

Wow this tea just screams springtime, which I have said about a couple teas lately. The blend is gorgeous with the darker sencha leaves, lighter kukicha stems, and those light pink sakura blossom petals. The smell is so fresh and sweet, I mainly smell the kukicha. I don’t really smell the flowers distinctly but I do think they are adding something extra to the overall aroma.

I steeped it twice following the directions on the package and I think I preferred the second steep just a little bit more. Taste-wise, it is an ideal example of a Spring day in flavor form. The flavors complement each other really well but I think the kukicha takes the lead just a little bit, which I am perfectly okay with. It is not overly floral, the sakura is definitely adding something, but it is hard to distinguish. I have not had a plain sakura blossom tea though so I am not overly sure what they taste like.

Overall, this blend is a perfect representation of Springtime and well worth trying. I love the fresh, bright, green flavor. I plan to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my two ounce bag on some beautiful Spring days and probably on some rainy chilly days that I could use more of the warm sunny Spring vibes in.

Den’s Tea had been a recent discovery of mine and I am so glad I did. They have a very nice selection of Japanese teas and teawares. I have also tried the Houji-Genmaicha, which is a roasty toasty delight. Their glass kyusu is also very nice and has become my new go-to everyday teapot. It is about ten ounces and has a very large, removable infuser basket. It pours wonderfully and keeps things at a nice temperature.

(I was not sponsored by Den’s Tea, all of these items were bought with my own money, and these are my own personal opinions. If you’d like to check them out, click here: https://www.denstea.com/ )

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a tea-lightful day!

Meet Me


I’m Katie. I’m a writer with a big passion for tea. Tea and creativity are such a tightly bonded relationship in my mind.

Starting with the beauty that is that fresh plucked tea leaf full of potential. Leading on to the dedicated craftsmanship of the tea maker, drying it to white, steaming it to green, or rolling it to oolong. That leaf then going to a tea seller who puts it into pretty packaging and possibly gives it a new special name. Then I buy those beautiful leaves, take pictures of them, steep them up to let their color saturate the hot water, and watch that beautiful color and aroma fill up my cup.

A taste sensation that can calm me down or spark me up giving me the fuel and inspiration needed to make words flow (like right now how some Simpson and Vail’s Louisa May Alcott tea is fueling this post with its strawberry rose deliciousness).

Making and enjoying a cup of tea is a recurring ritual in my daily routine, it keeps me going as it also keeps me grounded, and helps me stay calm by taking moments to myself to enjoy an everyday pleasure.

I plan for this blog to be mainly about tea, ones I love, new ones I find, and also about what these teas fuel me to create. I find myself to be a very creative person with multiple crafting hobbies. I do have a degree in creative writing and plan to share about my writing journey as well. One of my short stories was recently published, which I consider one of my greatest joys and highest achievement to come out of 2020.

I hope to use this blog to sit down and have a cup of tea with each of you (or whatever you’re drinking) and be able to talk, share, and inspire one another.

I will tell you stories about my rambunctious cat, Nimbus, who is both the sweetest and most annoying being in my life. I will share baking adventures, yarn and needle craft projects, hiking excursions, and books I’m enjoying. All about me and my life nestled in between the beauty and deliciousness of loose leaf tea.