January/February 2010 A Visit With

Tea time
People have long known that a great way to beat winter’s chill is with a hot, flavorful cup of tea. This versatile brew has the unique ability to be soothing, stimulating and refreshing all at once. More good news: Once considered a medicine, tea really does have health benefits. Our tea party guest is Judith Krall-Russo of Edison, a tea specialist certified by The Specialty Tea Institute in New York City. Krall-Russo gives lectures, workshops and seminars on the worldwide history, lore and etiquette of tea.

Whatever made you want to become a tea expert?
As a young girl, I enjoyed drinking tea with my family. My mother had a set of 1940’s glass teacups and saucers and she had her friends, “the girls,” over for tea parties. It was a fun social event. There’s a kind of mystique around tea like no other beverage. I became intrigued by the many accessories associated with tea — teapots, china, sugar tongs, infusers, strainers — and all the different ways tea is consumed worldwide. I started my own collection of tea things. I began to study and take courses. I got hooked. Tea has a fascinating history. It’s been around for 5,000 years.

Would you say there’s a tea boom, or maybe a renaissance, going on now?
Absolutely, especially over the past decade. It goes along with the increased interest in upscale natural products like wines, heirloom vegetables and gourmet coffees. Ten years ago if you said “tea expo” people would have laughed. Now there are tea expos and seminars across the country. And tearooms, tea cafes, even tea bistros.

Visit Judith Krall-Russo’s Web site, www.teafoodhistory.com, for a listing of her New Jersey food and tea history lectures, workshops and activities, and read the entire interview in the latest issue of New Jersey Countryside Magazine. Click here to get one free bonus issue and save more than 80% on a subscription.