a trip to halcyon tea, south park, san diego + a giveaway!

by Stacy

Happy Independence Day! I know the Food Blogger Code says I should post something red, white, and blue, but I’m a rebel (that’s in the spirit of independence, right?). Here’s a post I’ve been working on for 2 weeks instead — with a giveaway! Hope you enjoy it.

Confession time: I’m having a love affair.

We currently live in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. It’s got great restaurants, a weekly farmer’s market, and good nightlife. It’s walkable, I play soccer a block away, it rocks.

But lately I’ve been feeling guilty, keeping my eyes down as I turn to the alley where my car is parked instead of pounding the pavement. I’ve been cheating on my ‘hood — with our neighbor, South Park.

It’s like living with an awesome, easy-going guy who likes classic rock, football, and craft beer, but day-dreaming of a musician/architect boyfriend who takes you to galleries and writes you poetry. The incident that sparked this new romance?

halcyon teahalcyon tea

A visit to a tea shop. Ironic, since I’m not much of a tea drinker.

Then again, Halcyon Tea probably isn’t the type of tea shop you’re thinking of.

“Halcyon Tea offers a curated selection of quality teas, teaware, and select items related to tea culture and design. We value our customers and provide them with a thoughtfully-designed experience built on a foundation of authenticity, artistry, and sustainability. We are dedicated to fair, respectful business practices and a strong community focus.”

Customers drive down from North County, but the shop is definitely part of the neighborhood and celebrates being a part of that community.

halcyon tea

Jessica, my friend who works there, suggested that I pop by to try some tea she thought I would like. Not only did I like her suggestion, but I also loved the shop. It’s cozy but zen, stylish without trying too hard.

The shop sells loose teas from around the world, plus a well-edited selection of tea accessories, books, and decor. A small seating area loiters near the windows, and two stools are nestled under the counter for customer who want to taste some of their teas.

It’s not a cafe, but they do prepare sample infusions for a small charge.

The staff is friendly and knowledgeable. Jessica explained the differences between the teas as I inhaled the fragrances from various canisters ranging from sweet to downright funky. The menu of options is quite impressive, so she recommended some choices based on my preferences.

halcyon tea

She mentioned that the shop hosts events, including a healthful teas workshop I might enjoy. A recent goal is to say yes more, so I jumped at the opportunity.

A week later I was perched at a table set with white porcelain teacups and mason jars of water, learning the history of tea from Eyton Shalom, a local acupuncturist and ayurvedic practitioner.

Tea was originally drunk for medicinal purposes before it became a popular beverage at court. All tea comes from the same type of plant, the color differences are based on how oxidized or fermented the leaves are before steeping. “Herbal teas” without actual tea in them are technically called “tisanes.”

We tasted three different teas, each with different properties and attributes.

halcyon tea

First up was Tung Ting oolong tea from Taiwan (upper left in photo). The unsteeped leaves smell like sweet, delicate jasmine flowers, and the pale gold infusion tastes like it, too. Oolong tea is said to aid weight loss, digestion, high cholesterol, and skin disorders.

Next was Hong Mao Feng, an earthy reddish black tea that reminded me of wet fall leaves (lower left in photo). Despite the “damp” odor, black teas are warming which helps fuel the digestive fire. It tasted lovely and not like it smelled.

Last was the Organic Rooibos Chai, a caffeine-free tisane of mixed herbs and spices (right side of photo). “Rooibos” means “red bush,” and refers to the plant from which it is derived. Common Indian masala chai spices including cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper round out the tasty mix. People often add honey and/or milk.

halcyon tea

If you’re familiar with either ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, you’ve probably heard of “warming” and “cooling” properties of food. For tea, red and black teas are warming, white and green teas are cooling, oolong and pu-erh are neutral.

Unsure which properties are best for you? Read more about ayurvedic doshas here.

halcyon teahalcyon tea

After the workshop, attendees crowded the counter to purchase the teas we had sampled, local chocolate bars, and other accessories.

For someone who doesn’t drink tea, I was impressed at how much I’d liked all three samples we’d tried. Did I get the sweet floral Tung Ting, the earthy Hong Mao Feng, or the spicy rooibos chai? They were so different but all good. The chai can be prepared several ways, with milk, honey, or plain. The two teas can be infused 3 times, with different nuances developing after each steeping. What to do?

In the end, I cheated. I didn’t buy myself any tea. Some herbal tea had accompanied me home from my previous visit and I only live a few miles away for when I go back.

But you don’t. That’s why I got tea for you instead.

halcyon tea

I’m giving away TWO 1-ounce bags of tea — one Tung Ting Oolong, one Organic Rooibos Chai. One ounce doesn’t sound like much, but a single teaspoon of tea can be infused 3 times, so it’s more than you’d think.

Is that all? No! I’ll throw some other random stuff that I have not yet decided!

Giveaway Rules

  • Contest runs from July 4, 2011 through Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11:59pm PST
  • Contest is open to people in the US or abroad! Hooray!
  • Two winners will be selected at random after the contest closes and be announced July 12. If winners do not reply to emails within 2 days, a new winner will be chosen.

How to Enter

  1. Leave a comment on this post on or before July 11 telling me your favorite kind of tea and way to enjoy it.
  2. Become a fan of Little Blue Hen on Facebook and leave a comment here saying so (current fans can do this, too!)
  3. Follow me on Twitter AND tweet about the giveaway: Enter to win the @halcyontea #giveaway from @stacyblue http://su.pr/20N5y4 Leave a comment here telling me you did.
  4. “Like” this post on StumbleUpon and leave a comment here telling me you did.

That’s it! Tea could be yours. Plus some other stuff. It will be a surprise.

halcyon tea

Whether you’re the FTC or just nosy, I was not compensated in any way for this post. I paid my own admission to the event, and I purchased the tea myself. I wanted to give a shout out to a great local business and share their lovely products with you.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Lee July 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

My favorite kind of tea right now is Yunnan Puerh from TeaSource in St Paul.

Bonus fact – the ribs I’m making for today are tea-smoked.


moowiesqrd July 4, 2011 at 9:46 am

We’ll have to walk here for tea sometime! Your pictures are absolutely lovely. I love tea, but tend to stick to blacks, reds, and greens… not a fan of herbal teas at all. Oolong, in fact, is one of my absolute favorites, so that Ting Tong Oolong is right up my alley! I like it simple. Freshly brewed and accompanied by a good book or whatever work I have waiting for me. Perfect way to relax.
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katiebug July 4, 2011 at 11:45 am

My favorite kind of tea is Earl Grey (cliche, I know), followed by gunpowder oolong. (I started drinking more greens and organics when I was pregnant and breast-feeding.) A shout-out is in order to my own (sort of local) tea shop, The Olde World Tea Company.
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Debbie C July 4, 2011 at 11:57 am

I love tea, it would be difficult to make a decision as to a favorite. I’d have to pick oolong, or a green with mint really does a nice job of brightening my day. A cup of black with a small splash of cream is also quite nice.


Amy July 4, 2011 at 1:30 pm

Lately we’ve been putting Lapsang Souchong in our roast pork and it’s been amazing. It combines very well with smoked paprika and I’m trying to think of more vegetarian friendly ways to use it in sauces.

And as far as tea purveyors go, I’m a huge fan of Mrs. Kelly’s Teas in Minneapolis.


Jill July 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm

My favorite is Scarlet from Rishi Tea – a blend of berries and hibiscus (but no actual tea!). I drink it straight up, no sugar. I also like chai in the winter.
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Jill July 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm

And I clicked “like” on Facebook. I didn’t know you had a Facebook page!
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leanne July 4, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Ooh… now I want to go visit Halcyon!

I am currently in love with jasmine pearls – they have a nice light flavor and unfurl into beautiful leaves. They also don’t clog my infuser mug. =)


sarah, simply cooked July 5, 2011 at 12:44 am

I do love a cuppa. I drink more black tea with milk since being married to an Englishman, but I also like pu-er and oolong. I wish I could visit your little tea shop with you.


Greer July 5, 2011 at 6:05 am

I love any kind of black tea with milk and honey, and green tea is a favorite with our frequent stir-fry nights. Favorite tisane is rooibos straight up! It’s so nutty and amazing on its own.

I haven’t had pu-erh so I’ll have to try it!


Greer July 5, 2011 at 6:08 am

Oops… and I also tweeted and liked your page on Facebook and StumbleUpon. 😉


Heather July 5, 2011 at 9:52 am

My favorite tea is highly fragrant pearl jasmine, however, orange rooibos tea makes the best iced tea!


Lindsay July 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

I love hibiscus tea – and i love it iced
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Lindsay July 6, 2011 at 8:31 am

like you on facebook
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Lindsay July 6, 2011 at 8:31 am

follow you on twitter and tweeted


Angela S July 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

I normally drink chai or peppermint, but there’s a new cafe – Afro Deli – near campus that serves a Somali Spiced Tea, which is better than any chai I’ve had.

And I like you on FB. :)


Bridget July 6, 2011 at 9:31 am

I’m enjoying my favorite kind of tea (assam) in my favorite way (with a homemade whole wheat bagel while reading food blogs) right now!
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Tom July 6, 2011 at 9:35 am

I’ve been drinking green tea for 35+ years, but my favorite is the traditional Chineese jasmin flower green tea I brought back from Hong Kong which you drink in glass cups so you can watch the flower unfold after you place it in the hot water. We’ll have some the next time you visit us again in the bay area.


Kim - Liv Life July 7, 2011 at 9:14 am

Stacy… I’m only 30 min away, yet I’m desperately unfamiliar with either North or South Park! I truly do need to get “off my Carlsbad Island” one of these days and explore the neighboring regions. I haven’t been to a tea shop in over 20 years since I lived in San Francisco. I do like tea, but don’t know much about it! I’m so glad you posted this, perhaps I can make my to the shop one of these days!


Jennifer July 7, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I have a few favorites (shocker). I started on Oolong tea, moved on to Green tea, and started drinking Chai at Indian restaurants with David. In total tea blasphemy I like the “Calm” Tazo tea from Starbucks. 😉

I of course like you on FB, follow you on Twitter, and I even did the twitter shout out (because maybe just maybe my sister will look). 😛
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Kimberly July 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Ok, since you keep posting this I’ll enter :) I like mint tea, or is that “tisane”? I also very much enjoy some nice fragrant jasmine tea and nothing beats a chai latte in the winter.


Kate July 7, 2011 at 6:20 pm

I had a really splendid one from teavana a few years ago. I think it was a rooibos? I know it had some almond flavoring in it, which was really nice as a ‘dessert tea’, as I used to drink it. I haven’t had a good cup of hot tea in quite awhile!


Carina July 8, 2011 at 9:21 am

Just found your website and liked you on Facebook. I’m also a CSA member and always up for good recipes.

My favorite tea is genmai cha, a green tea with toasted rice and popcorn.


Carolsue July 11, 2011 at 1:10 am

I like Black Tea, and during the summer I like it iced with Splenda.
In the winter, I like Chai tea — hot — with cream.


Carolsue July 11, 2011 at 1:11 am

I follow you on Twitter (Cezovski) and I tweeted


Carolsue July 11, 2011 at 1:11 am

I like you on Facebook (Carolsue Anderson)


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