Plum Deluxe: Monthly Tea Club

I am a fan of monthly boxes, especially ones that allow me to try new things. I have seen monthly boxes tea boxes before, but Plum Deluxe is the first one that I’ve seen that is 1) organic, 2) seasonal–there is a special tea club-only blend each month, 3) generous in size, 4) customizable, and 5) affordable.

I was sent the 2-Tea per month subscription to review, with an extra bonus tea. Find out more about what’s included in each month’s shipment and other FAQs at

Continue reading below to learn about the four teas I tried:

NYC Coffee and Tea Fest 2017

Last month I traveled to New York for my yearly tradition of Coffee & Tea exploration at the New York City Coffee& Tea Festival. I was given a ticket courtesy of Starfish Junction Productions and my fellow tea-obsessed friend Stephanie graciously accompanied me. I’m glad I had another set of eyes to help me take in everything, jot notes, point out things, and take photographs. This year we spent a solid 5 (count ’em, FIVE) hours perusing the booths and barely had time to complete a “speed round” before the day was over. Each year new exhibitors are added as well as seminars and workshops.

I always enjoy visiting the festival to see old favorites as well as discover new products and companies. I’ll hi-light a few of the ones that we lingered at the longest or were particularly photo worthy.

Ippodo Tea, New York – 一保堂茶舗

Somehow this Japanese tea company’s aesthetic was not only humble and nostalgic, but clean and timeless. I enjoyed the matcha presentation using the traditional wooden ladle and metal pot as well as the individual-sized tea pots. They have a small location in New York City and the staff was incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

MeiMei Fine Teas

I have a weakness for puerh tea and Mei Mei Fine Teas was singing the song of a siren. We spotted the beautiful cakes of tea from yards away and zeroed in. I walked away with a new-to-me puerh-stuffed young orange (to be brewed like blooming tea). The staff here were very friendly and warm, and later I found out they’re based out of the DC-area. Though their physical storefront isn’t open quite yet, I’ll be keeping a close eye on them.

Tea Dealers

Stephanie dragged me over to this table to admire their modern and clean packaging. This was one of the only times that we’ve seen Korean teas in a setting like this so we took the staff up on their offer to taste the iseul balhyo and it did not disappoint. In fact, we intended to go back and get a bag to share but we didn’t make it in time!

Live Vessel (LV)

While Stephanie had seen these on her travels in Taiwan, this brand of tea ware was new to me. You can tell the quality of the products is really high and the designs were traditional yet playful at times. Thank goodness I live in a small condo or else I would have bought a teapot (or two!) to take back with me.

Zhen Tea

Zhen Tea never disappoints. Whether with a beautiful tea ceremony, centering tea tasting, beautiful gaiwan, or warm staff, I’m always happy to see them. I still have some tea left from my last purchases, but I was tempted by a very fragrant rose black tea. They always have teas that I have absolutely never thought of, let alone seen at other vendors, including a tea almost as old as me!

Everlasting Teas

Everlasting Teas has gone through a huge rebranding effort. The founder visits every farm himself and has a new kickstarter for some hygge-inspired tea ware.

Ajiri Tea

I always enjoy stopping by this company’s booth. Each year they grow in size and their handmade packaging is truly whimsical and unique. I swear the fact that 100% of their profits go to employment and education in Kenya makes their tea taste better.

Sugimoto America

I really enjoyed SA’s booth. There were many types of approachable green teas and different brewing methods. The Sugimoto family started the company in 1946 and has been part of many generations. They have personal relationships with the farms and are very knowledgeable.

Joseph Wesley Tea

I’m not sure there’s a tea aesthetic that is more perfect for me than Joseph Wesley Tea. Simple, yet full of effort; modern yet not dated. Oh, and the teas themselves are full-bodied and well balanced. He knows how to make things taste good and look good and I feel like I want to be him when I grow up.

Silver Needle

Silver Needle is devoted to single origin teas. Everything about their packaging is refined and elegant, yet approachable. I want to have an afternoon tea party and buy myself flowers just because. That’s the type of mood their tea puts me in. This was another booth I didn’t get to go back to on “Round 2: Buy All the Things” because we ran out of time.

& Everything Else

The rest of the booths were diverse and interesting including iced teas, kombucha, mushroom coffee, chai, empanadas, cold brew, pumpkin milk, green coffee, tea soap, and even some tomato dip. It was a grand ol’ time where we were able to unabashedly indulge in tea nerdiness while learning new things and visiting old friends. If you’re in the area, I would definitely recommend the tea festival, or the Philadelphia version.


52Teas: Coconut Cheesecake Honeybush


Do I really need to say anything else? Maybe just this: DO NOT drag your feet on this one; it is going to go FAST! Ingredients: Honeybush, coconut, natural flavors

Avail­able through: 52Teas | Face­book

Tasting Notes

Jumping back into tea tasting with a good ‘ol #sipdown! The smell of the dry leaf is sweet, roast-y, with hints of caramel. Once steeped for six minutes the smell mellows with just a faint lingering coconut sweetness at the end.

Surprisingly, this tea tastes stronger and sweeter than the smell would suggest. The first hit is of tea–similar in flavor to a weak black tea, blended with rooibos but without the itchiness that I usually associate with it. Where astringency should usually end the sip, instead the taste rolls into toasted coconut with some oil slightly coating the mouth. There is no cheesecake flavor. As it cools the coconut takes a more prominent role, turning the tea sweeter, though there is still no cheesecake.

Yummyholic Totoro Cookies

Totoro Cookies

Last month my friend Stephanie came down from Pittsburgh with a delicious surprise — these custom cookies from local artist Jasmine (Yummyholic).

Not only were these Totoro cookies spot on in terms of appearance, when I finally was able to bring myself to eat them, they tasted great! I’m picky when it comes to baked goods, especially cookies, and these were soft and chewy yet firm. Surprisingly, the dough didn’t taste store-bought but instead had a nice, light citrusy touch! These also weren’t total sugar bombs and had a perfectly balanced level of sweetness.

If you ever find yourself in the Pittsburgh area, don’t hesitate to get some treats. Yummyholic’s site is currently expanding, but will be back soon with an online store. In the meantime, check out her Instagram for photos to tide you over.

P.S. Sweets in the background: Fleurir ChocolatesOlivia Macaron

Maple-vinegar Marinated Frenched Venison Racks


Venison is one of those common, yet rare meats to find. Deer are plentiful throughout the northeastern woodlands and has been an important food since pre-colonial times. But somewhere during the history of America, it became a less common meat and though deer still roam in large numbers, it is hard to find venison in the grocery store or on dinner menus.

Most of my experience with venison has been with the wild kind that has been hunted and meant to feed a family for months. There’s only so much venison jerky you can stomach in the winter months before you need to call it quits. But recently, venison has been making a resurgence in fine dining. I’ve had venison sausage, venison ragu, and most recently venison heart tartare.

That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to receive some grass-fed, free range New Zealand venison from Marx Foods. Venison, like other meats, has unique flavors depending on its habitat and diet. I was excited to compare North American venison to New Zealand venison, especially since it wasn’t “wild” and wouldn’t have the traditional gamey-ness.

Though I created a few meals out of the venison I received, the recipe I am featuring today is from Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking. Since I made this the week of Thanksgiving, I thought it seemed appropriate to reach for a very traditional Native American recipe that was simple and focused on the flavor and quality of the meat itself.

The flavors were kept simple out of respect for the venison and served with a warm roasted sunchoke salad tossed with spinach, quinoa, and a ginger vinaigrette. The meat itself was firm yet easy to chew. Pieces that were more rare tasted grassy with a strong iron after taste while pieces that were more cooked had the texture of pork and a more neutral flavor.

About  the  Venison


Silver Fern Farms Venison is grass fed and pasture raised in New Zealand’s open fields and rolling green hills.

Farmed venison comes from deer born and raised on lush, green New Zealand pastures and has a fresh, consistent, delicate flavor, whereas game venison comes from hunting wild animals, which provides an inconsistent eating experience and a tough, “gamey” flavor. The animal’s natural leanness means it’s a lighter, healthier red meat option. It has more protein than any other red meat and is rich in iron and full of B vitamins.

Product provided for review.  All notes & opinions are my own.

Thank you Marx Foods for the opportunity to taste this unique venison.