Iced Tea: Summer in a Glass

Now that it’s stopped snowing (finally), the summer solstice is fast approaching and turning up the heat so we reach for cool, refreshing beverages to get us through the day. Tea is perfectly suited for just that.  And iced tea, a true American invention, is like summer in a glass. The history is interesting, a pretty sweet story, and involving booze in the South. 

Popular lore says iced tea was invented at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. That’s not quite accurate. Iced tea was first served in South Carolina (the only colony that grew tea plants commercially) in the early nineteenth century. Cold green tea was the base of punches, often spiked with a hefty splash of liquor. One en vogue recipe, Regent’s Punch, was named after the English prince regent, George IV. Different recipes took on a regional flavor and often bore patriotic monikers such as Savannah’s Chatham Artillery Punch, which was known to pack quite a “punch” due to its high alcohol content, and St. Cecelia Punch, named for that city’s music society.

Iced tea punch recipes — as well as traditional sweet recipes — were published as early as 1839 in “The Kentucky Housewife” cookbook. The earliest printed sweet tea recipe (1879) was found in a community cookbook entitled “Housekeeping in Old Virginia.” Iced tea was a favorite warm weather refreshment in the south, where it’s still the go-to drink on a balmy day.

Fast forward to 1904 and the St. Louis World’s Fair. It was there that India Tea Commissioner and Director Richard Blechynden, was offering hot tea to everyone passing through the East India Pavilion. He didn’t get many takers, given how hot Missouri gets in the summertime. Blechynden and his team came up with the idea of adding ice and voilà: iced tea suddenly has mass appeal (nearly 20 million people attended the fair) and the beverage was commercialized.

When the temperatures climb in Colorado, iced tea takes the stage. Here at Happy Lucky’s, we brew up time-tested favorites, based on what our Leafsters are sipping and what tea lovers are asking for.

Dylan, our purchasing manager, helped choose this month’s featured teas. He finds that the tastiest iced teas are fruity, floral, and herbal with sweet rather than spicy notes. He’s a big fan of Stanky Lemon Shou Pu-er. He likes its rich maltiness, flavored with lemon myrtle. Be forewarned — last year’s Australian wildfires have impacted lemon myrtle crops, and it’s become very difficult to source. We may run out of this blend. He also reaches for Plum Oolong. The plum flavored tea leaves present the stone fruit flavor up front, but also linger in the mouth.

When you brew up your own iced tea from one of Happy Lucky’s teas, you end up with a naturally sweet and healthy drink. The bottled teas that line grocery store shelves are chock full of sugar and corn syrup. Pour some home brewed iced tea into a tumbler for an on-the-go drink and you’re good to go.

Stop by and ask a Leafster to recommend one of our blends for your next iced tea. Who knows? It just may become your new favorite.

Iced Tea vs. Cold Brew

Iced tea starts as hot tea. Typically, half the amount of boiling water is used for whatever amount of loose tea leaves are measured out, resulting in a strong concentrate. The concentrate is cooled before pouring over ice.

Pay attention to steeping time. Just as with hot tea, over-steeping can result in a bitter brew. The longer the tea steeps, the more the caffeine and tannins are released, and the more astringent the tea becomes.

Add sugar to taste for a classic sweet tea (Dylan likes Dhumari Black) and a slice of lemon for a sprightly citrus finish. Or, take a cue from early American tea lovers and whip up an adults-only punch.

Cold brew tea is very different from iced tea. First, the tea leaves are steeped in cold water, not hot. And the leaves sit in the water for at least twenty minutes and up to two hours. Brewing in cold water brings out sweet and savory amino acids like theanine, and not as many catechins that make for a bitter drink. Try cold brewing one of the teas you drink hot. You’ll find this process brings out a different flavor profile and has a different mouth feel. Dylan recommends Milk Oolong for cold brew. “It’s about the best you can drink,” he says. “Let it sit for about 45 minutes before drinking it. It’s like a dessert.”

So which will it be? Iced tea or cold brew? Whichever blend you choose and however you prepare it, now is the time to enjoy a glass of the most refreshing tea you’ve ever tasted.


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First Flush Darjeeling Teas: Springtime’s Cup of Sunshine

The Himalayan Mountains near the Darjeeling region.
The view from Glenburn Tea Estate

The high Himalayan Mountains of West Bengal is home to India’s magical tea region called Darjeeling. Darjeeling is derived from the Tibetan words ‘dorje,’ which means thunderbolt, and ‘ling,’ which is a place or land. This land of the thunderbolt is known for heart stopping vistas of lush, rolling hillsides, verdant with centuries-old tea plantations, producing the prized Darjeeling leaves that have come to be known as the ‘Champagne of Teas.’

Early each spring, between Mid-March and May, the young, tender shoots are harvested. Only the delicate bud and the finest two or three leaves are plucked. It takes nearly 20,000 individually hand picked leaves to produce about 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of finished Darjeeling tea. The First Flush is highly anticipated by tea connoisseurs. 

Spring teas from the world’s tea growing regions are just landing at Happy Lucky’s. When they arrive, we celebrate. It’s one of our favorite times of the year. 

First Flush teas from India are famous for their delicate flavor and fragrance. According to research conducted by the Tocklai Tea Research Institute, the organic compounds geraniol, linalool, and terpenoids are more concentrated than teas grown in other regions, resulting in Darjeeling’s unique flavor. The mouth feel is smooth and silky, with notes of Muscatel that appear in the First Flush and become even more concentrated in the highly anticipated Second Flush. The mild astringent flavor of dried grape imparts a lively character. The liquor is often a delicate golden color: a cup of bright sunshine.

Our Glenburn Tea Estate First Flush Darjeeling Black tea has just arrived. Its flavor is brisk and dry, yet subtle on the palate, with undertones of citrus and grape. The aroma is clean, bright, and flowery with hints of fresh hay and stone fruit. This tea is special and steeped in history. 

Glenburn Estate's First Flush Darjeeling.
Glenburn Estate’s First Flush Darjeeling

Glenburn Tea Estate, the ancestral home of the Prakash family, was started in 1899 under British management by Lala Darshanlal, the family’s patriarch. Three generations later, Glenburn Tea Estate is owned and managed by Lala Darshanlal’s grandson, Sudhir Prakash, and his family.

Happy Lucky’s is committed to ethically sourced teas. Glenburn Tea Estate employs sustainable agricultural practices and is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, a tea-specific fair trade organization. The Estate provides its workers and their families with working and living conditions that exceed those mandated by Indian law. There is a hospital on the estate, and several schools for the children of the plantation workers.

If you haven’t tried a First Flush tea, you are missing an exquisite tea experience. Savoring a cup of Glenburn’s First Flush Darjeeling should be on every Tea Lover’s bucket list.

Ask a Leafster: What is Ayurvedic Kapha Tea?

Andy Boone, Happy Lucky’s General Manager and Master Tea Blender, worked with Ayurvedic practitioner and chef Jennifer Millar to create our line of Ayurvedic herbal blends. For springtime, we reach for Kapha tea which contains lemon balm, dried ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and black peppercorns. Why? 

“These spices and herbs move things around in the body,” Andy says. “They break things up, like chest congestion and also lubricate the joints and ligaments.” 

This tea is drinking particularly good right now—because spring is Kapha season. So, what exactly does Kapha mean and what does it have to do with springtime? Everything. If you have allergies, listen up. 

Ayurveda can seem very mysterious to those of us familiar with Western culture and medicinal practices. It is an ancient functional medicine system developed in India and based on a simple classification system that matches diet, lifestyle, and herbs to the individual to improve health and support wellness.

Here at Happy Lucky’s we have blended teas to specifically help balance the three different Ayurvedic body types, or doshas, called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

To clear up some of the mystery surrounding this foreign vocabulary we asked Clara Macy, a Northern Colorado Ayurvedic practitioner, to give an overview of Kapha dosha. Here’s what she had to say.

“There are three seasons in Ayurveda. Vata is winter, Kapha is spring, and Pitta is summer. Each season has a little bit more of one or two of the five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and space. All of these exist in nature and in everything, including our bodies. But the ratio of those elements within the body is very unique to each individual. Some of us have a little bit more fire or air or water,” she explains. “It’s your nature, and that’s what dosha means: nature.”

The Kapha dosha has more of the earth and water elements. People who fall under Kapha are earthy, strong and stable, loyal and loving, and very grounded.

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. When in balance, Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold onto things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

If too much of any dosha is present in the body, it will create an imbalance. Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense—like an early springtime snow—the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine, so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences.

To balance Kapha dosha, follow a regular daily routine, ideally awakening before 6 a.m. each morning and avoid taking naps during the day.

Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. Use dry heat if you are congested—a common Kapha complaint. Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.

Bryce Miller, one of our Leafsters, goes to the Kapha tea when he wants a jolt of non-caffeinated energy. He also loves the strong flavors of the ginger, peppercorns and cardamom. “I feel very energized after drinking this tea,” he explains. “And it’s exactly what I want when I want a strong, almost aggressive, flavor.”

Welcome spring with Happy Lucky’s Kapha tea. It will move the stagnation out of your body and you will find that you are blossoming, just like the daffodils and crocuses that are welcoming the longer, sunnier days.

Matcha 101



For some tea drinkers, matcha tea is their go-to beverage. They love matcha’s fresh flavor, its bright green color, antioxidants, and jitter-free, sugar-free, caffeine-loaded kick. For others, it’s a bit of a mystery: the bowl, the whisk, the powder!

Not to worry. Preparing matcha is easier than you think, and once you’ve developed your technique, you’ll find the meditative ritual of making it is just a part of the satisfaction you’ll get from this ancient Japanese tea.

But first, let’s explore matcha’s history. Initially prepared by Chinese Buddhist monks over 900 years ago, matcha became popular in Japanese culture by the 11th century. The frothy beverage remained a mainstay in Japan even though it fell out of popularity in other Asian countries, and continues to be one of the most imbibed teas in Japan, and now in Western countries. The name derives from two Japanese words—“ma,” meaning ground or rubbed, and “cha,” which means tea. 

Like all tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Most of it is grown in Japan’s Uji and Nishio prefectures. The young plants are covered with reed screens to shade them from sunlight. Over time, the reed screens are covered with straw, and then more straw, to further shade the plants. Shaded growing causes an over-production of chlorophyll, creating matcha’s distinctive bright green hue and increasing theanine (an amino acid), which contributes to matcha’s unique astringent, umami flavor.

Matcha is known for many health benefits. It’s rich in nutrients, chlorophyll, antioxidants, and fiber. Studies have shown that the health benefits of matcha are greater than other green tea varieties because the entire leaf is consumed versus brewing it. Those health benefits include boosting metabolism, enhancing mood and aiding in concentration, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar and providing calming and relaxing effects.

Preparing matcha is a lot less involved and not nearly as intimidating as you think. The mindful ritual is an aaaaaaah moment and sets the tone for your matcha experience.

 First, using a chashaku (bamboo scoop), sprinkle one to two teaspoons of matcha powder into your cup or chawan (tea bowl), and give it a gentle whisk to break up any lumps. Add about three to four ounces of not-quite-boiling water to the bowl and whisk vigorously in a zig zag motion—pretend you’re making an M for matcha—using a chasen (bamboo whisk) until the mixture is frothy. Aside form the actual tea, the chasen is the most important part of the matcha-making process. Happy Lucky’s chasens have between 120-150 bamboo tines, exactly what you want for the perfect not-too-bubbly foam and suspension of the matcha particles. Lesser quality chasens may have only 50 or so tines, and you just won’t get the same light texture in your bowl of matcha. In this case, more is better.

Add more or less matcha powder to suit your taste, but NOT more water. You want to drink your match in no more than 3 1/2 sips. Four sips is considered unlucky in Japanese culture.

bird’s-eye view of a bamboo chasen

Happy Lucky’s ceremonial matcha blend is Grade A, the finest of the fine. While there is no formal grading system, our matcha is organic and a “fine pluck,” just two leaves and a bud. It’s then ground to produce a light and delicate powder with no added sugar. Our buyer, Dylan, says it’s the most delicious matcha powder he’s been able to source. “I’m always on the hunt, too,” he says. The Zen blend has added sugar and fruit pectins, which makes it more palatable to the Western tongue. Top with frothed milk and et voilà, a latte.

With spring arriving on March 20th, matcha’s bright green color and sprightly flavor makes it the perfect tea to celebrate the new season. Different matchas have different flavor profiles, and you’re sure to find your favorite.

Q: What’s on Tap at Happy Lucky’s?

A: Kombucha!

Life as you know it just got better.

Happy Lucky’s is now offering four different kombucha teas on tap. We’ve partnered with local producers (Rowdy Mermaid, Wild & Free, Turtle Mountain, and Happy Leaf) to give you the best of the best in northern Colorado. By the glass or by the growler, we’ve got a variety that is sure to please everyone.

Why Kombucha?

There are evidence-based health benefits to drinking kombucha. But first, here’s a quick overview of this go-to healthy beverage. While it may seem like the new kid on the block, kombucha has been around for 2,000 years, and dates back to ancient China. Its base is green or black tea, sugar and specific strains of bacteria known as a scoby (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast). These ingredients are mixed together in a crock or other fermentation vessel and allowed to ferment, resulting in probiotic-rich kombucha. During the fermentation process, the bacteria and yeast form a mushroom-like film atop the liquid, which is why kombucha is often referred to as “mushroom tea.” Given enough time, this film becomes a baby scoby. The original is the “mother.” Brewers add herbs, spices, and fruit to give each tea its unique (and delicious) flavor. The fermentation process creates acetic acid (also found in vinegar) and several other acidic compounds, trace levels of alcohol and gases that give it its carbonation.

SCOBY floating in a batch of Kombucha
image courtesy Wild & Free Fermented Tea

Kombucha is chock full o’ probiotics that are important for gut health. Probiotics aid in digestion, inflammation, and some believe it’s beneficial for weight loss by breaking down undigestible fiber. 

Kombucha contains antioxidants, the substances that fight free radicals, reactive molecules that can damage your cells. Many scientists believe that antioxidants that come from food and beverages are better for you than those found in supplements. When kombucha is made from green tea, it multiplies the antioxidant effects of the tea. Studies have shown that drinking green tea kombucha can reduce liver toxicity by as much as 70 percent. 

Kombucha may stave off heart disease by greatly improving two of its markers: “bad” LDL and “good” HDL cholesterol in as few as 30 days. The tea base protects LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation, which is thought to contribute to heart disease. In fact, green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of developing heart disease, a benefit that may also apply to kombucha.

Kombucha may help protect the body against cancer. Test-tube studies have shown that the high concentration of antioxidants and polyphenols in kombucha helps prevent the growth and spread of cancerous cells. The anti-cancer properties of tea polyphenols is not completely understood, though it id thought that they block gene mutation and cancer cell growth, while also killing off the cancer cells. Keep in mind that further studies are needed as kombucha’s anti-cancer effects in people has not been confirmed.

Kombucha may help manage Type 2 Diabetes. More than 300 million people (worldwide) are affected by Type 2 diabetes. A study of diabetes rats found that kombucha slowed carbohydrate digestion, reducing blood sugar levels. The rats also had improved liver and kidney function. Again, when kombucha is made from green tea, it benefits from its high antioxidant levels, which itself has been shown to reduce blood sugar.

image courtesy Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha

Let’s raise a cup to Happy Lucky’s kombucha. It’s delicious. It’s good for you. And it supports local small businesses. Cheers!

To Your Health

Wellness Teas Help to Fight What Ails You

The holidays are behind us. All the later-than-usual nights, the merry making at parties, and yes, the occasional over indulgence in alcohol and rich foods can take its toll on your immune system. And with a compromised immune system comes colds, disrupted sleep, a lack of focus, and stress.

What if you could brew up an antidote to all of the above and more? What if your afternoon pick-me-up was packed with polyphenols (phytochemical antioxidant powerhouses), amino acids, and catechins (the class of flavonoids that make green tea such a super hero)? Well, toss the what-ifs out the window because at Happy Lucky’s we carry a host of wellness teas that will see you through the winter and stave off all sorts of nastiness.

Our wellness blends are chock full of goodness—both in taste and the ingredients we use. Happy Lucky’s Leafsters are knowledgeable about adaptogenic herbs and roots, which have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and play a big part in our formulation. Adaptogens work by interacting with the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal (HPA) triad which regulates the body’s response to stress and fatigue. They may adjust hormone production and physiological responses to stress so that your body—from your mind to your energy levels and immune system—functions as it should.

Wellness teas are a quick and easy health tonic. With today’s busy modern day lifestyles, swapping out a latte for a more healthful herbal option is much easier than trying for a complete diet and exercise overhaul. While we absolutely advocate for a balanced lifestyle, supplementing your healthy habits with wellness teas is a direct route to managing the stressors that our overloaded calendars stack on top of us. Take a look at Happy Lucky’s wellness blends (and their powerful ingredients) that will boost your energy, build immunity, and make you feel so much better. Because, you’re worth it.

Koala Bear’s Nasal Care: When your nose is running off your face, this tea made from eucalyptus, spearmint, peppermint, lemongrass, chamomile, orange peel, ginger, clove, nettle, and licorice will slow the pace and let you take that deep breath you’ve been longing for.

Hangover Monkey: Your go-to day-after make-it-better tea. Dandelion, burdock, roasted chickory and nettle help your liver detoxify, while skullcap eases the nerves with some assistance from goji berries. Schizandra berries provides more protection for the liver; rose hips give a bit of vitamin C; a touch of black tea should put a little bounce back in your step; licorice root and orange add a nice lingering sweet finish.

Vitalitea:What’s in a name? In this instance, everything. Vitalitea is exactly what the name says it is, and is blended with alfalfa, red raspberry leaf, tulsi, chamomile, ginkgo biloba, nettle leaf, red clover, rose hips, lemongrass and hibiscus. 

Be Well: A TKO blended with ginger root, linden leaf and flower, lemon myrtle, french vervaine, lemongrass, orange peel, echinacea purpea tops and roots, nettle leaf, rose hips, pao d’ arco bark and lemon peel delivers a punch that ratchets up your immune system.

Cosmic Cold: Find relief from the  sneezes, headaches, sore throat and aches and pains that come with colds with this blend of chamomile, yarrow, feverfew, elder berry, elder flower, red clover, rose hips, hibiscus, yerba santa, cinnamon and lemon peel. 

Peppermint Pat-Tea: So much goodness is found in this tea. Peppermint, marsh mallow root, and ginger soothe upset stomaches. Slippery elm bark makes a sore throat feel oh, so much better. And chocolate? That’s for the extra yumminess. (So much yumminess.) 

Ginger Orange Carrot:Dried orange peel, carrot, ginger, and turmeric. That is an antioxidant super cocktail, guaranteed to shoot your immune system through the stratosphere.

Golden Chai’Ld: Turmeric, CTC Assam black tea, pepper corns, coconut, and cinnamon show inflammation the door. Buh-bye!

Moon Cycle:Tame monthly cramps, bloating and stress with our exclusive blend of dong quai, marshmallow, licorice, cramp bark, roasted dandelion, ginger, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, and sarsparilla. 

Baby on Board: Take good care of your most precious cargo with red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, nettle, spearmint, rose hips, linden leaf and flower, as well as a touch of fennel seed. 

Detox Herbal Blend:Your liver will love this blend of goji berries, burdock root, dandelion root, licorice root, orange peel, and roasted chicory root. Long lasting sweetness of licorice and orange peel make this tea extra special. 

Long winter months can be tough. Be good to yourself. Have a cup of wellness tea. Each one of them is super good, super healthful, and quite possibly, your very own super power.

Chocolate Tea: The Treat that Treats You Back

Chocolate tea. It’s rich and delicious and indulgent. The flavor profile is complex and sophisticated. Add milk (we like it frothed) and a shot of sugar or honey, and you have a mugful of happiness: delightful and just right any time of the day. For the non-dairy, no sugar alternative, chocolate tea is delicious with coconut milk and just a touch of stevia or coconut sugar. We’re featuring chocolate teas this month — perfect for a guilt-free holiday treat. (And as a gift for your chocolate loving friends.)

At Happy Lucky’s, we blend our chocolate teas with cacao hulls, not artificial flavorings or syrups. We carefully choose the base teas and other ingredients to craft our very own unique teas that you simply cannot find anywhere else.

Cacao hulls are the thin, papery skins the surround the whole cacao bean. They contain generous amounts of amino acids and theobromine, a naturally occurring compound found in both cacao plants and tea leaves. Theobromine affects the body similarly to caffeine, but with a much gentler come-down. It’s been shown to lower blood pressure, improve brain function, and increase airflow to the lungs. Even better, it naturally promotes health enamel in teeth — that’s not going to happen with a candy bar. Score!

You’re bound to find a chocolate tea (Or two. Or three.) that will tickle your taste buds and in some instances, your tummy. Peppermint Pat-Tea, for instance, contains ginger, slippery elm bark, and marsh mallow root that have known benefits for stomach upsets and also aid in digestion.   Or try Chocolate Mints, an herbal blend that doubles your pleasure with peppermint and spearmint.

Chocolate Chai is blended with chocolate (of course) Rooibos Chocolate Orange, Rooibos Vanilla, ginger, cinnamon bark chips, cloves, cardamom, orange peel, and nutmeg. 

Aztec Chocolate is the tea lovers answer to Mexican hot chocolate. The chocolate, cinnamon, and Happy Lucky’s super secret blend of peppers and chilis will warm you from the belly up. 

Who doesn’t love chocolate and raspberries? The sprightly tartness of the berries and the rich velvety chocolate make Rooibos Chocolate Raspberry a creamy, decadent, and delicious treat. 

If you haven’t given Pu-er a try, Chocolate Aire is a great start. It’s a deep and earthy tea that blends China Topaz Pu-er, chocolate, and two vanilla teas — rooibos and black — with a touch of roasted chicory root. 

With so many chocolate teas to choose from, there really is only one response: yes, please.