travel + tea interview: melissa wrzesniewsky of expanding leaves

the travel + tea interviews series: bloggers, writers and photographers sharing about their experiences with tea, travel and writing.

Tell me about your blog, how did you get to the point you’re at now and what are you thinking of doing next?

My blog, Expanding Leaves is mainly a tea review blog. It is a mixture between being asked by companies to review their teas, and me just reviewing teas I buy on my own.

expanding leaves

How did I get here? That’s a really good question. Initially, I just was a tea lover, lost in a sea of coffee drinkers at home. I had just read Gary Vaynerchuk’s book Crush It! over and over a few times, and his philosophy was becoming engrained in my head. I felt the need to aid other lost tea lovers out there. So I started my blog on a whim one night, wrote up some reviews, and wrote up a game plan for the first year. Here I am now, almost a year later, still blogging, except with many more tea friends from all over the world. That is my favorite part…meeting and getting to know so many different people, who relate to me solely on our shared love for tea!

I see my blog going new places in the next year. I hope to go to the World Tea Expo this year and I have many new things planned. I would really like to focus more on videos, that have specific series, like how to get into tea, tea types, tea production, etc.

Tell me where in the world you are, how did you get there (what’s the story behind the journey) and where are you thinking of going next?

I am in New Jersey, currently, and have lived here my entire life. I love New Jersey, and always have. I live close to the beach, so in the summer, I am there pretty regularly. But I would like to get away from NJ for a while. I will be here for another 2 years due to college. After college, I hope to travel, a lot. I would love to take a year off, visit China, Japan, Poland, France and the United States West, but that is not likely to happen. So, I am planning on either volunteering or having a job that can take me to all those wonderful places, while still being paid a salary to live there.

What does traveling mean to you?

I love learning about new environments that are different from where I live. I think it is important to put yourself in uncomfortable positions in life, in order to grow more as an individual.  Travel doesn’t have to be far away, but can be as close as within your town. Exploration of a new place is what traveling is all about.

What does tea mean to you?

expanding leavesTea really means so much to me in different circumstances, tea soothes,tea energizes, tea entertains, tea mends a sad mood, tea aids in self-reflection, tea helps maintain friendships, tea is a meditation device. Depending on my mood, tea morphs to suit my needs, which is why I have such a fond affection towards tea. Tea also is a journey for me, it takes me on a journey every time I sip on a cup, learning about where the tea is from, where it was grown, how it was produced. I love learning about new tea-things, and reading all the rich history tea has.

What’s your philosophy when it comes to blogging on the road?

While on the road, if I get a good idea, or sip on something extraordinary, I will try my best to take pictures and jot down some notes, but won’t post until I get home. If I am gone for a while, or an extra busy, I will write some posts in advance and have them posted on specific days. I like to enjoy my experiences on the road as much as I can without the internet and the web tying me down.

What’s your favorite tea related memory or location (it can be as simple as enjoying a can of green tea from a vending machine in Japan to participating in a tea ceremony) and why is it special to you?

When my brother graduated college, he moved home and was very confused (as many recent grads are), as he was ending his college career, I was just beginning mine. At the
same time,I had been getting my brother into tea, so every night over that summer, we would go outside,sit on our back patio, and sip on a new tea (or teas) each night. We would dissect our lives, where we are, where we want to be, just talking about life and enjoying each others company. Since then, my brother has moved away to New York City, but this memory is one of my fondest of our memories shared together. It may have been the tea that bonded us closer and closer together.

What do you drink/steep at home?

I drink anything and everything at home. I don’t have a specific tea that I am partial to. I have many samples and small amounts of a variety of teas because I never know what kind I may crave at any given moment. By go to tea type is Oolong, though. Oolong is so versatile, and I love that there is so much variety within one type of tea.

If there is one tea you could introduce to everyone in the world, what would it be?

Tie Guan Yin. It was the first high quality oolong I ever tried, from Chicago Tea Garden back when Tony opened up. I fell in love with this tea. It is everything that a perfect tea should embody, it is lightly oxidized, floral,buttery, creamy and delicious! I would
recommend everyone try this tea out, because it is so flavorful and just a wonderful tea!

Can you tell me three of your favorite tea or travel blogs?

World of TeaTony’s website was one of the first I stumbled upon when I decided to get more serious about my tea journey. I love the interesting articles he shares. The articles keep my love for tea alive, and my thirst of more tea knowledge going.

Leafbox Tea Jackie and Peter are wonderful. I love their website, and they are dedicated to creating a digital cafe for all us tea drinkers to get together and chat with each other. Although small, we have quite a lovely community going on over there. I really enjoy getting to know other tea drinkers on more than a twitter based interaction!

The Four Hour Work Week – This is Tim Ferriss’ blog, and I read it all the time. Although it is not exclusively a travel or tea blog, he does drink tea and travels often ! Tim is a very interesting person, and posts some fantastically mind invoking posts! I would definitely recommend you check him out!

Can you tell me your favorite tea shop (and what made it totally awesome)?

There is a small place in Red Bank, NJ called NovelTeas that I really enjoy. They have a large selection of teas, a cozy place to sit and talk or read, or really do anything. The staff is very friendly, accommodating & fun to talk with! The staff alone makes you feel like you are at home! This is a great place to just sit & enjoy yourself and a good cup of tea!

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Melissa can be found at Expanding Leaves and on Twitter as @lissisblissx and as @ExpandingLeaves.

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Comments
3 Responses to “travel + tea interview: melissa wrzesniewsky of expanding leaves”
  1. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed! I really enjoyed answering all of the questions! Cheers!

  2. Another great interview Deb.

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