After being introduced to the glory of tea while getting ready for an Asian business trip, Clevelander Becky Corbett walked away from a corporate career in international trade and launched her own business, procuring and packaging exotic teas and providing them to fellow Northeast Ohio teapotheads. After almost three years and a stint at the West Side Market, Bec's Tea Nirvana now carries an inventory of nearly 150 unique blends, which Corbett carefully bags, labels, and loads into handcarved wooden boxes for a striking presentation. Her offerings range from black Canadian Dreamer (flavored with blackberry and maple) to green Fuji (pineapple and papaya), and include chai, herbal infusions, and decaffeinated varieties to boot. Among her current customers are Lola Bistro, Flying Fig, and One Walnut, as well as several area coffeehouses and B&Bs. "Her blends are beautiful, and the flavors are just great," says Flying Fig chef-owner Karen Small. "Tea is hot right now, and our customers just love Bec's products."
More from the Market . . . We first spotted Corbett's teas at the new Tea House Noodles Express, in Ohio City's Market 25 (1948 West 25th Street). The Nu-Asian noodle house, which opened on Halloween, is owned and operated by chef Kyle Lynch, through a licensing agreement with Tea House founder Richard Baribault. It offers a streamlined version of the standard downtown menu, with noodle and rice bowls, salads, and freshly made limeade, but sans smoothies, fresh-squeezed juices, or Asian buns. (Lynch, incidentally, is hoping to open other express locations in Lakewood, Coventry, and the Cleveland Clinic.) Lynch and Corbett are so committed to tea drinking -- and to Market 25 -- that they plan to host free "tea talks" at the market later this winter. For more info, call Bec's Tea Nirvana at 216-251-4567 or go to the website at www.becsnirvana.com.
Oops . . . We didn't mean to overlook Tremont's sassy Sage (2391 West 11th Street, 216-861-3734) in our January 1 wrap-up of 2002's notable openings; Michael Fadel and Nick DeCocco's inventive, contemporary kitchen marked its first anniversary just after the start of the new year. The partners' winter menu arrives this week, and along with the short ribs, rack of lamb, and pan-seared duck breast, look for the unusual lobster panzanella. The creative twist on the classic Italian bread salad includes sourdough croutons and a deconstructed "pumpernickel" vinaigrette, seasoned with caraway seeds and molasses.