The History of Tea in Colombia

This is an expanded section of a larger article detailing tea growing in Colombia and my travels there. You can read the full article here. The history of tea in Colombia is, in part, a history of the Llano family. 1960 - Té La Sophia At the beginning of the 1950s, the Colombian Department of Agriculture set out to stimulate their export economy, after a series of conflicts and economic downturns, with tea seeds bought from Sri Lanka (both sinensis and assamica). They originally planted these seeds in Cundinamarca department (around Sasaima) and Santander Department (north of Bogotá). It [...]

The History of Tea in Colombia 2018-06-07T21:59:08+00:00

Processing Methods in Colombia

This is an expanded section of a larger article detailing tea growing in Colombia and my travels there. You can read the full article here. In addition to owning their tea garden, Bitaco has built a brand new, state-of-the-art tea processing plant outfitted with equipment purchased from India and organized specifically for the purposes of making top quality tea. It's perhaps the most modern tea processing facility in the Americas. Below is an in-depth, detailed account of how they process their black and greens tea. They still processed some tea in their older Hindú facility, just down the road, but much of [...]

Processing Methods in Colombia 2018-06-07T21:56:20+00:00

Tea Production in Vietnam: A History and Evolution

Ask people where tea comes from and not many will immediately think of Vietnam. Yet, according to the most recently published UN FAO statistics, Vietnam was the sixth largest producer and fifth largest exporter of tea in the world. This disconnect reflects the country’s strategy of quantity over quality. As someone living in Vietnam who has had an interest in a tea business since 2010, I'm often asked, “What is tea in Vietnam like?” There is, of course, no simple answer. The largely commodity tea output overwhelms the gradual shift that has taken place in recent years to focus on higher quality and responsibly [...]

Tea Production in Vietnam: A History and Evolution 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Tea for the New Year: A Brief History

In Japan, the mid-seasons are the most popular and lively of the year. Spring is marked by the sakura cherry blossom viewings during which everyone joins together to enjoy the gentle autumn breeze under one of the beautifully blooming trees. Every year, autumn brings people together to admire the reddening of the maple trees. For as long as we humans are a part of nature, the natural cycle of our environment plays a significant role in how we live our lives. This, for example, determines the timing of when we plant seeds and harvest and when certain foods become available. The [...]

Tea for the New Year: A Brief History 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

The Artisan Specialty Teas of Sri Lanka

While in Sri Lanka this past August, I got an in-depth look at tea production throughout the country and happened upon some fantastic handmade teas. 95% of tea produced in Sri Lanka is Orthodox Black tea made by machine, but there is a growing number of artisan specialty tea producers in the country. If this artisan production is met with overseas demand, it's a sector of the Sri Lankan Tea industry that is sure to grow. In this article, I'll share with you my experiences sampling a selection of teas from Lumbini Tea Valley and Glenwood Reserve. Lumbini Tea Valley Chaminda [...]

The Artisan Specialty Teas of Sri Lanka 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – Quality

This is the final part of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. As a final part of this series, I would like to compress everything we have learned into a clear definition of ‘matcha’. What does matcha mean in its purest form? And how do derivations of this result in different quality ranks? First the definition: Matcha is a stone-milled powdered tea, made from tencha, produced from the Camellia Sinensis tea bush. Tencha is that leaf which is used for the production of matcha, and is manufactured from leaf obtained during the spring [...]

Matcha – Quality 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – The Right Blend

This is part 5 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. Most tea farmers that produce tencha, only manufacture the tea until the ara-tencha, or the stage before the final processing where the rough dried tea leaf is further processed, cut and filtered. At this stage, the leaf is still too large to be successfully ground into fine powder, and the twigs may catch in the veins of the stone mortar, disturbing the smooth pulverizing of the tea. Therefore, before tencha can be processed into matcha, the leaf that is obtained from a [...]

Matcha – The Right Blend 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – The Production of Tencha

This is part 4 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. After the leaf has been harvested, it is immediately transported to the factory where it is almost instantly transferred onto a conveyor belt that takes the harvested leaves through a steamer. The steaming is usually very short; approximately 20 seconds. Its main purpose is to deactivate the oxygen in the leaf to prevent further oxidation, and in doing so the leaf will maintain its green color and freshness. Other effects of scalding the leaf include the removal of grassy-like and similar bad [...]

Matcha – The Production of Tencha 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – Harvest

This is part 3 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. Traditionally, May 2nd is considered the 88th fortnight calculated from the beginning of Spring. In terms of matcha production, this is the most favorable date for harvest. Around this time, about two fresh leaves and a bud have developed and matured sufficiently to be ready for harvest. The larger the leaf becomes, the more sunlight it has savored, and in effect has had more time to generate antioxidants which will render the leaf more bitter. It are only the top two leaves [...]

Matcha – Harvest 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – Cultivation

This is part 2 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. While the episode in the previous article allows us an insight in the advent of tea in Japan, it also introduces some of the most important factors that play a decisive role in the cultivation of tea bushes for the manufacturing of matcha. In this article, I will look to define the traditional aspects of cultivating tea bushes for matcha, as well as to introduce how these methods have been altered to meet contemporary standards. But first, I feel that it is [...]

Matcha – Cultivation 2018-05-15T08:40:31+00:00

Matcha – An Initial Encounter

This is part 1 of a 6 post series on matcha contributed to World of Tea by Tyas Sōsen. While in Japan the consumption of matcha is gradually declining, the tea’s popularity is rapidly growing in the West. Major health benefits have been attributed to the product, which have rendered it a highly desired item for the more health conscious among us. But in contradiction to the more traditional ways of imbibing matcha, its use in the West has seen a major shift to alternative applications such as the use in smoothies, sweets, etc. Although it is widely known that matcha [...]

Matcha – An Initial Encounter 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

List of Tea Producing Countries in the World

Being World of Tea, we have identified the following list of 62 tea producing countries across the globe. This is as complete a list as we've been able to make. To be included, a country must have at least one functioning commercial tea plantation or have been represented in the press about a tea growing operation. Argentina Argentina is the tenth largest producer of tea in the world and the largest tea producer in South America. Australia Tea has been grown in Queensland, Australia since 1884. Today, there are a number of commercial gardens in the states of Queensland, New South [...]

List of Tea Producing Countries in the World 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Where Tea is Grown

We have identified the following list of 61 tea producing countries across the globe. To be included, a country must have at least one functioning commercial tea plantation. Argentina Argentina is the tenth largest producer of tea in the world and the largest tea producer in South America. Australia Tea has been grown in Queensland, Australia since 1884. Today, there are a few small gardens remaining in Queensland as well as a commercial producer of Japanese-style green tea in Victoria. Azerbaijan Azerbaijan is the fortieth largest producer of tea in the world. Bangladesh Bangladesh is the twelfth largest producer of tea [...]

Where Tea is Grown 2018-06-10T17:20:45+00:00

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada

Is tea grown in the United States? It sure is! Although we still have a way to go, American grown tea is a warm community and growing industry. From the rich volcanic soil of Hawai'i where the bulk of the farms reside to the rich and humid subtropical climate of the American Southeast to as far North as the Canadian border in the Pacific Northwest, tea farms have continued popping up all around the country. Now inhabiting 17 states, and with a single farm in Canada, we've put together a run-down of every tea farm we've been able to find so far. As [...]

Where Tea is Grown in the United States and Canada 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The Tea Genome Revealed

For decades, the DNA encoded within the tea plant has remained a mystery. Now, the tea genome has finally been sequenced. Tea (Camellia sinensis) can don the DNA-decoded laurels along with dozens of the world’s most important crops, including two other distantly related caffeine-bearing cousins: coffee (Coffea arabica), sequenced in 2014, and cacao (Theobroma cacao), sequenced in 2010. The scientific paper which revealed this information, published May 1, 2017, is officially titled: The Tea Tree Genome Provides Insights into Tea Flavor and Independent Evolution of Caffeine Biosynthesis, Xia et al., Molecular Plant (2017) and you can read the whole paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molp.2017.04.002 [...]

The Tea Genome Revealed 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

The Oolong Compendium

The word Wulong translates to black dragon. The proper pinyin is wūlóng (乌龙), but oolong (a haphazard transliteration) has become the most popular spelling in the West. Wulong leaves are semi-oxidized. This means that during production, oxidation is initiated, controlled and halted at some point before the leaves are considered fully oxidized. This is why you will often hear wulong described as being in between green tea and black tea. However, as with many things in the world of tea, it is more complicated than this. A distinct step in the processing of traditional wulong tea is the bruising step (also [...]

The Oolong Compendium 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Satemwa, an Orthodox Tea Producing Estate in Malawi

Satemwa is a family-run tea and coffee estate located in the southern portion of Malawi in East Africa. The estate was founded in 1923 by a Scotsman named Maclean Kay. The garden is now run by his grandson, Alexander Kay. Satemwa is one of the last family-owned tea estates in the region, as most have been purchased by huge companies looking to produce commodity tea. I recently had a chance to try many of the beautiful teas that are produced at Satemwa and speak with Wouter Verelst who heads up Marketing & Business Development for the estate. Here are some highlights from our conversation: When [...]

Satemwa, an Orthodox Tea Producing Estate in Malawi 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

What is Puer Tea?

More than just an exoticism, Puer tea has seen a dramatic rise in the Western market. Despite the hype and fluctuating prices, Puer still remains some of the most expensive tea in China. So, what exactly is Puer tea? Puer, or 普洱 (pǔ ěr), is a type of fermented tea from China's Southwestern Yunnan Province. It comes in two styles: Sheng (or raw) Puer, which is allowed to naturally ferment over time by aging, and Shu (or cooked) Puer, which utilizes a wet-piling process to speed up fermentation. To be considered a Puer, the tea leaves must be grown in Yunnan and must be from [...]

What is Puer Tea? 2018-05-15T08:40:32+00:00

Is Chinese Tea Safe from Pollution?

China produces the most tea on Earth. It's also one of the most polluted countries on Earth. Yet, in my humble opinion and that of many other tea connoisseurs, specialty Chinese tea is some of the best. What you’re probably wondering is this: Are Chinese teas safe from pollution? Like the Chinese tea industry itself, the answer is multi-faceted and can be difficult to sort through, especially in a shorter article, but I’ll try my best to sum up the factors involved and what you need to consider when buying Chinese tea. Issue #1 The first cause for concern, the one most of you are [...]

Is Chinese Tea Safe from Pollution? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Modern Tea Processing Methods In Taiwan

Taiwan has pioneered the innovation of Oolong Tea processing methods from the labor-intensive traditional way to a mechanized, high volume modern tea making procedure. In this post, we’ll introduce the purpose of each step in the processing of Oolong Tea, and the machines that have been invented here in Taiwan over the last 35 years or so to do this work. Solar Withering. Photo by Eric Mah Solar Withering Freshly harvested tea leaves are brought to a tea factory as quickly as possible and are spread out somewhat sparsely on tarps to undergo the first step in processing tea, [...]

Modern Tea Processing Methods In Taiwan 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation?

Five and half years after the Tohoku earthquake and subsequent meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant in Japan, a question still lingers for some tea enthusiasts: Is Japanese tea safe to drink? The short answer? Yes. The longer answer? Resoundingly, yes! And the reason why is multi-faceted. Firstly, by “safe to drink”, the layman might think this means, “the tea is absent from radioactive particles”. While this may be true for many producers, this interpretation isn’t entirely accurate, for reasons that will soon become apparent. Why shouldn’t you be worried? Thankfully, radiation doesn’t travel far unless carried by a radioactive [...]

Is Japanese Tea Safe from Radiation? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Nuances of Tea Classification

A tea processing chart refers to a chart that shows the processing steps that different tea types go through after being plucked and before they reach your cup. Tea processing charts have been essential items in the toolbelt of tea educators for years. However, nearly every processing chart that exists today excludes many styles of tea and sometimes entire types of tea. I posted the first version of my tea processing chart here on World of Tea in 2013. Since then, I have made countless edits to it in an effort to create an easily understandable tool for tea education. Early [...]

Nuances of Tea Classification 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Tea Processing Chart

Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, wulong tea, black tea and post-fermented teas all begin as fresh Camellia sinensis leaves and go through different processing steps. While there are an infinite number of variations that result in an infinite number of tea styles, the same underlying processing methodologies largely define the tea's type. There are many tea processing charts that attempt to accurately depict the tea process, but many of them add unnecessary levels of complexity, or skip steps. The goal here was to depict very general [...]

Tea Processing Chart 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Oriental Beauty and Other Bug-Bitten Teas: Fact or Fiction?

When shopping for tea you're bound to come across some pretty bogus sounding marketing claims—tea picked by monkeys, affordable tea from 3000 year old trees, tea that will make you lose weight—so you'd be wise to be skeptical about Oriental Beauty, a so-called “bug-bitten” wulong tea originating in Taiwan. You may have heard that its flavor is owed to damage by a particular insect which starts the oxidation process, and therefore it is always from tea fields that are never sprayed with pesticides. In order to clear up some of the misunderstandings about this tea, we first need a quick primer [...]

Oriental Beauty and Other Bug-Bitten Teas: Fact or Fiction? 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Tea Authenticity and Geographical Indications

You may be wondering why teas named after their origin or teas that are unique to their origin are not protected by law. Such protection exists for France’s Champagne and Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, but does origin-specific tea get the same protection? Counterfeit tea is a huge plague to the industry, in fact, there is much more Darjeeling tea on the market each year than is actually produced. Some protection for tea does exist, but the means for protection must be set up by an association or certifying body and once it is set up, it is difficult if not impossible to enforce. The [...]

Tea Authenticity and Geographical Indications 2018-05-15T08:40:33+00:00

Zhang Ping Shui Xian Production in Photos

Zhang Ping Shui Xian (漳平水仙) refers to a style of compressed oolong made from the Shui Xian cultivar of Camellia sinensis. The tea is produced in Zhang Ping, Fujian Province. Below is a gallery that outlines the production of this tea style in photos. Thanks to Chenggui Wang (王城贵)for providing these photos. Click any of the images below to open the gallery view.

Zhang Ping Shui Xian Production in Photos 2018-05-15T08:40:34+00:00

Kinetics of Steeping Tea

Steeping is the final step in the lives of tea leaves. And in their final act, the they slowly unfold and unravel, creating a beverage that tells the story of where they came from, what the weather was like before they were plucked, and how they were handled, processed, and stored before they reached your cup. Tea as a beverage is most commonly made by infusing tea leaves in a solvent (water) to make a solution wherein the solute (what’s being dissolved into the water) is made up of the soluble compounds within the tea leaves. What we end up with [...]

Kinetics of Steeping Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:34+00:00

Growing Green Tea in Victoria, Australia

For many of us, thoughts of Australia conjure up images of the Sydney Opera House, its world famous harbor and bridge, Bondi Beach or a sunburnt outback with a few kangaroos. Some may have memories of a trip down under, a holiday filled with diversity, sun and sand or maybe you came to study at one of Australia’s many world class universities. For many it’s the trip of a lifetime, and certainly if you’re like me, a life changing trip! But very few remember images of lush green and immaculately manicured tea bushes when thinking about Australia, surely that’s more in line [...]

Growing Green Tea in Victoria, Australia 2018-05-15T08:40:34+00:00

Drying in Tea Processing

In all of our talk of tea processing thus far, we’ve been dealing with tea leaves that contain some water. In order for processed tea leaves to be shelf-stable, they must be dried. There are two reasons for drying tea though, to dry the leaf, making it shelf stable, and to enhance the flavor. At times, these can be two distinct steps in processing and at other times, it can be seen as more of a continuum, and sometimes teas are only dried for shelf-stability. For our discussion here, I’ll explain each separately. Photo Credit: Michael Petersen, Tealet. Most [...]

Drying in Tea Processing 2018-05-15T08:40:35+00:00

Chemical Compounds in Tea

Tea chemistry is complex. Just how complex? Well, on the bush, tea leaves contain thousands of chemical compounds, when they are processed, these compounds break down, form complexes and form new compounds. When we steep tea leaves, our senses are tingled by the thousands of volatile compounds (collectively known as the “aroma complex”) from the tea liquor and the thousands of non-volatile compounds and the complexes between them, not all of which are water soluble, and the ones that are water soluble are soluble at a function of the properties of the water used for steeping like temperature, total dissolved solids, [...]

Chemical Compounds in Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:35+00:00

The Six Immutable Laws of Tea Storage

Storing tea can be very simple. If you keep your tea in an airtight container and then store your container in a dark, cool, dry place free from strong odors, you will likely consume it before you begin to notice any degradation in aroma or taste. Looking a bit deeper into tea storage opens up a bit more complexity and in this article, I break it down for you. When we talk about a tea deteriorating, what do we mean? Mostly oxidation. For teas that are prevented from oxidizing during production (see tea processing chart here), or that are not heavily [...]

The Six Immutable Laws of Tea Storage 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

The Engineer’s Guide to Tea Preparation

The bulk of tea produced in the world is commodity tea, meaning that it is actively traded and it’s price is determined by the markets. Commodity tea is relatively cheap, with the worldwide average price of commodity black tea typically in the area of $2.85USD/kilogram. Many of the world's famous tea cultures1 are famous because they are promulgated by common man and are thus largely based on cheap commodity tea. There is however, a larger amount of high quality tea being produced every year, what some are calling the specialty tea industry. One way to think about the difference between commodity tea [...]

The Engineer’s Guide to Tea Preparation 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Fermented Tea Classification

Fermented Teas China Hunan Heicha 湖南 黑茶 Fu Zhuan 茯砖  “Fu Brick” Hua Juan Cha 花卷茶 Qian Liang Cha 千两茶 “Thousand Tael Tea” Bai Liang Cha 百两茶 “Hundred Tael Tea” Shi Liang Cha 十两茶 “Ten Tael Tea” Hua Zhuan 花砖 “Flower Brick” Hei Zhuan 黑砖 "Dark Brick" Xiang Jian 湘尖 “Hunan Tips” Tian Jian 天尖 “Heaven Tips” Gong Jian 贡尖 "Tribute Tips" Sheng Jian 生尖 "Raw Tips" Qu Jiangbo Pian 渠江薄片 "Qu Jiang Thin Slice" (coin-shaped tea) Sichuan Heicha 四川 黑茶 Nan Lu Bian Cha 南路边茶 “South Border Tea” Xi Lu Bian Cha 西路边茶 “West Border Tea” Kang Zhuan 康砖 “Kang Brick” literally [...]

Fermented Tea Classification 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Übersicht Teeverarbeitung

A German translation of my original tea processing chart. The original processing chart can be found here. German translation courtesy of Thomas Kasper of SiamTeas. Thomas Kasper is known for sourcing pure teas from Thailand. Download a high resolution versions of the chart: [PDF] [JPEG]

Übersicht Teeverarbeitung 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Gráfico de los procesos del té

Gracias a Fernando Enrique Padín Sáez de España por proporcionarme esta traducción al español del gráfico de los procesos del té. Original here. Descargar gráfico de los procesos del té: [PDF] [JPEG] Gráfico de los procesos del té by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Based on a work at worldoftea.org.

Gráfico de los procesos del té 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Romanization of Tea Terms

Surprisingly little is understood within the tea industry when it comes to the romanization of tea terms. This to me is troubling because confused tea vendors result in confused tea consumers. Because the Chinese have contributed the bulk of tea knowledge to the world, much of the romanization issues surround Modern Standard Chinese, though I’ll touch on Korean and Japanese as well. Romanization refers to the transliteration of any writing system to the Roman alphabet. It is important to understand the difference between transliteration and translation. Transliteration tells us how to say the other language's word in our own language. Translation gives us [...]

Romanization of Tea Terms 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

South Korean Balhyocha & Hwangcha

I recently went down the rabbit hole as they say researching a single topic for my upcoming book on tea. This time the rabbit hole was related to South Korean tea: balhyocha and hwangcha to be exact. Some tea merchants selling the same product will call it hwangcha and some will call it balhyocha. There seems to be no single definition of either of these tea terms and even more disconcerting, neither fits cleanly into standard tea classifications. What follows are excerpts from Matt of the wonderful Mattcha tea blog and discussions I've had with two South Korean tea experts followed by my own take on [...]

South Korean Balhyocha & Hwangcha 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

A New Look at Tea Classification

Throughout history, tea has been categorized many ways: by the color of the finished leaves, by the color of the tea liquor, and by the percentage of oxidation the tea leaves have gone through during processing. The goal of categorizing tea is to provide a clear foundation for education by lumping together teas with similar qualities. Each of the above classification methods fall short of providing a method of classification by which all tea styles can be categorized. Classifying teas by the processing methods that created them however, allows us to achieve this goal as tea styles can easily be lumped together [...]

A New Look at Tea Classification 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

The Complete Guide to Tea Harvest Times

When tea leaves are harvested depends largely on the region in which they are being grown and can vary from season to season with fluctuations in weather, specifically factors of sunlight, heat, and rainfall. The timing of the harvest is of utmost importance as it can take only a few days for a bud to appear, open up, and grow into a large leaf. Missing the harvest can destroy a crop, as a style of tea may require that only the buds be plucked or that only a certain number of small leaves be plucked after the bud opens. If there [...]

The Complete Guide to Tea Harvest Times 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

How to Store Tea Leaves Between Steepings

This is a question that I see often on r/tea. The root of the problem here is that the ideals of Eastern steeping methods are getting mixed up with Western steeping methods. This is a huge generalization, but here is how the two styles shake out: Eastern Steeping: The tea leaves are steeped repeatedly with very small amounts of water for very short amounts of time, traditionally in a gaiwan or a smaller yixing pot that holds less than 1 cup of water. Also the ratio of leaves to water is higher with Eastern methods than with Western methods. This is [...]

How to Store Tea Leaves Between Steepings 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

What is a varietal?

The word varietal is one that is often misused in the tea world (and also in the wine world). It is often erroneously used interchangeably with the word variety. Here's the correct definition: Varietal (adj) - a varietal tea is one that was made from a single variety of Camellia sinensis. Correct usage: Tieguanyin is a varietal tea made from the 'Tieguanyin' cultivar (remember cultivar means "cultivated variety") of Camellia sinensis. Incorrect usage: Tieguanyin is made from the Tieguanyin varietal of Camellia sinensis.

What is a varietal? 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea Varieties and Cultivars

Plants are classified hierarchically by their division, class, subclass, order, family, genus, and species. They are also classified by variety and cultivar when necessary. Here's how the tea plant shakes out: Division -> Magnoliophyta Class -> Magnoliopsida Subclass -> Dilleniidae Order -> Theales Family -> Theaceae Genus -> Camellia Species -> Sinensis [Source: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=Casi16] Since we’ll only be dealing with the varieties and cultivars of the genus Camellia and the species sinensis we’ll leave out the higher level classifications and just start with Camellia sinensis for the sake of simplicity throughout the rest of this post. When notating plant names, there [...]

Tea Varieties and Cultivars 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea in Michigan

Katie and I were attending a wedding in Traverse City, Michigan last fall and while heading to Sleeping Bear Dunes, we made an awesome discovery. We happened upon a small tea shop called "Light of Day Organics" - we were surprised to learn that the owner, Angela Macke not only grows 240 different ingredients for her tea blends, but also has been growing Camellia sinensis since 2005! We were able to see the several varieties plants that she had in the greenhouse adjacent to her tea shop, unfortunately we did not have enough time to see her plants in the ground that have [...]

Tea in Michigan 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Beginner’s Guide to Steeping Japanese Green Tea

Did you know that green tea is the most popular type of tea in Asia? It's the most consumed tea in China, and Japan practically specializes in it. Steeping Japanese green tea isn't particularly difficult, you just have keep some points in mind. Aren't Japanese and Chinese green teas the same? There is one major difference: the fixing process, which is known as "kill-green" in China. With a few exceptions, Japanese green teas are steamed while Chinese green teas are pan fired. For this reason, there is a great difference in the flavor, aroma, and color of the liquid. There are [...]

Beginner’s Guide to Steeping Japanese Green Tea 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

British Tea Culture

British Tea Culture, we all know it exists, we all know it's important, but what exactly does it mean? I set out to figure this out by interviewing over 110 people from the United Kingdom about their tea habits. I wanted to see what makes their tea culture unique across all social classes. I deliberately did not ask tea connoisseurs, for we know that the "connoisseur crowd" is a common stripe among all tea cultures. Assumptions made: British Tea is a black tea, mostly a blended black tea. Teas blends are commonly made up of teas from India (Assam), Sri Lanka, or East Africa. The following [...]

British Tea Culture 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal”

One way that people describe green teas (not just green teas, just using it as an example) is by using the word "vegetal" -- meaning that the taste reminds them of the taste of vegetables. One quick tip to take your tea appreciation to another level is to see if you can figure out which vegetable it reminds you of. Use this as a guide to help you find the exact vegetable: Does it smell/taste like a leafy green? Spinach Kale Chard Lettuce Does it smell/taste like grass? Fresh Cut Grass Dry Hay Does it smell/taste like a root vegetable? Carrot [...]

Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal” 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Tea Business Model: Buying Directly From a Tea Producer

As the tea scene explodes in America, we’re seeing many different business models, both on the wholesale side and on the retail side. One that I find particularly interesting is the small but growing trend of tea farms selling directly to American consumers, whether shipping directly from the farm or by shipping to the states for later distribution. I sat down with Chicco Chou of Mountain Tea to learn more about this business model. Chicco was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1987, his family owns 3 tea farms totaling 600 acres in Taiwan, China and Indonesia. His two uncles Zhi Xing [...]

Tea Business Model: Buying Directly From a Tea Producer 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Understanding China’s Tea Harvest

In China, the tea plant can be harvested anywhere from once to as many as 6 or 7 times per year.  In addition, the first harvest – the first flush in Indian nomenclature – can occur anytime from mid-February to the end of May. Let us look at some of the factors that determine when tea leaves are harvested. Geography Where the plant is grown will have a big impact on when it can be harvested. This is dependent on a combination of these factors: Sunlight Heat Rainfall You don’t need to be a botanist to know that plants need sunlight to [...]

Understanding China’s Tea Harvest 2018-05-15T08:40:36+00:00

Guide to Tea in Chicago

The Chicago tea scene is blowing up. If you are visiting Chicago and are super into tea, please make it a point to visit these Chicago tea shops: Todd and Holland (Forest Park) This family-run shop in Forest Park (easy to get there from Downtown via blue or green line El trains) is the gem of the Chicago tea scene. Stop in and talk tea with the very knowledgeable Bill Todd and peruse their selection of single-origin teas that he has curated. Visit their website. Adagio (State Street, Naperville, Skokie) Chicagoans are lucky to have three Adagio shops in close proximity. The [...]

Guide to Tea in Chicago 2018-05-15T08:40:37+00:00
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