Vietnamese Tea: Origin, Geography, Cultivars, Current Affairs

Vietnam is a country of contrasts and its tea industry is no exception to this rule.  Location and geography allow tea to grown in the sub-tropical north as well as the tropical south.  Vietnam forms part of the cradle of tea, yet, has a relatively young tea industry.  It continues to pursue rapid growth in commodity products, but the shoots of specialty tea are starting to break through.  What can you expect to find in your Vietnamese cup of tea? Land and History For most of its history, tea in Vietnam was a garden crop while the tea culture that developed [...]

Vietnamese Tea: Origin, Geography, Cultivars, Current Affairs2018-09-22T20:31:54-05:00

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 Colombia2018-06-07T21:59:08-05:00

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 Colombia2018-06-07T21:56:20-05:00

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 Evolution2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 History2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 Lanka2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 – Quality2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 Blend2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 Tencha2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 – Harvest2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 – Cultivation2018-05-15T08:40:31-05:00

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 Encounter2018-05-15T08:40:32-05:00

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 World2018-05-15T08:40:32-05:00

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 Grown2018-06-10T17:20:45-05:00

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 Canada2018-05-15T08:40:32-05:00

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 Revealed2018-05-15T08:40:32-05:00

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 Malawi2018-05-15T08:40:32-05:00

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?2018-05-15T08:40:33-05:00

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 Taiwan2018-05-15T08:40:33-05:00

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?2018-05-15T08:40:33-05:00

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?2018-05-15T08:40:33-05:00

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 Photos2018-05-15T08:40:34-05:00

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, Australia2018-05-15T08:40:34-05:00

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 Classification2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Michigan2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Tea2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Culture2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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”2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Producer2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Harvest2018-05-15T08:40:36-05:00

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 Chicago2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Etymology: “Tieguanyin” translates to “Iron Guanyin,” Guanyin being the “Goddess of Mercy” Other Names: Iron Goddess of Mercy, Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kwan Yin Origin: China, Fujian Province, Anxi County Taste: Overwhelmingly floral and slightly vegetal. Behind the Leaf: This tea is named after the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara ("Guan Yin" in Mandarin), also known as the "Iron Goddess of Mercy." Tie Guan Yin was first used only as a tribute tea to the Royal Court. The tea leaves from Anxi County are known for their overwhelming floral fragrance and are harvested from a Camellia Sinensis cultivar named Tie Guan Yin. They are [...]

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Describing Muscatel

Muscatel is an elusive taste found in some Darjeeling teas, most likely second flush teas. It is very hard to describe the taste in words, but it is easy to recognize the taste once you are familiar with it. James Norwood Pratt goes as far as saying that in tea, muscatel "denotes a unique muscat-like fruitiness in aroma and flavour." Rajiv Lochan, owner of several tea gardens in India and CEO of Lochan Tea Ltd remarked that muscatel is "very difficult to describe but it is something extraordinary and rare." I asked my tea friends how they would describe this elusive taste [...]

Describing Muscatel2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

How to Start an Online Tea Business

I get questions from people that are in the early stages of launching an online tea business several times each week. Many of the questions are the same, surrounding the topics of technology, marketing, sourcing, law, and overall strategy. Thus, I’ve put together my best thinking on these topics in ebook form. Best of all, it’s available for free below. Download "How to Start an Online Tea Business (PDF) Who am I? I’ve been working in the tea industry for over 10 years now. For three of those years, I ran my own online tea company, Chicago Tea Garden. Since then, [...]

How to Start an Online Tea Business2018-10-05T09:16:39-05:00

An Homage to Chicago Tea Garden

This is more of a bit of disconnected ramblings that I needed to get out since deciding to close down my company, Chicago Tea Garden. Hopefully you find what I've learned useful. Seven years ago I left the United States to spend a month abroad in China. While in China, I learned about the rich tea culture there as I traveled from city to city. This was when my interest for tea began. Upon my return home, I purchased a cubic-meter crate full of Yixing pots and sold them through the coffee shop I was working at during college. I studied the Gong [...]

An Homage to Chicago Tea Garden2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Kill-Green in Tea Production

Have you ever wondered why Japanese green teas are so green? And why Chinese green teas are not as bright green, but are typically yellower? The reason lies in the processing steps for each tea and in particular the "kill-green" step of the processing some tea types.  The term kill-green is derived from the Mandarin shaqing (杀青), which means "killing the green." Kill-green is also referred to as “de-enzyming” or “fixing” and is a process of tea manufacture used to halt the oxidative browning of tea leaves by denaturing the enzymes responsible for oxidation--  polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase. Think of an [...]

Kill-Green in Tea Production2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

What is Green Tea?

The definition of green tea in it's simplest and most generalized form is a tea that is made up of leaves that were prevented from oxidizing, shaped and then dried. However, green teas are not unoxidized. No tea is truly unoxidized because tea leaves begin to slowly wither and oxidize the moment they are plucked, something that is unavoidable since hours may elapse from the time of picking to the time of processing. So let's draw a line here and speak only of controlled processes.  The most prevalent form of green tea production involves heating the leaves shortly after plucking (some green [...]

What is Green Tea?2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Chicago Tea Tasting

Had a great tea tasting for my company, Chicago Tea Garden in January. If you live in the Chicago area and would like to attend a tasting, please signup here. Thanks to Flickr user faraocious for taking these awesome photos! view the whole set by foraocious here.

Chicago Tea Tasting2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Wild Orange Pu’er

These tiny oranges, known as clementines in the United States, are typically hollowed out and filled with tea, then aged. I have several that were obtained in Guandong, China, in 2005 and have since been aged in man-made pu-erh caves in the United States. The leaves, when steeped, have a zesty orange smell; the tea is smooth and malty, with hints of orange, especially if you use part of the rind while steeping. I was surprised that the orange notes were not more pronounced, but overall these make for a very interesting conversation piece and a very tasty tea. Here are [...]

Wild Orange Pu’er2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

Golden Bi Luo

Yunnan black teas come from China's Yunnan province and can be found in many different forms, this particular tea is comprised of twisted leaves similar to those found in Bi Luo Chun. Golden Bi Luo and other Yunnan black teas are best steeped for 1min at 195 in my opinion as it keeps the astringency at bay and the sweet notes in the forefront. Other Names: Hong Bi Luo, Yunnan Bi Luo, Golden Yunnan, Yunnan Golden Curls Origin: China, Yunnan Province Harvest: Spring 2011 Taste: Creamy with sweet, malty notes of vanilla. Behind the Leaf: Golden Bi Luo is a high-grade [...]

Golden Bi Luo2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

What is Tuocha?

Tuocha or "dome-shaped bowl tea" is a compressed tea, usually made of pu-erh. The shape resembles a bird's nest and tuocha range in weight from 3g to 3kg or more. Tuocha are convex in order to help the tea dry out after processing. "The name for tuocha is believed to have originated from the round, top-like shape of the pressed tea or from the old tea shipping and trading route of the Tuojiang River [Wikipedia]." While mini tuocha can be steeped whole, most large tuocha are broken into pieces and only small amounts are steeped at a time.  

What is Tuocha?2018-05-15T08:40:37-05:00

What is Yerba Mate?

Yerba mate is a tree. Not a tall one, but a moderately tall tree. In the farms they are not that big because they are pruned to make it easier to harvest, a similar method is used with the camellia sinensis plant for harvesting tea. The natives of this area, the Guaranies, discovered that they could make a drink with the plant, but they had to dried the leaves first. Yerba mate is poisonous if not dried. Not so poisonous that you will die, but you will wish to. It will give you stomach cramps, inflamation, diarrhea, intestinal cramps, incontinence and fever. [...]

What is Yerba Mate?2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Nuo Mi Xiang “Sticky Rice” Pu-erh

There exists an herb in China's Yunnan Province who's aroma closely resembles that of sticky glutinous rice. "Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye" translates to "Sweet Rice Tender Leaves." This tea in maocha form, is left for months in close contact with Nuo Mi Xiang Nen Ye leaves until the tea leaves take on the scent of the herb. The leaves are pressed into tiny tuochas, which means "dome-shaped bowl tea." The shape resembles tiny birds-nests, and they are individually wrapped in rice paper. The paper must be removed before steeping. Once steeped, the tea emits a sweet aroma identical to that [...]

Nuo Mi Xiang “Sticky Rice” Pu-erh2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

The Importance of Doing Research for Your Customers

So many times I meet people that have been told erroneous information about tea. I have met countless people searching for certain teas that will cure certain disorders, from sleep apnea to arthritis. I drink tea because it tastes good, tea is not a medicine to me, and I don't believe in selling tea as a "medicine." I believe it is a deceptive practice, and one that many are susceptible to, If you knew nothing about tea and someone told you that it would help you lose weight, you would probably believe them, right? Examples of Bad Information [blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/TeaBenefitsCom/status/42229795894988800"] [blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/CraigBaylor/status/44505534375788544"] [blackbirdpie [...]

The Importance of Doing Research for Your Customers2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Theanine: a 4000 Year Old Mind-Hack

Monks have been drinking tea for thousands of years to maintain a state of "mindful alertness" during long periods of meditation. But only in the last few years have studies shed light on why tea has this effect on the mind. The two elements responsible for this are caffeine and L-theanine, and it is the combination of the two that makes tea unique from any other drink. Spare Me the Science: What L-theanine and Caffeine can do for the Mind Promote a mindful state of relaxation Increase our ability to multi-task, and multi-task well Increase speed of perception Increase performance under [...]

Theanine: a 4000 Year Old Mind-Hack2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Pu-erh Flower Beencha

I'm not even sure what to call this. This is a beencha of pressed camellia sinensis flowers! Opening the wrapper I was greeted by an amazingly fresh, flowery fragrance. When steeped, the flowers basically re-blossom and release a sweet, slightly pungent and nutty liquor. Not sure how to steep this tea, I did a 1:30 infusion @ 195F and it was delicious.

Pu-erh Flower Beencha2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Tea from Brazil

I recently received a sample of shincha green tea from Stash Tea from Brazil. This is my first contact with Brazilian tea. Stash's website says: "The Yamamotoyama Brazilian tea gardens are in two highland areas in the central part of the country at an elevation of 2,000-2,500 feet. The climate here is comparable to Japan and optimal for growing superlative green tea. In fact, tea bushes from Japan were carefully selected and transported to Brazil to plant in these gardens." The leaves, like many Japanese teas are steamed and chopped and they emit a sweet, vegetal smell. I infused [...]

Tea from Brazil2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Lead Testing a Cheap Yixing Pot

It is believed that some tea-ware coming from China may contain lead. Especially pots supposedly made of Zisha clay from Yixing, China. A few years back there was a thread in TeaChat about this, no one found any lead when using home test kits. I tried it with the cheapest "yixing" pot I could find (more about why this probably isn't even a yixing pot in another post) online -- $5.00. I smashed the pot with a hammer and then ground up the pieces until the pot was reduced to a pile of bits. I wanted to test the greatest surface [...]

Lead Testing a Cheap Yixing Pot2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00

Pu-erh Tea and Tobacco: A trip to Iwan Ries

Much has been written on tobacco notes in young pu-erh teas. Because of this, some local Chicago tea friends and I decided to take this idea for a spin and spend a day at Iwan Ries with Certified Tobacconist Ron Carroll. Ron wanted to learn more about pu-erh and we wanted to compare the subtle complexities of pipe-tobacco with the nuances of pu-erh tea. Instead of immersing ourselves in not-taking and in-depth comparisons, we just enjoyed ourselves and let the conversation flow. Thomas Conner of TeaSquared elaborated on the day: http://teasquared.blogspot.com/2010/05/tea-and-tobacco-smokin.html

Pu-erh Tea and Tobacco: A trip to Iwan Ries2018-05-15T08:40:50-05:00
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