Single Origin Teas

Notes from the Field: Tea Adventures Old Grove Shuixian

Into the Old Grove: visiting some of these knarly old trees in the region helps us understand that the best oolong varietals all originally came from these arbor type Shuixian trees with the Phoenix beak like leaves. Technically one can make any of the types of teas with any varietal, but the buds mature into larger leaves quickly and the larger, two leaves and a bud configuration with a high concentration of aroma oils is most suitable for oolong making. And the intense fragrances that the producers elicit from this varietal is unmatchable.

Single Origin Tea Producer: Mr. Lin of Che Shi, Anxi, China

Previously the village doctor, Mr. Lin — a trained physician from a family with generations of single origin tea producers and farmers — gave up his medical practice one day upon realizing that the tea-drinking villagers were just too healthy to need his services. He went back to tea farming with zeal, and decided that he would make his mark in other ways. Discontented with just having grown a true, high mountain, organic Tieguanyin oolong (most organic teas grow on low, flat areas), he has now ambitiously decided to build the first biodynamic tea farm on the highest hill top in his village. Home of the original Tieguanyin, the varietals that grow at his village are the original versions with the best aroma and body. Still not content to leave it at that, he cross hybridized and created a Yellow Gold Tieguanyin Hybrid called Gold Guanyin, which he made into…

Step into the world of Artisanal Teas

How do you step into the world of artisanal teas? Some of you have experienced whole leaf teas, thinking that as long as it is not fanning in a teabag, you must be drinking artisanal teas. Others feel that there must be a richer experience out there than just scented or blended teas. In reality, the quality level a tea must reach to be considered artisanal is comparable to a restaurant qualifying for the Michelin star. The depth of flavor and breadth of aroma that artisanal teas offer is more than the world of connoisseur wine or cuisine.  Learning how to enjoy this realm is actually quite accessible — just follow these tips and step right in: Choose single origin tea: The great terroirs of the world not only produce the most suitable tea plants,  but have been doing so for thousands of years, and the tea bushes have adapted…

Artisan Tea Producer: Mr. Zhang of Wuyi Mountain, China

So many of the artisans that we buy teas from are unique and deserve the utmost attention and respect. It’s difficult to choose just one to highlight. Mr. Zhang, of Wuyi Mountain, China, however, would definitely be the first. Wuyi ‘Rock’ teas were often State gifts from the Central Chinese government to other dignitaries, such as the President of the United States. As a result, the requirements of being an acknowledged artisan in a fabled tea producing region is quite high. Wuyi Mountain is a legendary scenic area of some of the most pristine waters and cliffs, with a unique terroir that commands some extreme requisites for growth. Mr. Zhang has tackled the job of mastering what is traditional farming and processing techniques. He has also created personalized equipment to make exceptional versions of Wuyi teas. Wuyi teas are arbor type Camellia Shuixian varietals that grow on just 10cm of soil, and…

The life force on these arbor type Camellia Sinensis are strong-…

The life force on these arbor type Camellia Sinensis are strong- the roots dig into the rocks and secure themselves as the finger like groves reach upward. One of the original, 700 year old trees, the Song Zong, was chopped up by a madman a couple of years ago, but is regrowing nicely. All around, I noticed just how much giant rock is actually under the thin layer of soil, washed away from the heavy rain. Though Wuyi teas are known as Yancha or Rock teas due to the 10cm layer of soil floating above rocks, the Phoenix teas here appear to be growing in almost the same conditions, on rocks. This character was rarely pointed out, and despite being one of the two most expensive oolongs in China (and therefore the world). Mr. Wei said one of the teas he makes in ultra small quantity is called ‘the Lightening Tree’, and fetches 62,000 RMB per Jin, almost exactly $10,000 USD per lb! Feeling privileged to be having these teas from top of this mountain in our selection every year; the creme of the crop, as they say, from the very first day of harvest, reserved for us despite fierce competition. Friendship and appreciation goes a long way.

Mr. Wei, a more talented young tea maker I never saw. I have…

Mr. Wei, a more talented young tea maker I never saw. I have known him for just around 5-6 years now, and he was great to begin with, but reaching new levels every year. When I told him the Ya Sai plagiarism story, he chuckled and said maybe because there are tons of Ya Sai in the market in his town now, courtesy of the neighbors. By tons, he meant, like a few hundred low mountain lbs. He himself is partially guilty- he loves the Ya Sai so much his offspring clippings of the mother tree can now produce nearly a hundred lbs or more, if the weather was normal this year. The reverse marketing did not work out- Duck Poop tea is now a fashionable tea in his town at Phoenix Mountain because he made such a sensation! But sadly, I told him, the Forbes article was not about…

Navigate