artisan teas

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5 Things to Never do to Tea

1. Leaving Dry Tea Leaves Exposed Dry tea leaves should be stored properly. If dry tea leaves are not stored “air-tight and out-of-light” then they will lose their own essence faster as well as take on unwanted aromas and flavors from the surrounding atmosphere. 2. Using Cold Teaware This is the most frequent mistake that people make. It is imperative to heat your tea pot or gaiwan by pouring hot water in, letting the vessel heat up, and then pour out before adding tea leaves. This assures that the temperature of the water added with the tea leaves will not rapidly cool upon entering the vessel. Proper and stable water temperature is required for a smooth and elegant flavor extraction. 3. Using Boiling Water While some teas can handle boiling water, no tea steeps best with boiling water. Remember: 212^F is boiling 205^F is ideal for most teas (oolong, red/black,…

My constant comfort and reliable friend: Charcoal Fire Roasted Tung Ting Tea

One of the many benefits to living in the Bay Area is the variety of unique cuisines we are privileged to enjoy: Brazilian, Ethiopian, Thai, Persian, Vietnamese and more. And as much as I appreciate the wide range of tastes and flavors, there is always that one cuisine that I come back to more often than the rest. Tea is exactly the same — thousands of different types, with infinite varieties of tastes, aromas, and complexities. Yet through years of tasting teas from all over China, Japan, Taiwan, India, and beyond, there’s one that I find myself reaching for time and time again. When you drink as much tea as we do, you begin to know your teas intimately — their personality, their character, how they make you feel. Each tea becomes like a friend. You reach out to different ones depending on the mood you’re in. Some you…

The art of judging award-winning tea

How are award-winning teas selected? Surprisingly for most people, tea competitions are fun and exciting. Judges typically consist of tea farmers, tea shop owners, and tea scholars. These experts are known for refraining from drinking alcohol and coffee, smoking, eating spicy food, or anything else which could taint their palate. Gathered around a large table, with tasting spoons in hand, the group obnoxiously slurps down countless sips of the same type of tea, crafted by different artisans. Traditionally these teas are oolongs. With greater expertise and experience required for production, oolongs are said to be the “connoisseur’s tea,” containing the most complexity and fragrance. Judges debate taste, aroma, appearances of leaf, and quality of infusions. After several hours of heated debate, with judges literally shouting and screaming at one another, a consensus on which teas deserve which grades is finally reached. Judges award 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place honors. Unlike…

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 green tea producer: Mr. Dai of Anhui, China

Mr. Dai is a master producer of green teas, particularly for the most prestigious hand fired Dragonwell green teas in Hangzhou, China. He also manages some of the top gardens at Lion’s Peak, the most sought after hilside for Dragonwell. Originally, we sought him out for his superior Dragonwell, but upon learning that he is also the last remaining keeper of the Yellow Tea tradition, we have decided to support his efforts to keep Yellow Tea alive by importing almost his entire crop each year. Q: Mr. Dai, how long have you been making tea? A: I was originally from Jin Zhai, Anhui, and making Yellow tea was my family tradition. I have done that since I was a kid. When I was in my early 20s, I went to Hangzhou in the hopes of making a better living. I got hired because of my tea skills to make Dragonwell…

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