News and Announcements
Through over 5 years on my blog, many things have changed personally, some at least in part inspired by tea. As tea drinkers we get a lot of questions on what tea is to us, or why we drink tea. Honestly though through those 5 years and actually back further I realize tea has pretty much been a constant in my life. Why does this simple set of leaves thrown into hot water help people relax, wake
Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Simple Loose Leaf
Harmoniously blending the smokiness of Lapsang Souchong, the malty chocolate flavor of Assam and the crisp and smooth flavor of Keemun, “Russian Caravan” is a welcome addition to our family of teas. Best when enjoyed hot, this rich and soothing blend of fine black teas will warm your soul and enliven your mind.
Learn more about this tea here.
Learn more about Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club subscription program here.
I bring today’s review with some exciting news: first, my second box from Simple Loose Leaf’s Selection Club arrived yesterday! Yay! More tea goodness. I figured I better get busy and write the review for this tea since it’s from last month and now I have more teas to write about! The second bit of exciting news is that Simple Loose Leaf has a special offer this month only! Keep reading this review for more details!
For those of you who read my reviews regularly, you are probably aware of my less than enthusiastic feelings for smoky teas. So, it should probably come as no big surprise that this is the last of the five teas that I’m sampling from last month’s Selection Club box. But even though I’m not always excited to try a smoky tea, I’m actually enjoying this cup of Russian Caravan Black Tea from Simple Loose Leaf.
After a quick rinse of the leaves, I steeped this tea in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes. The result is a flavorful cup that is smoky but not so smoky that I’m unable to enjoy the other flavors of the cup. The smoke level here is what I’d classify as “moderate,” and it melds nicely with the malty notes of the Assam in the blend. I like the smoky caramel notes that I taste.
I taste the sweet, wine-like notes from the Keemun. It’s got some “chew” to it – that freshly baked, bready sort of taste. There is a comforting taste to this tea. It evokes thoughts of the splendor of autumn, when the leaves are falling and there’s a crisp, cool feeling in the air. That air smells lightly of the smoke that billows out of the chimneys. It’s my favorite time of year, and I like how this tea brings those images to mind as I sip it. A really enjoyable Russian Caravan. If you’re a fan of smoky teas, you should add this one to your list.
As promised, here are the details about the special offer from Simple Loose Leaf: Check it out: This code >> 1DOLLARMONTH << (Just the 1DollarMonth part, these things: >< aren’t part of the code and are only added for emphasis) will enable you to get your first month of the Selection Club Subscription for just $1! Yeah, you read that right. Just one dollar!
Wow! So that means that you can get 1 – 2 ounces of two different loose leaf teas from Simple Loose Leaf’s menu for May … or you can get a sampler size of all five of the teas on the menu for May … for just one dollar!
This offer is good only through the month of April, so if you want to get in on this unbelievable offer (and really … why wouldn’t you?), you should act now.
What a deal! Be sure to tell the nice folks at Simple Loose Leaf that I sent you there.
A number of my readers are in the "industry" and I often get asked for advice about social media so I thought that now would be a good time to start a little series on the subject. My goal is to highlight the folks who do it right as well as to spark discussion. I think that is something we can all learn from. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments!
+Joseph Wesley Black Tea is a very small company based in Detroit that specializes in single source, estate grown black teas. Facebook can be really hard to do right but founder Joseph Uhl does it without even realizing that he does.
If your love for tea is like mine, then you love to incorporate tea into your daily life in any way possible. Every time I have an event, outing, or afternoon off, I think of how to incorporate tea. If you’ve read my previous posts, you already know that I planned a tea party for my sister’s bridal shower and organized a Christmas tea party. I love sharing my love for tea and showing loved ones how delicious and fun it can be. Here are a few practical ideas for incorporating tea into various life events:
Wedding Day: You can take your love for tea to another level by including tea in your wedding. Lately, I’ve been dreaming of my wedding day, which I would like to be very small, intimate, and as eco-friendly as possible. For wedding party favors, I’ve been thinking of giving some of my favorite teas. You could put the tea in a small tin, canister, or little bag to share your love of tea with all of your guests.
Bridal Shower / Birthday Party: At my sister’s bridal shower, our party favors were antique teacup sets that we found in thrift stores all over Los Angeles. As part of the gift, we brewed each guest’s tea of choice, which they sipped throughout the shower. It was a wonderful theme and a great way to incorporate my love of tea.
Holidays: I’ve been thinking about holidays with my family and new traditions we could make. We have a small family, and with a few of our family members moving out of state, we decided we to create some new traditions to keep things fun and full of love! I had the idea of a tea swap, where everyone would bring their favorite tea and a new tea that they have always wanted to try. It brings a healthy twist to holidays that might otherwise be filled with eggnog or hot chocolate.
Mother’s Day / Father’s Day: Show your parents how much you love them by giving them tea. I personally have given my mother tea on multiple Mother’s Days. There are many types of tea samplers, or you could arrange a tea of the month for your gift recipient, like the one Teavana offers. Tea is a great gift to give to encourage health and wellness in a parent’s life.
There are many other ways to incorporate tea into life events, but I hope these few simple ideas will help you start doing it. Enjoy!
This post first published on the blog on August 21, 2012.
Many of you reading this are probably sitting on more tea than you can consume in your lifetime, or at least some multiples of years, if not decades. For those of you who fit that description, I have a story for you.
A relative of a family friend recently passed away due to a heart attack. It seems like he was interested in a number of things, tea being one of them, and teapot being another. I was called in to take a look at what’s there, to see what can be done about it. I brought along a couple of friends who are tea vendors, since I wasn’t going to buy what could be a couple hundred cakes of stuff.
Turns out there weren’t a couple hundred cakes – there were maybe 60 or 80, plus some random liu’an, so on and so forth.
You can see some of the cakes here. You might notice a few things, one being that almost all of the tea is still shrink wrapped. The second is that they all look old. These teas seem to be purchased from multiple vendors over a number of years, but probably bought no earlier than maybe the early 2000s or so. Some of the teas are supposed to be 70s or 80s tea, more are 90s or maybe early 2000s. Some are cooked, others raw. It’s not a big collection, but it’s a collection.
And the guy never got to drink any of these.
Among these cakes is one, placed in a box on its own. We opened it, and before us was the classic Red Label wrapper. When I picked it up, however, it felt funny – too light, and the cake’s shape is not right. Upon further examination, it is pretty clear that this must’ve been a fake, and not a very good one either. The price he paid, however, was real – the price tag was still on it from a department store in Hong Kong, for the grand price of $120000 HKD, which is about how much a cake of the 50s Red Label would’ve cost about 8-10 years ago. These days it’s more like $100000 USD a cake.
It’s still shrink wrapped too.
It’s hard to tell what kind of condition most of the cakes are in, since they’re wrapped so carefully from the vendors. It’s pretty obvious that most of them are pretty wet – some terribly so. The cakes that were not shrink wrapped were on the heavy side of traditional storage, to the point where they would be rather heavy going for those who are not used to the taste, and would depress the relative resale value. But it seems like the guy liked it that way – he has a lot of cooked tea, and heavy-going seems to be his preferred profile.
Of course, I don’t know what he’s drunk, so maybe he consumed most of his teas already. He passed before getting to 70, so while he wasn’t exactly young, he wasn’t very old either by today’s standard. The Red Label, I suspect, was a pride and joy, and he kept it separately because he paid dearly for it. Even though it’s a fake, or maybe precisely because it’s a fake, he was the only one who was going to be able to really enjoy the tea – he would think he’s drinking the real thing, and since we know that paying more for wine gives you more enjoyment for it, I think the same pattern probably applies to tea. He would’ve really loved the taste of the cake, thinking that one session is costing him upwards of $2000 USD.
Many of us sit on tea that we say to ourselves “I’ll drink it for that special occasion” or “I’ll wait till later before I enjoy it” or “I can’t bear the thought of drinking all of it.” Well, don’t let that hold you back, because chances are you are the only one who’s going to enjoy it. We can always delude ourselves to think that maybe our kids, or relatives, or whoever, will like tea, but more often than not, it’s just not the case. At least here in Hong Kong, there’s the option of selling it back to people who are in the tea trade (my vendor friend seems to do it a couple times a year – called by various friends of friends, etc). Good luck doing that in the States or Europe. So, drink up!
I've been using an electric kettle so long now that I'd forgotten some of the actual joy to be had from a stovetop kettle. I adore my plug-in boiler, with its precise temperature settings. But I do miss the whistle of the stovetopper, and the warmth of the flame. Then again, I'm not even sure I remember where my stovetop kettle is, come to think of it ...
A UK blogger named Mike, however, is celebrating all stovetop tea things on a new blog, Stove Top Kettles. He's got 15 models reviewed and rated thus far, and one of his top 5 is an espresso maker.
The other thing I forget about stovetop kettles: their beauty as art objects. Just paging through a gathering of kettles like this blog is a reminder of the captivating design that goes into creating them — certainly much more than the electrics. Like this beauty ...
Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Amazon Trading
Green Tea with natural Key Lime Flavor
Learn more about Amazon Trading here.
This Whole Leaf Green Tea with Essence of Key Lime from Eden Grove is one of the nicer lime flavored green teas I’ve encountered. What I’m enjoying most is that the lime is gentle – it isn’t too tart or sour tasting lime flavor, and it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the green tea.
The lime adds a bright lift to the cup. It’s not a strong flavor – just enough to enhance the cup without becoming too obnoxious about it. And this is something that I’ve noticed with the other teas from Eden Grove. The teas with “essence” tend to take a rather subtle approach to the flavoring of these teas. Eden Grove allows the tea to be the real star of the cup while allowing the “essence” to boost the flavor level without overwhelming the tea. I like that a lot!
The green tea is soft and has a lightly vegetative taste. It isn’t grassy nor does it have an overpowering vegetal note. It’s a sweet, fresh “leafy” sort of taste, reminiscent of lightly buttered, steamed spinach. It’s mild and has a very pleasant, creamy buttery note. There is a nice contrast between the sweet of the green tea and the sunny tartness of the lime.
A really pleasant cuppa – good served hot … but I think that this one gets even better as it cools. It makes a great iced tea.
The post Whole Leaf Green Tea with Essence of Key Lime from Eden Grove appeared first on SororiTea Sisters.
I wanted to share this info provided to me by George Jage and the folks at World Tea Expo. If you have enjoyed my writing over the years I’d be honored to see Tea Pages nominated for best tea blog or “A Tea Reader” nominated for best book. In any event, make some nominations. Honor those tea leaders, retailers, educators and others that we all have learned from and enjoyed over the years.
From a press release:
World Tea Expo will be moving from Las Vegas to Long Beach, California this year and along with the move will be the introduction of a black-tie Awards Dinner on the historic Queen Mary on Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m. The event will be hosted by George Jage, founder/director of World Tea Media, and Gail Gastelu, publisher of The Tea House Times.
New Products winners at this year’s WTE will be recognized along with winners from categories selected by the public. The categories are:
Best Tea Publication
This is a ticketed event and you do not need to be a delegate of the World Tea Expo to participate. Delegates of the Expo can add the event to their registration online or individual or table reservations can be made by sending in this form.
I can add milk to my tea, if I want. Usually, I don’t want to, but let’s say I do. A tablespoon of milk is about 13 calories. So if one has five cups of tea per day with a tablespoon in each, then it provides about 2% of the daily caloric intake that someone […]
Well, regular readers know that I’m skeptical of storage conditions that are too dry or too cold. The combination of these two things is generally not good news for puerh tea. It makes for bad tea.
I recently bought a few cakes through Taobao from a vendor in Tianjin. I’ve bought from them before, years ago. Their tea is not that bad. These teas I got are not bad tea per se, but the storage on them has made them pretty poor. Specifically, the cakes (all different) all share a slightly sour, thin, and unpleasant note. Two of the teas are themselves very decent originally – the base tea still shines through, a bit, but without any of the thickness and richness you’d hope to see from teas that are 7-10 years old. Instead, they are just…. sour and a bit bland. If I have teas that old that taste like this, I’d be disappointed.
One of the cakes is a nice Yiwu that I know didn’t taste like that when first made, because I tried it way back when it first came out. I never bought any, because it was out of my budget at the time living on grad student stipend. I wish I had some, and was hoping that this cake would be ok, but it’s not – not in this condition.
Tianjin is typical north China – cold, not too damp, although probably damper than some of the more inland places like Beijing. This is why I normally don’t like to buy teas that are stored in any of these drier climates – they taste bad. The damage in taste is also not obvious when you’re buying online – the cakes, even when held in person, look perfectly fine. There’s no really obvious sign that something is awry, until you put it in water and try it.
This is not to say the tea hasn’t changed – it has. The colour has changed, the taste is also not what you’d see when it’s new. But as a tea that is getting better with age? No, not really. Just because a tea changes over time doesn’t mean it’s changing for the better over time, and a lot of people in these areas have never had a good tasting 10 year old to compare against, so it’s not obvious to them what’s wrong with teas like this.
Now the next question is whether some wet weather storage in Hong Kong can salvage the tea. I’ll let you know in a few years.
Standing at the White House security gate, dialing the contact number and listening to the phone ring unanswered, my heart was in my throat. It was like every nightmare I’d had leading up to the event.
“I need your hard press pass,” the security guard said with a stony expression.
“I don’t have one. This is my first White House event. They told me that my name would be on a list and my credentials were approved.” I was beginning to sweat. This was it. After all the work to get here, the months of emails, the early morning trip to the airport, the cost of the flight, the hours walking around the city waiting, after all that, I was going to miss the event.
Finally, after redialing for the eighth or ninth time I saw two staffers walking down the drive toward the gates, meeting the rest of the press that had gathered. A woman strode over to the guard and spoke to him for a few minutes then greeted me through the tall fence. “You must be Katrina. Come on in.” Finally, I could breathe again.
I stumbled my way through security, unzipping bags for inspection, stammering as my nerves got the better of me. Then I found myself standing inside the gate, on the drive that leads to the entrance, press pass around my neck. I would likely never have this chance again and I intended to embrace every minute of it.
This was the annual Mother’s Day Tea for Military Families hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden. I had read about the event for the past few years and I had decided that Tea Magazine had to be on site. I have the good fortune to have a dear friend who is a journalist and helped put me in touch with the right people. Numerous emails and phone calls later and fewer than two weeks before the event I received my approval.
We were shuttled to the press room to wait. I may or may not have had my picture taken behind the podium. It was quickly apparent that there was a large contingent of British press and that there was a surprise planned for the day. We were finally brought into the entrance of the White House, whisked quickly through the foyer into the East Room. I wish I could have taken a moment, to absorb what I was seeing, but the sea of journalists and photographers found themselves standing behind the velvet ropes looking at an exquisitely decorated dining room.
Crystal chandeliers light the East Room along with ornate sconces. Portraits of George and Martha Washington take center stage on either side of the large gold curtains and the two American flags flanking the podiums. The round tables were draped with pastel cloths and topped with gold rimmed china. The centerpieces were gorgeous bursts of color thick with roses. And the honorees? 170 active-duty military women, military spouses, and children were there to be thanked for their courage and sacrifices. Seated among the honorees were the Women of the Year from each branch of the military and, a celebrity in her own right, the First Lady’s mother Marian Robinson.
While the whole event was clearly old hat for some of the photographers and journalists, my eyes kept racing around the room, trying to remember everything. And then the hosts of the event, the First Lady and Dr. Biden entered the room.
More next time — What they ate, the events in the White House Dining Room, and a very special guest.
Oh, and what was in those teacups? Chamomile tea from the White House kitchen garden.
In passing with another tea person I know I had a brief although provocative conversation. I mentioned that I was drinking some Cold Brewed Keemun I made for a party I hosted, and his initial reaction was that it was a waste of good tea. I a bit shocked at the somewhat up front condemnation of how I was drinking this tea, decided to ask him more about what he meant, and the conversation that
I find myself closing in on one of those “big” birthdays — the kind that end in a zero. The funny thing is that I have very distinct memories of my mom hitting this age and thinking it was an enormous deal. Now I find myself so many years later, my children much younger than I was, and realizing that in my mind I am no longer aging. I feel the same as I did ten years ago. Yes, certainly, much has happened in those ten years, including three kids, but fundamentally, I am the same.
I don’t have birthday anxiety like many of my friends and family. As my mom always says, “It’s better than the alternative.” Truly though, the last decade was the best so far and I feel incredibly optimistic that I’m going to enjoy this next one even more. I am comfortable in my life, happy, fulfilled, and full of ambition.
What really struck me though as I was thinking about time passing is just how long tea has played a big part in it. It was nearly twenty years ago that I discovered specialty tea, when I opened those first books to dig into its fascinating past and present.
Where has it brought me since then?
* To this blog of course – While my posting is erratic, it has been a part of my life for six and a half years. Mind blowing. I sometimes hesitate to read those early posts — so much I thought I knew was wrong. But then I am struck by the growth and opportunity.
* To writing and editing as a profession – I have found my work published in trade magazines, regional publications and even national magazines like Yankee. I was interviewed by USA Today. One of my proudest accomplishments was helping transform Tea Magazine from a small but loved publication to a nationally distributed magazine with the quality of writing and design that could compete with the best. I had the chance to interview Dr. Andrew Weil and Padma Lakshmi. I worked with an amazing editor and writing team. Leaving the magazine was one of the hardest decisions I have made professionally, but it was the right thing for me. I am sad that the print magazine has now ceased to exist. It is actually kind of heartbreaking to be honest. So many 3 a.m. nights getting things edited and to press on time. Countless hours line editing and writing and choosing images. I am sure they will make a go of their new endeavor and I will cheer their progress. I do feel its loss though, even as I take pride in what we accomplished. You can see some of my work here.
* To publishing a book – A book with my name on the jacket. From a publishing house that releases its catalog each season and is known in the industry. A book that brought me into contact with people and stories that I will never forget. Each time I pick up one of Laura Childs’ new books (including her new NYT BESTSELLER), I think of how nervous I was asking her to write an essay for me. I remember my first phone call with Jane Pettigrew, someone I now can approach at a tea event and have a nice conversation with, picking up where we left off. It let me spend time with James Norwood Pratt and so many other tea friends I feel honored to know. My fingers are constantly poised on the keyboard, ready to work on the next. So many projects begun. I know there is certainly another book to come.
* To amazing tea shop memories – The lemon curd and scones on a rainy afternoon at the Clipper Merchant in Limerick, Maine. The dozen or more cups of tea at Savvy Tea Gourmet in Madison, Conn. A tea auction and dinner at the Park Plaza with Cindy Gold. Chatting with Bruce Richardson over tea and amazing treats at Fancy That in Walpole. Sitting in Tealuxe in Cambridge with my husband, enjoying a hot cuppa on a snowy day.
* To new cities and places – I traveled to London to a masterclass with Janet Pettigrew. I had my first foray into Las Vegas for World Tea Expo. I saw a different side of NYC as I perused its tea spots and had my first tea at the Plaza and attended A Gift of Tea’s amazing White Tea, enjoying laughs with The Devotea. I met great blogger friends in Philly at World Tea East and visited Russian Tea Time in Chicago. And perhaps the biggest tea event of my life — a trip to the White House to cover last year’s Mother’s Day tea. Each trip I take now always begins with a search for the must-hit tea shops.
And here I sit, ready for the next decade. (In case you’re shopping for me, you have a few weeks until the big day.) Maybe by the time that next zero rolls around I’ll have written that next book, launched my dream e-magazine, and found a way to make sure I can make a living with putting words on a page. In any event, tea will be part of it all.
My most recent Tea Biz posts: Tea for Your Teeth, Uncovering the Truth: Is Tea Full of Pesticides, and The Lighter Side: Tea the Key to a Good Relationship?
I think if I could write my blog posts in the shower I’d be the most prolific writer out there.
I find myself dictating entire blog posts in my head and then they never get typed here.
I miss my blogging community. I’ve been writing semi-regularly over at Tea Biz (http://www.tea-biz.com) with my most excellent partner Dan Bolton. Be sure to check us out there.
And, believe it or not, a post is on its way over here later today. Will wonders never cease?
And, no, I didn’t type it in the shower.
Tea processing is the most important quantifier when determining or producing a tea type. Green tea, yellow tea, white tea, oolong 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.
It is important to note that other factors influence the quality of a tea type for example, certain cultivars of the tea plant produce hairier buds, a characteristic sought after in the production of bai hai yinzhen, or “white hair silver needle.” Furthermore, terroir and ultimately the level of care given to the tea plants and the leaves during picking and processing also attribute to the quality or lack thereof in a tea.
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 processes that all tea styles within a particular type would fit into. I believe it is important to begin with an overly simplified and correct processing chart and add details later on.
Feel free to challenge any part of this and to share it, just please give my blog attribution. If you find this interesting, be sure to check out my posts on some of these individual processing steps: withering, oxidation, and kill green.
Tea Processing Chart by Tony Gebely is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
The United States League of Tea Growers had it’s founding meeting on June 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the World Tea Expo. The meeting was attended by several tea growers and many influential people in the tea industry. Nigel Melican and Jason McDonald headed up the meeting in hopes to get a group together for:
All of these things are sure to excite even the novice tea enthusiast. The competition is building around the world as more countries are beginning to experiment with tea production with the UK, New Zealand, and Australia being the most notable. If you are a tea grower in the United States and you would like more information on the United States League of Tea Growers, here are a few ways you can reach the group until the website is launched: LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter or sign up for the mailing list here.
The meeting begins with many influential tea professionals in attendance.
Nigel Melican of TeaCraft explains the viability of growing tea in the United States.
James Norwood Pratt tells us that “The time is now.”
In this photo: Nigel Melican (speaking), Richard Sakuma (tea farmer, WA), Bill Hall (tea farmer, SC), Eva Lee (tea farmer, HI).
Video from the meeting:
The slide-deck from the founding meeting:
This is a question that I see often on r/tea. After speaking with several people, I believe I can shed some light on this issue. What I think is happening is that the ideals of Eastern steeping methods are mixing with Western steeping methods. This is a huge generalization, but here is how the two stlyes 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 the foundation of gongfu styles of tea preparation.
Western Steeping: The tea leaves are steeped in a larger vessel that holds several cups of water once or twice, for longer amounts of time.
When you hear people speaking of re-steeping, or bragging about how many steeps they are able to get out of a single portion of tea leaves they are usually referring to Eastern methods and because you are only producing a small amount of tea liquor and because the ratio of leaves to water is higher, you can move through several steepings rather quickly and storing the leaves between brewing isn’t an issue, they just sit in the steeping vessel (after all of the water has been decanted) until the next steeping.
Where this becomes confusing is when people try to use these methods on larger vessels with lower ratios of tea to water – perhaps an entire English size tea pot meant to hold 4 or more cups of water, or an Adagio branded tool called an ingenuiTea which holds 2 cups . In this case, if re-steeping is to be attempted, the tea drinker may want to wait many hours or even an entire day before re-steeping.
What I’m saying here is that, even if a high ratio of leaves to water is used for steeping tea in large quantities, the amount of tea you are making is so great, that hours will pass until you are ready for the next pot.
The truth is, once you steep leaves once and several hours pass, there is no good way to store them without diminishing the quality of the liquor they will produce. I’ve put really expensive leaves in the fridge overnight to try the next day, I’ve tried to dry them out and re-steep them the next day… but as James Norwood Pratt says… doing so, you’ll end up producing a tea that “tastes like the tea has become a ghost of itself.” So if you think you are unable to use the tea leaves to their maximum potential in a single day, try this: throw them in some cold water and put the water in the fridge overnight, decant in the morning and you should have a pleasant iced tea.
Nevertheless — here’s what I do at work for steeping: I bought a finum steeping basket (the only tea steeping device you’ll ever need in my opinion) that takes up almost all of the inside of my coffee mug. I put 3-5 grams of ball-style oolong (Dong Ding, Tiequanyin, LiShan, etc) in it, steep it for about 1-2 mins, put the leaves aside, drink it, then repeat it throughout the day, I am able to use the same leaves multiple times throughout the day, and when the day is done, I throw out the leaves. So I guess by the definitions in this post, my work habits are halfway in between Eastern and Western steeping methods.
What do you think? Is there a great way to store leaves between steepings, or is this simply Eastern ideals meeting Western methods?
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. 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 is a dormancy period due to cool weather in the tea field, the first new shoots after this period are of the highest quality and thus the most sought after and usually the most expensive. This is because they have been building up nutrient reserves over the dormancy period for the new leaves. Many growing regions have special names for this first harvest. In India and Nepal, it is called the “first flush,” in China, these teas are known as “Pre-Qing Ming” teas, in Japan they are referred to as “Shincha” and in South Korea, “Ujeon.” Each growing region also has a special set of terms for referring to tea harvest periods. In India and Nepal, each harvest is called a “flush” referring to a period of growth in the tea plant. In China, Taiwan and South Korea, the terms used to denote tea harvests are dates in the traditional East Asian lunisolar calendar. Here’s a guide to the harvest seasons for the world’s major producers of specialty teas: India, Nepal, China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, and the countries of East Africa: India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka Tea Harvest Darjeeling (India) & Nepal The Darjeeling and Nepali harvest period lasts from late March to early November and is broken up into 4 parts: first flush, second flush, monsoon flush, and autumnal flush. At times, the plants will continue to flush past November, this is sometimes called a winter flush.
Nilgiri (India) & Sri Lanka Due to the lack of a cold season in southernmost growing regions such as Nilgiri in South India and Sri Lanka, tea plants can be harvested year round. Assam (India) Like Darjeelings, Assams are typically harvested from March to October. Higher quality teas are harvested here during two distinct growth periods, the first and second flush. All other grades of tea are harvested after this period. The first flush begins in March, the second in June. China & Taiwan Tea Harvest The harvest season in China and Taiwan varies greatly between the different growing regions and elevations there, but in general the harvest season can begin as early as April and can last until late November. Finished teas that are made from young leaves or buds and have a more finite growing season will typically be harvested on or near dates on the East Asian lunisolar calendar. Teas plucked before Qing Ming are highly sought after and command a premium, these teas are called Pre Qing Ming teas. Here’s how the rest of the harvest season shakes out:
Finished teas that are made from older leaves usually do not follow such a strict harvest calendar and can be harvested at any time from April to November. Japan Tea Harvest The harvest season in Japan varies by region as well but typically begins in late April and ends in early October. Japan’s sought after first harvest is called Shincha. Aside from Shincha, Japan has four distinct harvest periods:
South Korea Tea Harvest South Korea’s growing seasons correspond to dates on the lunisolar calendar. Finished tea from the first harvest of the year is called Ujeon. All other harvest periods contain the word “jak” which means sparrow and is a reference to “sparrow’s tongue tea” or jaksul cha. Interestingly, in some point in history someone thought that tea leaves resemble sparrow tongues. It is important to know that in South Korea, different grades are harvested during different times so the harvest period is defined by the grade of tea picked during that time. Lets have a lick:
Africa Tea Harvest In the East African tea producing countries of Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Ethiopia, tea is able to be harvested year round due to the lack of a cold season with peak tea production coinciding with rainy seasons.
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 a word in our own language that means the same thing as the other language’s word.
For our purpose here, we’ll be looking into the languages of China, Japan and South Korea. These languages are made up of characters that represent spoken syllables — we romanize these languages by expressing the spoken syllables with the Roman alphabet.
Let’s take 茶 as an example, the Chinese and Japanese character that translates to tea in English. However, the Chinese and Japanese do not pronounce this word like we do, they have a different word for tea. Their word for tea does not exist in English. The way to express their pronunciation of 茶 in the Roman alphabet is cha. So 茶 translates to tea in English and transliterates to cha using the roman alphabet.
Most words floating around the tea industry today were romanized one of three ways:
So back to our example, 茶, you may notice that a bunch of languages have words for 茶 that sound like cha and a bunch of languages have words for 茶 that sound like tea. Where did the word tea come from? There are many dialects of Chinese, te is the word for cha in Southern Fujian’s Amoy dialect. It is believed that early Dutch and English tea traders wrote down what they heard in their own language, giving us tea, making tea itself a haphazard transliteration.
Common Tea Terms: Hanyu Pinyin vs. Wade-Giles
tie guan yin
bi luo chun
Haphazard Transliterations of Chinese Tea Terms
zheng shan xiao zhong
Getting it Straight
http://www.chinesetools.eu/tools/zhuyin/ (Simplified Chinese -> Hanyu Pinyin or Wade-Giles)
http://www.mandarintools.com/pyconverter.html (Hanyu Pinyin -> Wade-Giles)
http://babelcarp.org (Chinese Tea Term Lexicon)
http://www.lexilogos.com/keyboard/korean_conversion.htm (Korean -> RR)
http://nihongo.j-talk.com/ (Japanese -> Modernized Hepburn)