Friday, November 28, 2008

Teapots, Infusers, Teabags and Teastick!

With the renaissance of loose leaf teas has come a new interest and inventiveness about the ways of brewing up.


Teapots have always been there but to accommodate loose leaf teas they now can be bought with built in filters. From Asia there are now glass tea brewing systems that purport to deliver a perfect cup of tea every time.


Do-it-yourself teabags have become very popular, available in sizes for the individual tea mug, teacup or tea glass, and larger ones have capacity enough for a six-cup teapot.

Tea Infusers

But most popular of all are the personal and portable tea infusers, in all shapes and sizes. Tea infusers are made in stainless steel, silicone and other materials. All three of our tea infusers sell well with the Teastick having the slight advantage.

Tea Mugs

Last but not least are the individual tea mugs with built in filters. Many of these come from China and carry beautiful traditional designs.

One way or another all these methods have helped popularise the use of loose leaf tea. It's all so easy now to drink the real thing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tea types

How many Tea Types do exist?

I am always being asked about the types of teas that exist, and the meaning of tea flushes.

From the Camellia Sinensis bush, leaves and buds are picked and follow a lengthy production process to produce a variety of tea types called White tea, Green tea, Oolong tea, and Black tea.

White tea

White tea is produced from buds that are well hydrated. During the production process, white tea is not fermented, which results in a very delicate flavour and pale appearance. This variety of tea is common in China.

Green tea

Young leaves are picked for Green tea, and the fermentation process is minimal. This results in a fresh and slightly "grassy" flavour when the tea has been steeped, and a light to dark green appearance. You will find China and Japan to be the main producers of Green tea.

Oolong tea

Oolong tea is common in Taiwan and southern China. Leaves and buds from the Camellia Sinensis plant are picked and fermented partially, resulting in a dark brown appearance after steeping.

Black tea

Finally, the most common type of tea in the West is Black tea. The name comes from the appearance of the steeped tea. Because the leaves undergo a lengthy fermentation process, the steeped tea looks black, hence the name. India is the main producer of Black tea, but you will also find it in other countries such as Kenya and Turkey.

Tea Flushes

First Flush Teas

In some regions such as Darjeeling, often the first flush of growth after winter is more subtle and delicate in its flavour. Since the first flush is the first tea of the year and produced in very small quantities, the tea tends to be quite expensive and rare.

Second Flush and Autumnal Teas

While first flush teas are undoubtedly great teas, the later flushes are not necessarily inferior teas. In fact, the later flushes often tend to carry more body and colour and are often as exceptional if not better, as the first flush teas. And, in the plains where it gets exceedingly hot in May, June, the bushes produce the best and most fragrant growth after the July/August rains have cooled the temperatures down a bit. As a result, Autumnal teas tend to be outstanding in the lower altitude regions such as Assam.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Top Five Finalists in 2008 World Tea Championships

Two of our Darjeelings were voted in Top Five Finalists in 2008 World Tea Championships

Lingia Estate was described as a small garden recognised for doing big things. The tea is a perfect combination of rich flavours and Muscatel overtones with customary briskness.

Avongrove Estate, quickly catapulted up the short list of Premier Estates. This Organic selection merits the description 'gentle Darjeeling character in an easy-going format with resounding fruit harmony and light astringency.

We're very excited by two new additions to our list

Ceylon – Uva Adwatte BOP

A bold-leaf selection from Uva, which produces a full-flavored, dark cup. The finish is sweet, with notes of raisin and ripe fruit. A superb tea.

In complete contrast:

Nepal – Kanchanjungha Estate First Flush FTGFOP1 Organic

Grown in the Ilam district of Nepal neighbouring Darjeeling. This is a delicate tea of excellent quality similar in style to a good Darjeeling tea. Would make a lovely afternoon tea.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Assam and Darjeeling teas and more.

Since our decision to abandon Chinese teas and concentrate on Indian and Ceylon teas, we've had to redouble our efforts to seek out and offer only good quality, appealing and characterful teas.

Difficult to choose a good quality Assam tea

Assam has always been a difficult area with masses of indistinguishable mediocre offerings at all kinds of prices. Even some of the priciest teas not having a lot going for them, whereas there are many little treasures delivering beyond expectations at sensible prices. After several tastings with our panel , we've made a complete revision of our listings, and hope you agree that our hard work has paid off.
In spite of its price the Sewpur is our best selling Assam, closely followed by Halmari Estate. Personally, I love the Banaspaty, which really has the maltiness claimed by all good Assam teas but rarely found. Newly listed are Corramore and Borengajuli scoring very high with our tasting panel.

Darjeeling tea an everyday drink as well as something special?

For everyday drinking it's hard to beat Makaibari and Jogmaya. I carry large stocks of each and enjoy both daily. There's not a tea on our list I'm not enthusiastic about, but Avongrove 'Euphoria' and Tumsong are my choice to bring about a sense of calm and 'euphoria' after a busy day.

To brew a good cup use 3/5g per person steeped for 4/5 minutes in boiling water. No extras for the pot please.The stronger Assam teas will tolerate a little milk, but not the Darjeeling.

Teastick infuser

Our newly listed Teastick is a great way to brew tea for one person. It measures the amount of tea needed and creates little mess. A teapot with a built-in filter is ideal for making two cups or more, or a normal teapot using a large Teeli bag. What is your everyday tea? We welcome your comments, suggestions and feedback. :)