Technique

TEA CULTURE COMES
WITH KNOWLEDGE AND PREPARATION

THE RITUAL OF TEA

This brief primer details the essential steps of making tea and herbs. Please refer to each varietal's steeping instructions' for more information as to proper technique for that specific tea. For Chefs, please contact us for customized instructions purposely built for your culinary application.
01
WELLNESS
Think about what the simple act of making and enjoying a cup of tea adds to your life. We go to great lengths to make the very best teas, using the highest quality ingredients and employing meticulous time-honed craftsmanship. Our goal is for you to be happy in the moment of savouring your cup of tea!
02
WATER
Use fresh, cold water for optimum flavor. Peak water condition is: low mineral, low chemical, and filtered with reverse osmosis. Heavy mineral water will render tea and herbs "flat". Fast-flowing, glacial melt from high in the mountains during spring run-off would be the very best water for your palate.
03
FIRE
Heat water, being careful not to over-boil which results in stale-tasting tea. If you over-boil water, you lower the dissolved oxygen gas. Water temperature also has a profound impact on infusion quality; for example, unfermented (green) teas can be easily bruised by overly hot water which extracts too many tannic acids, rendering a bitter palate.
04
PURIFY
Preheat teapot by swirling with a little hot water. This will ensure your tea steeps precisely at the proper temperature. The choice of your teapot will greatly affect the temperature of the infusion. For example, a thick porcelain or silver teapot that is not preheated will dramatically lower the temperature of the hot water.
05
LEAVES
Use 1 tsp of tealeaves per 237 ml (8 oz) of water. Store tea and herbs in a cool, dark, and dry (low humidity) place. Proper storage of tea lowers the deterioration rate of the fragile essential oils - hot, humid conditions with exposure to UV destroys tea.
06
AWAKEN
Rinse the leaves by pouring a little hot water over them, swirl, and discard this "wash". This removes any small pieces and dust as well as coaxes the leaves to unfurl to be ready for steeping. We want to remove the little bits of tea and herbs which have been overly exposed (due to high ratio of surface area exposure to oxygen).
07
ANTICIPATE
Pour hot water over the leaves and steep as per the specific instructions for each varietal. Steeping times are the difference between a proper balance of flavours (as our blenders intend) and incorrect emphasis on certain flavour profiles of different ingredients.
08
PRESENT
Remove the leaves and serve. With Camellia sinensis leaves, as long as they are in contact with water, they will continue to infuse and at the very least, result in over-extraction of tannins (bitterness). Before taking a sip, take a moment to appreciate the character and aroma and discover that peace can be found in a teacup!

Different types of tea

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN WHITE, GREEN, OOLONG & BLACK



WHITE TEAS
UNFERMENTED, YOUNG TEA LEAVES

Originally harvested from wild tea bushes in China's Northern Fujian province, white tea was discovered by ancient tea connoisseurs who were always on the lookout for the ultimate tea; they found that the immature buds had the most delicate flavour.

picking
Picking of the unopened top bud and leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plants. The top bud and leaves are picked by hand.
sorting
Only the top bud and two leaves within a 0.5mm tolerance are chosen by size.
steaming
The unopened bud and leaves are steamed to stop any fermentation of the tealeaves.
drying
The unopened bud and leaves are left to dry on bamboo mats.
grading
Buds and leaves are graded and put into categories: whole leaves, broken leaves, fanning, dust.

White tea is simply steamed, or de-enzymed, after picking and produces little caffeine and tannins when steeped. It is also thought to contain the most antioxidants of any teas as it is closest to its natural form as well as a slightly higher level of catechin (a polyphenol antioxidant). White tea also contains high levels of the amino acid theanine, which is prized for its relaxation and mood enhancing properties.

GREEN TEA
UNFERMENTED TEA LEAVES

Green tea is grown mainly in China, Taiwan, and Japan. Chinese green tea is known for its mild and subtle taste, refreshing aroma, and pale hues. The leaves range in appearance from silver to deep emerald. Japanese tealeaves are often a brilliant green, reminiscent of the lush gardens they are grown in. They produce liquor that ranges from jade green to light yellow with a fragrant, puckery, and slightly sweet taste.

picking
Picking of the fresh tea leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plants.
withering
Process of softening the leaves and reducing the moisture content of the leaves by half, which allows the leaves to be roled without breaking.
steaming
Heat is applied to the leaves to stop the fermentation process. Leaves are heated in a wok or steamed to stop the fermentation process.
Rolling & Shaping
Leaves are put into 4-15 pound bags which are rolled tightly to create a ball shape that curls the leaves. Some leaves are preferred flat so they are not rolled or shaped.
drying
The tea leaves are left to dry on bamboo mats.
grading
Leaves are graded and put into categories: whole leaves, broken leaves, fanning, dust.

Green tea is un-oxidized. After the leaves are picked, they are immediately pan-fired or steamed to prevent any oxidation. They are then rolled, dried, and sorted. Green tea has a more subtle, delicate flavour than oxidized tea and has only one-fifth of the caffeine of coffee. Green tea is believed to be even more medicinally beneficial than oxidized tea because the un-oxidized leaves retain a higher concentration of natural vitamins and polyphenols. Green tea also contains minerals (iron, sodium, and potassium) and vitamins (carotene, A, D, B1, B2, and C).

For Japanese green teas, the perfect teaware to use is a tetsubin pot. In Japan, tetsubins were originally used as both kettles and teapots. Originally quite rustic, these simple kitchen items achieved the level of a status symbol during the mid-19th century as infused tea became the fashion, and the pots evolved from rustic shapes to elaborately designed works of art. The prefectures of Yamagata and Iwate became famous for their tetsubin designs. Cast-iron pots are coated on the inside with a clear enamel glaze which not only helps to insulate the teapot, but also prevents any metallic properties from affecting the tea. Large stainless steel mesh infusing baskets allow the leaves plenty of space to release its essential flavour and aroma. Made out of cast-iron, tetsubins can last a lifetime if cared for properly.

OOLONG TEA
SEMI-FERMENTED TEA LEAVES

Oolong is a semi-oxidized tea. It undergoes the same treatment as black tea but for less time and only the edges of the leaves are rubbed. During infusion, oolong leaves turn bright green in the centre and red towards the edges.

There are two main types of oolong, one grown in China and the other grown in Taiwan (Formosa). Oolong from China is oxidized only 12-20%, resulting in pale yellow liquor with a distinct, fresh taste. Taiwan oolong on the other hand, is usually 60% oxidized and is known for its golden liquor and exquisite, flowery aroma.

picking
Picking of the fresh tea leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plants.
withering
Process of softening the leaves and reducing the moisture content of the leaves by half, which allows the leaves to be roled without breaking.
bruising
To start oxidation, leaves are tumbled in a basket, kneaded or rolled over by heavy wheels. This method has replaced hand rolling the edges of each leaf.
short fermentation
The chemical structure of the leaf is altered, allowing key flavour characteristics to emerge. Long oxidation means a softer taste. Oolongs are semi-fermented.
Rolling & Shaping
Leaves are put into 4-15 pound bags which are rolled tightly to create a ball shape that curls the leaves. Some leaves are preferred flat so they are not rolled or shaped.
drying
The leaves are pan-fried to halt oxidation and begin drying. Underfired leaves will mould over time while over-fired will lose flavours. Leaves then cool off on bamboo mats.
grading
Leaves are graded and put into categories: whole leaves, broken leaves, fanning, dust.

Oolong is especially good for digestion, so it is naturally a great tea to drink after a large meal. It should never be drunk with milk, sugar, or lemon.

The perfect type of teaware to use for steeping oolong is a yixing teapot. The Ming belief that "tea should be drunk often but in small quantities" led the development of yixing teapots, which were first made during the 1500s. Yixing teapots were first adopted by Buddhist monks. They felt that the simple lines and minimal decoration embodied the classic Chinese concept of harmony and beauty, and thus the true spirit of tea. Throughout the years, yixings evolved into beautiful, artistic expressions incorporating symbols of daily life.

Yixings are made from the famous purple clay, 'zhi sha' from China's Yixing region. Because the purple clay is so porous, the pot absorbs a little of the flavour and character of the tea with each infusion. It is said that if one uses a yixing pot for many years, the teapot will be so seasoned that one can make tea by simply filling it with hot water.





BLACK TEA
FERMENTED TEA LEAVES

Black tea is grown in China, India, Sri Lanka, and Africa, and is the most common type of tea drunk in the Western world. The leaves range in colour from brown to black, often with golden or silver tips. The bright copper liquor has a full, round aroma, and a flavour ranging from malty to flowery.

picking
Picking of the fresh tea leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plants.
withering
Process of softening the leaves and reducing the moisture content of the leaves by half, which allows the leaves to be roled without breaking.
bruising
Traditionally the leaves were rolled gently between the hands to break down the cell walls in order to release the enzymes that start oxidation.
full fermentation
A natural process that alters the leaf's chemical structure. Longer oxidation means a softer taste, deep colour and high caffeine. Black teas are fully fermented.
drying
The leaves are pan-fried to halt oxidation and begin drying. Underfired leaves will mould over time while over-fired will lose flavours. Leaves then cool off on bamboo mats.
grading
Leaves are graded and put into categories: whole leaves, broken leaves, fanning, dust.

Black tea gets its colour and character from the processing of the leaves. Once picked, the leaves are oxidized, resulting in higher levels of soluble caffeine and tannins.

Although green and white teas are touted for their health-giving properties due to their high antioxidant content, BLACK TEA is still a healthy beverage as it contains antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and essential oils which aid in digestion.

Terroir

Soil, Climate, and Elevation

As with wine, a tea's character is determined greatly by subtle differences in soil, climate, and elevation. Cool nights, dry weather, and bright sunny days combined provide the optimal conditions for growing tea. This type of climate forces the tea bush to expend all its energy in the growth of new shoots. The finest teas come from gardens of high elevation where cooler temperatures slow leaf growth, producing leaves with a more concentrated flavour and aroma.

India is known for its BLACK TEAS, particularly Darjeeling and Assam. Known as the champagne of teas, the highly-coveted Darjeeling is grown in gardens clinging to the mist-engulfed foothills of the Himalayas above 7000 feet. Its unique muscatel character is the result of a cool climate, loamy soil, plentiful rainfall, high elevation, and sloping terrain. Assam tea, with its distinct, full-bodied, malty character, is grown in a valley, enjoying high temperatures and bountiful rainfall.

China is known as the Land of Ten Thousand Teas, a poetic name to suggest the infinite abundance of teas produced there. China produces all types of tea: white, green, oolong, and black, the very best coming from high-elevation Sacred Gardens, shrouded in mist and secrecy.

Sri Lanka produces classic BLACK TEAS known as Ceylon teas. Grown in lush gardens at elevations above 4000 feet, the best Ceylon teas have a bright liquor and a flowery character.

Taiwan's unique combination of mountainous terrain and subtropical climate produces the world's finest OOLONG TEAS, known for their orchid-like aromas.

Japan produces GREEN TEAS exclusively, which are distinct in character from Chinese green teas due to their particular terroir.

WHAT IS TEA?

All tea, whether it be green, black, white, or oolong, comes from the same plant, the evergreen shrub, Camellia sinensis.
Different Types of Tea
Once picked, the leaves are dealt with differently depending on the type of tea desired. Oxidization (also known as the fermentation process) is the underlying process that gives green, black, and oolong teas their individual characteristics.
TERROIR
As with wine, a tea's character is determined greatly by subtle differences in soil, climate, and elevation. Cool nights, dry weather, and bright sunny days combined provide the optimal conditions for growing tea.
INFUSIONS
Properly defined, tea is a term that can only be applied to the leaves and the infusion of the Camelia sinensis plant. Instead, we call blends of herbs, flowers, or spices, herbal infusions. Blends that consist of fruits and berries are referred to as whole fruit tisanes. Both are naturally caffeine-free.
TISANES
Tisanes are blends of dried fruits and berries, often with a base of hibiscus flowers and rosehips. High in vitamin C, fruit tisanes have full, fruity aromas, complemented by tangy and sweet flavours. They also produce lovely red, full-bodied infusions. Originally drunk as children's teas, fruit tisanes make the most refreshing iced teas and are naturally caffeine-free, making them enjoyable at any time of the day.

Steeping Chart

Please follow this generalized matrix to properly infuse your tea and herbs. Information which is specific to individual teas can be found in our shop.

SEE FULL SIZE CHART

Tasting Notes

Tasting is a subjective art and even experts can disagree on the vagaries of character of the tea. However, prima facie, we want to establish a meticulous and practiced process for tasting to systematically understand "taste."
Character
(Flavour Sensation)
.......
01
Firm
.......
02
.......
03
One Dimensional
.......
04
.......
05
Complex Layers
Body
.......
01
Weak
.......
02
.......
03
Low weight
.......
04
.......
05
Fully Defined
Aroma
(Perfume)
.......
01
Oxidized
.......
02
.......
03
Soft
.......
04
.......
05
Intoxicating
Finish
(Aftertaste)
.......
01
Non-discernable
.......
02
.......
03
Abrupt
.......
04
.......
05
Lingering
Liquor
.......
01
Dull
.......
02
.......
03
Slightly Cloudy
.......
04
.......
05
Crystal Clear
Pedigree
.......
01
Machine Harvest CTC
.......
02
.......
03
Twigs, Stems
.......
04
.......
05
FOP to FTGFOP

Gong Fu Cha

Experience the wondrous world of the yixing teapot, which is ideally suited for (semi-fermented) oolong teas. In our opinion, oolongs are the greatest category for palate appreciation and we believe they offer the most complexity.
Yixing Teapot
The small yixing teapot retains the precious aroma which is prized in oolongs, while the thimble-sized teacups (holding 2 oz sips) are the perfect tea-sipping vessel for tasting the layers of flavour in oolongs.