why our teas are better...
Most all of the teas I offer are organically grown, but not certified (organic certification is horrendously expensive and many small growers cannot afford this expense.) So what’s the difference, you may ask?
The less expensive teas are grown on larger tea farms, more commonly called tea plantations, and the leaves are sent to a ‘tea factory’ for processing. From the time the leaves are picked, the farmers have no more control over their product. My higher end teas, the Direct Trade teas, are grown in the traditional way, hand-picked, and hand processed (roasted, rolled, oxidized, or whatever process is needed to create the end result) in small batches, and then sent off to the buyer. As you journey through the tea farms on this site, you can feel the pride the farmers take in their eco-friendly farming practices and the end product that they offer to us.
In the book, The New Tea Companion, authors Pettigrew and Richardson state: “Across the globe, more than 10,000 different teas are made from different varietals of Camellia sinensis. As with the production of wine, the character, colour and flavor of each tea when it is brewed and served are determined by a long list of variable factors – location of the plantation, altitude, climate, seasonal changes, the soil, the minerals it contains, the way in which it drains, cultivation methods, plucking methods, how the leaf is processed, what happens to the leaf at the end of the manufacturing process and the way in which the tea is eventually brewed. Teas are classified by the process used to make them and, although the names of the different categories (white, yellow, green, oolong, black, puerh and compressed) often tell us about the colour and appearance of the dry leaf, it is the manufacturing method that decides the category. Levels of caffeine (in the past also known as theine) vary in different teas. This is thought to depend on the varietal of the bush, the age of the leaf when it is picked, its location on the stem, the length of oxidation time, the size of the tea leaves brewed, the quantity of leaf used to make the brew, and the length of the brewing time.” (p. 39)
For me and so many others, tea is up there on the same level as wine. We open up a bottle of table wine for our everyday dinners, and then when the occasion calls for it, we pull out our fine wines. That is what I do with tea. I have my favorites in the lesser expensive of the two, which I drink every day. And then, I break out the fine teas for special occasions. That occasion could be a stunning sunrise, or finishing a manuscript I’ve been working on, or just taking a moment to enjoy nature around me. No one says what is or isn’t a special occasion. Of course, there are those who prefer the fine wines all the time, and would prefer the fine teas all the time, and that works, too.
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