It’s not easy to step into trying a new tea – it does take a sense of adventure and a real love of trying something new. Often people will defer to mainstream blends and well known names (like chai) and hopefully work their way into what those of us in tea are deeply connected to: TeaLife.
For die-hard tea drinkers, tea isn’t just a beverage, it’s a really important part of daily life. More then just routine, its ritual. And there’s a big difference–most notably related to intention and often has more meaning. (More on that later.)
So as I sit in my sunroom on the last rainy day of November, surrounded by Buddhas disguised as cats, I decided that starting tomorrow (December 1) and for the next 25 days leading up to Christmas Day, I’ll blog a short bit on a different tea each day and offer a discount on that tea for purchase on our shiny new website to give as a gift to yourself or someone else. I hope it will inspire you to try a new tea or at the very least, learn something new.
So keep an eye out here, on Facebookand on the website for tomorrows First Gift of Tea and the discount code to buy for that day.
Its been a month since I blogged. Bad me. I’ve been focusing on new ventures that are coming up this fall. Like teaching a tea class at Open Kitchen and attending expos and events (more on that later). I have been loyal to my morning cup of Jade Oolong and Im about to cup a few more this afternoon. Yeah me!
I was sifting through some old emails and came across this interesting bit from my Peep over in England, Nigel Melican. He is an expert on many many tea related issues especially caffeine. So Id like to share with you what he said recently. A question was asked:
Q. “First, I was wondering which tea had the greatest caffeine content White,Green,or Black?…“
A.“A 2007 study in Germany (Hilal & Engelhardt) looked at 30 Black teas, 2 sets of 30 Green teas & 30 White teas. This is the most comprehensive study I know. They found a range of caffeine:
Black tea 2.0 to 5.4% – average 3.5%
Green tea (1) 1.5 to 5.2% – average 3.4%
Green tea (2) 1.7 to 3.9% – average 2.9%
White tea 3.4 to 5.7% – average 4.9%
My conclusion from this is that to drink any particular color of tea for its low or high level is to fool yourself. Despite what many misguided (or unscrupulous) vendors may tell you, your black could be as low as 2.0% and your green as high as 5.2% – and even on average (if you could ever find an average tea) a black will be the same caffeine level as a green – from sample set 1 at least.
White tea scores higher on average than black or green, though a ‘high’ black or green could still beat a ‘low’ white.
Steeping practice will modify caffeine intake more than your choice of tea type. Halve the tea you use = 50% less caffeine in your cup. Treble steep your green or white teas and you will have significantly less caffeine per oz of water consumed than in a single steep of black.
Finally, don’t worry so much about caffeine in tea. Nature provided tea polyphenols to complex it – so you do not get the coffee jitters from tea – and the unique relaxing L-theanine to balance caffeine’s energizing effects. New research (in mice only, so far) points to caffeine having a protecting and reversing affect on Alzheimer dementia at a dose of 500mg per day – around 14 cups! That has to be an argument for increased tea drinking.
Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.
Q. “I know this has been addressed in the past, but once again….Which if any tea has the most caffine? I am a loose tea drinker, but also love my coffee. Coffee isnt agreeing with me anymore, but Ive gotta have that “buzz” in the morning to get me going. I have a job where I sit all day and look at a computer, and need to stay awake!…[I’d] appreciate anything you can advise me on.”
A. “Analysis shows that the African cultivars are consistently high for caffeine content. Some can be up to 6% in parts of the year and the CTC manufactured types are the highest. Teas from Kenya and Rwanda are particularly good for combination of taste, high caffeine and high L-theanine (the stress busting amino acid unique to tea). In USA though it’s difficult to find these teas as straight origins. I suggest you seek out a supplier of Taylors Yorkshire Gold – their blend incorporates a lot of the best African teas – good and strong and my favorite for the morning wake up cuppa.”
D.C.’s Chief Leaf was 1 of 10 Tea Professionals from the United States and Canada to have completed a week-long intensive study of oolong teas from withering to final product in Taiwan from June 20-28, 2009. Ms. Scott was part of this exclusive first group of foreigners to produce tea at the prestigious East Coast Taitung Branch, Tea Research and Extension Station – an unusual and rare opportunity for anyone other than Taiwanese tea growers.
The group was lead and organized by Thomas Shu, ABC Teas & 3rd generation Tea Master, Josephine Pan, Organic Teas Only, and the Taiwan Tea Manufacturers Association (TTMA).
Notable Tea Masters Norman Shu, current Chairman of TTMA; Jackson Huang, Senior Advisor to TTMA; Ted Fan, Secretary General of TTMA and on-sight instructor David Liao worked side-by-side guiding the group during processing, cupping sessions and tea tastings. On average, their days were 12-15 hours of intensive study of 6 cultivars:
1. Tai Cha #12/Chin Sin Oolong
2. Da-Yeh Oolong
4. Tai Cha #18
5. Tai Cha #8
6. Taiwan’s Wild Tea Tree
The week kicked-off the with hands-on processing of Baozhong Tea (Wen Shan Tea District) which took approximately 13 hours to complete.
Their second day was highlighted by a visit to the Shan-Ben Tea Garden, producer of the 1st Place Winner for Green Oolong Tea at the World Tea Championship in Las Vegas earlier this year. Winner Ken Rudee, incoming Chairman of STI and Board Member of the Tea Association of the US, returned to Taiwan to present 82-year-old Mr. Wu with the prestigious award.
By day three, they had processed Pressed Oolong (Hua-Tung Tea District) and completed the “bootcamp” with the hand processing of Formosa White Tip Oolong Tea/Oriental Beauty (Ta-Chiang-Wu/Long Tan, Touyan)-Taiwan’s most precious tea.
“This was the most intense and rewarding tea experience I’ve had to date. To be able to actually hand-make tea was a rare opportunity, said Ms. Scott. “I have an even greater appreciation of the work and craftsmanship that goes into a single cup of tea. It’s not easy and is truly an art.”
By weeks end, the group had cupped and tasted over 60+ teas from Bai Mu Dan to Aged Oolong along with some that have not been sampled outside of Taiwan. A Master Cupping session was held at the ABC Teas Factory and was led by Norman Shu.
Mid-way through the week they were able to take a short break at the Luminous Mountain Spring Resort & Spa and enjoy the natural hot springs. Their week culminated with a Grand Tea Tasting at TTMA, a 10-course farewell dinner and closing ceremony on Saturday, June 27th. Certificates of completion were given.
Taiwan Public Television (the equivalent of PBS) was there to interview and film events earlier in the week and was scheduled to cover the closing ceremony to gather more footage for a 15 minute television special on their oolong study tour. Ms. Scott granted an interview to the TV Station.
“I was thrilled to offer my thoughts and opinions on the value of Taiwanese oolongs in the US Tea Market. We are big fans and huge supporters. Their teas are outstanding,” she said. “I used this week to not only learn from revered tea masters, but to also connect with the growers, develop relationships and purchase teas directly from the gardens, said Ms. Scott. “Our fall collection of Taiwanese oolong tea is really quite special.”
Many of the teas purchased will be available this fall in time for the Holidays.
If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider sharing with a friend. We look forward to your comments! Happy Sipping!
First of all, I have to find more time to blog. This is crazy.
Between writing articles, (Fresh Cup), writing press releases, writing ads (see above), writing the blurbs on our website, updating Facebook,Tweeting… I can barely write my own name anymore. Which by the way, seems to compel people to ask the question,“Is that really your title? Chief Leaf?”
Yep. It is. And I had no idea so many people would respond to it the way they have: a great big smile and, “I LOVE THAT!” BTW… guess who asked me that question? Go on.. Guess?!!! Carla Hall Lyons! The fabulous TOP CHEF, who we ALL know should have won! (I’m getting ahead of myself.)
So… when I was making up my business cards I went through the typical list of titles: President, Owner, CEO, Tea Specialist etc etc etc. Nothing seemed to fit. I kinda liked the “Chief” in Chief Executive Officer but it just sounded way too serious, and ominous. Not me. So I kept Chief (which I am since I own the company) and Leaf just made sense. I’m the Chief of all Leafs for Pearl Fine Teas.
They seemed to like what they saw and hopefully tasted (free tea to the press) and decided we were worthy of a write up, especially since I’ve been awarded the title of Certified Tea Specialist — The 1st in DC and 1 of 23 Nationally.
So now I hold 2 interesting titles: Chief Leaf and Certified Tea Specialist (isn’t that more fun than CEO?) and hope to one day call myself a “Tea Master” – maybe even “Tea Sommelier” as they referenced in the article, but honestly, there are others who deserve that title more than I do. I’m fine with the 2 I have now. For now. I hope in this lifetime I will have the honor of being called “Master.” And I don’t mean by my staff or loved ones. 🙂
My quest for the “Tea Master” title begins on Friday, June 19th as I take an extraordinary long flight to Taiwan to spend a week processing, cupping, discussing and learning about Oolong Teas. from a 3rd Generation Tea Master! You know I’m crazy for Oolongs so this is like… a dream come true!
I’ll be bringing back some limited-edition oolongs processed by yours truly. I may even be persuaded to sell some.
I wonder how much weight I’ll from sheer dehydration? It is Taiwan in June. They better make me an iced tea.
WASHINGTON, DC, May 27, 2009 – Elise E. Scott, Chief Leaf of online tea merchant, Pearl Fine Teas, has completed the Specialty Tea Institute’s (STI) 2 year program and is now the first Certified Tea Professional (CTP) in Washington, D.C. Ms. Scott was one of 8 people who completed the certification during the 2009 World Tea Expo, which was held in Las Vegas in May. To date, STI has certified only 23 Tea Professionals worldwide.
The three level, eight-course certification process, included classes that covered sensory evaluation, white, green, oolong and pu’erh teas and culminated with the black teas of China, India and Sri Lanka.
Upon completing the certification, Ms. Scott said, “It was a long 2 year journey filled with a lot of travel; sipping and study time–basically a total immersion into the world of tea. I loved every minute. More importantly, this training adds to my credibility as a tea professional and I take that very seriously.”
Ms. Scott has studied under many notable tea industry professionals, including Bill Waddington, Owner, Tea Source; Donna Fellman, Tea Education Alliance; Phil Parda, Owner, Zhong Guo Cha; and Richard Guzauskas of Tea Forte, QTrade, Shangri La and STI Advisory Board Chairman. She also studied under Cynthia Gold, Tea Sommelier at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and will spend 9 days in Taiwan this June studying oolong teas with Thomas Shu, 3rd Generation Tea Master and Vice President of ABC Tea House.
About Pearl Fine Teas Since 2006, Pearl Fine Teas has been providing premium, limited edition and rare loose-leaf teas along with custom creative blends and tea ware to tea lovers worldwide. The company focuses on top notch customer service, education and information about the world of tea. The company’s blog, TeaLove®, was launched on August 2008 and has received national attention for its posts on tea and politics.
About STI and The Tea Association of the USA The Specialty Tea Institute is a division of the Tea Association of the U.S.A and is dedicated to serving the needs of purveyors in the specialty tea industry. The primary objective is to provide a credible source of information which will allow merchants to decide if entry into the world of specialty teas is the correct choice along with protecting their best interests, creating an environment conducive to growth, and developing positive marketing and media impressions about the world of tea. The tea industry looks to the Tea Association of the USA, Inc, The Tea Council of the USA and the Specialty Tea Institute (STI) for its wholesale and retail needs.
This is my third year attending the World Tea Expo so I was able to prioritize and work the show floor in a day which left more time to relax, mingle with my teapeeps and attend a few choice classes. The one at the top of list was given by Jane Pettigrew on Rare Teas. If you haven’t been exposed to Jane, you surely are missing out. She is simply fabulous. Her love, knowledge and passion for tea fills the room.
I tweeted about each tea during the tasting. I found them interesting and was pleased to be able to sip something out of the ordinary. I will say that my expectation for what I considered RARE was different then what WTE thought. To me a rare tea for example, might be… an aged puerh that was produced in limited quantity 11 years ago and only a 10 people in the world have access to it. This seminar was more about UNUSUAL Teas. That said, I still loved it and was grateful to have atteneded.
Here is a brief recap:
Tea 1: Malawi White Tea (Antlers)
This was the biggest surprise of the 6 for me. While I like white tea well enough its not a “go to” tea for me. It took just one sip and I was, well, in TeaLove. The liquor was sparkly, clear and sweet. There were light notes of fruit. No leaves were used to produce this tea which we all found interesting. A leafless tea made only with the stems. This was my top pick and favorite. 8 grams, Steeped at 176˚ for 5min.
Tea 2: South Korean Spring-Picked Green Tea
Very unusual for a green tea. The immediate smell is nutty which I wouldnt have expected from a green. It was more like a tie kwan yin. The wet leaf had a beautiful aroma that was slightly vegetal and nutty. The color: a bright, vibrant green. Very light colored liquor and taste. This teas is handmade. 8 grams steeped at 14o˚ for 2 min. (The steep should have been longer to bring out the flavor)
Tea 3: Ancient Lotus Green (Vietnam Flavored Green)
An immediate burst of anise both in aroma and taste! Quite unexpected. Dry leaf was dark and long but also rolled. Liquor was light gold. Wet leaf was long and curly. This tea is handmade and infused with Lotus blossoms. Steep time and temp wasn’t given.
Tea 4: Thai High Mountain oolong (Chang Mai) Most of you know my deep, unwavering love for oolongs, so I was excited to try one from Thailand. The dry leaves were very large, rolled balls. The liquor was golden and had hardly any aroma. But perhaps the paper cups smell was getting in the way. I likened this oolong to an extremely light Jade Oolong. Its a 2 day production for this one as opposed to the usual 1 day for oolongs. 8 grams, Steep time 180˚ for 4 min.
Tea 5: Bolivian Organic Black Did you know Bolivia produced black tea? I didn’t. This tea endures 18 hours of withering, has a very large leaf that is rolled. The color of the liquor was a lovely medium redish brown. The taste reminded me of a ceylon but with more complexity. It was slight fruity or plumy and very smooth. 8 grams, Steep time 212˚ for 4 min.
Tea 6: Tregothnan Classic Black (Cornwall, UK)
Tregothnan means “house at the top of the hill.” Not a true tregothnan, but a blend. Made locally. The dry leaves are small and cut like a CTC process yet this was all handmade. Impressive. Wet leaf fluffed up and turned brown. The liquor was a lovely shade of deep red. The taste was immediately astringent and made my lips pucker.Steep time and temp wasn’t given.
Today is the last day of the Expo and I’ll be attending Lisa Richardson’s class on pairing tea and chocolate! More posts to come later!
I love teapots. I have a giant collection of them and can’t stop buying new ones. I probably need to open a store just to showcase them all.
I ventured into teaware last fall. I’m picky about my pots so I made sure to test them over and over again. Sometimes you see a cute design, take it home and it drips when you pour. Me no likee. Or, the mesh infuser is too thin and bends making it impossible to use again. Me really no likee.
Then there are the ones that just dont hold enough water for teatime. You know, the ones that give you just one cup of tea. I need at least two per sitting.
I’ve been happy with the choice I made with regard to iPot Teapot and have decided to keep them around for a while. There are some others I’m testing out in the TeaLab, but I’m not ready to release just yet.
Recently I ordered some new designs. How cool are the ones with the yoga positions etched into the side? Love it. Will definitely keep a few for me. 🙂 I am offering them in 3 colors: Bamboo and Grape (tree pose) and Carribbean Blue (lotus pose). There are matching cups as well that make such a nice gift. Either for yourself or someone who loves tea and yoga.
I also just had to have the Cherry Blossom design which is simply gorgeous and perfect for this time of year. We are in Cherry Blossom Season here in DC so it just makes it all the more fitting. It a also has a matching teapot.The duo is so feminine.
It’s just after midnight here in our Nation’s Capital. And I’m wondering why President Obama hasn’t ordered any of our “Drink for Change” blend? Which then led me to Twitter. Random? Of course.
While on Twitter I noticed a significant jump in people following Pearl Fine Teas. Interesting. I hadn’t been paying attention the last few weeks. I clicked to see who was interested in us. Even more interesting. As I browsed the list, checking out fellowTeaPeeps and clicking on their sites or being led to other sites related to tea, I noticed something even more interesting than the last interesting thing…
There are a TON of Tea Review websites out there. When did this happen? So I sat with this thought for a bit… Why are there so many sites that review tea? Why do so many people want to review tea? Why are people building websites and social networks around reviewing tea? Is anyone really interested in someone else’s review of tea? Remember, I was in advertising for many years and my default is extreme curiosity and intense questioning about things like this.
I must admit here on my very own TeaLove Blog, which is mostly about tea and my thoughts on things related to tea (hence totally teacentric) that even I am only mildly interested in another persons review. There I said it. From a business perspective I love the idea of people trying our teas, having an opinion about it (hopefully positive) and then telling others. I like the idea of community. I don’t know how I feel or what I think just yet on the whole “review” thing. Not knocking the reviewers, just so curious on this new trend. And forming an opinion. (Because I always have an opinion on something.)
I mean… I’ve seen movies where critics have given 2 thumbs down for a movie that I loved. Dare I admit to loving Anchorman? Shallow Hal? Dodgeball? Did I fall asleep watching Ghandi? I really did. But I did love Slumdog Millionaire!
When people ask me what tea they should drink, I always pause for a moment, and then suggest teas that I believe are of high quality and value, and why I think they may like it. However, even though I may like that tea, it doesn’t mean someone else will. High quality aside.
A few years ago I had a client who was (I think still is) the CEO of a bank. He and his wife were lovers of California wines. I remember talking to him about my growing interest in wines and reading Wine Spectator. He looked at me and said, “Elise, drink what you like and forget the rest. Who cares if something got a low rating. If you like it, drink it.”
I had no reply to that. He was right. Plus he was my client. And a lot taller then me. I feel that way about tea as well. If you like it, drink it.
I’ve also sampled many spectacular teas. Some considered so good they are collected and sold for a small fortunes in Asia (ie: puerh). Some I liked and some I didn’t. I’ve also had Lipton. Who hasn’t. There is a time and place for all things, including Lipton Tea.Think iced on a hot summer day. I refuse to bash Lipton, though I know some people who do. Sir Thomas Johnson Lipton began in 1870 and is currently one of the biggest tea distributors in the world. Its been around for 139 years! People like it.
“Whats her point“ you may be saying…My point is that, some of us are tea snobs. Some of us are wine snobs. Some of us are both. Is being a snob really such a good thing? I dunno. In the end what matters is what tastes good to YOU. Enjoy the pleasure and the journey of sampling teas and form your own opinion on the leaf (or grape). For good or for bad, its the pleasure of discovering what you like that’s fantastic. And, if you find a tea you absolutely love ENJOY IT. If it happens to be a tea in a bag from a roadside diner paired with the meatloaf special… Who cares. If YOU like it, sip it. (I can feel the tea community twitching as I type this.)
All that said… I do prefer a whole leaf tea to fannings and anyone out there who would like to review some of our teas (Teaviews & Steepster) and shout out good things to the world about us … you know where to find me.
Ok it’s now 2:23am. I’m done rambling for now and will formulate more thoughts soon on this fantastic growing phenomenon. Part 2 to come…
I’ve traveled a good bit over the years touching down in places like Southern Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean and now it appears that I will have the pleasure of visiting India and Sri Lanka. I am thrilled!
I am so looking forward to exploring the estates in Sri Lankaand the Nilgiri region of Southern India.Though the idea of a 24 hour flight out of JFK less then thrills me, I’ve no doubt what awaits will be magical. I can’t wait to sip of cup of freshly produced tea!
Our group will leave the US on April 16th and return on the 25th. My hope is to blog,twitterand facebook while I am there, but that will require the leap over to AT&T and the wonderful iPhone. I cant wait!
I hope to bring back a ton of stories along with a fresh crop of teas from both countries! Below is a bit of info on both regions:
Nilgiri: South India’s Nilgiri means “blue mountain.” Started in the 19th century. 2nd largest tea producing area after Assam. Especially teas produced in altitude regions of over 1,600m surrounded by plants like eucalyptus or cypress trees, are known internationally as “fragrant teas” and highly recognized by their special flavors.
Sri Lanka: Ceylon tea from Sri Lanka, is considered the best tea in the world. The influence of climatic conditions of its plantation imparts to the product a variety of flavors and aromas, synonymous with quality. Why is Ceylon Tea considered unique? The diversity in flavor – something that other tea producing countries do not have. Teais = grown in six agro climatic regions, each region giving its own flavor profile to the tea grown in it. There are six regions for tea in Sri Lanka: Uva, Nuwara eliya, Udapussellawa, Kandy, Dimbulla and Ruhuna. The tea sectosr in Sri Lanka have always been a vital component of her economy. It is also the country’s largest employer providing employment both directly and indirectly to over one million people. It also contributes a significant amount to Government revenue and to the gross domestic product.
Jody Shiroma-Perreira, VP, Marketing & Communications thought it would be a wonderful idea to offer loose leaf tea as a favor for those attending the event! They are calling the tea “HOPE” – a Temple of Heaven/Gunpowder based green tea. As some of you may know, I spent 5 glorious years living and working in Honolulu and one of my very first accounts when I arrived was AUW! It holds a special place in my heart and I am sincerely honored to help support Aloha United Way!