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Red Blossom Blog

Best Practices for Tea Storage

Best Practices for Tea Storage

Over the past few millennia, tea crafters have developed myriad ways of drying and preserving the leaves to increase the shelf life of the finished tea. First, leaves were steamed and compressed, then dried and powdered, and today they are withered and fired, with each step removing more moisture. But any tea requires proper storage for the best flavor, no matter how well they’re preserved in crafting. Green teas are especially prone to losing flavor, since they don’t go through additional withering during the oxidation process.

So what is the best way to store tea leaves, in order to keep them as fresh as possible? In the simplest terms, tea leaves are best kept away from light, air, and moisture.

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Tea Legends: The Discovery of Tea

Tea Legends: The Discovery of Tea

Tea is truly one of the planet’s oldest traditions. So old that we have no historic record to indicate where it originated. The earliest writing on Chinese tea is a preparation guide written sometime between 760 - 762 CE in the Tang dynasty called The Classic of Tea, but just last year, the remains of tea cakes were discovered in an unearthed emperor’s tomb from the Han dynasty, which predates The Classic of Tea by at least 500 years.

Stop and think about that for a moment - how many things do you do on a daily basis that people still did 500 years ago? How about 2,000 years ago?

Because tea might actually be that old. We have no way of knowing, since myths and legends surround the origin of tea. Our only clue to the discovery of tea is a mythic Emperor God: Shennong.

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What is Royal Courtesan Tea?

What is Royal Courtesan Tea?

Among the poetic English names given to Chinese teas, Royal Courtesan is a relative newcomer. According to legend, the leaves of this bug bitten oolong had the grace and poise of an imperial concubine, inspiring the name. But as with Milk Oolong, or any other generalized tea name, “Royal Courtesan” doesn’t offer much information about the tea you’re drinking. Vague labels like this are often used to increase the perceived value of mediocre tea.

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Which Teas are Naturally Sweet?

Which Teas are Naturally Sweet?

Most of the aroma and flavor we perceive from a tea comes from a huge variety of ‘volatile compounds’ that vary from leaf to leaf. It’s practically impossible to trace any particular flavor to a specific compound. But the natural sweetness of tea comes from the very building blocks of the plant itself: carbohydrates.

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Why the Best Teas in China Aren't Certified Organic

Why the Best Teas in China Aren't Certified Organic

If you know anything about Red Blossom Tea Company, we hope it’s that we source pure teas. We spend our sourcing trips seeking out small farms, building relationships with growers and crafters, and tasting a massive variety of teas to cultivate a selection of delicious, unadulterated tea leaves.

But right now, none of the teas on our shelves are certified organic by the USDA. While we do have preliminary certifications from the National Organic Program for several teas, we also know that in the world of Chinese tea, an organic label doesn't always indicate the best quality.

Why is this, you ask? Isn’t organic tea farming definitively superior to “conventional” methods? Does the lack of organic certification indicate that these teas are contaminated with chemicals? And if a tea farm is using natural growing methods, why wouldn’t they be certified as an organic farm?

To answer these questions, we first need to define the difference between traditional and organic teas. Then, we’ll discuss why organic certification is not always the best indicator of quality, and how we personally ensure the farms we work with are growing responsibly.

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The 6 Steps of Tea Processing

The 6 Steps of Tea Processing

If you’re a tea lover, you may already know that all tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. But if you’re new to the world of tea, this concept may seem mind-boggling. How can one leaf be transformed into such a variety of flavors? What steps does that leaf need to go through in order to produce the incredible infusions we know and love?

In China, tea crafters have been refining the answer to this question for millennia. In each region, people have developed unique methods for growing and crafting tea. Variation in local taste and techniques has driven tea innovation through the ages.

Today, we are able to source and learn from a wide range of diverse areas. With this perspective, it is possible to distill the tea-making process into just a few essential steps, described here in their broadest terms.

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How to Brew the Best Iced Tea

How to Brew the Best Iced Tea

It’s no secret: Americans love iced tea.

Though Chinese tea drinkers never drink cold tea, iced versions have become a staple of American tea culture. This is obvious in any cafe across the country, where selections of bottled iced teas line the shelves.

But as with any tea product made for the mass market, bottled iced teas don’t offer any information about the tea leaves used, and most have added flavorings or preservatives. Instead of paying several dollars for a 16 ounce bottle of a mediocre brew, we prefer to make our own iced tea by the pitcher, using quality whole leaf tea.

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What is Milk Oolong Tea?

What is Milk Oolong Tea?

In the world of tea there are many poetic names. Usually, tea varieties are named for either a key characteristic of the tea’s appearance or taste, or the tea’s legendary origin.

However, there are also names that refer to broad categories of teas. These nonspecific terms can easily be misused. "Milk Oolong" and "Silk Oolong" are general terms that are commonly used, but not commonly understood. These terms are applied to teas across a wide spectrum of quality. In this article, we’ll be clarifying just what kinds of teas these terms are actually describing.

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Upgrade your Tea: Quality in Tea Bags

Upgrade your Tea: Quality in Tea Bags

Like a lot of western tea drinkers, my first cup of tea was from a grocery store teabag. It must have been unremarkable, because I don’t remember it. And it must have been bitter, because I didn’t have tea again until I was introduced to Chinese whole leaf tea.

If I hadn’t been introduced to whole leaf oolongs by a sweet Taiwanese friend, I might have decided I didn’t like tea at all. Considering that Chinese tea has become such a passion of mine, I feel very lucky to have been introduced to tea outside the bag. Here are some good reasons why it might be time for you to leave mass produced tea bags behind and make the switch to single origin tea.

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