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Red Blossom Blog

4 Whole Leaf Teas to Try Instead of Matcha

4 Whole Leaf Teas to Try Instead of Matcha

The powdered Japanese green tea called matcha has taken the world by storm, with green-tinged baked goods and claims of health benefits thrusting it into the public consciousness all over the world. However, high quality matcha teas are difficult to find internationally, as they use only the best leaves, are labor intensive to grow and craft, and are typically reserved in Japan for ceremonial uses. More common “cooking-grade” matcha is easier to find, but rarely tastes good without sweeteners, since it is intended to be used among other flavors in culinary dishes.

The inherent rarity of high quality matcha means prices are usually high, and while the suspension of powdered leaves delivers all the caffeine and health benefits of the tea in one concentrated shot, it also means a fresh serving of dry leaf is required for each new cup. In addition, matcha teas go stale quickly and must be consumed while fresh, given the large amount of surface area exposed when the leaves are ground to a fine powder. By contrast, whole leaf teas that are properly dried and finished can last at least a year before going stale, and deliver flavor through at least three infusions of the same leaves.

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3 Simple Steps to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

3 Simple Steps to Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

For those new to tea, the brewing process can be intimidating, especially if your first exposure to loose leaf brewing involved a showy sampling in traditional gong fu cha style. The specialized teaware, high tech gadgets, and precise methods of tea connoisseurs can all serve a purpose in the enjoyment and appreciation of tea, but brewing the perfect cup doesn’t have to be complicated. With the three adaptable steps in this article, you will be able to brew great tea in any context, with whatever equipment you have on hand.

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What is GABA Tea?

What is GABA Tea?

Among the endless varieties of tea, most common names have poetic origins based on the appearance, fragrance, or traditional provenance of the tea style. GABA is a tea name that stands out as a modern, scientific acronym, lending gravitas to claims of extra health benefits. But what is it that makes this type of tea special?

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3 Reasons Why We Source Tea From Small Farms

3 Reasons Why We Source Tea From Small Farms

As direct importers, we made the conscious choice many years ago to source from small, family owned tea farms, despite the extra level of difficulty this adds to our buying process. While large, commercial farms can produce teas with great consistency at inexpensive prices, we choose to seek out smaller, family-owned tea farms that focus on quality over quantity. Often, we have to look far and wide, well outside of the normal boundaries of famed tea markets or major cities. In return for the extra effort of annual sourcing trips through rural mountainous regions in China and Taiwan, we are rewarded with better quality of flavor, inherent sustainability, and an infinite variety of new tea possibilities.

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Flavors of Pure Tea: Natural Floral Fragrances

Flavors of Pure Tea: Natural Floral Fragrances

Teas with floral flavors are some of the most popular on the market, and  dried flowers are often characterized as tea despite having no relation to the traditional Camellia sinensis tea plant. So it is easy to understand that teas described as “floral” bring to mind flowery tisanes or teas blended with dried blossoms, but many unblended teas have natural floral nuances with more depth than any blend can offer.

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Cooking with Tea: Pickled Green Tea Leaves

Cooking with Tea: Pickled Green Tea Leaves

High quality green teas like our Ming Qian Dragonwell, Panan are plucked only once a year and consist of only young leaf buds. They are limited in quantity, but high in antioxidants and other nutrients. While many Chinese tea drinkers will eat the leaves directly from the cup after brewing, these valuable leaves can also be used in culinary dishes. One way we preserve these leaves after we brew them is to pickle them.

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How Does Weather Change Tea Flavor?

How Does Weather Change Tea Flavor?

One of the things we love about working with traditional tea farms is that the growers we work with are primarily concerned with how the tea tastes, rather than how much they can produce. With this focus on quality over quantity, we are free to appreciate the ways in which even subtle differences in growing conditions can dramatically change the final flavor in our cup. By tasting several lots of tea from the same farm or season, it is easier to isolate specific variables like changes in weather patterns between different farms or years, or even between specific weeks during the harvest season.

Differences in weather between seasons are one of the most important factors in the overall grade of the finished tea, and often correlate to levels of bitterness or astringency as the plant grows more mature leaves throughout the annual growth process. Differences in regional weather patterns, along with local flavor preferences and crafting styles, define ideal harvest dates for each type of traditional tea. And variations in weather patterns, whether from year to year or week to week, keep growers, crafters and tasters on their toes, ensuring that no two harvests taste exactly the same.

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How To Pair Snacks for Tea Tasting

How To Pair Snacks for Tea Tasting

For most Chinese tea drinkers, tea is an all-day affair, served alongside meals, but also between them. In the more ceremonial customs of Japan, or even the ritual of afternoon tea developed in England, strong teas are paired with small snacks, which serve to complement flavor while mitigating bitterness and astringency.

Today, with the plethora of teas that are available to taste, those who love tea may find themselves undertaking marathon tasting sessions, which practically require a snack of some sort, if only to calm the effects of excess caffeine. But pairing snacks can go beyond necessity and truly enhance the tasting experience, given a little bit of consideration. Here are a few things to keep in mind when selecting snacks to accompany any tea tasting.

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How to Use a Yixing Teapot

How to Use a Yixing Teapot

Unglazed teapots made with clay from Yixing are an iconic part of Chinese tea culture, and have proven their value as tea tools ever since their introduction in the Ming Dynasty. Because they are finished without an outer coat of glassy glaze, the exposed clay remains somewhat porous, and over time it begins to absorb and enhance the aroma and flavor of the tea brewed in it. For devoted tea drinkers, Yixing teapots can become a way of life, but even casual connoisseurs can appreciate their aesthetic and practical appeal. Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, follow these simple steps to ensure your Yixing is always ready and waiting to brew a great pot of tea.

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Flavors of Pure Tea: Vegetal Notes

Flavors of Pure Tea: Vegetal Notes

For many black tea devotees in the western world, it can be easy to forget that all tea begins as a leafy green plant. Though processing steps can make those leaves unrecognizable, the original form is recognizable in whole leaf teas, and especially in the vegetable-like, or “vegetal” flavor palate of lightly oxidized teas like greens, whites, and some oolongs. Just like fresh vegetables, the flavor notes found within these teas can be pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the terroir, harvest date, crafting style, and ultimately, how the tea is brewed, or “cooked” in hot water.

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