Allow me to hazard a guess as to how you found us: were you investigating how much healthier tea is for you than coffee? Or perhaps you were wondering what makes tea green, or black, or oolong? Or where it comes from perhaps, or how it is made?
You are not alone. Although tea is the most popular drink worldwide after water, there are many conflicting and confusing things said about tea, especially in the United States (where 83% of adults drink coffee!) It’s very common for many people, especially those who want to lay off the coffee and try something a bit gentler in caffeine to ask--which tea is the best for your health? How many kinds are there? What makes a green tea different from a black tea? Most tea I’ve had is bitter--is there a kind of tea that I’d like to drink?
We at Red Blossom are happy to say that yes, there is a tea out there for you, and we can tell you all about it. We are a family business that has been directly connected to the best sources of tea for over 30 years, making us uniquely qualified to give you the best knowledge and insights on tea. In fact, nothing would make us happier than sharing that knowledge with you.
Our Tradition Of Quality
For 30 years, we have been learning about teas from small scale growers that maintain traditional methods passed down through generations. The history of tea spans thousands of years, as long as the history of China itself. Tea history and tea culture are firmly tied to the land and to the farmers--many of the farms we work with have produced teas for generations, passing down the most true and tested farming and crafting methods.
These family farms and tea crafters are the source of the most traditional tea knowledge available, so it was that over 30 years ago that Mr. Luong & Mrs. Luong--the first generation tea buyers and original owners of Red Blossom--sought them out.
“Today, we still source from a lot of the farms my dad started out with 30 years ago because our philosophy has not changed since then,” says Alice Luong, current owner of Red Blossom. “We also reach out to newer or younger farms too, since some older farms don’t have anyone to take over the business after the old generation retires. But old or young, no one cares more about their work than these farmers do. You take the most pride in what you do yourself, and tea farmers are exactly like that--they care more about the quality of the tea they grow than what they can sell it for, because that’s their time and care they put into their work.”
Farmers and crafters are also the first to tell us when Chinese tea trends are changing. In our rapidly changing world, the climate and the land do not behave as they used to thousands of years ago, and no one can tell us more accurately about current and future tea harvests than the farmers who have worked the land for decades.
In addition to their understanding of the land, the crafting and growing techniques practiced by these growers are extremely labor-intensive and require years of training, making their expertise all the more invaluable in a world of mechanized methods of farming and harvesting. At Red Blossom, we value the skill, labor, and knowledge of the farmers and crafters we work with, and take pride in being able to share that knowledge with you.
Our Dedication to Taste
We have a personal tradition of bring tea knowledge and culture to others for over 30 years. Red Blossom was once known as Yao Hing, a neighborhood apothecary in the heart of Chinatown owned by Mr. and Mrs. Luong. Both herbalists with a refined taste for traditional teas, the couple were unsatisfied by the quality of teas and herbs being imported at the time through other companies, so they decided to do the job themselves.
“My dad used to cook for his staff, because he appreciated good food and sharing it with others,” Alice says. “People think that in the heart of Chinatown we’re surrounded by the best food, but in our minds the best food is always what we make at home, because we’re very selective of the ingredients and that’s what we make as a family. My dad valued having the best option for what to eat and cook and share with his family, and the same applied for tea. He always sourced everything directly because he was never content with letting someone else do it.”
The husband & wife team traveled to the best farms in China and began selling their teas to the Chinatown locals, establishing a direct to farm sourcing practice we carry on to this day. Soon the demand for tea overtook the demand for herbal medicine, and by the time the shop was renovated in 2005, they had expanded from a handful of teas to nearly 80 or more different types of teas, all directly from China and Taiwan and many from some of the original farms with whom the Luongs first started doing business.
“Though our philosophy is the same, because we’re working with the best growers and crafters we’re also constantly learning and improving our understanding of tea,” Alice says. “Each year I go to these farms and catch up with the farmers and their families, I learn something new about tea. Good tea isn’t a recipe, where you do the same thing over and over and get the same results. The old traditions and methods still have to adapt year to year, if there is more rain or a drought that changes the way the tea tastes. Every year that I go, I come back with new information to share!”
Our Connection to You
We love to talk about tea - nothing excites us more than the opportunity to share our knowledge and our passion with you.
Do you have questions about tea? Are you interested in trying an oolong tea, but don’t know where to start? Have you ever asked yourself which tea is healthier for you, or what on earth “Pu-erh” means? Then pull up a chair and join us, because we’re delighted to tell you everything we know.
The passion that has fueled Red Blossom for decades has always been the chance to connect the artistry of tea--from its remote origins and ancient history--to our community, and now, to you. Please leave a comment, and let us know what tea questions we can answer for you!
There is nothing more satisfying for us than connecting someone with a tea they’ve never experienced before, and watching their eyes light up at the first sip. Consider yourself always welcome to our table.
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