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Red Blossom Blog

What is Earl Grey Tea?

What is Earl Grey Tea?

Earl Grey tea, which originated in Britain in the 1820s, has since become one of the most popular types of tea in the western world. The unique added flavor of bergamot citrus fruit gives Earl Grey tea a distinctive aroma and flavor that was originally intended to give new Indian black teas the same citrus-like qualities found naturally in fine black teas from China.

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Signs of Quality: Bagged Teas vs. Loose Leaves

Signs of Quality: Bagged Teas vs. Loose Leaves

For a large number of tea drinkers in the modern world, tea bags are the norm. In any regions where European influences have shaped the tea culture, bagged teas are readily available in grocery stores and cafes, while loose leaf teas are sold in specialty shops, associated with special brewing rituals, or generally considered “too fancy” for everyday consumption.

In fact, the difference between bagged and loose leaves is only that: packaging. Loose tea leaves are not always of better quality than those found in bags, and bagged teas are not always “easier” to brew. As with any aspect of tea, the manner in which the leaves are packaged is a choice that each tea drinker can make for themselves. In this blog post, we’ll break down what you can (and can’t) tell about a tea’s quality from the way it is packaged.

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What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

As one of the most famously celebrated teas in China, Da Hong Pao (translated as either ‘Big Red Robe’, or more poetically, ‘Grand Scarlet Robe’) is surrounded by myth and legend. While fantastic stories have helped to build this tea’s reputation as a rare and valuable commodity, they say little about the quality of flavor found in any particular leaf. So what makes Da Hong Pao so special, and what does it mean when a product is labeled “Big Red Robe”?

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Types of Pu-erh: Wet vs. Dry Storage

Types of Pu-erh: Wet vs. Dry Storage

Pu-erh can be one of the most complex categories of tea, thanks to the infinite flavor variations that can develop during the process of fermentation and aging. Two pu-erhs identical in provenance, variety, harvest date and craftsmanship can still diverge during the aging process to become utterly unique teas.

Many aspects of the storage environment can ultimately change the character of the final fermented tea, and details of past storage can be obscured over time as these teas move through the market. One of the most important considerations is environmental humidity, which is often summarized in the terms “wet” and “dry”. But as with most simple distinctions, these terms can be misleading.

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What is Dry Brewing?

What is Dry Brewing?

Despite a reputation as a formalized ‘tea ceremony’, there are many variations of the traditional gong fu cha brewing method. Most demonstrations utilize showy displays of rinsing and pouring to create drama, using a large tray to capture excess water during the brewing process. The elaborate setup, however, necessitating several pieces of teaware and a specialized tray, can be a barrier for beginners hoping to brew this way at home.

Find step-by-step instructions for brewing gong fu cha >>

The current trend, however, is a modern interpretation called ‘dry brewing’, which minimizes the amount of spillage as much as possible, and usually replaces the draining tray with a large bowl to collect excess rinse water. At first sight, this method may seem more approachable, but brewing with such precision actually requires more skill and specialized equipment.

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Types of Black Tea: Indian vs. Chinese Traditions

Types of Black Tea: Indian vs. Chinese Traditions

Within the broadly defined category of fully oxidized teas, there are an infinite number of variations. Black teas can vary in flavor based on the specific environmental features of local terroir, the weather and maturity of the plant when it is harvested, and the way in which the leaves are picked and crafted. But the unique history of the tea trade has also shaped the landscape of fully oxidized styles into two distinct families: those from China, and those from India.

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What is a Chinese Tea Ceremony?

What is a Chinese Tea Ceremony?

Among tea enthusiasts, much has been said about the “right” way to brew tea. Beyond the general consideration of leaf quantity, time, and temperature, many people believe the proper methods have been codified in a set of techniques to create a ceremonial presentation of Chinese tea.

However, this idea erroneously conflates common brewing techniques with the highly specific traditions of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and leads to the misconception that brewing tea is somehow very difficult, or must be studied extensively to perform successfully. In fact, the process most people call the Chinese Tea Ceremony is better named as gong fu cha, which translates most directly as “tea with effort”. In contrast to the strict, long-standing traditions of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, the so-called “rules” of gong fu cha are best thought of as guidelines to help achieve the best tasting brew and get the most flavor out of every tea leaf.

Check out our step-by-step guide to brewing gong fu cha >>

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The Truth About Teas for Weight Loss

The Truth About Teas for Weight Loss

Tea has a long history as a touted cure for all sorts of ailments, ever since it’s legendary discovery as an antidote to poisons. So perhaps it’s no surprise that today, tea is often marketed as an antidote to one of our most pervasive modern health issues. Today, we’ll dive into the facts about “weight loss” teas to separate the true benefits of tea from the sales spin.

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Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Oolong teas compose one of the most varied categories of tea because they cover the entire range of oxidation levels between green and black tea. Newcomers to this category might be surprised to find that two teas called “oolong” could be completely different in aroma, flavor, and even leaf shape. In fact, there are four main types of oolong, hailing from four geographically isolated regions near the eastern coast of China. Each region has its own unique terroir and specialized varieties of Camellia sinensis, but the easiest influence to observe in the final flavors of the tea is each region’s specific crafting style. And one aspect of the finished tea that gives us a clue to crafting style is leaf shape.

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Signs of Quality: Whole Leaf vs. Broken Leaf

Signs of Quality: Whole Leaf vs. Broken Leaf

There are only a few rules of quality that apply across all styles of tea, but one piece of advice that is commonly given to new tea drinkers is to look for whole leaves. In fact, we have given this piece of advice many times ourselves. When shopping for loose leaf teas with complex flavor, looking for intact leaves is one of our highest priorities. But some teas, like English Breakfast blends or matcha, are always crushed or powdered, even at the highest grades. What is the real benefit of brewing whole leaf teas, and can there be advantages to using broken leaves, as well?

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