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Red Blossom Blog

Types of Black Tea: Terroir in China

Types of Black Tea: Terroir in China

As drinkers of wine and coffee may already know, the terroir (or provenance) of any given crop has a major impact on flavor. Borrowed from the world of wine, terroir is a French word, which primarily describes the environmental factors of a region. The components of the soil, the altitude, temperature, and levels of precipitation in the growing region can all influence the flavor of the finished product, whether that is wine grapes, coffee beans, or tea leaves.

Terroir also encompasses regionally-specific growing methods, such as traditional harvest dates or standards of plucking and pruning. In the context of black tea, which is now grown on almost every continent, these variables cover considerable range, and produce a huge variety of unique styles. While worldwide production falls outside the scope of our expertise here at Red Blossom, China’s vast borders include several distinct regions that produce unique black tea styles, and offer a snapshot of the ways in which terroir can influence black tea flavor.

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How To Upgrade Your Breakfast Tea Without Milk

How To Upgrade Your Breakfast Tea Without Milk

The British and American concept of ‘Breakfast Tea’ is said to stem originally from a marketing strategy: advertising a new blend of black teas designed as an alternative to established "afternoon" tea brands. Practically, of course, there was little difference between the two styles, but Breakfast Tea has nevertheless become one of the most familiar types of black tea in the west, and is now drunk at all times of the day, all over the world.

But Breakfast Teas are also a product of industrialization: a mix of black tea leaves from colonial-style plantations, carefully blended for consistent flavor and shipped in masse to a grocery store near you. As with other mass produced teas, they often fail to deliver on flavor, and instead offer potent bitterness with a side of astringency. These shortcomings are typically remedied with milk, sugar, spices, or even artificial flavorings. Is there a better option?

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Sheng vs. Shou: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Sheng vs. Shou: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Though it has a devoted following, pu-erh tea can seem like a daunting category to explore. The bold, earthy flavors of these aged and fermented teas are often an acquired taste, and poor quality examples can have fishy or musty flavors that are particularly off-putting. But pu-erh teas can also be delightfully rich, crisp, fruity, and even sweet. If you’re shopping for these unique teas, understanding the difference between these two basic types of pu-erh can help you know what to expect.

Not sure if pu-erh is for you? Here are six reasons to love these teas >>

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How Is Tea Good For Your Health?

How Is Tea Good For Your Health?

Tea has a well established reputation as a healthy beverage. Thanks to modern marketing, in fact, almost any discussion of tea includes some mention of health benefits. The humble Camellia sinensis tea plant is often presented as downright miraculous, with claims that it will clear skin, halt cancer, or melt body fat. For the most part, these claims aren’t true.

But tea is good for your health, especially when it is fresh and naturally grown. In this article, we’ll cover the reasons tea has historically been adopted as part of a healthy lifestyle, and how to see through the miraculous marketing in order to choose healthy teas today.

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What is Assam Tea?

What is Assam Tea?

If you’ve ever sipped an English black tea, the chances are good that it was made with Assam leaves. As the base for most English Breakfast blends, Assam is one of the best known types of tea in the western world. As with most teas, the name “Assam” carries connotations about where the tea is grown, what variety of the plant is used to make it, and even how it is crafted. But given the proliferation of blends and flavored teas that use these leaves as a base, the definition can get muddled. So, what exactly is Assam tea?

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Song Dynasty Celadon: The Five Great Kilns

Song Dynasty Celadon: The Five Great Kilns

China has a long history of ceramic artistry. In the Song Dynasty, around the same time that Chinese literati were developing tea culture into an art form, potters across China were creating the first true celadon glazes, colored with iron oxides and fired at high temperatures. The aesthetics of these early potters would become legendary, retaining popularity even into the modern day. Later writers in the Ming and Qing dynasty identified Five Great Kilns of the Song Dynasty, memorializing these styles and securing their legacy. Ever since, these distinct celadon glazes have been coveted and imitated, forming the inspiration for potters throughout history, in China and across the world.

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Tea and Books: The Greatest Chinese Novel You've Never Heard Of

Tea and Books: The Greatest Chinese Novel You've Never Heard Of

Traditional Chinese culture has an interesting history with the form of the novel. Translated from Chinese, the word means “small words” or “small talk”, indicating that novels were inferior forms of literature compared to poetry, history, or calligraphy. It was assumed that only people of low taste read or wrote them.

It wasn’t just that novels were considered vulgar and shallow, it was also believed that reading novels was reckless - and possibly lethal.

The act of reading fiction was frivolous and damaging to the mind, as the mind would mistake fiction for reality. Young women were at risk of wasting away to nothing after reading novels, as they would be unable to separate the tragedy of the fiction from real life, and die of sadness. As a result, counter-culture formed around the printing and distribution of novels, and the government officially banned certain novels from the public.

During this time, The Story of the Stone (more commonly translated as Dream of the Red Chamber), was written and published, although no one can say exactly when. Since then, the book has become incredibly influential to mainstream Chinese culture. In fact, there are so many layers of meaning within the text, and so many mysteries surrounding its creation and publication, that there is an entire branch of academic study called Redology devoted to studying the The Story of the Stone in every aspect.

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A Brief History of Taiwanese Teas

A Brief History of Taiwanese Teas

Today, the tiny island of Taiwan is known around the world for its teas. Rolled oolongs grown at high elevations have inspired myriad copycats, Taiwanese black teas are rapidly gaining popularity, and the domestic tea culture has exploded. But in the vast historical context of Chinese tea, Taiwan is a relative newcomer. How has this island gone from provincial backwater to a leader of the global tea industry?

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