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Red Blossom Blog

Defining High Quality: What Makes a Good Tea?

Defining High Quality: What Makes a Good Tea?

With thousands of years of history spanning the entire globe, it’s safe to say that standards for high quality tea are not always consistent. Tastes have changed over time, as tea has gone from an herbal medicine to an imperial tribute to a global commodity. Tastes also vary from region to region, especially when those areas are isolated from each other - tea preferences in Japan and India have both diverged drastically from developments in China over time.

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3 Easy Steps to Start Drinking Tea Without Sugar

3 Easy Steps to Start Drinking Tea Without Sugar

Cutting sugar from everyday beverages like tea can have a host of benefits, but what if your favorite brew just doesn’t taste right without it? Luckily, skipping sweeteners doesn’t need to be a sacrifice. We’ve got three simple steps to make sure every cup tastes great, without any added sugars.

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5 Reasons to Drink Tea Without Sugar

5 Reasons to Drink Tea Without Sugar

We understand the urge to drop a teaspoon or two of sugar into your breakfast blend. Not all teas can live up to the lofty flavor ideals of traditional tea crafters, and modern palates are trained to expect sweetness. Nevertheless, we think tea deserves a chance to be appreciated without sugar, and today we’ve got five good reasons to give it a try.

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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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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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Flavors of Pure Tea: Rich Textures

Flavors of Pure Tea: Rich Textures

One of the most difficult aspects of flavor to put into words is texture, or mouth feel. Though it is theoretically simple to describe the way a tea feels in the mouth, direct comparisons to other foods are often tied up in flavor. It can be hard to pin down the definition of a word like ‘rich’ without conjuring specific tastes like those of cream or dark chocolate. Yet words like this are truly attempting to convey texture, rather than flavor. The creamy sweetness of milk might be present in a ‘Milk Oolong’, but the dominant flavor profile is usually more floral in character.

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What is Competition Grade Tea?

What is Competition Grade Tea?

Many teas across all categories are marketed with the phrase “Competition Grade”, a moniker meant to indicate exceptional quality. In a post-imperial age, tea competitions are thought to be the ultimate authority on quality. But as with so many other naming conventions, the regulations surrounding this terminology are lax. While Competition Grade tea may indeed be high quality, the name is no guarantee. In fact, the concept of a competition inherently implies at least two distinct grades.

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What is Ginseng Tea?

What is Ginseng Tea?

Ginseng roots are not related to the tea plant, but have an equally long history in association with traditional herbal medicine. Across Asia, but especially in Korea and China, ginseng root has historically been a panacea for almost any ill. While some modern scientific research supports myriad benefits can be derived from taking ginseng, high prices and a naturally bitter flavor makes it a popular target for imitations and false claims.

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Types of Green Tea: The Importance of Harvest Date

Types of Green Tea: The Importance of Harvest Date

Green tea is among the most popular style worldwide, but the huge variety in green teas can be overwhelming. Though the crafting steps of green tea are typically minimal, and the style is narrowly defined by the lack of oxidation, the range in green tea flavor can be enormous, even before considering scented and flavored varieties. To narrow down the options to more a more specific selection of flavor profiles, we recommend asking about harvest date.

Harvest date is the primary criteria for grading traditional Chinese green teas, with the first leaves picked during the year fetching the highest prices. But the most expensive tea is not always best for every palate, and exceptions exist to every rule. So how exactly does harvest date contribute to quality? And what factors can change the impact of traditional harvest dates?

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How Artisans Use Machines To Craft The Best Teas

How Artisans Use Machines To Craft The Best Teas

We love traditional teas, and we believe that expertise passed down through generations of tea farmers and crafters is key to maximizing quality. But we also know the value of innovation. Many of our favorite teas are produced in new and unique ways, whether it’s the experimental oxidation level of our Xin Gong Yi white tea or the blend of varieties in our Three Cultivar Red black tea. And in this modern age, most of our best teas are crafted with the help of machinery, which helps automate crafting processes long done by hand.

It may not fit the romantic image presented to tourists or pictured in documentaries, but the advantages of using machines in the crafting process are hard to deny, especially as premium tea farms face labor shortages and volatile weather conditions. While teas harvested or crafted by machine are sometimes derided by purists, artisans making every style of tea now use machinery specifically developed to mimic the traditional methods of crafting that have been passed down to them. Rather than compromising the quality of the tea, these machines help maintain quality, consistency, and cleanliness during the production process.

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