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Red Blossom Blog

Tasting Notes: Why Do Some Pu-erh Teas Taste Fishy?

Tasting Notes: Why Do Some Pu-erh Teas Taste Fishy?

The unusual category of pu-erh tea can be a divisive topic. Though loved and lauded by many die-hard connoisseurs, the unique flavor profile produced by microbial fermentation is unlike any other tea, and can be off-putting to new drinkers. Fans savor the bold, earthy flavors this style is known for, and appreciate the notes of peat, loam, and petrichor that make pu-erh teas so distinctive. But with popularity increasing worldwide for this tea from remote Yunnan Province, the market’s demand for inexpensive pu-erh tea has led to many examples that fall short of quality flavor.

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8 Tips for Brewing Multiple Infusions

8 Tips for Brewing Multiple Infusions

For those new to the world of whole leaf, natural teas, the concept of re-steeping a single serving of tea leaves is often surprising. Unlike the powdered leaf pieces found in most tea bags, or even the finely ground beans use to make coffee, whole tea leaves offer less exposed surface area. The result is a slow unfurling of flavor, rather than immediate extraction, and the potential for several cups of flavorful tea from a single scoop of whole leaves.

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How Oxidation Changes Tea Flavor

How Oxidation Changes Tea Flavor

Clearly, this all-important stage of processing must have some major impact on flavor. But the influence of oxidation is hard to isolate, since crafting methods are usually specific to each traditional region. If we were to taste the hypothetical teas above, plucked from the same tea bush on the same day but processed in different ways, what range would we find in flavor? What molecular changes take place during oxidation that have such a profound effect on our palate? And what makes some varieties and harvests more suited for oxidation than others?

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Which Teas Are Most Popular In China and Taiwan?

Which Teas Are Most Popular In China and Taiwan?

We are often asked to recommend the tea styles that are most popular in their country of origin. Thanks to the vast range of tea styles produced in China and Taiwan, each region has its own specialty, and local loyalties are fierce. If you’re looking for a gift or wondering what to buy while in China, check out this list for the best teas of each region.

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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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Tasting Notes: Bitterness vs. Astringency

Tasting Notes: Bitterness vs. Astringency

Tea and wine have a lot in common. High quality examples of both are recognized by varieties, or environmentally specialized sub-categories of a single plant species. Both depend on factors of terroir, including soil quality and climate, to develop ideal flavor profiles. And both require skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail in order to meet the high standards of connoisseurs.

Find out more about our standards for judging high quality tea >>

Though the resulting products are very different, there are also parallels between flavor quality, and the way that the final cup is judged. While each presents a huge range of flavor profiles, bitterness and astringency are often cited in tasting notes for both, carrying inherent subtext about the overall quality of the final product.

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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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How Tea Grows: Anatomy of a Tea Plant

How Tea Grows: Anatomy of a Tea Plant

With the wide variety of tea styles produced worldwide, it can be hard to believe that all types of tea, excluding herbal tisanes, are made from the same species. Flavors and even the physical attributes of the finished leaves can vary drastically from tea to tea, giving the impression that green teas are in some way fundamentally different from black teas.

But in fact, all teas come from the same Camellia sinensis plant. Thousands of years of cultivation have teased myriad colors, textures, and flavors out of this single species, which now distinguish the huge variety of teas we know and love.

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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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