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Red Blossom Blog

Understanding Tea Identity: 5 Teas Defined by Variety

Understanding Tea Identity: 5 Teas Defined by Variety

Teas are often named for the variety of Camellia sinensis they are plucked from. Over the long history of tea cultivation, farmers have developed thousands of distinct varieties in pursuit of specific flavor profiles or adaptations for particular terroir. These cultivated varieties, or ‘cultivars’ form one of the four pillars of any tea’s identity.

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Understanding Tea Identity: 5 Teas Defined by Provenance

Understanding Tea Identity: 5 Teas Defined by Provenance

It can sometimes be difficult to distinguish the effects of provenance, as traditional regions typically use specific varieties and crafting methods, as well. Many famous styles of Chinese tea have a worldwide reputation for the characteristics imparted by these environmental factors, but are now crafted in other regions to match demand from a growing market. Get familiar with the role of provenance in shaping tea flavor by tasting these five teas that just wouldn’t be the same if they were grown anywhere else.

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Types of Pu-erh Tea: Accelerating Natural Fermentation

Types of Pu-erh Tea: Accelerating Natural Fermentation

When talking about pu-erh teas, we often discuss the difference between sheng teas, which ferment naturally during the aging process, and shou teas, which undergo accelerated fermentation to create a final product in much less time. Distinguishing between these two subcategories can make the overwhelming variety of pu-erh much easier to navigate, since the two types of fermentation can create distinct differences in flavor, mouthfeel, and even caffeine content.

Find out more about the difference between sheng and shou pu-erh teas >>

But this dichotomy can also be misleading, because there are many factors that influence the speed of fermentation beyond the conventional shou processing techniques. The natural fermentation that occurs with age can be affected by methods of initial processing as the fresh leaves are made into maocha, and by the climate and environment the tea is stored in during the aging process. Together, these factors create a full spectrum between the traditional opposites of sheng and shou teas.

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What is Hojicha?

What is Hojicha?

Though Japan is primarily known for producing green teas like matcha, there are many Japanese teas that are less commonly exported. The broad category of roasted teas called hojicha is particularly popular in Japan as a pairing for heavier meals, or as an alternative during the winter season when green teas are out of season.

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Understanding Tea Identity: 4 Teas Defined by Harvest Date

Understanding Tea Identity: 4 Teas Defined by Harvest Date

We often discuss the four factors through which each natural tea develops its distinct flavor identity. Variety, harvest date, provenance and craftsmanship all play a role in building the finished characteristics of a tea. However, the weight of these factors in defining quality and flavor can vary from category to category, or even from tea to tea.

To get a clear picture of the impact, it can help to taste a few teas that depend heavily on a single aspect. Today, we’re showcasing the importance of harvest date with four teas that just wouldn’t taste the same if they were harvested at any other time.

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What is Oriental Beauty Tea?

What is Oriental Beauty Tea?

Also known as Dongfang Meiren (“Eastern Beauty”), Bai Hao Oolong (“White Tip Oolong”) and Pengfeng Cha (“Braggart’s Tea”), Oriental Beauty is a unique and famous tea. Traditionally, it is grown in Hsinchu County, in the north of Taiwan. Here, the mountains give way to rolling hills, and the mild climate is ideal for growing tea. It’s probable that immigrants from the Chinese mainland started planting tea bushes here in the Ming Dynasty, and possible that these first bushes included the variety that would become Oriental Beauty.

It was not until 1933 that Oriental Beauty was introduced to the commercial market, after winning accolades in a tea competition. At the time, the Taiwanese government was making an effort to increase the quality of tea for export, and tea competitions were a fantastic way for them to reward farmers for making high quality tea. Buyers of the first batch of Oriental Beauty included the governor's office, and the tea fetched such high prices that the proud farmer’s boasts inspired the name “Braggart’s Tea”.

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Types of Tea: 3 Degrees of Blending

Types of Tea: 3 Degrees of Blending

Though most types of tea are defined by some combination of their variety, harvest date, provenance, and crafting style, there is typically a range of quality within each broadly defined type. In the interest of increasing yields, lower quality teas are grown quickly, in hotter climates or with fertilizers, and thereby sacrifice natural flavor quality. These become the base tea leaves for mass produced blends, a widespread practice which has given the term 'blended' a negative connotation among serious tea drinkers.

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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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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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5 Festive Teas to Pair with Holiday Dinners

5 Festive Teas to Pair with Holiday Dinners

For most of us, holiday festivities are all about the food, but those who love tea know that the right brew can enhance any flavor experience. Whether you need a dose of caffeine to power a long day of cooking, want to find the right pairing for rich flavors, or need something to help digest all those delicious delicacies, these five teas have you covered.

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