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Red Blossom Blog

Teaware Pairing: The Perfect Pot for Every Tea

Teaware Pairing: The Perfect Pot for Every Tea

With so many different tea styles and culturally distinct brewing customs from around the world, it can be difficult to know what equipment is best suited for making your favorite teas. In truth, most pots are capable of brewing almost any tea. But just as geographic isolation has led to the development of many different tea styles, it has also created parallel developments in teaware. Many teas are complemented by the teaware from nearby regions, where local tastes have refined teaware designs to best suit their most common teas.

Now that modern globalization has made these local specialties available around the world, the connections between tea and teaware are more obscure. Most important distinctions between brewing vessels can be boiled down to the size, material, and strainer type. With these factors in mind, here are our top teaware recommendations for each category of tea.

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Types of Green Tea: Chinese vs. Japanese Crafting Styles

Types of Green Tea: Chinese vs. Japanese Crafting Styles

In the modern age, green tea has become one of the most popular styles of tea around the globe, thanks to modern shipping technology and heavily marketed health benefits. But among the common bottled, bagged, and flavored blends, it can be hard to discern the huge variety of natural flavors that result from terroir and crafting techniques. Though there are literally thousands of unique varieties and styles, one easy distinction to make when shopping for loose leaf green tea is between Chinese and Japanese styles.

Despite the fact that both tea traditions stem from the same early Chinese techniques of steaming and compressing green tea leaves, the two styles have diverged dramatically during the intervening millennia. Today, green teas from these two countries contrast in almost every way; from the growing process, to the methods used for crafting, all the way down to the way they’re brewed and served.

Green tea leaves should always look fresh and green, rather than yellow or brown

Chinese Green Teas

After many centuries of steaming and compressing green tea leaves into cakes, loose leaf tea styles were declared the new Imperial standard in the Ming Dynasty. Rather than steaming the leaves, green tea makers developed new methods of firing tea leaves in a dry wok, which helped remove moisture while keeping each leaf distinct.

Over time, each region in China developed unique methods of frying and shaping their tea leaves, ranging from flattened Dragonwell buds to twisted Pi Lo Chun leaves or the trimmed and carefully shaped leaves of Liu An Gua Pian. These new crafting techniques resulted in new flavor profiles that are enjoyed to this day. Modern Chinese green teas typically feature a bright, crisp topnote followed by a rich, often nutty finish.

Chinese green teas rely on terroir and crafting techniques to produce delicate but complex flavors.

The best examples of Chinese green teas rely on terroir to impart extra depth of flavor through soil quality and environmental factors (like high elevations) that slow the growth process. They’re picked as early as possible in the spring to ensure maximum natural sweetness, and processed by master craftsmen who use intuition and experience to draw forth the best flavor from every harvest. Usually, high quality green teas grown in China brew with very little color and a delicate flavor that can require some focus to appreciate, but will never become bitter or astringent.

Japanese Green Teas

During the Ming Dynasty in China, Japan’s Tokugawa shogunate was busy isolating itself from as much outside influence as possible. Rather than adopting the new crafting styles from China, Japan began to refine the traditional steaming techniques to their own tastes. Compressed cakes, which had once been broken and ground to a powder for steeping, inspired the development of powdered matcha and the highly structured Japanese Tea Ceremony.

Japanese green teas are typically darker green in color thanks to growing techniques that increase chlorophyll

Lesser teas, made for everyday drinking rather than ceremonial sipping, evolved into the looseleaf forms we know today, like gyokuro and sencha. With less land area and more communication between regions, styles became more standardized than in expansive China, and rapid industrialization in the 20th century saw the development of more efficient machine processes to replace expensive labor by hand. With less room for selecting the most prestigious terroir, Japanese tea farmers developed methods like soil enrichment to improve flavor concentration in the growing plant.

The best Japanese green teas use techniques like artificial shading to reduce sun exposure and increase the quantity of chlorophyll in the finished leaf. Methods like this, along with the steam processing believed to “seal in” flavor during crafting, results in a dark green color in both the finished leaves and the brewed liquor, as well as a rich, umami brothiness to the flavor. Leaves are often picked later in the spring than the best Chinese green teas, which also adds to the bold flavor of the brew. Most Japanese green teas must be brewed with care, as they can be very intense in flavor.

Japanese green teas often pair well with food thanks to their intense flavors

Released to public domain by owner. via Unsplash.

We find that Japanese green teas often pair exceptionally well with snacks or a meal, while more delicate Chinese green teas can be best appreciated on their own, without upsetting an empty stomach with strong flavors or acidity. Good quality versions of each will be made up of whole, young leaves, and will offer similar health benefits when grown using natural methods. Of course, your preference will ultimately depend on your palate, but knowing where your favorite teas come from can help you find more similar styles in the future!

Do you prefer Chinese green teas or Japanese green teas? Tell us why in the comments below!


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Why Are Bug Bitten Teas Naturally Sweet?

Why Are Bug Bitten Teas Naturally Sweet?

Though Chinese tea has a history that spans thousands of years, tea farmers and crafters continually come up with techniques for making new and interesting teas. In the early 20th century, one farmer in Taiwan experimented with using leaves that showed damage from bug bites, and created the first Eastern Beauty tea. The commercial success of this risky experiment proved there was something special about this novel processing choice, but it was only recently that modern science has shed some light on the reasons behind the unique flavor.

Today, bug bitten leaves are used to make many different kinds of tea, in what seems like a wider variety every year. While some famous styles use bug bitten leaves by definition, others use the phrase mi xiang to denote a bug bitten version. This title translates directly to “honey fragrance”, and describes the naturally sweet characteristics of many bug bitten teas. As strange as it may sound, the attacking insects play a big part in the flavor of the final tea.

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Types of Flavored Tea: 3 Ways of Adding Flavors

Types of Flavored Tea: 3 Ways of Adding Flavors

Across the world, flavored teas are some of the most popular. Famous styles like Jasmine GreenMasala Chai, and Earl Grey are all made with a base of Camellia sinensis tea leaves and added flavor. Despite the occasional snobbery of purists, flavored styles come in a wide range of quality, from mass produced tea bags at the grocery store to whole leaves flavored with organic ingredients. To check the quality of flavored teas, it is important to ask how the extra flavors were added.

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Cakes vs. Loose Leaf: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Cakes vs. Loose Leaf: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Shopping for pu-erh can be confusing. With the added variables of age and fermentation, pu-erh is one of the most diverse categories of tea, and the growing popularity of the style only makes it easier to find bad examples. Since shopping for pu-erh can feel like a guessing game, it’s tempting to look for signs of quality in simple visual distinctions, like whether the tea is pressed into a cake or left in loose form. So what can we really tell about the tea from the way it is packaged?

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Where Does the Best White Tea Come From?

Where Does the Best White Tea Come From?

White teas have only gotten more and more popular with each year we’ve been in the tea business. Amid western marketing that promotes a wide range of health benefits and the modern affluence of Chinese connoisseurs, the demand for traditional white tea has skyrocketed, and continues to increase with each new harvest. As with most “famous” teas, this demand long ago outpaced the supply from the traditional farms that earned the famed reputation in the first place. Today, many white teas are grown outside the traditional region of Fuding County, Fujian, but purists consider these to be imitations, even if they're made with traditional crafting methods.

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Is Monkey Picked Tea Really Picked By Monkeys?

Is Monkey Picked Tea Really Picked By Monkeys?

For drinkers of Chinese tea, the label “Monkey Picked” is a familiar one, typically applied to oolong teas made from the Tieguanyin variety in Anxi County, Fujian. Today, with the moniker applied to a vast range of teas within this style, it seems fairly obvious that it has taken on a poetic meaning, meant to imply information about the style and quality of the tea rather than offer factual information about the harvesting process. Certainly, tea farms in Anxi County don’t really depend on teams of monkeys to pluck their valuable leaves...do they?

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Which Green Teas Taste Best?

Which Green Teas Taste Best?

Thanks in part to highly lauded health benefits, the popularity of green tea has exploded worldwide. Backed by promises of weight loss, anti-aging capabilities, and the novelty of a natural bright green color, green tea has become a trending ingredient in everything from cookies and cakes to lattes and protein shakes. But few of these concoctions gives center stage to the green tea itself, instead blending (often powdered) leaves with fillers, sweeteners, or other strong flavors to mask the inherent bitterness of mass-produced teas.

Troubleshoot bitter tea flavors with these brewing tips >>

Unfortunately, the small quantities used for subtle green tea flavor are rarely enough to offer the promised benefits, and the quantity of butter and sugar in a green tea cookie will more than offset the metabolism-boosting effects of the powdered tea that makes it green. To get the most from any green tea, it must be a regular habit, drunk without added flavors or sweeteners. Luckily, this doesn't mean you have to choke down a bitter brew. Find green teas that taste good naturally by asking about these flavor factors:

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