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Red Blossom Blog

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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Flavors of Pure Tea: Sweetness Without Sugar

Flavors of Pure Tea: Sweetness Without Sugar

Though it is common for most tea drinkers to add sweeteners to their tea, we delight in finding teas that don’t need anything extra to satisfy our sweet tooth. Describing these teas is difficult, however, because of the prevalence of teas which are crafted with artificial flavorings or sweeteners. A tea described with flavor notes such as “creamy”, “honey” or “molasses” is often assumed to have some additive included, but in fact, these flavor notes occur naturally in many teas. Today we’ll explore how these naturally sweet characteristics are derived through traditional harvest dates, natural growing methods, and careful crafting styles.

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4 Whole Leaf Teas to Try Instead of Matcha

4 Whole Leaf Teas to Try Instead of Matcha

The powdered Japanese green tea called matcha has taken the world by storm, with green-tinged baked goods and claims of health benefits thrusting it into the public consciousness all over the world. However, high quality matcha teas are difficult to find internationally, as they use only the best leaves, are labor intensive to grow and craft, and are typically reserved in Japan for ceremonial uses. More common “cooking-grade” matcha is easier to find, but rarely tastes good without sweeteners, since it is intended to be used among other flavors in culinary dishes.

The inherent rarity of high quality matcha means prices are usually high, and while the suspension of powdered leaves delivers all the caffeine and health benefits of the tea in one concentrated shot, it also means a fresh serving of dry leaf is required for each new cup. In addition, matcha teas go stale quickly and must be consumed while fresh, given the large amount of surface area exposed when the leaves are ground to a fine powder. By contrast, whole leaf teas that are properly dried and finished can last at least a year before going stale, and deliver flavor through at least three infusions of the same leaves.

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What is GABA Tea?

What is GABA Tea?

Among the endless varieties of tea, most common names have poetic origins based on the appearance, fragrance, or traditional provenance of the tea style. GABA is a tea name that stands out as a modern, scientific acronym, lending gravitas to claims of extra health benefits. But what is it that makes this type of tea special?

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Flavors of Pure Tea: Natural Floral Fragrances

Flavors of Pure Tea: Natural Floral Fragrances

Teas with floral flavors are some of the most popular on the market, and  dried flowers are often characterized as tea despite having no relation to the traditional Camellia sinensis tea plant. So it is easy to understand that teas described as “floral” bring to mind flowery tisanes or teas blended with dried blossoms, but many unblended teas have natural floral nuances with more depth than any blend can offer.

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Flavors of Pure Tea: Vegetal Notes

Flavors of Pure Tea: Vegetal Notes

For many black tea devotees in the western world, it can be easy to forget that all tea begins as a leafy green plant. Though processing steps can make those leaves unrecognizable, the original form is recognizable in whole leaf teas, and especially in the vegetable-like, or “vegetal” flavor palate of lightly oxidized teas like greens, whites, and some oolongs. Just like fresh vegetables, the flavor notes found within these teas can be pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the terroir, harvest date, crafting style, and ultimately, how the tea is brewed, or “cooked” in hot water.

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Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Oolong teas compose one of the most varied categories of tea because they cover the entire range of oxidation levels between green and black tea. Newcomers to this category might be surprised to find that two teas called “oolong” could be completely different in aroma, flavor, and even leaf shape. In fact, there are four main types of oolong, hailing from four geographically isolated regions near the eastern coast of China. Each region has its own unique terroir and specialized varieties of Camellia sinensis, but the easiest influence to observe in the final flavors of the tea is each region’s specific crafting style. And one aspect of the finished tea that gives us a clue to crafting style is leaf shape.

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Flavors of Pure Tea: Notes of Fruit

Flavors of Pure Tea: Notes of Fruit

Since the early days of exported teas, fruit flavors imparted by blending or scenting have been a popular way to make low quality tea more palatable. Today, when we think of fruity teas, the flavor that comes to mind is intensely aromatic, often cloying, and framed against a backdrop of astringency and bitterness. Though chunks of dried fruit can give the impression of natural flavor, the taste of the brew disappears quickly, and somehow the aroma doesn’t quite seem to translate on the tongue.

On the other hand, teas that have a naturally fruity flavor profile will rarely smell overwhelming, or have the fragrance of a specific fruit, especially in dry form. Instead, the term “fruity” describes a nuanced aspect of the pure tea flavor. Traditional tea crafting can produce a range of flavors in the fruity flavor spectrum, from the rich sweetness of apricots to the crisp bite of citrus and the juicy texture of mango. Today, we’ll break down a few of the most popular flavor notes used to describe natural fruity nuances, and cover the traditional tea types that typically contain them.

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What is a Tea Cultivar?

What is a Tea Cultivar?

Among the many factors that go into creating a particular tea, one of the most important is the variety of the tea plant being used. Just as a Granny Smith apple is quite different from a Fuji apple, different varieties of the Camellia sinensis plant can vary in leaf size, shape, and chemical composition, which affects which environments it grows well in, how the leaves are crafted into finished tea, and ultimately how the finished tea tastes. Unlike most other plants, however, varieties of the tea plant are often called ‘cultivars’. Today, we’ll break down what makes a cultivar distinct from a variety, and how they impact tea flavor.

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