We hope you’re well and enjoying the transition from spring to summer. May was a fairly busy month for us as we celebrated International Tea Day, watching several tea-related educational forums and seminars that streamed on May 21st and available since. We also spent time tasting a couple dozen teas from new-to-us farms as well as received our first supply of two new teas that we’ll introduce to you down below. Warm up your taste buds, we’ve got some delicious teas ready to satisfy!
Before introducing the new teas, here are a couple of tea-related educational programs to consider watching as time allows:
Around the World in 80 Teas – This multi-video series produced by the United Kingdom Tea & Infusions Association features conversations about specific teas and growing regions featuring numerous guest tea makers and industry experts. “Subscribe” to their channel to see new videos as they’re produced.
2021 Sofa Summit – Hosted by the Tea & Herbal Association of Canada, this is an 11 hour presentation of interviews with tea growers and makers from around the world. A schedule of speakers is available on the main page.
Enshi Yu Lu “Jade Dewdrops”
Rich in tradition and taste, our organically grown Enshi Yu Lu is truly unique in the realm of Chinese teas. The name roughly translates to mean Dewdrops of Enshi. It is often referred to as Jade Dew given the delicate jade appearance of the finished liquor. This spring harvested green tea is grown in the mountainous tropical climate of the Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture located in Southwest Hubei Province. The area is humid and foggy and enjoys moderate temperatures throughout the year. The soil is notably rich with the essential mineral Selenium - a powerful antioxidant.
Steeping our new "Jade Dewdrops" green tea
Enshi Yu Lu tea dates back hundreds of years and is commonly viewed as the only Chinese tea still made using steam heat to de-enzyme the freshly harvested leaf. Using steam for this purpose was common practice in the tea-making process up through the Tang Dynasty (618-907). In fact, it was during this period that the steaming technique was introduced to tea makers in Japan where it remains the most common technique used in Japan today. However, in China, steaming was nearly fully replaced with pan-firing or baking techniques many years ago making this particular steamed tea truly unique amongst Chinese teas made today.
The dried leaf shape is somewhat akin to a pine needle. Once immersed in a hot water bath, the leaves gracefully unfurl to reveal the visual characteristic of freshly plucked young tea leaves.
The taste is complex with vegetal notes, light umami and a distinct sweetness. It is slightly less "grassy" than many Japanese steamed green teas, though the Yu Lu does reveal subtle similarities. The mouthfeel or body of the brewed tea is silky yet fairly thick. The aftertaste is simply delightful with a lingering sweetness leaving you yearning for yet another cup.
For now, this particular tea is being offered on a limited basis. Of course, we want to hear from you once you’ve had a chance to enjoy a cup for yourself as your feedback is helpful to our pursuit of future teas. Check out: Jade Dewdrops
Four Seasons Oolong
Grown at the border of the Guangxi and Yunnan Provinces near Vietnam, we introduce a high mountain greener style organic oolong: Four Seasons. The region is known for its wild and sometimes strange looking topography including its many rivers, caves and towering karst formations – a landscape of large formations shaped by the erosion of limestone and other soluble rock types.
Four Seasons Oolong
This oolong tea is made using the Ruan Zhi cultivar of the Camelia Sinensis (tea plant) grown at an altitude of nearly 6000 feet. Given the high elevation, the bud and first two full leaves are plucked in May – a few weeks later than lower elevation teas. The harvested tea leaves are oxidized to a point of about 40%.
The steeped leaf slowly unfurls over sequential steeps to reveal a transparent, lightly golden liquor. This tea presents notes of orchid and lilac with subtle mineral notes. It is medium bodied on the palate and leaves a soft and lingering aromatic finish. While this tea will pair well with lighter fares and desserts, it is rather delightful on its own or enjoyed with a simple slice of light melon or pear. Check out: Four Seasons Oolong
Expert Steeping Tip
When steeping tightly wound leaves such as our Four Seasons, Ti Kwan Yin (Iron Goddess) or others of similar style, initial infusions will be soft and light. Let’s call the first steep or two the "wake up" infusions as the leaf just starts to rehydrate and unfurl. It will take a couple of infusions to more fully reveal the array of flavors contained within the leaf. We encourage you to start small, steeping only the amount needed for one small serving. Then, enjoy successive infusions of the leaf to find the perfect cup for you, noting the changes in flavor over the repeated steeps.
Keeping Up with a Good Thing: Summertime Is For Tea!
If the warmer weather has you craving something iced, refreshing and healthful, remember to check out our Brewing Tips for different ways to enjoy your favorite tea iced. And, in case you're looking for recommendations for your next iced tea, here are some of our most popular options:
Afternoon Soiree - cool, minty sweet with a hint of citrus and oh so refreshing!
Aphroditea - full of complex flavors that combine into a rich, full-bodied iced tea with hint of crisp and delightful spice.
Jasmine Blue - a popular choice for iced tea featuring the taste of summer blueberries and green tea.
Mo' Rockin' Mint - full of refreshing minty goodness with just a hint of caffeine.
Pacemaker - a bold pick-me-up refresher with hints of sweet vanilla and a gentle spice making it super invigorating and delicious.
Vietnam - a robust black tea to enjoy with lemon, honey or by itself!
Thanks for reading along. We wish you a splendid summer season ahead!
Raising a glass to summer,
Your friends at Modern Steep