Tea Festival, New Tea & Tea / Wine Parallels Continued

by Christopher

Northwest Tea Festival

The NW Tea Festival kicks off this weekend (9/30 & 10/01) at Seattle Center's Exhibition Hall. Join us and about 40 other tea merchants, educators and more for a wonderful weekend celebrating all things tea.

Our booth will feature lots of specials on everything from tea to tea ware. In addition, we'll have a tasting table set up at which we'll be sampling some of the most exciting recent additions to our tea menu. Stop by for a taste of Kumari GoldKanoka AssamKabuse ChaSen ChaMountain FlowerWhite Prakash (see below). We'll also have samples available of several favorites from our menu of over 100 organic teas.

We can't wait to see you there!

Introducing White Prakash from Nepal

Speaking of the Festival, we will release our newest tea, White Prakash, at the NW Tea Festival this coming weekend. This 2017 spring-picked white tea from Nepal's Himalayan mountain region is an extraordinary example of expert tea making.

This handcrafted organic tea is made using the pristine bud and two youngest leaves of the tea plant. It brews up a golden liquor with silky notes of vanilla, flower blossoms and sweet butter. We are thrilled to introduce this tea at such a wonderful event as the Festival. Stop by for a taste. You won't be disappointed. This tea will be released on our website following the Festival.

Online Store Updates

We're excited to announce the addition of new "sample" sized packs on our website. These $2 flat rate sample packs provide an easy and convenient way to try out new teas. Each pack is filled with enough tea to brew up about three 8-oz servings.

And, for those living in Washington and Oregon, we have introduced $4.99 flat rate shipping for orders under $75, or $6.99 outside of WA and OR.

As always, orders of $75 or more include free shipping.

Tea & Wine Parallels (Part II)

In our last newsletter we started a conversation about some of the major parallels between tea and wine making. We suggested some of the major factors affecting the taste of a finished tea or wine include the cultivars used, the effect of terroir, and post-harvest production methods.

Continuing the conversation from our notes on terroir, lets talk a bit about cultivars (variety) of the Camellia sinensis, or Vitis vinifera in the wine world. In both worlds, there are multitudes of cultivars available to the maker, each having unique strengths and qualities. Some varieties grow better in certain regions than others and each comes with its own nuance where taste is concerned. Different varieties offer contrasting flavors, including varying degrees of sweetness, bitterness, earthiness and so on. Ultimately, the tea (or wine) maker has to approach the choice of cultivar(s) with great intention. 

With the chosen cultivar(s) and the effect of terroir in play, we can draw more parallels in post-harvest production. Post-harvest production techniques can vary from one maker to another and from region to region based on things such as individual preference, culture and/or tradition.

For tea, two major factors determining final style and taste include the amount of oxidation the freshly picked leaf undergoes as well as the method of heating that's used to stop oxidation. After tea leaves are picked, they are either heated right away (to de-enzyme the leaf when producing green tea) or allowed to wither and oxidize for a period of time in order to make white, oolong, black or other teas. Higher oxidation levels produce darker and perhaps more tannic final brews.

To stop (or prevent) oxidation, the leaf is most commonly heated using ovens, pan-firing (think giant wok), or steam. Both the amount of oxidation as well as the heating method used will greatly influence the final taste and body of the final brew. And, some teas may even be aged to reveal different outcomes as well.

And for wine, there are numerous ways to influence final taste and body, including fermentation methods, aging time and method, use of grape skins, stems, pips (seeds) for added tannins, etc.The list goes on and on.

All in all, tea and wine making are both very dynamic agricultural processes with so much more to know than any bottle or package may reveal. We remain grateful for those whose lives are focused on these age-old crafts as we raise our delicious cup in thanks.