Whole Leaf Tea Categories: Descriptions


WHITE TEA: When it comes to natural tea, it simply doesn’t get any purer than an air-dried, non-oxidized pot of white. The world’s most coveted white teas share a single origin: the lofty peaks of Fuding, Fujian China, the region of origin for white teas, harvested from March through early April. As soon as the winter dormancy lifts,  knowledgeable tea harvesters inspect and pluck unopened leaf buds for White Down and Silver Needle whites while reserving the intact buds and leaves for White Peony Longevity Brows. Our carefully curated, antioxidant rich whites share a subtle fragrance, refreshing flavor and sunny, stone fruit notes that soar through four or more steepings.

GREEN TEA CHINA: This approachable category of tea comprises intact leaf buds and small leaves, which are typically harvested by hand and pan-fired to control oxidation. The most skilled green tea artisans pan-fire their leaves by hand to produce just the right flavor, which can vary from sweet and mellow to bright with a hint of smoke. Chinese green tea reflects the nuanced essences of the country’s terrain and its people. Perhaps more so than any of our teas, these teas reflect not just their terroir- it is said that drinking green tea is equivalent to drinking the weather!  The Ching Ming Festival in early April signals the best time of the year to harvest the top tier green teas. Leaves and buds harvested up to the rainy season (Pre-Rain) command the highest prices, and are measured by the day. Enjoy these teas over 4 or more steepings.


JAPAN GREEN TEA: Green tea plays an essential role in Japanese culture, weaving a common thread through the daily lives of citizens and visitors, young and old. Grown from Uji to Shizuoka (and many other regions). Japanese green tea differs from its Chinese counterparts by showcasing more uniform flavor from the steamed leaves. Matcha, a favorite beverage of Japanese tea drinkers and health enthusiasts alike, is made from the highest-quality crops, which are then milled, prepared and shared—most traditionally during the Chanoyu tea ceremony. We’ve hand-selected our collection of Japanese greens for their superior flavor, potency and skillful craftsmenship. These loose-leaf teas can withstand up to three to four steepings, and in lower temperatures than China greens.  


 CHINA OOLONG TEA:  Oolongs demand the highest level of skill, attention to detail and care to produce. In return, they offer the world’s richest variety of flavors and aromas. Originating from China’s Wuyi Shan, Fujian region, all the way south to the Chao-Shan area of Guangdong, these high-oxidation teas (40 to 80%) typically comprise two mature leaves and a tender leaf bud. For darker oolongs, the leaves may be charcoal roasted as pearls or twisted leaves, and steeped to render a dark, caramelized and honeyed profile. Chinese oolongs are approachable for novice tea drinkers, but crafted for sophisticated palates. Many established oolong trees have roots that stretch back hundreds of years. Harvests in late April/May and September/October continue the oolong legacy each year, and we’ve scoured all of China to bring you the very best offerings. The strongest types can maintain their complexity up to a stunning twenty steepings, with younger varietals remaining aromatic and flavorful through six to eight pots.


 TAIWAN OOLONG TEA:  Taiwan’s staggering slopes, high elevations, thick fog, fragrant flowers and bright sunlight create an ideal environment for a vibrant oolong tea culture. Compared to their sister teas in China, Taiwanese oolongs have lower oxidation levels (15 to 40%, as opposed to 40 to 80%). The emphasis is on greener color, spicier, vegetal sweetness, and in the intense aroma specific to this region’s crops. The majority of Taiwanese oolong is harvested from the Nantou region, from the famous Tung Ting mountain in spring and winter, to outliers like the Taiwan Beauty from Shinju (harvested in July) illustrate this style’s delicious diversity. The remarkable teas showcased in our collection are world-renowned for their consistently high quality. Savor our exquisite Taiwanese oolongs as often as you can—they gracefully withstand up to 6 or 8 steepings.


GONGFU RED TEA: HONGCHA  Tea artisans in ancient China coined the term “gongfu,” a high level of skill, experience, mastery and work ethic conferred upon only the finest tea masters. They worked by hand for hours to meticulously oxidize each batch of “hongcha” leaves (meaning red tea, according to the Chinese, which became black tea in the West) by hand, long before Western influence and technology made it easier to oxidize leaves by machine. In true renaissance style, a small number of dedicated tea makers in China and Taiwan are harvesting tender spring leaves to reclaim the nearly lost art of the gongfu hongcha—teas that garner top-dollar interest from connoisseurs the world over. We’ve sampled the most innovative red teas in Asia to curate our intriguing collection, which rewards curiosity with sweet notes of deep plum, wine and ripe fruit. Steep these premium hongchas 6 to 10 times to extract their full potential.

BLACK TEA: When black tea first arrived in the West in the 1600s, the dark leaves were originally called  “Hongcha”—a title meaning red tea, in the Chinese. Growing and industrialized production technologies developed by the black-tea loving British ensure enough high-quantity crops from Sri Lanka and India to supply the great global demand for these teas, while longtime Western influence has popularized a strong and astringent black-tea flavor that mellows beautifully under a dash of cream and sugar. Fully oxidized leaves are produced year-round, thanks to the implementation of modern tea rolling, cutting and curling machines. Fresh harvests are processed on an almost-weekly basis, with well-known regions like Assam, Darjeeling, and Sri Lanka offering the bulk of the world’s bounty. Chinese varieties made in this style are often voluminous and full-bodied, scented with compelling fruit notes. Experiment with your favorite combination of sweeteners and cream to complement the exquisite flavor of our handpicked selection of modern blacks—or sip them straight to fully appreciate their potency. These teas readily retain their strength through 5 to 7 steepings.

PU-ERH: Tea purists—our pu-erh offerings were selected just for you. Revered as the original teas of the Earth, these versatile teas are made in a unique style of fermentation and come in two categories: raw sheng, sundried leaves waiting to ferment and age naturally over a long period of time; and intentional post fermentation shu, which only improve with age (much like a fine wine). The name ‘pu-erh’ comes from the historical tea trade in Yuannan , where varietals are still harvested from, sometimes, thousand-year-old trees in the spring, fall and winter. These carefully selected leaves are pressed into bingcha (round discs), tuocha (small nuggets) and brick shapes, all of which are experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Whether you choose a sheng bincha or tuocha, or opt for a shu brick, you can expect our collection of pu-erh to produce a deeply earthy flavor and sweet, mushroom-like aroma. Sample our mellow shu immediately. Our sheng, a collector’s tea, will only appreciate in fermented flavor and financial value with time. Reserve a leisurely morning—or a table of family or friends—for the enjoyment of your pu-erh, as each variety promises up to 10 steepings.


HERBALS: While they may not actually be tea, our herbal offerings are flavorful, aromatic and enjoyable in their own right. Ranging from mainstream favorites like chamomile and chrysanthemum, to lesser-known discoveries like eight treasures and Buckwheat. We’ve carefully curated our herbal collection for their exemplary flavors as much as their widely reputed benefits. Add these mixtures of flowers, roots, berries and other assorted delights to your daily routine to reap medicinal and mood-enhancing benefits that stretch from 2 to 3, and up to 10 infusions.


COLD BREW TEA: While hot tea rituals reign in Eastern cultures, cold steeping teas purportedly retain more polyphenols and vitamins. That’s why we’re proud to offer our specialty collection of cold brew teas, sourced with the same commitment to quality as our whole leaf, traditional teas, yet packaged and designed specifically for our cold brew drinkers. Your order will arrive containing 10 unbleached, hand packed sachets of whole leaf shipped straight from our California headquarters. Drop one or two (depending on the strength you prefer) into a half-gallon of cold water, refrigerate to steep, and enjoy. Unlike iced teas traditionally made hot first, cold brewing with our instructions will ensure that no chemistry changes occur in your cup.