Like most agricultural products, tea is a direct result of it's growing environment. The "terroir", or combination of weather, elevation, animal activity, and other environmental factors have a direct effect on the final flavor profile of each unique tea in our collection. We source our tea from the best-producing regions across Asia, bringing the highest quality product back to the West with us.
Main Tea Production Areas: Yellow Mountain, Tai Ping City, Qimen,
Anhui was known for its mountainous terrain and until recent century, agricultural richness. Many of the most famous teas in China are from this province, yet the recent industrialization of China has left it relatively improvished. Today, the local and national government has made efforts to improve roads, transportation, and infrastructure, and bring attention to the great local products, especially tea, grown in this region .Not being near a seafaring coastline and having a port city, Anhui lacks in transportation access, and many of its famous teas never make it out of this province- with one exception: Keemun, probably the most famous historical black tea (hongcha) from China, which made its way around the world, to be emulated everywhere.
Main Tea Production Areas: Phoenix Mountain (Feng Huang Shan), Wu Dong Mountain
Several legends surround the first discovery of wild tea trees at Phoenix Mountain. The oldest known culture of oolong tea was found here. Most agree that the 'She' indigenous peoples made their homes there, and were responsible for spreading the cultivation of tea and the processing of oolong wherever they settled, such as in Fujian. Another legend recorded that the Southern Song emperor(1100s), while fleeing from the Mongols, hid inside a mountain and lacking beverages to quench thirst, had some tea made with the leaves grown locally on some old trees found nearby. Finding this brewed tea delicious, the emperor named it Phoenix tea and
Phoenix Mountain for the fact that the leaves were beak-like and pointy. Phoenix Village has had a historical record of over 1000 years as having cultivated and processed tea. The local communities of Chao Zhou and Shantou were the originators of 'gong fu tea'
Main Tea Production Areas: XishuangBanna Region
Pu-Erh is the original tea of the world. The oldest living tree is currently deep in the wild mountains of Yunnan and Laos area, at approximately 2,700 years old! Records in Yunnan from 2,100 years ago show that locals were harvesting the wild trees and producing tea. By 1620s, 20 tons of Pu-erh were produced and delivered all over China via caravans of horses and camels, travelling through Tibet and reaching as far as the Middle East countries and beyond.
Pu-Erh is indigenous to Yunnan, China, and a South Western region of China comprised of over 22 other minority ethnicities. Yunnan enjoys some of the highest as well as lowest elevation lands in the country, with the greatest varieties of plant life due to its pristine air quality and the most beautiful natural environments.
Main Tea Production Areas: Lu Shan Mountain Region
The only area well known for tea growing in Jiangxi is the Lu Shan Mountain area. More than 2000 years ago, it was believed that Lao Tzu had spent years at Lu Shan gathering herbs and creating immortality pills. The cauldron, or the lu, he used was left at the mountain when he departed. The mountain was subsequently named after this cauldron, Lu Shan. Throughout history, the who's who's of the literate and political world all made pilgrimages to the wonders to Lu Shan, if only to write poetry singing its praises. One particular poet, Su Dong Po, lamented in a poem that he was at Lu Shan for 3 straight months without seeing "the real face of Lu Shan" as it was shrouded in blinding fog everyday.
Lu Shan is known for its constant, thick, fog, providing an ever -hanging vista. The resulting teas grown are small and grow very slowly, as the young tea buds compete for sunlight under the thick fog. The average number of foggy days: 260 days!The leaves become vibrant green and full of rich nutrients.
Maioli and Shinjhu
Teas from this region are relatively low grown- on purpose. The most famous tea in this region is also one of the most mysterious, artful, and unique: Taiwan Beauty oolong. Produced by accident by one of the Hakka tribesman over 100 years ago when his tea plants were attacked by tiny pests called Leaf Hoppers (a kind of cicada), the Hakka have perfected this oolong process to a unique art. Not only are the cicadas now welcome, they are indispensable in creating a mariage of perfection: terroir, weather, pests, and the hand of man. This area is hot, humid, dry, and the tea bushes undergrown and sparse. Apparently, those are the conditions needed to make Taiwan Beauty.
San Lin She
Teas grow best in moderate climates but under intense fog cover, and of all the mountains in Taiwan, the ones at San Lin She boasts some of the best foggy conditions. Situated above the Tung Ting Mountains in Nantou Luku area, the San Lin She Mountains are the highest of that region. Originally over-grown with bamboo groves, most of the mountain has been cleared to grow tea. Most of the slopes are 60 degrees or steeper, the narrow mountain passage ways are difficult to traverse, and a sanctuary for wild birds is one of the key tourist destinations on this mountain.
The adage goes, 'Good teas come from High Mountains', and that is especially true here. One only needs to taste the fresh, almost unprocessed, and only slightly dried leaves to discern the quality difference between leaves grown at such treacherous elevations and valley grown teas. Lower elevations do not have the advantage of constant shrouded fog, which keeps the leaves dark green, rich, and sweet. Also, at such high elevations very little pest infestations occur. Only hand harvesting can occur, and very carefully as the hills are very steep. The teas are harvested once in the spring and once in the winter, and the best are always submitted to the competition.
The center of tea in Taiwan, by default. The research institute located in Nantou has been instrumental in developing new varietals in response to global-and local- changing climates. Varietals developed in the mid-80s are still considered some of the best, such as Jinshuan, Four Seasons, etc. These hardier varietals can thrive in lower elevations and hotter climates, are more pest resistant under these conditions, and produce softer, more pliable leaves for a longer period of time.
Tung Ting Shan (Cold Summit Mountain)
Founded in the turn of the century and discovered to be very suitable for tea growth when plants were brought back from the mainland China to grow in Taiwan. Hilly, steep, and surrounded by bamboo groves and natural lakes, Tung Ting or Cold Summit Mountain was so called because it was considered cold and slippery for the farmers to ascend to harvest the teas without shoes. One of the most well known tea mountains in Taiwan today, Tung Ting honors Magistrate Lin Feng Chi, the scholar from the mid 1850s who gave the gift of tea to his villagers who supported his endeavors for a government post.
The first wild tea plants found in Taiwan were near Wenshan. Considered the signature tea of Taiwan, the Baochong tea was intensely fragrant, almost unbelievably so. Tea lovers everywhere appreciate the gardenia and lilac aromas, unflavoured and unscented. There are two key hilly areas: Pinglin, considered the more advantageous of the two, and Shiding, which is a bit more rocky than Pinglin and historically the teas from Shiding would fetch a lower price.
The first taste of tea came to Japan via Buddhist monks around 700 A.D. from China. Enjoyed as a powdered, stone milled tea called Matcha, this tradition continued to this day even though Matcha is no longer popular in China. Whole leaf teas were further introduced to Japan around the 1800s by another set of travelling Buddhist monks. Tea is inextricably linked to Buddhism, and various Chanoyu or Tea Ceremony schools began to appear, and still one of the most distinguished cultures of Japan today.
Uji is hailed as the most premium of tea growing regions, even though its relatively small area limits any sufficient commercial quantity. Located outside of the Zen temples of Kyoto, most teas grown in Uji are most prestigious and prized for the service of the temples and Chanoyu schools.
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