• Learn About Tea

    Meet the Tea: Da Hong Pao

    Da Hong Pao, aka Big Red Robe, is a type of oolong produced only in the Wuyi Mountains. Teas from this region are often called yancha, or rock tea, due to the rocky soil on the cliffs where the tea is grown. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness after drinking this tea. To show how special these tea trees were, he had the bushes that this incredible tea was made from draped with red cloth. Yet another version tells of a scholar who passed his exams thanks to this tea. He draped the bushes with the scarlet robes that he was awarded. Even more…

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    Meet the Tea: Ruby #18

    When we think of Taiwanese tea all of the wonderful oolongs that are produced there come to mind. However, one of my all time favorites will always by Ruby #18. You might also see it referred to as red jade. Many people don’t realize this but black tea was once a primary export for Taiwan, particularly during Japanese occupation following the first Sino-Japanese War. Var. Assamica trees were introduced to the Sun Moon Lake region of Nantou because the climate there was ideal. After over fifty years of research, cultivar #18 was released by the Taiwanese Tea Research and Extension Station in 1999. It is a hybrid between a native variety and var. Assamica from…

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    Meet The Tea: Dian Hong

    Dian Hong has been one of my favorite types of black tea ever since I first started drinking loose leaf tea. It is produced in the Yunnan province of China. Dian is a short name for this region and Hong means Red. In China, black teas are usually called red teas so that can cause some confusion for tea drinkers. Many of us think of rooibos, an herbal tea from South Africa, as red tea. Relatively speaking it is a fairly new tea for Yunnan. This region is most commonly known for its puerh tea. The leaves are usually dark and twisted in shape with trademark golden tips. The amount of golden tips…

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    Meet the Tea: Tai Ping Hou Kui

    One of my favorite types of green tea is Tai Ping Hou Kui. It is made using the Shi Da Zhong, a variety with particularly large leaves. The long, flat shape is created by pressing them between pieces of mesh with a roller. An impression of the fabric can be seen on the surface of the leaves which always makes for a fascinating tea session. I’ve seen several different sizes of this tea and some of them can be quite massive. The taste is sweet with vegetal and floral notes. Although fairly delicate, there isn’t much danger of over-steeping. The name is most often translated as peaceful monkey leader. You might ask yourself, what…

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    Meet the Tea: Tie Guan Yin

    Photo: Wikipedia Tie Guan Yin goes by various spellings but it is probably one of the best known Chinese oolong teas. It is commonly referred to as Iron Goddess of Mercy and there are many legends about how this tea got its name. Traditionally it was a made as a strip style tea with heavier roasting but that changed after the 1990’s due to the influence of Taiwanese manufacturing techniques. The dark green, semi-oxidized leaves are now rolled into tight balls. They will expand quite a bit after steeping and once unfurled, the leaves will have a broken appearance. Making this tea is a complex, multistep process that takes a high degree of…