World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

wte

This is my third year attending the World Tea Expo so I was able to prioritize and work the show floor in a day which left more time to relax, mingle with my teapeeps and attend a few choice classes. The one at the top of list was given by Jane Pettigrew on Rare Teas. If you haven’t been exposed to Jane, you surely are missing out. She is simply fabulous. Her love, knowledge and passion for tea fills the room. 

I tweeted about each tea during the tasting. I found them interesting and was pleased to be able to sip something out of the ordinary. I will say that my expectation for what I considered RARE was different then what WTE thought. To me a rare tea for example, might be… an aged puerh that was produced in limited quantity 11 years ago and only a 10 people in the world have access to it. This seminar was more about UNUSUAL Teas. That said, I still loved it and was grateful to have atteneded.

Here is a brief recap:

Tea 1: Malawi White Tea (Antlers)
This was the biggest surprise of the 6 for me. While I like white tea well enough its not a “go to” tea for me. It took just one sip and I was, well, in TeaLove. The liquor was sparkly, clear and sweet. There were light notes of fruit. No leaves were used to produce this tea which we all found interesting. A leafless tea made only with the stems. This was my top pick and favorite. 8 grams, Steeped at 176˚ for 5min.

Tea 2: South Korean Spring-Picked Green Tea
Very unusual for a green tea. The immediate smell is nutty which I wouldnt have expected from a green. It was more like a tie kwan yin. The wet leaf had a beautiful aroma that was slightly vegetal and nutty. The color: a bright, vibrant green. Very light colored liquor and taste. This teas is handmade. 8 grams steeped at 14o˚ for 2 min. (The steep should have been longer to bring out the flavor)

Tea 3: Ancient Lotus Green (Vietnam Flavored Green)
An immediate burst of anise both in aroma and taste! Quite unexpected. Dry leaf was dark and long but also rolled. Liquor was light gold. Wet leaf was long and curly. This tea is handmade and infused with Lotus blossoms. Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Tea 4: Thai High Mountain oolong (Chang Mai)
Most of you know my deep, unwavering love for oolongs, so I was excited to try one from Thailand. The dry leaves were very large, rolled balls. The liquor was golden and had hardly any aroma. But perhaps the paper cups smell was getting in the way. I likened this oolong to an extremely light Jade Oolong. Its a 2 day production for this one as opposed to the usual 1 day for oolongs. 8 grams, Steep time 180˚ for 4 min.

Tea 5: Bolivian Organic Black
Did you know Bolivia produced black tea? I didn’t. This tea endures 18 hours of withering, has a very large leaf that is rolled. The color of the liquor was a lovely medium redish brown. The taste reminded me of a ceylon but with more complexity. It was slight fruity or plumy and very smooth. 8 grams, Steep time 212˚ for 4 min.

Tea 6: Tregothnan Classic Black (Cornwall, UK)
Tregothnan means “house at the top of the hill.” Not a true tregothnan, but a blend. Made locally. The dry leaves are small and cut like a CTC process yet this was all handmade. Impressive. Wet leaf fluffed up and turned brown. The liquor was a lovely shade of deep red. The taste was immediately astringent and made my lips pucker.Steep time and temp wasn’t given.

Today is the last day of the Expo and I’ll be attending Lisa Richardson’s class on pairing tea and chocolate! More posts to come later!

Happy Sipping!

World Tea Expo: Jane Pettigrew and Rare Teas

Chocolate Tea?

Chocolate tea?
chocolate in my tea?

As a self proclaimed “tea snob” sometimes its hard to wrap my hands around a trendy blend.  Especially some that are just… the oddest of concoctions. I’ll refrain from mentioning anything specific, but one that comes to mind is a tea with so much strawberry in it I dumped it out immediately. It wasnt tea, it was Strawberry Quick!

We don’t sell “crazy blends.”  I like a blended tea that keeps with the integrity and mission of the company which is to: source and sell the best leaf with the best flavor. Quite simply: I like quality. Recently, a fellow TeaPeep & tea merchant strongly recommended I give chocolate tea a try. Here is what happened:

I loved it.

With just a touch of local honey (buy local!) to boost the chocolate flavor – you’ve got yourself one of the best secrets out there! Rich, smooth and creamy it reminded me of sitting fireside in Vail … watching everyone ski and snowboard into each other.

Do you have a chocolate addiction? Consider yourself a choco-holic? Like a chocolate-y snack around midnight? Try chocolate tea to satisfy the craving. I highly recommend this wonderful, surpising tea as a way of enjoying chocolate and tea without… consequence. (ie: calories).

*** If you contact me directly (info@pearlteas.com),  I’ll send the first 10 TeaPeeps a sample of our newest member to the tea family: “TeaChocolatte”.

In the subject line put: “TeaChocolatte, please!”  and let me know if you found us via Twitter or the TeaLove Blog! and don’t forget your mailing address!

Happy (TeaChocolatte) sipping!

Chocolate Tea?

Ceylon Tea News

Ceylon tea - Shawlands Tea Estate
Ceylon tea - Shawlands Tea Estate

Any news about ceylon tea is going to catch my attention. So when an article by Steve A. Morrell  popped up in my email box this morning about ceylon tea sales it caught my attention.

According to Russel Tennekoone, Director of the Ceylon Tea Brokers, Ltd., “there is serious concerns that the market has dropped.” Mostly because of what is happening in the Dubai port of Jebel Ali. Apparently, there is congestion with cargo movement which is restricting the flow of goods and services. Tea being one of the major categories affected. The other issue was that Dubai has introduced a “Quality Certification” not just for tea coming out of Columbo but for other seller origins. From what I can gather from the article, the bottom line is that growers were going to have to work harder to produce teas of high quality. In an auction last week by Quantum, 6.2 million kilos of tea was sold. “Good teas were sold, bad teas were discounted.”

What countries are the largest buyers of Ceylon tea? According to the Tea Market Update, Volume 4 No. 2,  UAE (United Arab Emirates) beat out Russia by the end of the first half of 2008 with imports of 23.5 million kgs of Ceylon accounting for 16% of total tea exports from Sri Lanka. Russia showed a minor drop from 24.6 to 23.2 million kgs. Iraq, Jordan and UAE are among the top 10 destinations.

Top 10 main destinations of Ceylon Tea:

1. UAE
2. Russian
3. Iran
4. Syria
5. Turkey
6. Jordan
7. Iraq
8. Japan
9. Saudi Arabia
10. Chile

At the end of the article Mr. Morrell also reports on interesting news related to tea and health which I found most important:

“There was an interesting news piece in the tea market report of Ceylon Tea Brokers. ‘A single cuppa contains 200 milligrams of flavonoids. Drinking three cups a day, would increase flavonoids in the blood by approximately 25 %. Flavonoids help fight pre-mature aging,heart decease, and some types of cancer.”

I’ve heard that steeping tea between 3-5 minutes brings out the most flavonoids. Admittedly, I sometimes prefer my black teas around 2 minutes, but will go to 3 minutes with a fabulous ceylon. For me, ceylon tea is smooth, complex and lacks bitterness. I often say that ceylon tea is the Pinot Noir of the tea industry. At least according to my taste buds.

Our ceylon this year comes from the Shawlands tea estate which is located in an altitude of 1,173 mts. with a tea growing area of approx. 295 hectares. Tangy tea straight from the UVA district.

Map of Sri Lanka  (Finlays)
Map of Sri Lanka (Finlays)
Ceylon Tea News