Tea Types and Tea Styles

A New Look at Tea Classification

Throughout history, tea has been categorized many ways: by the color of the finished leaves, by the color of the tea liquor, and by the percentage of oxidation the tea leaves have gone through during processing. The goal of categorizing tea is to provide a clear foundation for education by lumping together teas with similar qualities. Each of the above classification methods fall short of providing a method of classification by which all tea styles can be categorized. Classifying teas by the processing methods that created them however, allows us to achieve this goal as tea styles can easily be lumped
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A flushing tea plant ready to be plucked.

Guide to Tea Harvest Times

When tea leaves are harvested depends largely on the region in which they are being grown and can vary from season to season with fluctuations in weather. The timing of the harvest is of utmost importance as it can take only a few days for a bud to appear, open up, and grow into a large leaf. Missing the harvest can destroy a crop as a style of tea may require that only the buds be plucked, or that only a certain number of small leaves be plucked after the bud opens. If there is a dormancy period due to
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The United States League of Tea Growers

The United States League of Tea Growers had it’s founding meeting on June 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the World Tea Expo. The meeting was attended by several tea growers and many influential people in the tea industry. Nigel Melican and Jason McDonald headed up the meeting in hopes to get a group together for: Building up plant husbandry knowledge Developing best practice processing know-how Developing appropriate automation Product and process innovation Trials related to US conditions Access to cultivars specific to US requirements Generic promotion of US grown teas Collaboration and information sharing Access to information resources
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How to Store Tea Leaves Between Steepings

This is a question that I see often on r/tea. After speaking with several people, I believe I can shed some light on this issue. What I think is happening is that the ideals of Eastern steeping methods are mixing with Western steeping methods. This is a huge generalization, but here is how the two stlyes shake out: Eastern Steeping: The tea leaves are steeped repeatedly with very small amounts of water for very short amounts of time, traditionally in a gaiwan or a smaller yixing pot that holds less than 1 cup of water. Also the ratio of leaves
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What is a varietal?

The word varietal is one that is often misused in the tea world (and also in the wine world). It is often erroneously used interchangeably with the word variety. Here’s the correct definition: Varietal (adj) – a varietal tea is one that was made from a single variety of Camellia sinensis. Correct usage: Tieguanyin is a varietal tea made from the ‘Tieguanyin’ cultivar (remember cultivar means “cultivated variety“) of Camellia sinensis. Incorrect usage: Tieguanyin is made from the Tieguanyin varietal of Camellia sinensis.
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Tea Cultivation

Tea Varieties and Cultivars

Plants are classified hierarchically by their division, class, subclass, order, family, genus, and species. They are also classified by variety and cultivar when necessary. Here’s how the tea plant shakes out: Division -> Magnoliophyta Class -> Magnoliopsida Subclass -> Dilleniidae Order -> Theales Family -> Theaceae Genus -> Camellia Species -> Sinensis [Source: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=Casi16] Since we’ll only be dealing with the varieties and cultivars of the genus Camellia and the species sinensis we’ll leave out the higher level classifications and just start with Camellia sinensis for the sake of simplicity throughout the rest of this post. When notating plant names,
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tea science

Chemical Compounds in Tea

Tea chemistry is complex. Just how complex? Well, on the bush, tea leaves contain thousands of chemical compounds, when they are processed, these compounds break down, form complexes and form new compounds. When we steep tea leaves, our senses are tingled by the thousands of volatile compounds (collectively known as the “aroma complex”) from the tea liquor and the thousands of non-volatile compounds and the complexes between them, not all of which are water soluble, and the ones that are water soluble are soluble at a function of the properties of the water used for steeping like temperature, total dissolved
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US Grown Tea

Where tea is grown in the United States

Is tea grown in the United States? It sure is! American grown tea is growing in popularity. Tea farms have been popping up all around the country, here’s a run-down of what we’ve got so far (this post will be updated periodically): Farms currently producing US grown tea: Alabama Fairhope Tea Plantation – [article] Bob Sims, Andalusia Tea LLC – [Facebook] California Roy Fong of Imperial Tea Court’s Farm – [article] Golden Feather Tea [farmer’s Facebook] Georgia Dunaway Gardens [website] South Carolina Charleston Tea Plantation – [website] Hawaii Ahualoa – [website] Big Island Tea – [website] Cloudwater Tea Farm –
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Tea in Michigan

Katie and I were attending a wedding in Traverse City, Michigan last fall and while heading to Sleeping Bear Dunes, we made an awesome discovery. We happened upon a small tea shop called “Light of Day Organics” – we were surprised to learn that the owner, Angela Macke not only grows 240 different ingredients for her tea blends, but also has been growing Camellia sinensis since 2005! We were able to see the several varieties plants that she had in the greenhouse adjacent to her tea shop, unfortunately we did not have enough time to see her plants in the ground that
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