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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] South Carolina Charleston Tea Plantation – [website] Hawaii Ahualoa – [website] Big Island Tea – [website] Cloudwater Tea Farm – [website] Hawaii Rainforest Tea – [website] Mauna Kea – [website] Moonrise Tea – [website] Na Liko – [website] Onomea Tea – [website] Tea Hawaii & Company
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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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Japanese Green Tea

Beginner’s Guide to Steeping Japanese Green Tea

Did you know that green tea is the most popular type of tea in Asia? It’s the most consumed tea in China, and Japan practically specializes in it. Steeping Japanese green tea isn’t particularly difficult, you just have keep some points in mind. Aren’t Japanese and Chinese green teas the same? There is one major difference: the fixing process, which is known as “kill-green” in China. With a few exceptions, Japanese green teas are steamed while Chinese green teas are pan fired. For this reason, there is a great difference in the flavor, aroma, and color of the liquid. There
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British Tea Culture

British Tea Culture, we all know it exists, we all know it’s important, but what exactly does it mean? I set out to figure this out by interviewing over 110 people from the United Kingdom about their tea habits. I wanted to see what makes their tea culture unique across all social classes. I deliberately did not ask tea connoisseurs, for we know that the “connoisseur crowd” is a common stripe among all tea cultures. Assumptions made: British Tea is a black tea, mostly a blended black tea. Teas blends are commonly made up of teas from India (Assam), Sri Lanka, or East Africa. The
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wte

I’m speaking at the 2013 World Tea Expo

I’m speaking at World Tea Expo this year, if you are going and you own a tea company or are thinking about starting a tea company, you should probably come. I’m going to be covering the trends in digital marketing for the year. This isn’t 100 level social media, blogging and seo stuff, this is a seminar where I’ll take things a level deeper and give you more action points than you’ll know what to do with. I’ll share insights from my time running Chicago Tea Garden and from my experience from my real job as a Digital Marketer. So
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vegetal

Tasting Tea: Taking it Deeper than “Vegetal”

One way that people describe green teas (not just green teas, just using it as an example) is by using the word “vegetal” — meaning that the taste reminds them of the taste of vegetables. One quick tip to take your tea appreciation to another level is to see if you can figure out which vegetable it reminds you of. Use this as a guide to help you find the exact vegetable: Does it smell/taste like a leafy green? Spinach Kale Chard Lettuce Does it smell/taste like grass? Fresh Cut Grass Dry Hay Does it smell/taste like a root vegetable?
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