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Tea Business Model: Buying Directly From a Tea Producer

As the tea scene explodes in America, we’re seeing many different business models, both on the wholesale side and on the retail side. One that I find particularly interesting is the small but growing trend of tea farms selling directly to American consumers, whether shipping directly from the farm or by shipping to the states for later distribution. I sat down with Chicco Chou of Mountain Tea to learn more about this business model. Chicco was born in Taipei, Taiwan in 1987, his family owns 3 tea farms totaling 600 acres in Taiwan, China and Indonesia. His two uncles Zhi
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Guest Post: Making sense of China’s Tea Harvest

In China the tea plant can be harvested anywhere from once to as many as 6 or 7 times per year.  In addition, the first harvest- the first flush in Indian nomenclature- can occur any time from mid-February to end of May. Let us look at some of the factors that determine when tea leaves are harvested. Geography Where the plant is grown will have a big impact on when it can be harvested. This is dependent on a combination of these factors: Sunlight Heat Rainfall You don’t need to be a botanist to know that plants need sunlight to grow.
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Where is tea grown?

Based on my research, this is a list of countries where tea is a cultivated crop. Did I miss any? Argentina Australia Bangladesh Bhutan Bolivia Brazil Cambodia Chile China Colombia Ecuador Ethiopia Egypt England France Georgia Germany Guatemala India Indonesia Iran Italy Japan Kenya Laos Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Mauritius Mexico Myanmar Morocco Nepal New Zealand Nigeria Pakistan Paraguay Peru Portugal Russia Rwanda South Africa South Korea Sri Lanka Sudan Taiwan Tanzania Thailand United States Turkey Uganda Vietnam Zimbabwe 53 listed as of 10/29/2012
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Good tea in Chicago

** Note: Chicago Tea Garden has closed. ** The Chicago tea scene is blowing up. If you are visiting Chicago and are super into tea, please make it a point to visit these Chicago tea shops: Todd and Holland (Forest Park) - http://www.todd-holland.com/ Adagio (State Street, Naperville, Old Orchard) - http://www.adagio.com/stores/ TeaGschwendner (River North) - http://www.teagschwendner.com/US/en/Locations.TG Madame Zuzu’s  (Highland Park) - http://www.madamezuzus.com/ The Green Teaist (Lake Forest) - http://www.thegreenteaist.com/ The Tea House (Naperville) - http://www.theteahouse.com/ The Coffee and Tea Exchange (Lakeview) - http://www.coffeeandtea.com/ Dream About Tea (Evanston) - http://www.dreamabouttea.com/ There are more tea shops in Chicago, but these are the most legit. They are all driven by passion
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Monkey Picked Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Anxi Tie Guan Yin Oolong

Etymology: “Tieguanyin” translates to “Iron Guanyin,” Guanyin being the “Goddess of Mercy” Other Names: Iron Goddess of Mercy, Ti Kuan Yin, Ti Kwan Yin Origin: China, Fujian Province, Anxi County Taste: Overwhelmingly floral and slightly vegetal. Behind the Leaf: This tea is named after the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (“Guan Yin” in Mandarin), also known as the “Iron Goddess of Mercy.” Tie Guan Yin was first used only as a tribute tea to the Royal Court. The tea leaves from Anxi County are known for their overwhelming floral fragrance and are harvested from a Camellia Sinensis cultivar named Tie Guan Yin. They
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Describing Muscatel

Muscatel is an elusive taste found in some Darjeeling teas, most likely second flush teas. It is very hard to describe the taste in words, but it is easy to recognize the taste once you are familiar with it. James Norwood Pratt goes as far as saying that in tea, muscatel “denotes a unique muscat-like fruitiness in aroma and flavour.” Rajiv Lochan, owner of several tea gardens in India and CEO of Lochan Tea Ltd remarked that muscatel is “very difficult to describe but it is something extraordinary and rare.” I asked my tea friends how they would describe this elusive
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Bootstrapping an Online Tea business

How to Start an Online Tea Business

I get a lot of emails from people asking me how to start an online tea business. I’m not exaggerating, I get A LOT of emails. When I closed Chicago Tea Garden the amount of emails I received spiked. Many people in the beginning stages of opening their business asked me if I had any insights to offer or tips for growing the business. I did my best to keep up with all of these emails. I truly want every single person that is passionate about starting a tea company to succeed in doing so. I began to notice patterns and
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Killing the Green

Have you ever wondered why Japanese green teas are so green? And why Chinese green teas are not as bright green, but are typically yellower? The reason lies in the processing steps for each tea and in particular the “kill-green” step of the processing some tea types.  The term kill-green is derived from the Mandarin shaqing, which means “killing the green.” Kill-green is also referred to as “de-enzyming” or “fixing” and is a process of tea manufacture used to halt the oxidative browning of tea leaves by denaturing the enzymes responsible for oxidation–  polyphenol oxidase and peroxidase. Think of an
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Thoughts on American Tea Culture

Or any culture for that matter. I was reading a translation by MarshalN of a Chinese blog post about snobbery in the tea world and it kind of went along with my thinking of late about tea culture here in America, where it seems like there are so many different groups with differing opinions and ideas that made up our “culture” here.  I guess its a social “thing” that happens in a lot of niche industries. Let’s remove tea from the equation and talk about products in general — the masses (the majority) tend to cling to a product of lesser
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What is Green Tea?

The definition of green tea in it’s simplest and most generalized form is a tea that is made up of leaves that were prevented from oxidizing, shaped and then dried. However, green teas are not unoxidized. No tea is truly unoxidized because tea leaves begin to slowly wither and oxidize the moment they are plucked, something that is unavoidable since hours may elapse from the time of picking to the time of processing. So let’s draw a line here and speak only of controlled processes.  The most prevalent form of green tea production involves heating the leaves shortly after plucking (some
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