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Santa Fe, NM 87501

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Luxury loose leaf teas, handcrafted tea blends and fine tea ware. ArtfulTea: where the ordinary experience of drinking tea becomes extraordinary.

Tea Wisdom

Filtering by Category: Tea Spotlight

Kenyan Purple

Margaret Wack

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While you might be familiar with more common teas like black, green, and oolong, you may not have heard about the latest category of tea. Purple tea is a brand new category of tea! Like other types of tea, purple tea is derived from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. In the case of purple tea, however, the leaves of the tea plant are purple, rather than green. Scientists have determined that purple tea is a unique varietal of camellia sinensis, with a wealth of health benefits and other unique properties.

Kenyan Purple

Purple leafed tea plants were first found growing wild in the Assam region of India, where many other types of tea grown, including Assam black tea. Samples of these plants were then brought to Kenya, where the Tea Research Foundation of Kenya studied and cultivated these unique tea plants in order to develop a cultivar of the the wild plant that would be ideal for commercial tea production.

The third largest producer of commercial tea after China and India, Kenya now leads as the largest producer of purple tea. This unique tea thrives when grown at high elevations along the equator, where it receives twelve hours of sunlight a day year round. Our Kenyan Purple tea is from the Tumoi Tea Garden in the Nandi Hills of Kenya.

What Does Purple Tea Taste Like?

A bit lighter than black tea but darker than green tea, our Kenyan Purple is often described as similar in character and taste to oolong tea. Purple tea has a light, clean body similar to a green tea, without any of the grassy, vegetal flavor that is typical to green teas. Our Kenyan Purple is also processed in a way that is similar to many oolongs - partially oxidized, with the leaves gently rolled. Purple tea brews up a light reddish purple color, and has a floral, delicate flavor.

Kenyan Purple Health Benefits

In addition to its unique color and flavor, Kenyan Purple has been shown to have a wealth of other beneficial properties. Like other types of tea, Kenyan Purple is rich in antioxidants, which help promote health and ward off certain types of cancers. Purple tea contains a very low amount of caffeine, similar to that of white tea. Kenyan Purple also contains l-theanine, a beneficial chemical compound that promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

Purple tea is also rich in a type of antioxidant called anthocyanins, which are thought to help protect against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases by reducing free radicals. Anthocyanins give certain fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, blackberries, purple grapes, and eggplants, their rich blue, purple or dark red color. In general, purple leaf tea has been found to have almost twice the antioxidants of other teas, making it a great choice for those looking to include healthy foods and drinks in their daily routine!

Other Purple Teas

Since purple tea is still new to the tea world, many people don’t yet know about this unique kind of tea. Purple tea is still relatively rare, and is mostly found in specialty tea shops. Despite its relative scarcity, purple tea is becoming increasingly popular as more people learn more about it! In addition to our classic Kenyan Purple tea, we also carry Lychee Purple, a flavored purple tea that blends the delicate, floral purple tea leaves with lychee, pineapple, and other fruits and spices for a fruity, tropical cup with all the benefits of a classic purple tea. Whether you’re a tea connoisseur or just looking to try something new and different, purple tea might be just the tea for you!

Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling

Margaret Wack

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Sometimes called the “champagne of teas,” Darjeeling has long been a popular staple in the tea world. Grown at high elevation in the Darjeeling region of India, Darjeeling tea is a fine black tea with floral notes and a delicate character. The specific terroir in which Darjeeling is grown, along with growing and harvesting techniques perfected over the course of centuries, contribute to its unique flavor and superior quality.

First Flush Darjeeling

Most Darjeeling black tea is produced from the second flush of the leaves, harvested from June to August. First flush Darjeeling, however, is harvested in the spring, and is even more rare and highly sought after than the more common second flush. Since it’s the first tea harvest of the year, first flush teas are often produced in smaller quantities, and can sell out quickly due to their limited supply.

First flush Darjeeling teas are often lighter than their second flush counterparts, featuring less oxidized leaves with green and silver highlights. They brew up a golden color and have a crisp, clean flavor profile with an astringent bite. First flush Darjeelings are typically harvested from March to May, depending on the weather conditions of the region in which they’re grown. Because of their specific character and relatively short season, first flush teas are often some of the freshest teas available, with leaves having been plucked from the tea plant only a few months prior to being brewed up into pots of tea all around the world!

Our First Flush Darjeeling

Our organic first flush Darjeeling was harvested this spring in the Monteviot Garden. Founded in 1856, the Monteviot Garden is located in the southern Kurseong valley of Darjeeling. Classified as an FTGFOP1 tea, our first flush Darjeeling is composed of the first two tea leaves harvested from the tea plant each year, a mark of exceptional quality. Grown at approximately 5,500 feet elevation, this premium tea features fine, whole leaves with green and silvery tips, and brews up a beautiful golden color.

While somewhat lighter than our classic Daily Darjeeling, this first flush Darjeeling still imparts plenty of flavor, with a pleasant bite and moderate astringency. The tea has floral notes and a delicate body, with a distinct spring-like character. Unlike other black teas, we find that it is best enjoyed on its own without any added milk or sweetener in order to fully savor its unique flavor.

Whether you’re a long-time Darjeeling fan or are simply interested in trying something new, first flush Darjeeling is one of the most premium teas we offer. As with many first flush teas, our first flush Darjeeling has a limited supply based on the season, so we’re excited to share it with you while it lasts!

Vietnamese Golden Tips

Margaret Wack

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While many of our classic black teas come from China or India, unique and highly sought after teas are grown throughout Asia, including countries like Nepal, Taiwan, and Vietnam. New to our shelves, our Vietnamese Golden Tips is a stellar example of a premium Vietnamese tea. With a dry, moderately astringent character and a slightly sweet taste with notes of burnt sugar, caramel, and smoke, Vietnamese Golden Tips is a tea worth savoring!

Vietnamese Teas

While tea has a long history in Vietnam, the country has only recently begun to grow tea for commercial production. Long influenced by Chinese tea commerce and culture, particularly in the neighboring Yunnan province, Vietnam began to harvest and sell its own tea in the late 1800s and early 1900s while under French colonial rule. While tea cultivation and sale was disrupted by continuing colonial conflicts, including the Vietnam War, tea has seen a growing resurgence as a premium export from the country.

Vietnamese tea is grown primarily in the northern, more mountainous regions of the country, amidst the tail end of the Himalayan mountain range that is also home to famous tea growing regions like Assam and Darjeeling. Some tea plants in Vietnam are even purported to be “wild” and naturally grown rather than farmed. Although probably the result of earlier cultivation, these historic tea plants have in some cases been around for over a century!

While tea has been drunk locally for hundreds of years, it’s still a relatively new commercial product in Vietnam. Despite this, however, the country is quickly making a name for itself in terms of its specialty teas, and tea production is on the rise.

Vietnamese Golden Tips Health Benefits

Like other black teas made from the camellia sinensis plant, Vietnamese Golden Tips is rich in antioxidants, and has a variety of other health benefits. Black tea may help to protect the heart, promote cognitive function, and even ward off certain types of cancers. Vietnamese Golden Tips has a moderate amount of caffeine, about half that of a cup of coffee.

Our Vietnamese Golden Tips

Grown in Ha Giang Province in northern Vietnam, our Vietnamese Golden Tips is a delicious classic black tea that’s sure to delight, whether you’re interested in branching out into specialty teas or just want to try something new. The gold-tipped leaves brew up into a beautiful reddish-gold cup with a slight natural sweetness. Try a cup today, and fall in love with Vietnamese teas!

Himalayan Spring

Margaret Wack

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Himalayan Spring is a premium organic white tea grown in the mountains of Nepal. With notes of grass and stone fruit, and a smooth and buttery finish, Himalayan Spring is quickly becoming a new favorite among white tea connoisseurs and novices alike. As we continue to expand our tea collection, we’re excited to share this unique tea with the world!

Himalayan Spring and Nepali Teas

Himalayan Spring is made from the first silver-tipped leaf and bud of the tea plant. Harvested in early spring, as the name suggests, these tea leaves are carefully dried and preserved with minimal processing in order to highlight their delicate flavor.

Himalayan Spring comes from Nepal, a small, mountainous country bordering China and India. While its neighbors may be better known for their long history growing and trading tea, Nepal is an up-and-comer in the tea world, producing premium and rare teas grown by small farms and harvested by hand.

Stretching across Nepal, India, China, Bhutan, and Pakistan, the Himalayan mountain range is home to some of the most famous tea growing regions in the world, including Assam and Darjeeling, as well as the Nepalese mountainsides where Himalayan Spring is grown and harvested. A rocky landscape of varying altitudes, these mountains are an ideal growing environment for tea, with the high elevation giving teas grown in these regions a distinctive rich, slightly floral character.

Nepali teas are also a great way to support farms and families in a small, remote country that has historically struggled with economic precarity and exploitation. Nepali teas are some of the best in the world, and are becoming more and more popular as people discover these unique and distinctive teas!

Himalayan Spring Health Benefits

White tea receives minimal processing when harvested and dried, helping to preserve many of the unique benefits of tea. Like many white teas, Himalayan Spring is very low in caffeine, very high in antioxidants, and has a delicate, soothing flavor profile that’s perfect for a mellow morning or an afternoon pick-me-up.

Milk Oolong

Margaret Wack

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Are you an oolong lover looking to expand your repertoire, or simply on the lookout for something unique? Our Milk Oolong, a new addition to our tea collection, might be just the thing for you!

Grown at high elevation, this unique varietal of tea imparts a sweet, slightly tangy flavor, with notes of milk and cream. Milk Oolong doesn’t actually contain any milk, just tea – but it packs a punch in terms of its striking taste!

Milk Oolong Origin and History

Milk Oolong originated in Taiwan, and became increasingly popular throughout the 1980s and 90s. Milk Oolong is also sometimes referred to as Golden Lily tea. While there are myths and stories of Milk Oolong tea leaves actually being steeped or rinsed in milk in order to achieve their unique taste, Milk Oolong doesn’t contain milk (or any other dairy product.) The unique terroir, high elevation, and specific varietal grown to produce Milk Oolong are the only things that contribute to the flavor of this unique, highly sought after tea.

While our Milk Oolong is grown and harvested in the Fujian Province of China, it continues of a rich tradition of Milk Oolongs throughout Asia and beyond.

Milk Oolong Health Benefits

Like other types of tea grown from the camellia sinensis plant, Milk Oolong is rich in antioxidants and other beneficial properties like l-theanine, and may help to protect the heart, improve cognitive function, and even ward off certain types of cancer. Oolong teas are partially oxidized, and have a mild to moderate amount of caffeine, somewhere in between black and green teas.

Our Milk Oolong

Our Milk Oolong is made up of tightly rolled tea leaves with a rich, intoxicating aroma. While Milk Oolong brews up clear with a light, golden hue, it has a distinctive milky taste with floral notes and a tangy, buttery finish. Like many oolongs, our Milk Oolong can be infused more than once, with the flavors changing and developing over time. Because Milk Oolong can be infused multiple times without losing its distinctive taste, it’s a great tea to enjoy over the course of an afternoon, allowing you to savor the subtly different flavors of each infusion. Whether you’re a long-time oolong lover or are just looking for something new, our Milk Oolong is sure to hit the spot!

Nepalese Gold

Nick Rose

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One of our most premium teas, Nepalese Gold is an organic black tea with an intense aroma and striking golden leaves. Grown in the Himalayan mountains of Nepal, this award-winning black tea is rich and mellow, with a slight malty sweetness and notes of honey and stone fruit. It brews into a reddish-golden color that provides a flavorful and well balanced cup.

While black teas have traditionally been grown and cultivated in countries like India and China, the relatively small nation of Nepal is making a name for itself as a producer of premium teas. Beginning in the mid-19th century, the British empire expanded to India and the British East India Company began full scale commercial tea production in that part of the world. Despite tea cultivation arriving in Nepal at about the same time as in Darjeeling to the east, commercial tea production in this small Asian country did not take off until later in the 20th century. Nepali tea is currently grown in five primary regions in Nepal, with new areas being added to meet the demand for this much sought after export.

Stretching across Nepal, India, China, Bhutan, and Pakistan, the Himalayan mountain range is home to some of the most famous tea growing regions in the world, including Assam and Darjeeling, as well as the Nepalese mountainsides where Nepalese Gold is grown and harvested. A rocky landscape of varying altitudes, these mountains are an ideal growing environment for tea, with the high elevation giving teas grown in these regions a distinctive rich, slightly floral character.

Nepali teas are becoming more and more popular as people discover these unique and distinctive teas. Here at ArtfulTea, Nepalese Gold is one of our favorites, and we’re delighted to share it with you!

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Vanilla Rooibos

Margaret Wack

One of our most popular rooibos teas, Vanilla Rooibos is a delicious mix of organic rooibos and sweet, smooth vanilla. It’s a little bit of heaven in a cup, and with no caffeine, it’s the perfect way to treat yourself after the end of a long day. Whether you take it on its own, or with a touch of milk and sugar, this tea will warm you from the inside out, and is sure to leave you with a smile.

What is Rooibos?

Rooibos is an herbal tea grown in South Africa’s Western Cape region. Dutch for “red bush,” rooibos is sometimes also called red tea. Rooibos is naturally caffeine free, and has a rich, slightly sweet flavor.

Rooibos tea is made from the needle-like leaves of aspalathus linearis, a plant that grows in a mountainous region near the South African Atlantic coast. Owing to the unique climate and soil conditions of the region, aspalathus linearis is extremely difficult to grow in other places.

Vanilla Rooibos Health Benefits

Rooibos tea is packed with antioxidants and other healthful properties, making it a great way to incorporate a healthy herbal tea into your day. Since rooibos is caffeine free, this tea can be enjoyed at any time, and makes an especially lovely tea for the evening.

While the rooibos steals the show in terms of health benefits, vanilla has also been shown to have a number of beneficial properties, including reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. Vanilla also contains a number of vitamins and minerals that will keep you in good health.

While we enjoy Vanilla Rooibos all year round, we think it’s best on a snowy day with a good book and a crackling fire. Happy sipping!

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Japanese Sencha

Margaret Wack

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One of the most popular green teas in Japan, Sencha is a green tea with a rich, grassy taste that has earned it a following all over the world. Produced from the leaves of camellia sinensis tea plants from Shizuoka on the Fujiyama mountain slopes, our organic Japanese Sencha is carefully processed and slightly steamed before rolling and drying.

Like other green teas, Sencha is unoxidized, resulting in lower caffeine levels (about half that of black tea, and a quarter that of a cup of coffee.) Sencha has a rich aroma, a bright green colored leaf, and brews up a vibrant green-gold cup of tea.

Health Benefits

Like other green teas, Sencha is rich in beneficial properties. This tea is extremely high in antioxidants, while containing a relatively small amount of caffeine, making it a wonderfully balanced tea for those looking to explore green tea options. Sencha can also improve clarity and focus, and is the perfect accompaniment whether you’re just starting the day or need a little pick-me-up in the afternoon.

Sencha Preparation

Like other Japanese teas, Sencha is often traditionally brewed in tetsubin cast iron teapots, or small side-handle pots called kyusu. Sencha can also be prepared in a traditional western pot or cup.

Sencha is especially sensitive to water temperature and steep time, so it’s important to prepare it correctly in order to avoid a bitter, burnt taste. To brew a cup of Sencha, use 1 level teaspoon per 6 oz. water, and heat the water until briskly steaming, but not boiling. Steep for 1 to 2 minutes, being careful not to over-steep. This high quality green tea can be infused twice and it will still maintain a wonderful flavor!

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Jasmine Green Tea

Nick Rose

Even if you couldn’t name it, you’re probably familiar with the scent of jasmine. One of the most popular flavors of tea in the world, jasmine green teas can vary wildly in quality and flavor. Our Jasmine Yin Cloud organic green tea is one of the most exceptional versions of jasmine tea you can find.

Truly exquisite jasmine teas begin with the use of high-quality Chinese tea leaves. Those tea leaves later become scented with the aroma and flavor of freshly picked jasmine flowers during the drying process. The most intensely aromatic jasmine flowers are plucked only at night during the month of May. Our Jasmine Yin Cloud acquires its distinctive, delicate flavor from these precious jasmine blossoms harvested over a short period in May. Freshly plucked flowers are placed on trays above and below the drying green tea leaves. As the tea leaves dry in proximity to the jasmine flowers, it absorbs the essence of the flowers. The trays of jasmine flowers are replaced with trays of freshly picked blossoms several times during the entire process of making this tea.

Lesser quality jasmine teas are sometimes made by simply adding dried jasmine flowers to the tea, or by drying the tea with flowers harvested at less optimal times than May. Give our Jasmine Yin Cloud green tea a few sips and you'll recognize the difference in quality immediately.

 

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Lapsang Souchong

Nick Rose

The name Souchong refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant, farther removed from the prized flowery pekoe bud at the tip (which is followed by orange pekoe and then pekoe leaves). These lower leaves are considered inferior in quality, so it is perhaps not surprising that they were used by the Chinese growers in the Wuyi mountains of the Fujian province of China to create an intensely smoky tea.

Lapsang Souchong

The true story of how and when the Chinese began smoking these Souchong leaves is unclear. A popular legend has it that it was created by accident during the 17th century when the leaves were burned during a raid, or that war caused tea growers to abandon the usual drying process and later use smoke to speedily up dry the tea for market. Whatever the true origins of this pine smoked tea, by the mid-1800s it had become popular in European tea rooms.

And yet, for all its popularity in the West, the Chinese do not drink smoked tea. In New Tea Lovers Treasury: The Classic True Story of Tea, James Norwood Pratt eschews the controversy surrounding the history of Lapsang, and offers instead that “disbelieving Chinese friends have sworn to me that a barbarity like smoking tea could never be practiced in China, where Lapsang Souchong is apparently all but unheard of.” It is said that Winston Churchill liked Lapsang Souchong, unsurprising since this great statesman also loved a good cigar and strong whisky.

Lapsang Souchong is not for the faint of heart; tea drinkers either love it or can’t imagine drinking it. A cup of a well-balanced Lapsang, with its earthy aroma, intense smoky flavor and hint of sweetness, is as comforting as curling up by a warm campfire on a chilly evening. Enjoy our deliciously balanced Organic Lapsang Souchong with or without milk any time of day.

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Irish Breakfast

Karen Gardiner

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ArtfulTea customers often ask about the various breakfast tea blends they've encountered, from the well-known English Breakfast to the less familiar Canadian Breakfast. The origins of breakfast blends are a bit of a controversy in the tea world. Some tea historians attribute the start of what we now called "breakfast tea" to Queen Anne, who made it fashionable to drink tea instead of ale with breakfast. Others date the breakfast tea phenomenon to about a hundred years ago when a Scottish tea merchant in Edinburgh created a very stout blend to go with the traditionally heavy morning meal. Queen Victoria is said to have loved a Scottish blend of tea and English tea companies quickly began creating their own blends, dubbing them "English Breakfast" tea. Referring to blends as "breakfast tea" from a specific country caught on, particularly in the U.S.

In his well-researched book New Tea Lover's Treasury: The Classic True Story of Tea, James Norwood Pratt tells us "Tradition is on a firmer footing with blends sold in the US and UK as 'Irish Breakfast' which always contains a high proportion of malty Assam, though nobody seems sure just when the Irish acquired this preference." Assam, known for it's strong malty flavor and bright orange-brown color, is a black tea grown near sea level in the state of Assam, India.

One reason given for the different kinds of breakfast blends is that tea masters consider many factors in blending tea, including the quality of water in a given place. In Ireland, where the water was traditionally considered to be hard, using Assam as a base tea was found to work well. The Irish, however, don't call what they drink "Irish Breakfast" tea – it is simply "tea" and is consumed throughout the day. On average the Irish consume 4–6 cups of tea daily, placing them among the top tea consumers in the world.

There are nearly as many different blends of Irish and English Breakfast tea as there are tea purveyors, so you may want to try several to find the blend that suits you. The Irish Breakfast at ArtfulTea is a blend of organic Assam and Tanzanian black teas rolled into tiny granules creating a very robust and hearty tea with a deep auburn hue. Irish breakfast is traditionally enjoyed with milk and/or sweetener and will certainly deliver a boost any time of day.

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Chun Mee Green Tea

Nick Rose

Chun Mee green tea

For green tea lovers and those wanting to try green tea, this buttery, mild Chinese tea is the lightest green we carry at ArtfulTea. The Chinese name Chun Mee means "precious eyebrow," a perfect description for the long, curved and slightly dusty-looking leaves of this delicate tea.

Chinese green teas are more mellow than their Japanese counterparts known for their rich, grassy flavor. Our organic Chun Mee takes that mellow taste a step further with its pale yellow liquor and subtly sweet flavor that can be described as a bridge between white tea and more full bodied green teas such as Dragon Well.

As with many teas, the loose leaves of Chun Mee can be brewed at least twice, with each infusion offering a more nuanced experience of this beautifully light, low caffeine tea. Another reason to love Chun Mee Green Tea is the rich store of beneficial antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins in each cup.

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Darjeeling Black Tea

Nick Rose

Darjeeling black tea

Darjeeling tea takes its name from the region in the Himalayan Mountains of India where the plants are cultivated. Unlike Assam, its tea growing neighbor to the east, the Darjeeling area is smaller, higher, colder and, importantly, the plant which produces this legendary tea was brought from China by the British in the 19th century. It is not surprising then that Darjeeling tea is markedly different from traditional Indian blacks grown at lower altitudes from native plants. Prized for its unique character, aroma and flavor, the finest Darjeeling tea is extremely expensive with demand consistently outpacing supply.  One reason for the high cost is the small leaves grow slowly and are hand-plucked in a labor intensive process. The Board of India places a certification mark and logo onto chests of Darjeeling so consumers will know the product they are purchasing is authentic, offering one explanation for the nickname “the Champagne of teas” due to the similarity with France’s strict labeling policy of its famous sparkling wine. 

Darjeeling teas will vary by year depending upon the weather, the garden or estate where it is grown, and the "flush" or harvesting season within a year. Darjeeling has three main flushes when fresh leaves are gathered. First Flush, also known as  Spring Flush, begins in early March and continues into early May, with the Second Flush following from May until the Monsoon rains come in June. In October, when the rains have ceased, the Autumnal Flush season lasts until the plants go dormant for the winter. Tea made from the leaves of each flush will vary considerably from a bright, noticeably astringent taste of delicate First Flush leaves which are infused like a green tea, to a Second Flush brew which offers richer fruit, less tangy astringency and hold up to fully boiling water without bitterness. Darjeeling tea is graded based on size and quality from “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe” (SFTGFOP) at the top end, to “D” which indicates the dusty, fine powder that is often found in teabags.

At ArtfulTea, we offer a very affordable Second Flush called Daily Darjeeling (FTGFOP1). These organically grown leaves yield a bright coppery brew with a deliciously nutty flavor and mild astringency. For some tea lovers, the lighter color and flavor of Darjeeling more closely resembles oolong than black. We certainly appreciate how nicely the leaves hold up to a second infusion. Darjeeling makes a delightful organic iced tea in the summer months, and can be easily brewed in our Urban Tea Tumbler for a flavorful cup on the go. Hot or Cold, enjoy this Champagne of teas daily!

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Masala Chai

Nick Rose

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In Hindi, the word "chai" simply means "tea" while the term "masala" refers to a blend of spices. In the west, we've come to use the term "chai" for that special mixture of black tea and fragrant spices with milk and sugar (or honey) that creates an aromatic and warming tea drink.

Many Americans were first introduced to chai in a premixed carton. In India, making Masala Chai can take time and care, like a special family dish with a recipe passed down through generations. The spices most commonly used are cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, anise, fennel, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper. I've had the chance to watch traditional chai being made by a friend from India. First he used a mortar and pestle to grind each spice by hand, then stirred them into a pan of milk which was slowly simmered (not boiled!) for several minutes before black tea leaves were added. Last, he stirred in some sugar until it dissolved, then poured the steaming brew into our glasses. It was a delight to watch and well worth the wait!

At ArtfulTea, we often tell customers there are as many ways to make chai as there are people who drink it. While chai can certainly be enjoyed milky and sweetened, it is equally delicious on its own as a spicy brew with no milk or sugar. We offer two types of Chai, each with its own balanced blend of spices. The first, a "traditional" Masala Chai, combines cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves with a premium Ceylon black tea. For a caffeine-free option, our popular Rooibos Chai is organic and contains cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves and black pepper along with South African rooibos.

Try making either of these with milk and/or sweetener, or create your own variation to discover the way you enjoy chai best. I've even heard of folks who add a splash of strong coffee to our Rooibos Chai to make a lower-caffeine version of "Dirty Chai." Masala Chai lends itself to creativity and experimentation. Enjoy!


 

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Yunnan Black Tea

Nick Rose

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Yunnan black tea, also called Dianhong tea, is a gourmet black tea grown in the Yunnan province of China. Yunnan is a bit lighter, sweet-smelling and less astringent than typical black teas, with a rich, malty flavor and a brassy orange color when it’s brewed.

Yunnan black tea is a relatively new innovation within the ancient tradition of Chinese tea-making, with its production beginning in the early 20th century.

Yunnan black is considered a high-end, gourmet tea in China. The main difference between Yunnan black tea leaves and other tea leaves are the high numbers of golden-tipped leaf buds in the dried tea. Yunnan black is made from large, high-quality tea leaves, and the finest varieties of Yunnan black are processed through partial oxidation but without chopping the leaves, to minimize bitterness.

Yunnan tea should be steeped in water cooked to just below the boiling point, between 195 and 220 degrees Fahrenheit. Like other black teas, it can be taken with milk and sugar, though its flavor is also soft enough to be enjoyed alone.

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Ti Kuan Yin Tea

Nick Rose

Ti Kuan Yin Tea

Ti Kuan Yin -- also spelled “Tieguanyin” -- is a type of oolong tea from eastern China notable fo its orchid-like flavor and complex process of production. Fragrant and tasty, Ti Kuan Yin tea is said to be China’s most famous and beloved oolong.

Cultivated at high altitudes in the cool mountain air of China’s Fujian province, tea leaves that will be made into Ti Kuan Yin are processed using more than a dozen steps including oxidation, tossing, tight rolling and roasting.

When steeped, the dark, curly leaves of Ti Kuan Yin lighten and unfurl, unleashing their flowery aroma and taste. The brewed tea has a golden yellow color and a mild, slightly sweet flavor. Ti Kuan Yin Tea offers an excellent source of sustained energy, both for its moderate caffeine content and high levels of vitamins, amino acids and antioxidant-containing polyphenols.

The name Tieguanyin is a reference to the Chinese “Iron Goddess of Mercy,” Guanyin, who is the female embodiment of the bodhisattva. 

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