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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

Lapsang Souchong

Nick Rose

A cup of Lapsang Souchong next to a pine cone

What is Lapsang Souchong?

Lapsang Souchong is a black tea from China with a rich, piney taste and an aroma reminiscent of a campfire. Lapsang Souchong also has notes of burnt sugar, fine cigars, and wood smoke, and is sometimes also referred to as smoked tea or smoky tea. While this tea can be an acquired taste if you’re not yet used to the strong flavor, it has a devoted following of tea lovers all around the world. If you’re in the mood for a big, bold tea on a cool day, a cup of Lapsang is sure to hit the spot!

Lapsang Souchong History

Lapsang originated in the Wuyi mountains of the Fujian province of China, where it is still produced today. Like all Chinese black teas, Lapsang Souchong is produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. The name “souchong” refers to the fourth and fifth leaves of the tea plant, which are farther removed from the prized flowery pekoe bud at the tip, and are considered somewhat inferior in quality. When smoked and preserved as Lapsang, Souchong, however, these leaves become prized for their unique smoky flavor, and are highly sought-after all over the world.

While the true story of Lapsang’s origins have been lost to time, a variety of popular legends have sprung up around the tea. Some stories claim that it was created by accident during the 17th century, when the leaves were burned during a raid. Other tales suggest that war caused tea growers to abandon the usual drying process and use smoke to quickly dry the tea. Whatever the true origins of this pine smoked tea, it quickly became a popular commodity as a unique twist on a typical black tea.

Lapsang in the West

While it originated in China, by the mid-1800s Lapsang Souchong had become popular in tea rooms across Europe, particularly in countries like Russia and England. Lapsang Souchong was also a favorite tea of figures like politician Winston Churchill and writer and naturalist Gary Snyder. Lapsang’s distinctive taste and flavor profile sets it apart from other black teas, and is often compared to other smoky luxury goods like fine cigars and scotch whiskey. For all its popularity in the West, however, smoked tea is not typically consumed in China. Instead, Lapsang Souchong is viewed as a valuable export, and is produced primarily for sale in Europe and America.

How Lapsang Souchong is Made

Lapsang Souchong is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, which are harvested and dried. Unlike other black teas, which are usually withered and then steamed or fired, the leaves used to make Lapsang are smoke-dried over burning pinewood. This process imparts a distinctive flavor to the tea, with a smoky, campfire-like aroma and notes of pine and burnt sugar.

Lapsang Souchong is not for the faint of heart, and often inspires strong reactions among those who try it for the time. For those who love Lapsang, however, a cup with the earthy aroma, intense smoky flavor, and hint of sweetness of Lapsang Souchong is as comforting as curling up by a warm campfire on a chilly evening!

Lapsang Souchong leaves in a saucer

Lapsang Souchong and Russian Caravan Tea

Russian Caravan tea is a popular blend of tea made with equal parts of Lapsang Souchong and China Keemun black teas. Depending on the blend, Russian Caravan can also sometimes include oolong tea, Golden Yunnan black tea, or other black or pu-erh tea additions. Russian Caravan is characterized by the rich smokiness of Lapsang Souchong, along with a mellower character and light, malty sweetness provided by Chinese black tea.

While the teas used to create the Russian Caravan blend all originate from China, the blend is said to have been created along the trade routes between Russia and China in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some stories claim that the smoke from nearby campfires imparted a unique flavor to the tea being transported, which soon became beloved in Russia.

Today, many people are familiar with Russian Caravan tea even if they’ve never heard of Lapsang Souchong. For those who are interested in Lapsang but are looking for a milder and more approachable blend, Russian Caravan can be a great way to explore the world of smoky teas.

Lapsang Souchong Health Benefits

Like other black teas, Lapsang contains a wide variety of health benefits. Lapsang contains a moderate amount of caffeine, similar to other black teas and about half that of a cup of coffee. Lapsang contains a wealth of antioxidants, which help to protect the body against cancer and other degenerative diseases. Lapsang also contains a beneficial compound known as l-theanine, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Like all tea, Lapsang is a great source of proper hydration, and can help to improve the skin, hair, and more.

How to Prepare Lapsang Souchong

Lapsang Souchong has a similar preparation method as other hearty black teas. We recommend using one teaspoon of tea leaves for every six ounces of water, and heating the water until it reaches a full boil (approximately 212 degrees). Pour the water over the leaves and steep for three to four minutes.

If you’re a Lapsang fan or are looking for a smoky tea with a lighter, sweeter taste, we recommend enjoying Lapsang Souchong with a splash of milk and honey, which brings out the natural sweetness of the tea and nicely balances the strong smoky flavor. You can even used Lapsang Souchong to make a smoky tea latte by steeping the tea in hot milk, adding simple syrup and a dash of vanilla, and frothing the milk with an electric milk frother.

Although it can take a little getting used to, Lapsang Souchong is a popular tea with a dedicated following. While this tea is a treat all year round, we’re particularly fond of it on a snowy mid-winter afternoon, enjoyed after a brisk walk outdoors or while curled up in front of a crackling fire. Lapsang is a perfect compliment to all things cozy, and its rich, smoky, slightly sweet character will warm you from the inside out. However you like to take your Lapsang, we hope you enjoy this delightful and unique smoked tea!

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Irish Breakfast Tea

Karen Gardiner

A cup of Irish Breakfast tea with milk and tea leaves

What is Irish Breakfast Tea?

Irish Breakfast is a strong, hearty black tea blend with a bold, malty flavor. While this blend originated in Ireland, it’s now a popular favorite all over the world. Our Irish Breakfast contains a robust blend of Indian and Tanzanian black teas, and pairs well with milk and sugar. If you’re in the mood for a rich black breakfast blend, Irish Breakfast is sure to do the trick!

Irish Breakfast History

Irish Breakfast tea is a hearty breakfast blend originating from Ireland. In terms of tea consumption, Ireland is the second-largest country in the world per capita. Irish breakfast is often taken with milk and sugar for a hearty, warming cup of tea that’s perfect to start the day with. In Ireland, Irish Breakfast is often consumed throughout the day (not just at breakfast!)

While tea originated in China and is now grown primarily in China, India, and African counties like Kenya and Tanzania, tea culture also has a rich history in the British Isles. Here at ArtfulTea, our customers often ask us about the various breakfast tea blends they've encountered, particularly Irish Breakfast, English Breakfast, and Scottish Breakfast. While the origins of breakfast blends are not entirely clear, 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 alongside a hearty 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.

Irish Breakfast typically contains Assam, a black tea grown near sea level in the Assam region of India and known  for it's strong malty flavor and bright coppery color. Which Assam is usually the main component of the blend, Irish Breakfast may also include other Indian black teas, as well as black teas from countries like Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Irish breakfast is often finely ground, allowing the tea leaves to fully infuse the water for a rich, dark cup of tea. Today, Irish breakfast is consumed not only in Ireland, but also all over the world!

Irish Breakfast tea leaves on a dish

Irish Breakfast vs. English Breakfast: What’s the Difference?

Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast teas are typically composed of similar tea blends, usually a mix of Indian black teas along with the addition of teas from places like China, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. Irish Breakfast is usually composed primarily of Assam, while English Breakfast may include a higher ratio of mellower Chinese black teas. Irish Breakfast tea is usually stronger and heartier than English Breakfast, and is often more finely ground, resulting in a deep, dark cup. While still a strong black tea, English Breakfast is somewhat milder and brews up a lighter copper color.

One potential factor contributing to the differences between Irish Breakfast and English Breakfast is the quality of the water in the two regions. In Ireland, the water was traditionally considered to be hard, which was better served by a hearty Assam-based breakfast tea. In England, the water was softer, and breakfast blends tended to include a combination of Indian and Chinese black teas. Today, the initial considerations due to water quality have contributed to the rise of similar but distinct varieties of breakfast blends. While English and Irish Breakfast teas share many of the same characteristics, the main difference is that Irish Breakfast is an even darker, heartier version of a breakfast blend.

Irish Breakfast Health Benefits

Like other black teas, Irish Breakfast contains a variety of health benefits, and is a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Irish Breakfast contains one of the highest caffeine levels of all black teas, making it an excellent choice if you’re looking for a warming, stimulating cup to start your day with. Despite this, however, a cup of Irish Breakfast only contains about half the caffeine of a typical cup of coffee, so many people can consume several cups without having to worry about the adverse effects of too much caffeine.

Irish Breakfast is also high in antioxidants, which help to promote cellular health and ward off degenerative diseases like cancer by reducing free radicals within the body. Like other teas produced from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, Irish Breakfast also contains l-theanine, a beneficial compound that helps to reduce stress and promote calm and clarity. Irish breakfast is good for the hair and skin, and is a good source of hydration for the body.

How to Prepare Irish Breakfast Tea

To prepare Irish Breakfast, we recommend using one level teaspoon of tea for every six ounces of water. Heat the water until it reaches a full boil (approximately 212 degrees.) Pour the water over the leaves and steep for three to four minutes. Enjoy this tea on its own, or add milk and sugar for a classic take on Irish Breakfast. Because this tea is so strong, we find that you can infuse the leaves a second or even third time without sacrificing flavor.

Our Irish Breakfast

There are nearly as many different blends of Irish and English Breakfast tea as there are tea purveyors, all with a slightly different combination of Indian teas like Assam as well as teas from countries like China, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. Here at ArtfulTea, our Irish Breakfast 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.

We particularly recommend Irish Breakfast if you’re looking for a rich, hearty, highly caffeinated tea. Whether you’re looking to switch from coffee or just enjoy the strong, malty flavor of a good breakfast blend, our Irish Breakfast is sure to hit the spot!

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Yunnan Black Tea

Margaret Wack

Yunnan black tea leaves

What is Yunnan Black Tea?

Yunnan black tea, also called Dianhong tea, is a gourmet black tea grown in the Yunnan province of China and made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. Like many Chinese black teas, Yunnan tea is lighter and mellower than the more robust Indian black teas, with a rich, malty flavor with a hint of natural sweetness. Yunnan black teas often have delicate, golden-tipped leaves, and brew up a bright reddish color. We’ve named our Yunnan black tea Golden Yunnan in honor of these striking leaves!

Yunnan Black Tea History

In China, what westerners refer to as blacks teas are called reds teas, while aged, fermented teas like pu-erh are referred to as black teas. Yunnan province is famous for its tea production, and is the source of many different kinds of teas, including Yunnan black tea and pu-erh. The mild climate and high elevation make it and ideal growing climate for tea. Yunnan province is sometimes considered the birthplace of tea, and the region contains some of the oldest wild tea plants in the country!

Yunnan black tea is a premium tea renowned for its quality in China and beyond. The tea is set apart by the large number of golden-tipped leaves and buds present in the loose tea. Yunnan black is made from large, high-quality tea leaves, and is fully oxidized before being prepared and packaged for consumption.

A cup of Yunnan black tea with autumn leaves

Different Yunnan Tea Types

Within the category of Yunnan black tea itself, there are a few different subcategories according to the quality of the leaves and the way in which the tea is processed. Each of these teas have subtly different characteristics and properties. From Broken Yunnan to Yunnan Pure Gold and everywhere in between, there are a variety of different Yunnan teas to choose from!

Broken Yunnan

Broken Yunnan is the lowest grade of Yunnan tea, and is made from tea leaves that have few or no golden buds. This tea brews up strong and dark, with little of the characteristic copper color of a higher-grade Yunnan. Broken Yunnan is often used in tea blends.

Yunnan Gold

Yunnan Gold is a step up from Broken Yunnan in terms of quality, but still contains fewer golden tips than Yunnan Pure Gold. It brews up a slightly darker cup, and has a rich, malty sweetness. Yunnan Gold is also highly prized and sought-after.

Yunnan Pure Gold

Yunnan Pure Gold is often considered the most prized type of Yunnan tea. It consists almost entirely of golden-tipped leaves and buds, and brews up a reddish-copper color. Out of the three teas, Yunnan Pure Gold is the lightest and sweetest, with a rich, malty flavor and a lingering floral finish.

Other Yunnan Teas

Other Yunnan black teas can include Golden Needle, which is prepared with the golden, downy tips and buds of the tea plant, and Pine Needle, which results from a new method of processing Yunnan tea in which the leaves are thin and straight, reminiscent of a pine needle.

Health Benefits of Yunnan Black Tea

Like all teas made from the camellia sinensis plant, Yunnan black tea contains a wealth of health benefits! It contains moderate caffeine, about half that of a cup of coffee, and is stimulating without creating excessive energy. Black tea also contains l-theanine, a beneficial compound that helps to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation. Caffeine and l-theanine work together to contribute to alertness and focus without causing the jitters.

Black tea is also extremely high in antioxidants, helping to reduce free radicals and ward off certain types of cancer. Black tea is can also help to promote healthy skin and hair, aid digestion, and contribute to clarity and energy.

How to Prepare Yunnan Black Tea

Yunnan black tea should be prepared in the same way as other black teas. Use one level teaspoon of tea for every six ounces of water. Heat water to boiling (approximately 212 degrees) before steeping the tea for 3-4 minutes. Like other black teas, it can be taken with milk and sugar, though its flavor is also soft enough to be enjoyed alone. If you’re interested in Yunnan black tea, check out our Golden Yunnan today!

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Kenyan Purple

Margaret Wack

Kenyan+Purple+Tea+(leaf).jpg

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

Monteviot+First+Flush+Darjeeling.jpg

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

Vietnamese+Golden+Tips+Organic+Black.jpg

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

Himalayan+Spring+Organic+White+(1).jpg

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

Milk+Oolong+(1).jpg

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

Margaret Wack

Nepalese+Gold+(above).jpg

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 Teas

Nick Rose

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What is Jasmine Tea?

Even if you couldn’t name it, you’re probably familiar with the scent of jasmine, a floral, slightly sweet aroma that is the perfect complement to many different kinds of tea. Jasmine teas are usually scented with jasmine, rather than jasmine being added directly to them. Tea leaves 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.

Jasmine Tea History

Jasmine tea is closely associated with the city of Fuzhou in China. Jasmine was introduced to China during the Han dynasty, and was first used to scent tea soon after. The jasmine flower is considered one of the holy flowers in Buddhism, and has religious and cultural significance throughout Asia. Jasmine tea is also closely associated with its medicinal uses, and with a meditative ritual of preparation known as the Gongfu tea ceremony.

Today, jasmine-scented teas are popular all over the world, and are beloved for their delicate floral taste and sweet finish. Jasmine is most commonly used to scent green teas, but can also be added to white or black teas.

Jasmine Green Tea

Our Jasmine Yin Cloud acquires its distinctive, delicate flavor from 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, they absorb the sweet scent 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. Jasmine Yin Cloud achieves a perfect balance between being intoxicatingly aromatic and sweetly flavorful, and is delicious both hot and iced!

Jasmine White Tea

Our Jasmine Silver Needle is an exceptional white tea produced from the finest downy tips of the tea plant. Organic Bai Hao Silver Needle tea leaves are scented with fresh jasmine blossoms to create a well-balanced tea with the tantalizing floral taste of jasmine. This superb quality tea offers one of the most sublime tea-drinking experiences available!

Jasmine Black Tea

While white and green teas are scented with jasmine more often than black teas, a hint of jasmine can add a subtle smoothness to a flavored black tea. Our Vanilla Velvet black tea is flavored with vanilla, jasmine, sunflower petals, and calendula for a rich, dessert-like tea with a touch of sweetness and floral notes. Vanilla Velvet is especially tasty with a splash of milk in it, and is a rich, warming tea with a moderate amount of caffeine.

Jasmine Health Benefits

Tea scented with jasmine has a variety of health benefits. Like all types of tea made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, jasmine-scented teas are rich in antioxidants, and help to promote cellular health within the body by reducing free radicals. Jasmine has been shown to have a variety of benefits, including boosting energy, reducing stress, and promoting heart health. Jasmine tea may also help to soothe the body and reduce aches and pains, and can be a beneficial addition to a healthy lifestyle.

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Chun Mee Green Tea

Nick Rose

A cup of chun mee green tea in a floral saucer next to loose chun mee green tea leaves

What is Chun Mee?

Chun Mee is a light, mild Chinese green tea with a characteristic buttery, plum-like flavor. It has a slightly astringent taste and a clean finish. Like all green teas, Chun Mee is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, and is pan-fired soon after harvesting in order to halt oxidation and preserve its bright green color. In Chinese, Chun Mee means "precious eyebrow," poetically referring to the distinctive long, curved leaves of this delicate tea.

Chun Mee is a popular tea among green tea lovers and newcomers alike, with a mellow flavor and small amount of caffeine. In general, Chinese green teas are lighter than their Japanese counterparts, which are known for their rich, grassy flavor. Our organic Chun Mee brews up into a pale yellow liquor, and has a subtly sweet flavor, with a fuller body than white teas but lighter body than most other green teas. If you’re interested in exploring different types of green tea, Chun Mee is a tasty and approachable tea that is sure please!

Chun Mee Health Benefits

Chun Mee has a variety of health benefits similar to those of other green teas. This tea is high in antioxidants, which help to ward off illnesses like cancer by reducing free radicals and promoting cellular health. Chun Mee also contains a compound known as l-theanine, which helps to fight symptoms and stress and anxiety and encourage calm and relaxation. Chun Mee is low in caffeine, like most other green teas, with about half the caffeine of a cup of black tea and a quarter the caffeine of a cup of coffee.

Chun Mee is also low in calories, with a pleasant taste and slight natural sweetness, making it a great alternative to other sugary, caffeinated drinks. Whether you’re drinking Chun Mee for its amazing health benefits or its unique taste, you’re sure to enjoy a hot cup of this classic Chinese green tea!

How to Prepare Chun Mee

When preparing Chun Mee tea, it’s important to use the correct amount of tea leaves and to use water heated to the right temperature, in order to avoid brewing up an unpleasantly bitter cup. We recommend using one level teaspoon of tea leaves for every twelve ounces of water (a large coffee cup is typically around twelve ounces). Heat the water until it is steaming briskly but not yet boiling, with a temperature of 175-180 degrees. Pour the water over the tea leaves, allowing them to become completely saturated and submerged. Steep the tea for one to two minutes before removing the leaves. For best results, do not oversteep! As with many teas, Chun Mee can be infused multiple times. Each infusion offers a subtly different flavors, highlighting different aspects of this delicious tea.

For green tea lovers and those wanting to try green tea, Chun Mee is the lightest green we carry at ArtfulTea. If you’re interested in trying a classic Chinese green tea, brew up a cup and enjoy!

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Darjeeling Black Tea

Nick Rose

Darjeeling black tea

What is 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, and colder, resulting in a lighter, nuttier tea with a complex flavor. Because of its refined taste and superior quality, Darjeeling tea is often known as the “champagne of teas!”

Darjeeling Tea History

Like all other types of tea, Darjeeling is made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant. However, while most Indian teas are produced from a varietal known as camellia sinensis var. assamica, Darjeeling is produced from a Chinese varietal known as camellia sinensis var. sinensis. This specific varietal was brought from China to India by the British in the 19th century. Because of its particular varietal and unique location, Darjeeling tea has many different characteristics than traditional Indian black teas 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. The small leaves grow slowly and are hand-plucked in a labor-intensive process. Similar to other famous regional goods like champagne or parmesan, only tea grown in the Darjeeling region of India is technically allowed to be sold as Darjeeling tea. 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.

First, Second, and Third Flush Darjeeling Teas

Darjeeling teas will vary in flavor 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. Our Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling is an example of a classic first flush tea with a light, floral flavor and astringent bite.

The second flush begins in May and lasts until the Monsoon rains come in June. Second flush Darjeelings are the most common variety of Darjeeling, and are what most people are familiar when they talk about Darjeeling tea. Second flush Darjeelings typically have a slightly darker and more robust flavor, as characterized by our Daily Darjeeling. In October, when the rains have ceased, the third or autumn flush season lasts until the plants go dormant for the winter.

Tea made from the leaves of each flush will vary considerably, although all share similar general characteristics. Darjeeling tea is graded on a scale based on size and quality. “Super Fine Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe” (SFTGFOP) is the highest grade of Darjeeling tea, while tea “dust,” including the fine powder that is often found in commercial tea bags, is the lowest grade in the scale.

Darjeeling Tea Health Benefits

Like other types of tea, Darjeeling teas are extremely high in antioxidants, helping to reduce free radicals in the body and ward off cancer and other degenerative diseases. Darjeeling tea has a moderate amount of caffeine, somewhat less than many other Indian black teas but more than most other types of tea. Darjeeling tea also contains a beneficial compound known as l-theanine, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

Our Darjeeling Teas

At ArtfulTea, we offer an affordable second flush darjeeling in the form of our Daily Darjeeling tea. These organically grown leaves yield a bright coppery brew with a deliciously nutty flavor and mild astringency. Darjeeling tends to be lighter than most other black teas, with a unique taste and character all its own.

In the spring and summer months, we also carry our Monteviot First Flush Darjeeling. This exclusive tea is from the Monteviot Estate, located in the southern region of Darjeeling at an elevation of 5,600 ft. Lively, fresh, floral, and slightly astringent, this tea has all the wonderful qualities of a great first flush. Supply of this seasonal tea is limited, and it usually sells out very quickly!

If you’re looking to explore more Indian black teas, our Star of India black tea is a blend of Darjeeling, Assam, and Nilgiri teas. This balanced black is a great introduction to Indian teas, with a bright copper color and a rich, flavorful taste.

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Masala Chai

Nick Rose

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What is Masala Chai?

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. Our Masala Chai blend includes black tea, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves.

Masala Chai History

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. Drinking tea became popular in India in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when British colonists began growing tea in India rather than purchasing it from China. Masala Chai soon developed into a popular local drink in its own right, with traditional Indian spices added to black tea for a unique and satisfying drink.

How to Prepare Masala Chai

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.

Traditional Preparation Method

When traditionally prepared, Masala Chai spices are simmered in milk for several minutes, then black tea leaves and sugar are added. After another few minutes to allow the leaves to steep, the tea is ready to be served.

Western Preparation Method

If you don’t want to steep your tea and spices directly in milk, you can prepare Masala Chai like a normal cup of tea. Using one teaspoon of tea leaves for every six ounces of water, steep the tea in hot water for three to five minutes. Remove the tea leaves and add milk and sweetener to taste.

Masala Chai Health Benefits

Masala Chai has all of the benefits of black tea, in addition to the healthful qualities of spices like ginger and cinnamon. Black tea has a moderate amount of caffeine, about half that of a cup of coffee. Black tea is also high in antioxidants, which help to promote cellular health and protect the body from degenerative diseases like cancer. Tea also contains l-theanine, a beneficial compound that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.

In addition to the many benefits of black tea, Masala Chai also contains a wealth of different spices with beneficial properties. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, aids in digestion, and helps to prevent nausea and morning sickness. Cinnamon also contains antioxidants, and help to protect against heart disease and boost the metabolism. Cardamom can help to reduce blood sugar, fight anxiety, and promote oral health. Cloves are rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals, and can help to block the growth of bacteria and promote overall health. With all of the benefits of these spices, along with the many benefits that come from drinking black tea, Masala Chai is a delicious and healthful treat!

Caffeine-Free Chai

If you’re looking to steer clear of caffeine, we also carry a caffeine-free Rooibos Chai, a custom blend of South African rooibos and chai spices including cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, coriander, cloves, and black pepper. Dutch for “red bush,” rooibos is sometimes also called red tea or red bush tea. Rooibos is naturally caffeine-free, and has a rich, slightly sweet flavor.

Other Spiced Teas

In addition to our Masala Chai and Rooibos Chai, we also carry a variety of other spiced teas that offer a unique twist on the classic chai recipe. Solstice Spice is a warming spiced tea that blends black tea with apple, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, orange slices and pink pepper for a taste reminiscent of the holidays. Winter Forest blends green tea with orange slices, almonds, pink peppercorns, and safflower for a tasty tea with a biscotti-like flavor and a hint of spice. One of our most popular herbal teas, Atomic Gold blends turmeric, ginger, licorice, lemongrass, lemon, and orange for a sweet and spicy tea that’s sure to warm you from the inside out. Whether you’re looking for a traditional chai blend or a unique take on spiced tea, we’re sure to have just the tea for you!

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