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Canton buyer Ali with Pouchong

Canton Tea Club is changing

by on July 25th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 95: Bai Lin Gong Fu

Our original plan for the Canton Tea Club was to send out 100 teas from all over the world and then decide where we would take it next. The weeks have passed amazingly quickly and on August 29th we will reach tea number 100. We have some interesting plans for the next stage of tea club, which we will share during August.

In the meantime, we thought it would be good to allow members of the Canton team to a select a tea that they particularly like, and to explain why. It’s also a chance to find out how each of us came to... Read more

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NZ teapot sculptures

Zealong – Oolong Teas from New Zealand

by on July 18th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 94: Zealong Pure Oolong

Jane Pettigrew introduces this unusual tea from New Zealand and explains the origins of Zealong tea.

I first met the Zealong team in 2010 when I visited the Japanese Green Tea Festival in Shizuoka, Japan.  Amongst the milling hundreds of tea lovers at this three-yearly event, I came across Vincent Chen, the determined and tenacious tea farmer behind this impressive new brand of oolong teas grown near Hamilton on New Zealand’s North Island.  I was so fascinated and impressed by the teas he was making that I pestered him for his story.  Four years and many emails later, I visited the Zealong plantation, tasted more... Read more

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Would you like some sugar with that?

by on July 11th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 93: Keemun Special Gift Tea

The mere suggestion of drinking tea with sugar is anathema to most tea connoisseurs. The strength of the disapproval makes me think of those cartoons by H.M. Bateman, noted for his "The Man Who..." series of cartoons. These featured comically exaggerated reactions to minor and usually upper-class social gaffes, such as "The Man Who Lit His Cigar Before the Royal Toast".  And yes, I am the man who ……. puts sugar in his First Flush Darjeeling!!!

H M bateman - The Discovery of a Dandelion at Wimbledon

There are two reasons for this. Firstly, it appeals to the mischievous part of me that... Read more

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Pressed puerh cakes

What is Puerh?

by on July 8th, 2014

Sometimes, tea aficionados can forget that certain tea terms mean nothing to the uninitiated. As recently as last July I was equally in the dark. Yet now, after a year of working at Canton, my PG Tips guzzling friends give me blank looks when I talk about the ‘mouthfeel’, the ‘growing terroir’, or the ‘hui gan’.

But the one that most baffles the dedicated drinkers of what my dad calls ‘normali-tea’ is puerh. These mystical compacted cakes, wrapped in thin paper, fermented and matured like wine – to what purpose? As someone who only heard the term myself a year ago, I thought I’d provide a little introduction to puerh for... Read more

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Tea and starvation in The Dooars

by on July 4th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 92: Spring 2014 Anji Bai Cha


This week I would like to write about something very different. Dooars Tea does not cross my radar very often but it happened twice in the space of the last week for very different reasons. I had some Dooars speciality teas in a batch of samples that arrived for tasting this week, the first I have seen for many years. And they arrived at the same time as the news coverage about starvation and death on abandoned Dooars tea gardens.

What follows is an attempt at a response. It is very much a personal perspective and I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies.... Read more

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Bai Yai and Water Fights

by on June 27th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 91: Bai Yai Assamica Oolong

In the Tea Club this week we feature a third tea from Doi Mae Salong in North Thailand, but it is in a different category to the others. The previous examples – Dong Ding and Oriental Beauty - were produced from small leaf Taiwanese cultivars planted in the 1990s, but this week’s is made using large ‘Assamica’ variety leaves. The name ‘Bai Yai’ means large leaf in the local Thai language. These are indigenous to Northern Thailand, growing in the mountain forests bordering Burma, and just south of Yunnan. Farmers still collect some leaves from the wild growing trees, but also started cultivating... Read more

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From Opium to Oolong – the success story of tea in Northern Thailand

by on June 20th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 90: Cha Nang Ngam Cing Xin Oolong

For the last two weeks in the Tea Club we have showcased Oolongs from Thailand. These are quite new to me, and it has been good to taste some of the range of teas available. Produced in Doi Mae Salong (DMS) in North West Thailand, close to the border with Burma and inside the so-called ‘golden triangle’ of opium production, they are the result of a comparatively recent project to replace opium with commercial tea growing.  Under the umbrella of the Royal development Projects, tea experts from Taiwan were brought to Thailand to assess the growing conditions and recommend tea cultivars.... Read more

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Selling Out, Makaibari and Winnie the Pooh

by on June 16th, 2014

I have been writing a weekly blog for Canton for almost 10 months now. The process has been pretty much the same each time: during the course of the week I reflect on either a specific tea (perhaps the tea in that week’s Tea Club), or on something more general, and the thoughts form as the week progresses. Some blogs have been better than others of course, but I have never missed a deadline. Until last week.


Time to turn the clock back?

Last week was a strange one. I did very little tasting, and was totally preoccupied with other things, in particular attending an assessment day at the end of an... Read more

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Canton now a member of the ETP

by on June 16th, 2014

Canton Tea Co is now a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership. The ETP is a not-for-profit membership organisation that works to improve tea sustainability, the lives of tea workers, and the environment in which tea is produced.

We don't sign up to certification programmes lightly and the ETP don't endorse companies without rigorous assessment. The way we source our teas is by dealing direct with small family-run farms, mainly in China. However as we grow and are also now buying tea in India and Africa, it's important that we stay true to our values. The ETP is dedicated to improving the lives of tea workers and their environment by working... Read more

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Tea, cooking and gadgets

by on June 6th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 88: Special Mao Jian Green

This week’s Tea Club tea is a piece of individual artistry from a tea master named Mr Xia – his own take on a famous tea called Mao Jian, a famous green tea from Xin Yang in Henan. Made to order for Canton, it is a single parcel from a small farm in Zhejiang, the area most famous for Long Jing, and it is the very first harvest of 2014. It is a Chao Qing (pan fried) green tea, made from start to finish in a wok: the process and the final tight curled leaves are reminiscent of Bi Luo Chun.  Mr Xia... Read more

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