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Xia Guan Tou Cha from 1992
Expert Elliot Knapp reviews one of our most sought-after puerhs.

1992 Xiaguan Tuo Cha Puerh Tea Review

by on May 2nd, 2011

Guest blogger: Elliot Knapp

This 1992 Xiaguan Tuo Cha offers a case study in both the characteristics of classic Xiaguan Factory sheng puerh and the virtues of dry storage. Although any aged puerh is a serious investment, for its price this tuo cha’s storage quality and further aging potential are undeniable.

Appearance-wise, it is immediately apparent that this bird’s nest was made with the traditional (very small) sized leaves. Naturally, then, the golden flecks visible all over the surface of the nest are leaf buds. Young sheng connoisseurs will note that this tea does indeed have some age on it—buds in fresh sheng have a much whiter appearance. As with any tuo... Read more

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Markman Ellis introduces his series of upcoming guest blogs on how tea was consumed in Eighteenth-century England.

Markmann Ellis on Tea in Eighteenth Century England

by on April 26th, 2011

Markman Ellis is Professor of Eighteenth Century Studies at Queen Mary University of London. He is the editor of 'Tea and the Tea-Table in Eighteenth-Century England'.

Part 1: How and why this book was written

Despite the significance of tea to the British people, the history of tea in Britain, especially in its early years, has been clouded by imprecision and contradiction. Historians of the East India Company, making use of the company’s archival records at the British Library, have given a deeper understanding of the management of the tea-trade. But what of the English experience of tea? How can we find out more about what English consumers thought of tea in... Read more

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Why I love pu-erh

by on March 23rd, 2011

Guest blogger: Elliot Knapp

Take a casual look around the online tea community and it won’t take too long before you come across puerh tea there are numerous tea aficionado blogs solely dedicated to it, and there are even vendors that sell only puerh. If you’re unfamiliar with puerh, it’s as easy to wonder what kind of tea can inspire such fascination as it is to want to take the plunge and start trying some.

I first encountered puerh at a point in my tea drinking when I was trying as many new and different tea types as I possibly could. I think one of the most attractive aspects of puerh is that it can improve with age.... Read more

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We are pleased to introduce a series of forthcoming blogs written by some expert guest bloggers.

Distinguished Guest Bloggers

by on March 23rd, 2011

We are introducing a series of blogs from different writers. Some are academics like Markman Ellis, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies with a special interest in the history of tea, and Dr Michael Hyman, Associate Professor of Microbiology at North Carolina State University who throws light on the science of the leaf. Others are tea professionals, such as Elliot Knapp from Seattle whose focus is Puerh and traditional Yixing teaware.

All our guest bloggers offer a very different perspective and have a lively and authoritative take on their field of interest.

Thanks to all, it's great to host them and we hope you readers enjoy the bigger picture.

First up is Elliot Knapp

Elliot first... Read more

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Xia Guan Tea Factory

by on March 21st, 2011


The Famous Xia Guan Tea Factory
Formerly known as the Kang Zang Cha Chang (Kang Zang Tea Factory), in 1950 it officially changed its name to the Yunnan Sheng Xia Guan Cha Chang (Yunnan Province Xia Guan Tea Factory).

In 1955, the Xia Guan Tea Factory bought up a number of small, privately-owned factories (such as Yong Chang Xiang, Fu Chun He, and Mao Heng). This proved a useful development in the production of fine puerh. Not only did the Xia Guan factory retain the traditional tuo cha processing methods from the famous Yong Chang Xiang, they also introduced some new machinery and improved on ways of mixing and compressing the tea... Read more

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Edgar visits a rare UK tea plantation in Cornwall.

A Visit to Tregothnan

by on March 11th, 2011

I spent a week on holiday in Cornwall last week and whilst there I visited Tregothnan tea.

For those of you who don't know, Tregothnan is the Estate of the Boscawen family where they have been cultivating tea for the last 200 years. Historically the tea was grown for ornamental purposes but over the previous 10 years tea they have started to produce tea for consumption.

Surprisingly tea grows really well in Cornwall due to the terroir. The soil, climate, temperature and soil is very similar to that of the Darjeeling. Although the quality of the finished product is not up there with the top Darjeelings yet it is improving year on year... Read more

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Join us in stunning surroundings to taste some of the best oolongs in the world.

Oolong Tea Tasting Workshop at Petersham Nurseries

by on February 16th, 2011


Tuesday 1st March 2011, 10:30am

We hold regular Tea Tasting Workshops at Petersham Nurseries (now Michelin-starred) who serve and sell our teas.

The next one is a slight departure from our previous tastings. Normally we gallop through the tea spectrum starting with the fragrant Jasmine Peals and delicate White tea, through Green, Oolong and Black, then ending with a dark, complex, aged and compressed Puerh tea.

In this workshop we are focusing only on the largest and most diverse category in the tea spectrum - the Oolongs.  We will explore what makes an Oolong distinct from a Green or Black, where they are from, how each is made and why one of them... Read more

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Tea tastings in historic locations.

Clones and Canton Tea at Ham House

by on February 9th, 2011

Ham House is an impressive survival of the 17th century and features as the school for doomed children, cloned for organ donation in the dystopian film Never Let Me Go.  But it's also the much more cheerful venue for our Tea Tasting Workshops and is the destination for National Trusters who come to enjoy the Canton Tea Tasting experience.

These regular events kick off with a privileged poke round the private salon where Elizabeth, Duchess of Lauderdale took tea with her bosom pal Catherine de Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II. Elizabeth was an early adopter of tea, a rare and devastatingly expensive commodity which was only just filtering through from China.

Her... Read more

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Join us at the spectacular Ham House to learn more about tea.

Take Tea at Ham

by on December 10th, 2010

This weekend Canton is taking a stall at the Ham House Christmas fair. This National Trust gem stands in beautiful grounds by the river Thames and has one the best-preserved 17th century interiors in the country. Please do come and join us at the cradle of tea drinking in the UK: The Elizabeth Duchess of Lauderdale pioneered the custom of taking tea at Ham House around 1670.

Here you can taste the same type of teas the Duchess would have taken as she entertained both Cromwell and Charles II and find some great Christmas gifts. Ham House is a lovely place to visit and it's only a short walk to Petersham... Read more

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Jin Jun Mei: A Golden Eyebrow raiser

by on November 26th, 2010

Wuyi Tea Fields

Ah, Wuyi. Mention this magic Fujian mountain to any true tea geek and watch their eyes mist over. Wuyi Shan: Cradle of tea civilization, the original source of Oolong, rock tea, the four famous bushes, and home to great teas such as Rou Gui, Da Hong Pao and Shui Xian. In wine domaine terms, Wuyi is perhaps Beaune, Pomerol, and Romanee-Conti rolled into one epic piece of terroir.

Wuyi's dramatic volcanic landscape is the source of so many fine and ancient teas that it attracts droves of Chinese tourists. (pic of four famous bushes?). It is also the origin of a much more recent addition to the ultra-fine... Read more

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