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Dragon Well – the most famous of all green teas?

by on February 6th, 2015

Warning: this blog is not for green tea experts. It is for those who have never tried green tea or at least never enjoyed it. It’s not very technical; it’s just a few thoughts and experiences, and some drinking suggestions.

One or two people might remember that I wrote a blog a while back with the provocative title ‘What’s so great about green tea?’ In that piece I confessed to finding green tea a bit challenging, especially in the context of experts who are obsessed with infusion techniques and temperatures: it all seemed too difficult, too much could go wrong.

But I’m going to take a different tack this time. In 2012,... Read more

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Da Hong Pao

“Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea”

by on February 2nd, 2015

A personal response to the article in The Independent last week

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog. The Canton Tea Club is having a break, and I have been busy through January setting up a new tea packing business. But something happened last week that really got under my skin and has led to this short piece.

On Monday I was asked by a contact at Fortnum & Mason to help her prepare for an article on Da Hong Pao: a feature writer from The Independent was preparing an article about this legendary tea and wanted to do a phone interview. So I wrote as much as I could... Read more

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Phil introduces Mi Lan Dan Cong

by on August 1st, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 96: Mi Lan Dan Cong

Each of us at Canton gets to choose a favourite during the summer, and this week it’s my turn. The tea I have chosen isn’t the rarest, or the most unusual, and in fact it’s one of the most popular teas that the company sells. I have picked it because it brings back some vivid memories of visiting the farmers, and because it is one of the few examples of true artisan tea making I have experienced. And it tastes fantastic – I have yet to find anyone who doesn’t like it.

Artisan? Or Not?

It’s not hard to find ‘artisan teas’ these days.... Read more

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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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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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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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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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