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I couldn’t taste the tea and all the cars were the same

by on May 30th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 87: Feng Qing Dian Hong

I was asked this week why I tasted such a larger number of teas in my earlier career. It’s not like that these days – I taste teas individually or in very small groups, and spend a lot of time on each one. This reflects the type of teas I am sourcing and the customers who buy them, and will be familiar to most people who follow Canton Tea and my blog. But outside this very specialised world there are vast quantities of tea produced and sold every week, and the most effective way of bringing sellers and buyers together is via tea... Read more

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The smell of black tea, memories of Assam, and ‘Phil’s Sniff Test’

by on May 23rd, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 86: Wild Mountain Black

There are some aromas that evoke strong memories. As you might expect, in my case many of these are connected with tea, but perhaps more surprising is that most of them relate to black tea. I came to Oolongs and other types very late and they are not really part of my tea memory, which goes back almost 50 years. The pinnacle experiences were probably in the early 1990s in Assam – something that I still draw on today - and much more recently in Fujian. More of that later in the blog.

 

Early days

I am old enough to remember the particular homely smell of... Read more

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Two types of ‘White Tea’: Bai Mu Dan & Anji Bai Cha

by on May 16th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Weeks 85:  Bai Mu Dan and Anji Bai Cha

For tea lovers, this is a special time of year. There is a sense of anticipation as we wait for the new Spring Teas from China and First Flush teas from Darjeeling. Samples start to arrive early in April and continue into May. For the last three years I have been travelling at this time of year and have missed the excitement of parcels arriving: being in China during spring is of course an amazing experience but there is something very special about tasting fresh teas back here. I guess that comes in part from doing it for so... Read more

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Kaimosi

New Traditional English Breakfast

by on May 6th, 2014



We are pleased to announce that we have reformulated our Traditional English Breakfast Tea. Created for us by Phil Mumby who is one of the UK's foremost tea professionals, he has travelled the world's tea estates for over 30 years as a tea blender for the large tea companies. Now he has brought his valuable expertise to blending this all-time favourite for us. Our existing Traditional English Breakfast tea is good - but the new one is spectacular.

Here, Phil describes the teas and why he chose this combination for the blend.


There is an art to blending tea. It normally works best when a blend is built around a single ‘hero’... Read more

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Two Fermented Japanese Banchas

by on May 2nd, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 83 & 84: Japan Green Awa Bancha and Bancha Batabatacha

This week and next week in the Tea Club we have two unusual Japanese Bancha varieties, both fermented but in different ways. This has been very much a voyage of discovery for me, as my experience of Japanese teas is limited in comparison to other regions. I have never visited, and what knowledge I have comes from tasting teas and reading about them. Over the years I have become familiar with classic green varieties and learnt to appreciate the different qualities, but I have never seen anything like these two Bancha varieties.

So this week’s blog will be a... Read more

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Japanese Kukicha leaves

From Stem Tea to Offgrades and Mattress Stuffing

by on April 25th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 82: Japan Green Sayama Kukicha 

This week’s blog is about grades of tea that are normally discarded but then used in various ways. This will mean exploring the darker side of the tea industry a bit, and we will be delving into my shady past in the 1980s again.

This week’s Tea Club tea is a Kukicha green tea from Japan. Kukicha means ‘stem tea’, and is produced from the stems and broken leaf pieces removed when preparing the top Sencha grades. These discarded pieces were traditionally then retained for drinking at home, and referred to as ‘peasants’ tea’. More recently it has been prepared as a special grade,... Read more

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Connecting: tea, art, landscape, music and food

by on April 18th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 81: White Puerh Silver Buds

I will mention this week’s Tea Club tea briefly at the end, must most of this week’s blog is about connecting. It will touch on tea, art, landscape, music and food, but I hope it won’t stray too far into ‘Grumpy Old Men’ territory, because I did learn many benefits to eat breakfast while I was talking to several of my friends.

Earlier this week I travelled to London to meet with Aurélie Servol from Les Jardins de Gaia, a French company specialising in sourcing organic speciality tea, sriracha sticks recipe and spices from small farmers. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year,... Read more

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What is white tea?

by on April 11th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 80: Yunnan White Bi Luo Chun

This week’s Tea Club sample is Yunnan White Bi Luo Chun. It’s not a white tea, but a very delicate green tea, given the name because of its appearance. Classic Bi Luo Chun is of course not from Yunnan, but from Taihu near Suzhou in Jiangsu province, but this tea has been made using exactly the same techniques, pressing and rolling the leaves by hand in a hot wok. I think it is very fine and attractive, but it’s not a white tea. This raises the question – what is a White Tea?

The question of finding a definition takes be back... Read more

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Nigel Melican interview – Georgian Tea Industry

by on April 4th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 79: Tamaz's Tiny Tea Factory

In this week’s blog we will be hearing from Nigel Melican about his work with Tamaz in Georgia. Nigel is as busy as ever and in fact he sent me the piece below from Assam, where he has just been awarded the D.N Borbora Chair for Tea Quality and Manufacturing at the Tea Research Association of India. This is a great honour and reflects his deep experience and strong commitment to the tea industry. If you are a regular reader of my Canton blogs you might have seen him commenting on some of them.

It seems a bit strange that someone I met... Read more

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Tea and Health

by on March 28th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 78: Raw Puerh Mini Tuocha

This week’s tea is a raw Puerh, a tea with particular ‘cooling’ characteristics when used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. That brought to mind the subject of Tea and Health, and I have decided to focus on that this week.

Have you heard? Tea is good for you. Who cares?

I’m fed up with reading about it, seeing it on websites, and particularly impatient with people who say “green tea – that’s really healthy isn’t it?” In fact I might just (very gently) slap the next person who says that to me.

But apparently it is really good for you. Five minutes on the internet came... Read more

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