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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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Yellow Tea in China: What is Yellow Tea?

by on March 21st, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 77: Huo Shan Huang Ya

This week is about my search for Yellow Tea in China, which might be described as partially successful, in much the same way as the tea itself is partially oxidised, i.e. only slightly.

What is Yellow tea?

In contrast to the vast array of green teas, there are only three classic types of Yellow Tea in China, all produced in different regions and in different ways. In fact the making of Yellow Tea is something of a lost art, and nobody is really sure that the teas currently produced are the same as their earlier forms. In each case, the objective of those who... Read more

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Georgian Tea, Artisan Tea and Slow Food

by on March 14th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 76: Natela's Gold Handmade Georgian Tea

This week - tea from Georgia and Slow Food:  what’s the link?

Many people will be surprised to discover that tea is grown in Georgia. In fact it has a long history there, stretching back into the 19th Century. From what I can discover, in the early 1900s it had a reputation for high quality and won many awards at international tea fairs. The industry was transformed during the Soviet era, with huge areas planted and managed intensively as government farms. The bushes were over-picked, the soil degraded, and the quality of the tea got worse and worse. Despite this, we can... Read more

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Fair Trade and the world of tea

by on March 7th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 75: Oriental Beauty Oolong

What’s the best way of buying tea (or coffee)?

When I give talks about how teas for Canton are sourced, I always explain why the company buys direct from tea producers, with whom they have close relationships. For the most part these are very small farms, far away from mainstream large-scale tea production, and often selling only small amounts of tea for export (this is particularly the case in China). Most people understand the benefits and challenges of doing this, but every now and then I get asked the dreaded ‘F Word’ question: “But is it Fairtrade?” This misses the point so spectacularly that... Read more

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What’s so great about green tea?

by on February 28th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 74: Jeju-Do Seogwang Green Tea

What’s so great about green tea?

One of the things I like about doing the weekly blog for Canton is that I can bring a personal perspective rather than having to write specifically on behalf of the company.  What we have in common is our love for fine tea, a passion for sharing that enthusiasm and a belief in the right way of working with farmers. When it comes to different types of tea, we all have our own preferences. This week I am going to come clean and admit that I just don’t have that much love for green teas. This puts me... Read more

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Tea culture and coffee culture

by on February 21st, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 73: Bvumbwe Handmade Treasure

This week’s superb hand-crafted tea from a very rare Malawi bush variety started a chain of thought. Why is it that so much of the excitement of tasting these rare and unusual teas seems to be missing from the drinking experience here in the UK?

I got a message from my daughter recently, along the lines of “I’ve just tasted this amazing Ethiopian coffee in Exeter – they said it tastes of blueberry cheesecake and it really does! You must try it while they still have some”. This was at The Exploding Bakery, and the coffee was roasted by Clifton Coffee as I recall,... Read more

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The Tea Industry in Africa

by on February 14th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 72: Malawi Thyolo Misty Oolong

We do not associate tea with Africa. It has no history there, there is little culture of tea drinking, and it does not have any real identity as a tea source. This despite the fact that it supplies about 70% of the tea drunk in the UK, almost half from Kenya alone. It is popular with large blending companies because of its consistency and clean flavour, and the backbone of all well-known brands. This is the world of small leaf CTC (Crush, Tear, Curl) tea, specially processed to make dense granular leaves for teabags. Some have a good flavour and are a... Read more

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Tea from Malawi: Speciality tea at Satemwa Estate

by on February 7th, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 71: Zomba Pearls White Tea

In the coming weeks we will be featuring three very unusual teas from Malawi. I was shocked when I first saw them, as they confounded all my previous expectations of Malawi. They are unlike anything I have seen before, and very much a personal interpretation of some classic tea making styles. It shows what is possible with a combination of imagination and passion, and I think they are a triumph for their creators, Alexander Kay and his team at Satemwa.

Satemwa Tea Factory

Malawi Tea Malawi was the first country in Africa to grow on a commercial scale. This came about because the... Read more

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A roasted oolong for Chinese New Year

by on January 31st, 2014

Canton Tea Club Week 70: Zhengyan Rou Gui Rock Oolong

To celebrate Chinese New Year, this week’s Tea Club sample is a charcoal-roasted Oolong from the Wuyi Mountains. Also known as Rock Teas, they are more oxidised than other Oolongs, dark and complex. They take some getting used to, but will reward one’s patience with remarkable flavours.

Wuyi Mountain Tea Reserve

I visited the Wuyi Mountains in 2013 with Jennifer Wood, founder and director of Canton Tea, and her reflections are a little later in the blog.

The Wuyi Mountains near Wuyishan City are one of the main tea centres in China, famous for the dramatic scenery of rocky outcrops and narrow gorges.... Read more

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