Unlocking the Elusive Third Flavor: The Magic of a Tea Sommelier

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Tea and Cheese Pairings at Happy Lucky’s takes on the newest foodie trend

Fort Collins is known for having quite the foodie scene, but not the kind that boasts three Michelin stars. In New York City, a fine dining establishment called Eleven Madison Park serves all inclusive dinners for $295 dollars per guest and even made #1 in The World’s Top 50. It might surprise you that Happy Lucky’s Teahouse shares something in common with this high-end establishment — tea and food pairing.

Tea sommeliers are a rising trend in the foodie world. Western culinary innovators are taking traditional eastern teas and strategically pairing them with food to create an invigorating new experience. Similar to wine sommeliers, tea sommeliers need to have a deep understanding of the subtle nuances of tea. The tea industry has a strict certification process in the works that is similar to the wine industry standards.  Much like a wine sommelier, a tea sommelier must refine their palate and have a well-rounded understanding of the history and region the tea is from. At Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, our staff develops these skills. Leafster Olivia Marks has been collaborating on a perfect tea and cheese pairing with our neighbors at the Welsh Rabbit Cheese Bistro, experimenting with different tea and cheese combinations to find the perfect match. It doesn’t always work out but Olivia says that’s part of the fun because when they do go together:

“…it’s like magic,” according to Kari Grossman, co-owner of Happy Lucky’s.

Would you expect a traditional Japanese green tea like Kukicha or “twig tea,” followed by a bite of Prima Donna (a gouda parmesan hybrid cheese) to melt into a savory flavor reminiscent of Indian food? Probably not. But somehow, mixing and matching teas and cheese reveals a whole new flavor profile.

“It’s like this elusive third flavor. Almost like you’re eating a really nice meal,” Olivia said as she mulled over the kukicha and parmesan flavors melting in her mouth.

Screen Shot 2017-05-11 at 1.34.21 PMAn aspiring tea sommelier should be open to learning as much as they can about the slight variations in tea flavor profiles. To assist them, The International Tea Masters Association created a wheel of flavor descriptors to help define what they are tasting. This gives tea connoisseurs a robust set of adjectives to describe teas beyond ‘earthy’ or ‘floral’. Something that has a ‘nutty’ taste might be narrowed down to a ‘toasted’ flavor. This specificity helps aspiring tea sommeliers dive into the ways these flavors will interact with different foods. If done right, the perfect tea and food pairing brings out a whole new flavor.

With any blossoming new trend, much of the knowledge comes from experimenting. Some combinations are a total bust, but that will not stop tea sommeliers from sipping for the perfect combination. At Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, we provide the perfect introduction to the newest trend.

The Welsh Rabbit prepares a plate with two complementary cheeses and Happy Lucky’s pairs them with two different teas.These plates are prepared twice a week, so you have to get them while you can. Here are some of our past and present pairings:

Watch Olivia and Kari’s tea and cheese pairing by visiting our Facebook page

Blissful Benefits of Tea Meditation

 

By Kari Grady Grossman

When tea was brought to Japan by Zen monks, they used it to stay awake during long meditations. Zen teachings emphasize that everyone can achieve enlightenment, but mundane thoughts stifle it. They believe that enlightenment can be found in the midst of everyday activities. Drinking tea therefore was like a kind of “meditation in action.”¹tea meditation-monk_1920

Although Zen monks are credited with cultivating tea for the purpose of meditation, you don’t have to be one to get the blissful benefits of a tea meditation.  

If you’ve never meditated before it can be hard to just sit down on a cushion and will yourself to have “no thought.” When the monkey mind won’t cooperate, you spend the whole time wondering if you are doing it right. Tea is a helpful tool to get the mind to calm down and focus inward. It’s the easy way to quickly achieve an aware state of profound relaxation and focused calm that alludes so many who try to meditate. The tea meditation process is a simple mindfulness exercise; anyone can do it.  

Tools: Your favorite loose leaf tea, brewed to perfection in a tea infuser or meditation cup so that you can stop the brew and see the leaves. A teabag limits your interaction with the tea.

tea meditation CupSit with your cup of tea and become fully present by closing your eyes, taking full deep breaths and focusing the mind on the sensations that the tea brings through the five senses.

Start by holding the cup and feeling the warmth in your hands, then engage the eyes to stare deeply into the wet tea leaves. When ready to engage your sense of smell, take in the wet leaves first and then move your nose over the liquor to see how they are represented there.  Slowly and mindfully experience how each one of these senses helps enhance the flavor once you take a sip into your mouth and hold it there for as long as possible to focus on the sensation it brings. The next sip you can focus your mind on the terrain, weather and natural elements where the tea was grown before you swallow it. The next mouthful you can focus on the community of people who grew the tea and infused it with their life force. In this way, you take the tea in with your mind as well as your body. You will become aware of how the energy of the tea travels in the body and fills every cell with its vitality.

tea meditate-1851165_1280It only takes 11 minutes drinking tea this way to achieve what Harvard researchers have called “the relaxation effect,” a phenomenon that could be just as powerful to your health as any medical drug but without the side effects. ”We found a range of disease-fighting genes were active in the relaxation practitioners that were not active in the control group,” says Dr Herbert Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who led the research. His studies have shown “the benefits of the relaxation effect were found to increase with regular practice: the more people practiced relaxation methods such as meditation or deep breathing, the greater their chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure.”²

Practice tea meditation with your first cup of the day and later when you’re feeling tired, overwhelmed or unfocused, take your afternoon tea and return to the blissful state by simply closing your eyes, recalling the morning meditation through your sense of smell and taste and Wala! Stress dissipates, focus returns. It is profoundly rejuvenating.  Try it!

Listen to the meditation here

Brew yourself some loose-leaf tea, keep the brew basket handy, close your eyes, hit play and enjoy the bliss!

tea mediation candlesSuggested teas for meditation

Green

China Monkey King:  The tip bud and young leaf sets are pan-fired, pressed flat between layers of cloth in a bamboo basket, and gently roasted over a charcoal fire to finish. The dried leaf has an intricate crisscrossing pattern left from the cloth. The flavor is smooth, sweet, and herbaceous with a delicate floral aroma.  The leaves are awesome to stare at during your meditation, like beautiful pieces of art!

Black

China Imperial Mojiang Gold Bud: To create this delectable tea, young tender buds are carefully rolled to coax out their leaf juices which stain the whitish, silvery buds into their deep golden color. They are gently twisted and heated, which give them whimsical curled and spiral shapes.  A color, texture and flavor that is exquisite for meditation!

Herbals

Rooibos Strawberry Sunshine: A burst of refreshing, clean, and crisp flavor make for a real crowd pleaser. Green Rooibos is blended with orange peel, marigold petals, dried strawberries, and peach flavoring harmonize together. This is living proof that health and taste can and do walk hand in hand. Meditating with this tea is like a walk through strawberry fields forever!

Ayurvedic Shanti:  Shanti means “peace within”. Ayurvedic teachings suggest a peace of mind to balance the spirit and physical health. Shanti is a blend of tulsi leaves and the popular Indian spices of fennel seeds, dried orange peel, and spearmint.  Meditate on it and bring peace to your day!

References

  1. Zen and the Art of Tea by Alyssa Penrod https://www.lagrange.edu/resources/pdf/citations/2011/01_Penrod_Art.pdf
  2. Seven Health Benefits of Meditation http://www.foodmatters.com/article/7-health-benefits-of-meditation
  3. The Way of Tea: A Religio-Aesthetic Mode of Life https://www.jstor.org/stable/1061891?seq=18#page_scan_tab_contents

Springtime in a Teacup

By Courtney Van Evera

“The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical encore.”
~ G.K. Chesterton

When Spring comes, something inside of us, along with bushes, trees, and flowers, awakens. Spring is also a thrilling time for tea, as the first plucked teas behold some of the most sought after camellia sinensis flavors.

Every tea-producing region of the world has a special name for teas that are picked first, usually corresponding to a specific date:

Nepal/India: First flush (picked before April)
China: pre- Qing Ming or Ming Qian (picked before April 4-6)
Japan: Shincha (picked early to mid-April)
South Korea: Ujeon (picked before April 20)

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Many of these “first” teas has a story by the time in reaches Happy Lucky’s.

March 26, Ilam Nepal. The sun casts its rays on the lower slopes of the Himalayan Mountain Range just as the first spring tea leaves are plucked by the deft hands of experienced tea leaf pluckers.  The first spring growth is not dispersed evenly throughout the tea bushes so pluckers must skillfully search for these tender early buds. For the next two days this first flush of spring tea will undergo withering, light hand rolling, and brief drying. On March 29th, it is packed leaving Nepal by April 10th. By the time this specific batch of tea lands in L.A., it has sold out: now unavailable to buyers in the U.S. Fortunately, Happy Lucky’s was able to secure a healthy portion of this Nepal Honeysuckle Green Tea! Happy Lucky’s leafsters (tea experts) evaluate the tea according it’s intended purpose: to taste like the blooming floral display in Nepal this time of year. The Nepal Honeysuckle Green arrived this week and is right on target!

Happy Lucky’s also has a First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea. In picking these first buds, the Darjeeling “fine pluck” is employed: experienced pluckers take the stem of two leaves and a bud between the thumb and forefinger, and twist it for a clean snap.  This tea absorbs the fresh citrus tree cues from the Glenburn Plantation, which complement the bold backdrop of a much more oxidized Darjeeling black tea.

tea-farmhouse-hand-fresh-39347Tea expert and competition judge, Lydia Kung, asserts “Green teas should come at the end rather than the beginning of a tea consumer’s journey, after he/she has come to appreciate what was not done to green teas.” Especially regarding first flush green teas, like Happy Lucky’s Rising Phoenix, every step counts. One day of rain could mean an over-retention of moisture for tea leaves, resulting in decreased quality of fragrance and mouthfeel. Excessive rolling or pressing will cause juices to exude from the leaves, resulting in overbearing tea. If the temperature is too high during the de-enzyming process, tender leaves will be corrupted. Because of the lack of manipulation to green leaves, their appearance is an inseparable point of quality. The leaves of the Rising Phoenix green have been lightly rolled, preserving a surprisingly buttery and sweet spinach flavor.

When these teas are harvested for the first time this year, spring festivals all over the world are being experienced for the first time this year. The Holi Festival in India displays an accord of color as lively squirt gun battles take place in the streets between strangers, rich and poor, and young and old. People walk away donned in the colors of Spring. Chinese New Year is a spring festival which honors the renewal of springtime.

In JapanCherryBlossom-photo-26785Japan, the cherry blossoms, or sakura, bloom from Okinawa to Hokkaido. This viewing season is called hanami, and is eagerly anticipated by local Japanese people and those who travel to be part of it. Easter, originating in Asia, celebrates the renewal of spring as well. Seeing new life begin excites humankind every year.

Our beverage should match the occasion. With complex and vibrant flavors, first flush and spring teas capture the enchantment of Spring!

Nepal: The Underdog of Tea

By Courtney Van Evera

When in Nepal, there are two things you need to know how to say:

Namaste: “The spirit in me greets the spirit in you.”

Chiya khayau: “Did you drink tea?”Nepali teahouse

If you say yes, you will end up drinking a great deal of the country’s universal beverage: Kalo Chia (Nepali chai). The tea consists of sugar, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, yak milk, and most likely a CTC black tea from the Terai, or lowlands, region of Nepal. CTC is a type of black tea that is cut, torn, and curled. When it is sold after production, instead of resembling the original tea leaves, it looks more like gunpowder. CTC tea can be steeped for a longer period of time without becoming astringent, and for this reason is used in chai blends.

Tea Picker NepalWhen I arrived in Nepal in 2012 on a cross-cultural mentoring trip, I already knew I would miss daily occurrences: the colorful silk Punjabi’s worn by Nepali women, the dirt path to the adopted children’s home, the stray dogs, goats, and cows that frequented the streets, and chai tea three times a day. The Nepali teens I was working with were happy to share this custom for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, as we sifted through ideas on marriage, school, and faith.

Today, Nepal is a new and unique source of fine, loose leaf teas because the Himalayan tea growing region is emerging from the shadows of its neighbor Darjeeling. For most of its history, the finest teas grown in Nepal have been sold across the border in India under the guise of the more famous Darjeeling tea. Now, with a little marketing help, Nepal is establishing itself in the more expensive orthodox tea market because the excellent terroir, age of plants and a dormancy cycle that produces some uncommonly delicious flavors.     

ilamTeaPlantation NepalThe Nepali Tea Traders company was formed in 2012 as a social enterprise with a vision centered around recognition of high-quality Nepali tea, organic practices, and social betterment and education of the Nepali people. The tea-growing region of Nepal lies between 4,000 and 8,000 ft., where the tea bushes develop slowly, allowing for complex flavors to develop. The relatively young age of Nepali tea bushes also contributes to unique and subtle flavors after being handpicked. Because Nepali teas are harvested only four times a year, as compared to 6 times in most Indian regions, tea plants are further able to develop in composition and flavor. Some preliminary studies speculate that Nepali teas have the highest levels of antioxidants and theanine because of the plants ability to increase these compounds while recuperating in the dormant cycles, followed by a growing season in well drained, nutrient rich soils.  

map-nepal TeaNepali tea plantations are slowly receiving organic certification, aided by companies like Nepali Tea Traders who are committed to preserving quality in Nepali tea. There are very few high elevation tea plantations that use pesticides or chemicals, but it can be pricey to realize this certification. Factories do not typically have enough money for certification themselves, nor the guarantee of electricity or internet. Further challenges to daily business life are due to the 2015 earthquake and a political situation that has not resolved itself since the royal family was killed in 2001. Rising above these hindrances, Nepali tea businesses have an extraordinary commitment to the art and production of tea and we are happy to support them in establishing their name in the market.  Simply put, Nepali tea is delicious, here are some of our favorites.

Pokhara Nepali Green Tea: Grown in the high mountains of Nepal, an area most known for marketing teas as “Darjeeling”, the tea growers here are now finding their own niche. Reputedly, an area to have never seen man-made pesticides, this tea is grown in a remote area around 12,000 feet in elevation. Pokhara green tea is produced similarly to many Chinese greens, while the unique soil and growing conditions set it apart. The initial flavors are roasted and toasty, which then give way to a sweeter, mineral, rich linger.

Nepal Himalayan Gold: Grown at high elevation in the Himalayan Mountains, this tea is composed of beautifully spiraled young growth. The flavor transcends the norms of tea grown in this type of terroir. It has an initial note of deep malt that transitions to squash and chocolate, finishing with a classic sweet linger often associated with Darjeeling. This makes for a wonderfully nuanced cup of tea.  

Nepal Honeysuckle Green Tea: Harvested in what the Chinese refer to as “Ming Chein” or before the rains, this is the earliest cultivation for tea and the most sought after by connoisseurs across the globe. The tender plucking is extremely aromatic and yields a mild vegetal flavor that has a mineral rich taste which gives way to a sweet linger. The availability of this tea extremely limited availability, we recommend enjoying it while you can.

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One Plant, Many Teas – Thanks to China

By Courtney Van Evera

If all tea comes from the same plant, how can it yield so many different flavors, shapes, and colors? For answers, we look to the birthplace of tea, China.

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All types of tea come from the same plant: Camellia sinensis. There are different varieties and cultivars of tea plants; cultivars are tea plants, typically hybrids, that are tended for specific outcomes such us flavor, drought or pest resistance or yield. Terroir or the environmental conditions  (ex. climate, environment, soil-type, elevation) surrounding these tea gardens are partly responsible for the flavor variances across different teas. The other player in tea flavor is the production process, particularly oxidation level, which is what separates the white, green, oolong, black, and dark teas.

To see how the production process varies the flavor of tea, let’s examine a Chinese variety from each of the five tea categories:

 

Jasmine Silver Needle White Tea –  Young downy tea buds are infused with a soft touch of jasmine. All the appeal and softly sweet nuances of a classic Silver Needle tea, enhanced with the aroma of night-blooming jasmine flowers. The quiet nature of this tea ensures enjoyment.

  1. Picking – White tea is usually picked in early spring, in particular either exclusively bud or in bud and leaf combinations.

  2. Withering – After tea is plucked, it’s left to dry for 26 to 35 hours depending on the variety. A little oxidation may occur during this step, but the key feature of white tea is that the enzymes are never activated.
  1. Tea leaves are infused with jasmine scent as the flowers open. This usually happens during the summer, after the flowers are harvested.
  1. Sorting – separating the good, bad, and ugly tea leaves for selling and consumption!

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China Dragonwell “Long Jing” Tea – Grown near the famed West Lake in Hangzhou, Dragonwell has been honored since the Tang Dynasty. The leaves are hand roasted in small woks. Using precise hand movements to press the tea on the side of the wok, the leaves gain a flat, shiny, jade appearance. The aroma is rich and nutty, reminiscent of roasted chestnuts with a smooth, vegetal, earthy flavor.

  1. Picking – Depending on the variety, tea pickers are required to gather different bud and leaf combinations.
  2. Withering – Oxidation begins as chemical compounds in the tea leaves react with oxygen as they dry outside.
  1. Heating – Tea leaves are heated to deactivate the enzymes that begin oxidation reactions, thus ending oxidation.
  1. Shaping – Dragonwell tea is flattened against the side of a wok, and its cell walls are broken down to further oxidation.
  1. Drying – Ends oxidation and aromatic oils become preserved in the leaves.
  2. Sifting – Getting rid of broken leaves for selling and consumption.

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China Huang Zhi Xiang “Fragrant Yellow Sprig” Dan Cong Oolong – There are several varieties of Dan Cong oolongs. While the Chinese name more directly translates as “Emperor’s Yellow Twig Fragrant,” we’ve simplified its translation for ease of pronunciation. The aroma is thick and perfume-y, with notes of stone fruit. The liquor has a thick and viscous mouth-feel with wonderful fruit flavors, reminiscent of grilled peach and honeysuckle.

  1. Picking – Mature leaves are picked for oolong tea from Phoenix Mountain, which is 1000 meters in altitude. The leaves are picked from trees as opposed to bushes.
  1. Withering
  2. Oxidation – Process begun by stirring by hand or being turned in mechanical cylinders.
  3. Shaping – Tea leaves are rolled, curled, or twisted.
  4. Drying and firing – Intense heat removes moisture and can also give leaves a lightly smokey taste and aroma.

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China Golden Monkey Black Tea –  The tea term “monkey” in China refers to the fuzzy, golden down on the leaves. The beautifully twisted golden leaves are almost as wonderful to look at as to taste. The golden down provides texture and smoothness to the brew. The flavor is uplifting; it is a full bodied brew with honey sweetness and a very pleasant aftertaste. Golden Monkey is also known as “Panyong Wang,” the king of high grade black teas.

  1. Picking – Black teas are picked several times during the year.
  2. Withering
  3. Shaping
  4. Oxidation – Black teas are fully oxidized!
  5. Drying
  6. Sorting, sifting
  7. Optional firing

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China Jinggu Sheng 2008 Pu’er Tea – Harvested from ancient tea trees in what is considered the birthplace of tea, this pu’er is a rare treat. Beautiful large but tender leaves indicate younger growth from an older tree. This combination of age and youth is ideal for high end pu’er; the tea has a deep, complex character while staying delicate. Quality raw pu’er has bitterness in the initial sip that transitions to sweetness. The liquor is orange in color and is quite transparent. This is a result of the cake being aged long enough for the tannin to break down, a benefit of aging tea. We recommend re-brewing the leaves 10 times or more starting with a short 10-15 second steep time.

  1. Picking – Tea leaves used for pu’er tea production are those of the C. sinensis sinensis species.
  2. Withering
  3. Fixation – Called Sha qing, or kill green, in Chinese. The tea leaves are kept at a low temperature to maintain needed enzymes that will later cause fermentation.
  1. Fermentation – There are two options! See below!
  2. Shaping
  3. Aging –  the fermentation process continues as the tea is usually wrapped in special paper (made of mulberry tree bark) which allows gasses to escape while protecting the tea from contaminants. The fermentation process can continue for another 50 years if environmental conditions allow.

From the fermentation stage, pu’er tea falls into one of two categories: sheng or shou. Microorganisms ferment the sheng tea as it ages for 10 to 50 years, where the fermentation of the shou tea is accelerated by a cooking process.

This is merely a starting point for your own discovery of all the variances of Chinese tea. Happy Lucky’s is up to the challenge of keeping you learning!

References

Foundations of Tea: Level Two, Specialty Tea Institute: 2010.

Gascony, Marchand, Desharnas, & Americi (2011). Tea: History Terroirs Varieties, Firefly Books Ltd: Quebec

https://www.jiangtea.com/dancong-oolong-tea/feng-huang-dancong-tea/#.WMbdZFcw2lI

http://walkerteareview.com/dialog-understanding-authentic-dan-cong/

https://www.worldoftea.org/jingmai-puer-making/

 

 

  

 

The Darling of Darjeeling

By Courtney Van Evera

Before the plucking of Darjeeling teas even begins, the Glenburn Tea Estate celebrates.  Glenburn Day honors the local community surrounding and within the estate and it is imperative to the tea production process.  Events included speeches, dancing, singing, and a soccer tournament, showcasing aspects of Nepali and Indian culture. Placing extraordinary value on community engagement, it’s no wonder Happy Lucky’s has close ties with the Glenburn Tea Estate in Darjeeling, India.

Similar to Assam’s story, the Darjeeling region of India, nestled between the Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim kingdoms of old, came under British control through military intervention in the early 1800’s. Nepal was about to take over the kingdom of Sikkim, and the British stepped in. Through multiple negotiations, the British acquired the deed for the land of Darjeeling from the Rajah of Sikkim. Remember the Camellia sinensis sinensis seeds from China that failed in Assam? Some of the better stock made it to Darjeeling, where it was carefully cultivated starting in 1860 with experimental gardens.

Although the British desired the Darjeeling area for reasons unrelated to tea, it turned out to be the perfect place for cultivating it. There are 5 to 6 hours of sun each day, with 180 days of sun each year: perfect for tea as some protection from the sun is ideal. Mountain mist also helps this cause. Darjeeling has an idyllic heavy rain season each year, and the slope of the mountain sides yield natural drainage. The soil is nearly perfect for growing tea because it is slightly acidic, contains organic material from forests, and includes a helpful proportion of clay. At a high elevation, the buds of the tea plant grow slowly, so that flavors are able to fully develop and intensify. As a finishing touch, cold air from the Himalayas expels surplus moisture which results in a clarity of flavor.

From here, Sujoy Sengupta, a Darjeeling tea producer, sums it up when he says, “Plucking can only be done by hand” and “judging fermentation can only be done by the nose (taken from Koehler, 2015).” There are no amateurs in the production of Darjeeling tea.

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How has Darjeeling tea infiltrated the world market, with large consumption in Germany, Japan, France, North America, China, and Iran? Apart from a remarkable product in taste due to terroir and production, the answer is community.

Once India gained its independence from Great Britain in 1947, almost all Darjeeling tea estate ownership was handed over to Indian tea growers or product suppliers, as European owners returned to their homes. When Indian people took control of tea estates or migrated to Darjeeling to apprentice tea cultivation and production, they tended to stay for generations, building a passion for the native land. Darjeeling tea estate administrators have recently caught onto this phenomenon of creating culture, passion, and pride in the tea traditions and innovations of Darjeeling. This community is what top tier tea experts believe will propel Darjeeling tea to lead the global economy of the future.    

Available at Happy Lucky’s are six Glenburn Darjeelings:

Glenburn First Flush Darjeeling Black Tea: First Flush refers to the first picking season in early spring. A stylishly made tea with an abundance of silver tips. The liquor is light and bright, smooth on the palate with undertones of citrus and grape. Full of aroma, it exemplifies all the attributes of a fine Darjeeling First Flush tea.

Glenburn Second Flush Darjeeling Black Tea: Plucked in the early summer months of May and June, this stylishly rolled leaf is made from select shoots that draw their succulence from the late spring showers. The leaves have matured a bit from the first flush, giving the tea more complexity. The liquor is a clear amber, while remaining full-bodied with a flowery nose. It has a complex layer of maltiness with nutty undertones.

Glenburn Monsoon Season Black Tea: Monsoon Flush is a bit hardier and more full bodied than first or second flush. It is harvested in late summer, from July to September. The leaf color has darkened as well as the brew it yields. The taste is bolder and more robust than the earlier plucks, with the malty notes being more up front.

Glenburn Autumn Crescendo: Glenburn Autumn Cresendo is the last tea plucked for black tea production in the season. Harvested in November from select clonal fields, the brew has a coppery color said to be reminiscent of the sun on the snows of Mount Kanchenjunga, the shadow of which it’s made. The flavor is full-bodied yet mellow, with a long lasting finish, both malty and floral.

Glenburn Silver Needle White Tea: This rare White Tea is harvested in midsummer, when the silvery green buds are about to unfold. Picked by only the most experienced hands to preserve the fuzzy “down” on the buds. The flavor is light and floral with a honey-like texture. This tea is exquisite any time of the day or night.

Glenburn Autumn Oolong: Glenburn Autumn Oolong is an exceptional twisted leaf or strip style oolong. In Darjeeling, India, the most commonly produced tea style is black, and an oolong like this is much more of a rarity. Harvested in October, the flavor of this tea is quite reminiscent of stone fruits, with that signature Darjeeling muscatel like natural sweetness that lingers.

It’s always a good time to celebrate Glenburn Day!

 

How The Indian Tea Market Was Born

By Courtney Van Evera

In 1788, a Dutch botanist named Joseph Banks, wrote “You know, the Assam region of India has perfect conditions for growing tea.” Unfortunately, he was ignored.

But, thankfully, his words weren’t ignored forever.

The difference between Camellia sinensis assamica and Camellia sinensis sinensis is that the former is indigenous to the Assam region of India, and the latter are native to China.  C. sinensis assamica has big leaves and grows robustly in the humid, sea-level climate of Assam. The tea is known for it’s marked flavor, strong and full, with notes of chocolate, caramel, malt and pepper, depending on the cultivar. When Assam teas undergo unorthodox production by machine rather than by hand, the brew has less risk of astringency, and the result leads to tasty chai blends! Assam Tea Leaf

So, who finally decided to listen to Joseph Banks about the tea growing potential of Assam?

Two Scottish brothers, Robert and Charles Bruce, who were like the Indiana Jones of their day when they decided to seek adventure by way of military exploits: Robert via the army and Charles via the navy. This sent the elder brother, Robert, to the Assam region of India in 1823, as it had  been overtaken by an oppressive Burmese ruler and the British thought it an opportune  time to colonize. In 1823, no one from Europe was “authorized” to be in India except for the East India Company and military personnel. While in military service, Robert explored as much of northeast Assam as he could and engaged in trade along the way. While in Sibsagar in northeast Assam, a local Singpho tribal chief told Robert about the wild tea trees in their midst. Before he could investigate, Robert Bruce died.

The story does not end there! Robert’s younger brother, Charles, also found himself in Assam, commanding gunboats to fight the Burmese. Before his death Robert had successfully relayed the  new tea information to Charles and in 1825 he gathered samples of native Assam tea, sending them to scientists at the botanical garden in Calcutta – but no one cared. Those involved with the tea industry thought Indian tea to be inferior to Chinese tea. Scientists also tried to cultivate Chinese tea plants in Assam, which failed astoundingly.

Finally Britain’s Tea Committee, while searching for sources for tea outside China, decided to see if C. sinensis assamica could produce commercial amounts of tea and they appointed Charles Bruce to head the endeavor. His official title: Superintendent of Tea. This time, it worked! With the help of Chinese tea makers, Bruce produced eight chests of tea which withstood the perilous sojourn down river to the botanists in Calcutta. From there, the tea sailed to London, where it was sold for a handsome return. Thus, in 1839, the Indian tea market was born. Eventually, Assam tea would become a key ingredient in English, Irish, and Scottish breakfast tea.

At Happy Lucky’s we treasure our three teas which stem from C. sinensis var.assamica. Grab a cup of any of these exceptional Assams and toast to the Bruce brothers from Scotland!

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Indian Assam CTC  Black Tea , a classic unorthodox production tea, organically produced and Fair Trade Certified. The flavors are bold and warming, with hints of chocolate and black pepper. Unorthodox teas, while having astringency, are typically not as sensitive to over brewing, making them a very popular choice for blending, most notably used in masala chai.

 

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India Khongea Second Flush Assam Black Tea, picked in the months of May and June, is a high quality second flush. Harvesting a specific variety of P126 clonal tea plants produces a large proportion of beautiful golden tips. The liquor is golden in color with malty and spicy flavor notes which come through well when adding milk. This tea makes a great breakfast tea.

 

In-MaltyAssam__75015.1367960503.1280.1280India Malty Assam Black Tea renowned for its full flavor and rich, malty aroma. The Assam region is the largest tea producing region in the world and home to some of India’s best black teas. The varietal Camellia assamica has a larger leaf than its Chinese counterpart. The brew is bold and malty with a slight caramel sweetness.