About Single Estate Tea...

“Single estate tea” is any tea originating from one single tea property, plantation or garden, where the make up of the tea plant’s environment, soil elements, elevation level, as well as climate are important factors that directly contribute to the quality, taste, and health benefits of each tealeaf.

    

 

 

The vast majority of teas sold in the U.S. are actually blends from various estates, or a combination of tea leaves with herbs, dried fruits, or other essential essences.  A favorite herbal tea you maybe familiar with is Chamomile, which is made from daisy-like dried chamomile flowers.  Other favorites are herbs like peppermint, lavender, or hibiscus and they are often blended with oils or colorful fruits to achieve an appealing look or particular taste profile.  What’s important to know is that these herbal, floral, and fruit infusions are not actually tea: true tea is made from the leaves of tea bushes known as camellia senensis, and can also offer minimal levels of caffeine, whereas herbal infusions cannot.

Sometimes these herbal ingredients are blended with actual tea leaves, however this often compromises tea’s natural taste and health benefits.  For centuries people have sipped tea for its health properties, as tea was discovered in ancient Asia for its many medicinal purposes.  Over the years, the scientific community continues to discover various health benefits found in tea, which can span from lowering cholesterol levels to cancer-fighting agents and countless more.  Since herbs are not technically considered tea, they cannot offer the bounty of health properties of true tea.

Single estate teas are pure, whole-leaf teas from camellia sinensis that are not blended with any additives.  More importantly, these teas reflect the distinct taste profile of their unique origin.  Like wine, tea from a singular origin is indicative of its terroir.  Wine enthusiasts know to choose their wine based on location, geography, geology, and climate because these factors determine the final and complete taste profile.  For instance, green tea from Japan will not taste the same as green tea from China, just like Pinot Noir from California will taste different from those produced in France.  It’s a matter of preference, and most wine connoisseurs learn their preference based on education and experimentation—the same goes for tea.  Aside from its incredible health properties, understanding single estate tea connects you to the environment and culture of the origin where a particular tea is produced.  This is where tea becomes an art form.  Just like a single malt scotch, vintage wine, and single origin coffee, we appreciate single estate tea for the same reasons.

Sometimes these herbal ingredients are blended with actual tea leaves, however this often compromises tea’s natural taste and health benefits.  For centuries people have sipped tea for its health properties, as tea was discovered in ancient Asia for its many medicinal purposes.  Over the years, the scientific community continues to discover various health benefits found in tea, which can span from lowering cholesterol levels to cancer-fighting agents and countless more.  Since herbs are not technically considered tea, they cannot offer the bounty of health properties of true tea.

Single estate teas are pure, whole-leaf teas from camellia sinensis that are not blended with any additives.  More importantly, these teas reflect the distinct taste profile of their unique origin.  Like wine, tea from a singular origin is indicative of its terroir.  Wine enthusiasts know to choose their wine based on location, geography, geology, and climate because these factors determine the final and complete taste profile.  For instance, green tea from Japan will not taste the same as green tea from China, just like Pinot Noir from California will taste different from those produced in France.  It’s a matter of preference, and most wine connoisseurs learn their preference based on education and experimentation—the same goes for tea.  Aside from its incredible health properties, understanding single estate tea connects you to the environment and culture of the origin where a particular tea is produced.  This is where tea becomes an art form.  Just like a single malt scotch, vintage wine, and single origin coffee, we appreciate single estate tea for the same reasons.

Learning your preferences in tea will take time and practice. With time you will learn the distinct difference in the complexity of its natural taste, from one single estate tea to another.  To start drinking single estate tea, I recommend picking a tea type that reflects your taste profile.  White, Green, Oolong and Black teas are the four major categories and their taste profiles vary from light to strong in that order.  You can assess your taste profile base on your preference in wine.  If you drink white wine regularly, then I recommend starting with a lighter tea, within the white or green category.  If you prefer red wine, then start with Oolong or Black tea, as they are richer in taste. 

Spend sometime exploring each particular category of tea at a time, and learn to detect the subtle difference between the estates you prefer as well.  Trust that you will find the tea that you love.  After all, it’s about your tea journey, and not just the destination.





Discovering Tea Types

Understanding a tea type doesn’t have to be confusing. Simply remember two facts as you explore the vast world of tea.

1.  All pure teas originate from the same plant species, Camellia Sinensis.

2.  There are four major varieties of tea:  White, Green, Oolong and Black, which develop their distinguishing characteristics during processing.

You may be curious as to how one species of plant produces so many diverse types of tea.

Many factors create the unique properties of various tea types but four significant aspects that categorize the varieties are:  provenance, processing, medicinal qualities, and appearance.  In our previous post, we shared the importance of terroir and how it affects the taste of tea.  Tea production is equally significant in developing specific tea varieties.  Each type of tea is also distinguished by its particular health properties.  The color of the tea is indicative of caffeine content and the richness of flavor.

Green Tea:   Scientists have discovered health properties in green tea, from lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease to fighting cancer.  After the leaves are plucked, they are dried and heat treated, which halts the oxidation process, preserving the leaf's emerald hue and natural occurring antioxidants and amino acids like Theanine.  The leaves are finished by rolling or twisting, and then fired.  One of the most sought after green teas is   Sencha   from Japan.


Green Tea:  Scientists have discovered health properties in green tea, from lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease to fighting cancer.  After the leaves are plucked, they are dried and heat treated, which halts the oxidation process, preserving the leaf's emerald hue and natural occurring antioxidants and amino acids like Theanine.  The leaves are finished by rolling or twisting, and then fired.  One of the most sought after green teas is Sencha from Japan.

White Tea:   The best white teas only use the first two buds of each tea plant before they open to become leaves.  Thus, they are extremely fragile, and harvesting is labor intensive.  Tea leaves for white tea are not only hand-picked but they also need to dry in the sunlight for one to three days before briefly being oxidized from 30 minutes to 3 hours, varying by weather.  White tea is the least processed of all tea types and offers the most antioxidants.  Popular white teas are   Silver Needle   and   White Peony  .   

White Tea:  The best white teas only use the first two buds of each tea plant before they open to become leaves.  Thus, they are extremely fragile, and harvesting is labor intensive.  Tea leaves for white tea are not only hand-picked but they also need to dry in the sunlight for one to three days before briefly being oxidized from 30 minutes to 3 hours, varying by weather.  White tea is the least processed of all tea types and offers the most antioxidants.  Popular white teas are Silver Needle and White Peony.   

Oolong Tea:   A popular tea due to its intricate tea production process, oolong tea is extremely complex in its taste profile, even within its type.  These leaves are withered and briefly oxidized, first in direct sunlight.    Then the leaves are rolled and fired to halt oxidation.      This degree of semi-oxidation can range from 10-80%.      Oolong's caffeine content is midway between black and green tea.      The range of taste profile can be dramatic.      A light oolong can tastes similar to green tea, and a darker oolong will taste like a light black tea.      Iron Goddess of Mercy   and   High Mountain Oolongs   are two favorites of this variety.   

Oolong Tea:  A popular tea due to its intricate tea production process, oolong tea is extremely complex in its taste profile, even within its type.  These leaves are withered and briefly oxidized, first in direct sunlight.  Then the leaves are rolled and fired to halt oxidation.  This degree of semi-oxidation can range from 10-80%.  Oolong's caffeine content is midway between black and green tea.  The range of taste profile can be dramatic.  A light oolong can tastes similar to green tea, and a darker oolong will taste like a light black tea.  Iron Goddess of Mercy and High Mountain Oolongs are two favorites of this variety.
 

 

 

Black Tea:   The most popular tea type consumed in the U.S. is black tea.  The leaves are rolled and then oxidized to darken and develop the desirable natural flavor and color.   Last, the leaves are dried to halt the oxidation process and lock in its distinctive characteristics.   Similar to oolong, black teas also offer a range of taste profiles within its type but generally contain the most caffeine of all tea varieties.  Like a cabernet sauvignon or merlot, black teas like  Golden Beautiful Eyebrow  are rich in color and flavor and can be extremely smooth to finish. 

Black Tea:  The most popular tea type consumed in the U.S. is black tea.  The leaves are rolled and then oxidized to darken and develop the desirable natural flavor and color. 

Last, the leaves are dried to halt the oxidation process and lock in its distinctive characteristics.   Similar to oolong, black teas also offer a range of taste profiles within its type but generally contain the most caffeine of all tea varieties.  Like a cabernet sauvignon or merlot, black teas like Golden Beautiful Eyebrow are rich in color and flavor and can be extremely smooth to finish.