Treasure Chest Knowledge Hub

The Treasure Chest Knowledge Hub

Origins: A Journey to the Home of Tea

Welcome to our tea knowledge hub. If you’re reading this, you have recently purchased the very first Treasure Chest in our series of limited-edition tea experiences. As part of your Treasure Chest of curated teas, we’ll be sharing our knowledge and passion for tea with you. So, sit back, scroll down and join us on a journey to the tea-producing provinces of China.

China

China is the birthplace of tea, it has been cultivated there for nearly 5000 years. Many Chinese legends speak of its discovery, the oldest dating back to 2737 BC. According to that legend, Divine Emperor Shen Nong, who was also a herbalist and scholar, was first to recognise tea’s health properties and refreshing taste when a few stray leaves drifted down from an overhanging tree and fell by chance into his cauldron of boiling water.

  • During the Tang dynasty (618-907), the art of tea was developing alongside the arts of painting, calligraphy and poetry. 

    In the early 760s, Lu Yu, China’s first real tea specialist and known today as the patron saint of tea, wrote The Classic of Tea, the first book devoted to tea. His work details the tea plant, its cultivation and the ways different teas are manufactured. Lu Yu also gave precise instructions on how to prepare the teas and wrote about its many health benefits.

    The use of tea grows upon me surprisingly; I know not how it is, but my fancy is awakened and my spirits exhilarated as if with wine. ~ As said by an emperor of the Han dynasty.

    The time during the Song dynasty (960-1279) became known as The Age of the Beaten or Whisked Tea. This is when the finer details of the tea ceremony became increasingly important.

    The last school of tea preparation happened together with the cultural renaissance of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). It was during this time that tea began to be prepared the same way we do it today, by pouring simmering water over dried leaves. Most of the instruments used to brew tea today, such as kettles, teapots, cups without handles, etc. were invented during this period.


The Tea Plant: Camellia sinensis

There are many different types of tea available today and most originate from the tea plant native to China, otherwise known as Camellia sinensis.

Camellia sinensis is a hardy evergreen plant boasting glossy green, pointed and fragrant leaves. In autumn, the delicate white flowers bloom and this is our inspiration behind the illustration on our Treasure Chest Series.

Today, Camellia sinensis is grown in many countries due to the large variety of growing conditions around the world.

There are 6 basic categories of tea: white, yellow, green, oolong (blue), black and matured tea.

Did you know that if it does not originate from the Camellia sinensis plant it is not technically a tea? A lot of what is called tea is made up of blends of different flowers and herbs – herbal infusions or tisanes to be accurate.

Although there are thousands of varieties of tea, it is not the plant that differs, but the way it is grown, the terroir and climate, as well as how the leaves are processed after picking.


Terroir and Tea Preparation Guide

Tea Preparation

Below, we have prepared a terroir and tea preparation guide covering all the teas in your first Treasure Chest:

  • White Tea – White Sky Tea, 4 x 100% cotton tea bags
  • Oolong Tea – Milk Oolong Tea, 4 x 100% cotton tea bags
  • Green Tea – Gunpowder Supreme, 50g x loose leaf tea
  • Black Tea – Yunnan FOP, 4 x 100% cotton tea bags
  • Matured Tea – Pu-Erh of the Night, 50g x loose leaf tea

Not all teas are the same. Each tea is processed differently, and so they need to be prepared according to these guidelines in order to fully experience the beauty of the terroir and the flavour of each of them.

Fujian province

A region with a subtropical climate and over 1600 years of tea growing history, Fujian is renowned for the variety of teas it produces. The Wu Yi mountains are celebrated for their oolong or blue teas and the rich, deep soil of this region is ideal for growing the best white teas.

White Tea

White tea is a rare delicacy, consisting of the first few tender leaves and new buds of the tea tree, harvested in early springtime. Unprocessed white tea leaves are simply picked and sun-dried, and therefore retain the highest level of antioxidants. When infused, white teas yield a pale, champagne-coloured tea that has a very light and delicate flavour.

White Sky Tea

Majestic Yin Zhen silver needles blended with fragrant ylang-ylang oil, marigold and tropical fruits.

Preparation

Use 1 tea bag/cup or small teapot. Pour simmering water (95°C) over the tea bag and infuse for 4-5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and serve.

Blue Tea (Oolong)

Oolong teas are known as semi-oxidised teas and combine the fresh fragrance of green teas with the rich and aromatic complexity of black teas. There is a vast range of oolongs, with oxidation varying between 10 and 80%.

Milk Oolong Tea

Cultivated at altitudes of 500 to 1200m, this exceptional oolong is composed only of the finest whole leaves. Lightly fermented and highly aromatic, this tea offers a delicate aroma, both milky and toasted.

Preparation

Use 1 tea bag/cup or small teapot. Pour simmering water (95°C) over the tea bag and infuse for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and serve.

Anhui province

Renowned for its beautiful landscapes, Anhui is one of the smallest, but most important tea producing regions in China. Most plantations are located on hillsides and the mountainous terrain is extremely favourable for the production of high-quality teas, as the plantations enjoy excellent drainage and plentiful sunlight. Its red soil is rich in humus and iron.

Green Tea

Green teas are generally described as unoxidised teas and no chemical change occurs during their manufacture. There are two different techniques employed to prevent the natural process of oxidation from taking place. The Chinese method involves pan-frying the freshly picked tea leaves in heated copper basins over a fire at 100°C to dehydrate the leaves.

Gunpowder tea

Rolling leaves into balls seals in the flavours and aromas that have developed throughout the processing. This is why some people believe gunpowder tea is so named – less for the shape and more for the explosion of flavour and aroma when it is brewed!

Gunpowder Supreme

This green tea is grown adjacent to the famous Huangshan Mountains at altitudes of up to 900m. The tightly rolled grey-green leaves resemble gunpowder and unfurl to yield an aromatic grassy infusion with a lingering aftertaste and light astringency.

Preparation

Use 2.5 g of tea leaves/cup or 5g/teapot. Pour simmering water (85-90°C) over the leaves and infuse for 3 minutes. Remove leaves and serve.

Yunnan province

Considered to be the birthplace of tea, Yunnan province is undoubtedly one of the most ancient tea-growing regions. It has extremely varied terrain ranging from mountains to plateaus and enjoys abundant rainfall, a mild climate and fertile land. Most of the teas are cultivated at altitudes of 1000-2200m. Black teas and Pu-Erh teas are their major speciality.

Black Tea

Black teas in China are known as red teas because of the coppery-red colour of the liquor that they yield. Black tea is completely oxidised and, when processed, undergoes all the steps of withering, rolling, oxidation, drying and sorting. The traditional orthodox method is still used in China when producing black teas. 

Yunnan FOP

This sophisticated black tea balances strength and smoothness with a suave aftertaste. A classic tea that will take milk well.

Preparation

Use 1 tea bag/cup or small teapot. Pour simmering water (95°C) over the tea bag and infuse for 5 minutes. Remove tea bag and serve.

Matured Tea / Dark Tea

Also known as dark teas, several provinces in China manufacture aged, post-fermented teas. Unlike black tea, matured tea undergoes secondary oxidation, making it a truly unique type of tea. Matured teas are aged in carefully managed conditions to encourage the Pu-Erh to develop a complex, honeyed flavour and aroma.

The longer the tea ages, the sweeter and less astringent the flavour becomes. These teas are also known for their positive health benefits, including aiding digestion and reducing cholesterol. To be called Pu-Erh, the tea has to be made in one of the 639 towns and villages of Yunnan province in Southwest China.

Pu-Erh of the Night

A matured Pu-Erh blend of nostalgic delight, this tea is a melange of night-blooming blossoms and stirring spices.

Preparation

Use 2.5 g of tea leaves/cup or 5g/teapot. Pour simmering water (95°C) over the leaves and infuse for 3 minutes. Remove leaves and serve.


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