Here’s one I’ve held on to for a while! I received some samples from Arbor Teas in Michigan. They caught my eye not only because of their tea selection, but also their dedication to the environmental production side of tea creation. All industries have waste. Most tea comes in packaging. It was nice to get these purse-sized packets that I could put in my compost, guilt-free.
Arbor Teas packaging is 100% backyard compostable and made of either hemp or sugarcane. Here’s a bit about what they tasted like!
Makaibari Estate Silver Tips White from India
This little beauty had a rich, full-bodied vanilla flavour, slight astringency and muscatel character, with an earthy floral suggestion. Very pleasant to drink.
Steeped at 80˚ C for three minutes. Find it here.
High Mountain Oolong from Vietnam
This liquor was smooth and sweet, almost like someone added a little honey. It had that lovely oolong wet floral taste, like peonies in an afternoon greenhouse. Slightly vegetal and reminiscent of fiddleheads.
Steeped at 90˚ C for five minutes. Find it here.
Look at this beautiful tea. Mwah!
Hawaii Premium Black
Now THIS was a cool one. I’d never tried Hawaiian tea before. Heck, I didn’t even know they had producing tea farms on Hawaii. What struck me first was how ‘fresh’ it seemed. Long, twisted brown and pale yellow leaves. Almost a fruity smell, like tobacco. It was so sweet! Drinking it I tasted a little bit of cherry and malt. Medium body with astringency hitting me in the middle of the tongue.
Steeped at 95˚ C for five minutes. Find it here.
Brews from the steep hills of Nepal’s first organic tea garden give back to the community.
The packages have charming colourful labels, and come in flavours like, ‘Kathmandu Cosmos,’ ‘Silver Yeti,’ and ‘Shangri-La Oolong.’ As a writer, I can’t help but feel fond toward this tea company that plays with its names. Even better, the Nepal Tea LLC is a social business venture, bringing you tea straight from the Kanchanjangha Tea Estate and Research Center, the country’s first organic tea garden, founded in 1984.
It’s all about regional specialty with Tillerman’s select collection of Taiwanese oolong teas.
The Tillerman Tea Company is based in San Francisco. Canadian David Campbell started the company after spending 30 years in the wine industry. Tillerman Tea Company’s focus is on a limited selection of single-source oolongs straight from the producers.
I had seen the Teavivre logo floating around the internet, but before I received their sample pack in the mail, I’d never before tried a Teavivre tea. When I broke open the big package they sent, the little individually sealed packets that tumbled out reminded me of a care package a kind dorm mate in London had once sent me from her favourite tea fields in China—packages just the right size for a gaiwan, or great to throw in your bag (if you’re a gaiwan-carrying nerd, like me).
Tea lovers will appreciate Teavivre’s regional focus on traditional and organic production from China.
I first wandered into the Camellia Sinensis Teahouse in Montréal during a summer road trip across the country. It was around the corner from the Jean Talon Marché where our friend was taking us on a neighbourhood tasting tour of Montréal’s Little Italy, including succulent oysters, artisan sausages, and delectable duck meats. Finding the unassuming Teahouse entrance and enjoying some nice iced matcha and nerdy tea conversation with the staff inside was a highlight of the day (it also relieved Rob of having to listen to my tea gibberish for ten minutes).
So of course I got when Camellia Sinensis reached out with some samples. When I think quality Canadian tea, and especially ‘Quebec Tea,’ they’re one of the first to come to mind.
This American importer of organic, single-estate Korean teas has offerings that would pair well with your summer picnic.
Back in 2015 when Rob and I visited South Korea, a highlight of our trip there was taking the ferry to Jeju Island, the ‘Hawaii of South Korea.’ As beautiful as you might think, this island paradise and popular Korean vacation destination is just a few hours by ferry south of the mainland. We took the ferry from Mokpo and spent a week frolicking around sex museums, climbing South Korea’s highest mountain (with no water), eating delicious black pork belly, and visiting the O’Sulloc Tea Museum (which I was VERY excited for).