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New Teas in the Leaves of Cha tea chest!!!

Sencha Asanoka

Heirloom cultivar Sencha from Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan 

This delicious sencha is made with the Asanoka cultivar. Asanoka means “Morning Aroma” and is a cross between Japanese Yabukita and a Chinese cultivar. It was developed at the old Kagoshima Tea Research Center.

One of the things I’m passionate about with tea, and food in general, is unique and heirloom varietals or cultivars. So I was very excited to find this single cultivar sencha NOT made with the ubiquitous Yabukita cultivar. Of course there are fabulous senchas made with Yabukita but I’m all about preserving and encouraging diversity in specialty tea. The region of Kagoshima where this Asanoka was grown has a high temperature difference between day and night which helps the tea develop a deeper flavor that is vegetal and umami with a light sweetness and without much bitterness

Provenance:

  • Origin: Hioki, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan
  • Grower/Teamaster: Itaru Kawaji
  • Elevation: 250m
  • Harvest Date: April 2019 (1st Harvest)
  • Cultivar: Asanoka
  • Cultivation: Certified Organic at source but not at packaging point (Leaves of Cha)  
  • Plucking Standard: Machine harvested
  • Processing Notes:  Fukamushi (deep) steamed
  • Nickname: Asanoka means “Morning Aroma”, but is also sometimes called “Senkou Ka” (“Incense Stick Aroma”) for its unique fragrance.
  • History/Pedigree: Grown only in Kagoshima prefecture, Asanoka is a cross between Yabukita and a Chinese tea cultivar (鹿Cp1  or Kago Cp1)

Tasting Notes:

  • Vegetal, bright, slightly sweet, with prominent umami. The brewed tea has a pronounced scent that is reminiscent of Thai Basil and Honeysuckle flowers with a hint of brine.

Find it on the website here.

Yame Gyokuro

The amazing shade grown Green Tea from Yame 

Gyokuro (“Jade Dew”) gets its name from its intense green color and the historical ball-shaped preparation of this tea. Nowadays, the leaves are straight needles like sencha, but the shading process prior to harvest still gives the tea its deep, saturated green color and rich umami flavor.

The Yame growing region is known across Japan for its excellent Gyokuro. Production of Gyokuro involves a 10-day period of shading the tea plants prior to harvest. The shading forces the plant to boost its chlorophyll production and retain its store of amino acids, leading to a deep green color and rich umami.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Yame, Fukuoka, Japan
  • Grower: Hoshino Village Farmers
  • Elevation: 200m~300m
  • Harvest Date: May 2019 (1st Harvest)
  • Cultivar: Yabukita & Oku Midori
  • Cultivation: Conventional
  • Plucking Standard: Machine
  • Processing Notes:  Fukamushi (deep steamed), high firing
  • Nickname: Jade Dew
  • History/Pedigree: Developed in 1835 by Yamamoto Kahei in Uji, Kyoto, Japan, Gyokuro became the first shaded tea in Japan to be consumed as a loose leaf tea. The original Gyokuro was called “Tama no Tsuyu” and involved the leaves being curled into tight balls, but through the years, this tea came to be processed like Sencha, with the familiar needle-shaped leaves.
Tasting Notes:
  • Savory, marine, buttery
Find it on the website here.
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New teas up on the website and on the way!!!

Wild Purple Ya Bao

Purple varietal white tea 

This rare tea’s leaves come from wild purple tea trees that grow in the high mountain areas of Jinggu. The trees are a varietal often referred to as purple “ye sheng”. Since the trees are completely wild and relatively remote, this tea is produced in tiny quantities and production cannot be scaled. The cost of the tea is almost entirely due to the labor of finding and plucking the leaf material. It takes about 15 days for them to collect enough to process into 15kg of tea. I sampled 25g in 2017 and loved it. When I decided a month later to add it to the Tea Chest it had already sold out for the year. I don’t expect it to be around for me to reorder before the 2019 harvest, so get it while you can.

(I know, I know, another purple tea…I just love them so much. I’ve noticed their rarity often means more (hand)craftiness and skill goes into their making than the more common cultivars. And I’m all about that handmade tea and those heirloom and non-commoditized cultivars)

Provenance:

  • Origin: Han Gu Di village area, Jinggu County of Simao, Yunnan, China
  • Grower/Teamaster: Mr. Zheng
  • Elevation: 1600-1750m
  • Harvest Date: Spring 2018
  • Cultivar: Camellia Sinensis var. Assamica Dehongensis, a varietal of what is often referred to as Purple "Ye Sheng".
  • Cultivation: Wild tea trees growing without cultivation; naturally organic, no certification.
  • Plucking Standard: Bud pluck
  • Processing Notes:  Brief withering and hot dry air exposure to halt the oxidation
  • Nickname: Sweet Ya Bao, 甜芽苞
  • History/Pedigree: This is a new tea to the market outside of China.

Tasting Notes:

  • Beautiful to look at in the brewing vessel and intensely aromatic for a white tea. Floral sweetness with fruit undertones. Like nothing I’ve tasted before.

Longing for Long Jing

Cupping the latest harvest 

Long Jing is one of the most famous teas of China, and the authentic tea grown within the National Designated Protected Zone (NDPZ)  of the original five West Lake villages is especially prized. The last lot of Long Jing on the LoC website was from Meijiawu Village, one of those villages. It was delicious and amazing. One of my lucky customers has bought out the last of it, on sale no less, so kudos to them. Unfortunately, due to it's rarity and the demand for it, the prices have skyrocketed way past what the U.S. market will typically support. Indeed, most of the "official" Long Jing from the NDPZ is now bought up in China and never gets out of the country. I only saw Meijiawu Long Jing in one place this year and it sold completely out in a matter of days. I also missed the opportunity to get a little of it for my own enjoyment.

I love the taste and craft of Long Jing, so I am exploring alternatives from outside of the area that use the Long Jing cultivars and are crafted with the same skill and love. Because of its popularity, Long Jing style tea is grown everywhere in China with varying degrees of success and quality. While the quality of the taste is "in the mouth" and subject to your preference and tastes, the ultimate success of the tea as "Long Jing" depends on how closely the terroir matches that of the NDPZ, the cultivars used (traditional heirloom, the commercially developed culitvar Longjing #43, or something else entirely) and the ability of the teamaker in matching the Long Jing style.

The picture above is from my cupping of a couple of candidates I am sampling. I hope to have a delicious alternative up on the website shortly. Another alternative that I love, is our Bao Hong Mountain tea, which is similar in appearance and shares some palette notes with Long Jing, even though it is a completely different cultivar than the ones use for Long Jing. And it is devotedly grown and processed by a family that has been producing this tea on their land for 10 generations.

I will notify all the subscribers when the new Long Jing is up!

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May Day General Sale!!!

Apres-ski gongfu tea break

I just returned from the Professional Ski Instructors Association Spring Convention at Mammoth Mountain CA. I took some adaptive continuing education clinics to support my volunteer work with the Los Angeles and veteran disabled community. For a quick video of my tea break, click here.

May Day General Sale!!!

10% off your order 

It's May and we're well into spring and the tea harvest, so it's a great time to stock up on your favorites. Today through 5/8/18, take 10% off your enitre order with discount code MAYDAY2018.

 

Sale Teas

Use the "Sale" tag to see all the teas on sale 

As I bring in new teas, I usually have some teas that I am discounting to make room for other teas or a new lot. It's always worth taking a look to see if there is anything tempting there.

On any tea page, click on the "Browse by Tag" pull down in the upper right of the window and select "Sale". Or simple click here.
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New Teas in the Leaves of Cha tea chest!!!

Darjeeling Yanki Special Black Tea

Small Farm  Tea from Darjeeling India 

Yanki Special 2nd Flush is a black tea from Darjeeling, harvested and crafted in small batches from small farms. It is one of the first Darjeeling teas of its kind in the market, as most Darjeelings are from large estates. The small-batch processing allows for a higher standard of quality and ethics for the growers and teamakers.
 
Yankhu Tamang founded the Society to "Promote Small Farmers, Socially and Economically”. The group is trying to change the narrative of Darjeeling tea production by empowering small growers to make their own tea, including both standard Darjeeling teas and handcrafted quality batches like this Yanki Special Darjeeling. This empowerment of the local Gorkhas, who have always supplied the manpower for the big tea estates, cannot fail to improve the quality of the famous Darjeeling tea and improve the livelihoods of the farmers and teaworkers.
 
Outside absentee ownership of those large estates has led to a decline in overall quality and a commoditization of most Darjeeling on the market, as well as being a factor in the unrest3 currently happening in the region.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Mirik Valley, Darjeeling, India
  • Grower/Teamaster: Darjeeling Small Growers Society/Yankhu Tamang
  • Elevation: 2,100m (7,000ft)
  • Harvest Date: Spring 2016, 2nd Flush
  • Cultivar: Camellia Sinensis Sinensis
  • Cultivation: Natural (Organic, but no certification)4  
  • Processing Notes:  harvested and crafted in small batches; hand-rolled
  • History/Pedigree: One of the first small-farm Darjeeling on the market, as most Darjeeling comes from large estates

 
Tasting Notes:

  • Smooth and even flavor with hints of sweetness that vary over different brewing parameters

Find it on the website here.

Floating Flower Jasmine

Blended Yunnan Green Tea 

This jasmine green tea was too beautiful and delicious to pass up even though the Leaves of Cha tea chest is primarily filled with straight teas. This delicate and aromatic blend is produced in the traditional way using just jasmine flowers steamed under the green tea and then also added to the finished tea.
 
Provenance:

  • Origin: Wu Jia Village, Yun Xian county, Lincang Prefecture, Yunnan (Jasmine flowers: Wen Shan area)
  • Grower/Teamaster: Mr. Yang
  • Elevation: 1650 meters
  • Harvest Date: April 10th 2017
  • Cultivar: Yun Kang Bi Luo Chun (cross of Bi Luo Chun and Assamica)
  • Cultivation: Natural, no pesticides  
  • Plucking Standard: Bud Pluck
  • Processing Notes:  Jasmine flowers are steamed underneath the finished tea leaves, then fresh jasmine Flowers are mixed in for additional fragrance  and beauty
  • Nickname: Jasmine Floating Flower
  • History/Pedigree: Yun Kang Bi Luo Chun varietal was first developed in 1992 by the Yunnan Tea Research Institute.  Cultivation was encouraged for more than a decade before it gained popularity as a finer green tea cultivar.

 Tasting Notes:

Incredible jasmine aroma that balances out in the cup to wonderful pair with the umami and vegetative notes of the green tea; all enhanced by the beauty of the jasmine flowers left in the tea leaves. Jasmine notes will be most prominent on first infusion.

Find it on the website here.

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New Teas...and more to come!!!

Kukicha

Green Tea from Shizuoka Japan 

Kukicha, or “stem tea”, is a specialty green tea made from the stems of green tea leaves. Kukicha typically is only made during the spring using a careful process to separate the leaves and stems. This kukicha is made even more delicious by using the flavorful first flush of the tea plants, after they have gone through their period of winter dormancy.

This wonderful tea is from Toshiaki Kinezuka's small, completely organic farm in Shizuoka. Their natural growing practices are an anomaly in the midst of Japan’s typically heavy use of chemicals in their industrialized tea industry.

The farm is now being led by Toshiaki's eldest daughter, Ayumi Kinezuka. Her passion is to keep Japanese tea traditions alive, while also gaining knowledge from other tea traditions. She studied black tea production in Sri Lanka.

She works alongside her father, mother, younger brother, and younger sister on the farm. Leaves of Cha is especially proud to support women-run tea businesses in what is a primarily male-run industry.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Nakayama Village in Fujieda, Shizuoka, Japan
  • Grower/Teamaster: Kinezuka Family/Ayumi Kinezuka
  • Elevation: 350m (1150ft)
  • Harvest Date: Spring 2016
  • Cultivar: Yabukita
  • Cultivation: Natural (Organic, no cert.) Toshiaki Kinezuka started farming with all-natural methods back in 1976, so the farm has been grown with organic practices for 38 years.
  • Plucking Standard: First flush pluck.
  • Processing Notes:  made completely of stems carefully separated during the production process
  • Nickname: Stem Tea

Tasting Notes:

  • Brilliant bright green appearance and a bright, rich aroma. The flavor is sweet and grassy with fresh citrus notes and a hint of seaweed, with very little bitterness and a very refreshing aftertaste. Cold-brews great for iced tea!

Find it on the website here.

 

Bao Hong Mountain Green

Yunnan Green Tea 

This Bao Hong green tea is just the kind of tea that gets me excited in this world of generic, commodity teas. It’s delicious, it has history, and it is cultivated and made with dedication and love. I’m still trying to sleuth out the name of the cultivar, if it has one, but the original plant is believed to have been brought to Bao Hong Mountain by a wandering monk from Fujian. Cultivation started during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907) around the same time as the Bao Hong Si Buddhist Monastery was being built on the mountain and has continued ever since. The Liu Family has been growing this tea for at least 10 generations.

This tea is similar to Long Jing/Dragonwell is many respects. It has a unique history and provenance, a similar appearance in the dry and steeped leaf, and in its taste. Yet it is unique in its own right and a great value given the skyrocketing price of authentic Long Jing.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Bao Hong Mountain, Yi Liang County, Yunnan Province, China
  • Grower/Teamaster: Liu Family
  • Elevation: 1550-1630m
  • Harvest Date: March 2017
  • Cultivar: Still researching; from a Fujian varietal
  • Cultivation: Natural cultivation in a remote un-adulterated environment
  • Plucking Standard: Fine Picking; bud & two leaves
  • Processing Notes:  leaves picked in a two hour early morning window
  • Nickname: Bao Hong
  • History/Pedigree: Cultivation started during the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-907). The Liu Family has been growing this tea for at least 10 generations.

Tasting Notes:

  • The leaves brew up full and plump for their small size, with the downy hair from the leaves floating in the liquor. Fragrant with grassy and mineral notes coming through especially on the second infusion.

Find it on the website here.

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Volunteering at WSC! The Tea Harvest is upon us!

Being of Service: The Tea Monger as volunteer Adaptive Ski Instructor

2017 National Disabled Veteran's Winter Sports Clinic, Snomass Colorado  

At Leaves of Cha, we believe in being of service. Last week, the Teamonger was in Snowmass Colorado volunteering as an adaptive ski instructor at the 2017 National Disabled Veteran's Winter Sports Clinic. This is my sixth year at the Clinic and it is one of the highlights of my year. This year almost 400 disabled veterans participated, including around 150 new participants. They were supported by about 1000 volunteers, including 200 of the top adaptive ski instructors in the U.S.A. and Canada. On top of that there were the veteran's own caregivers and supporters: family members, friends, and professionals who accompany the veterans and make it possible for them to attend.

Here's a little "taste" of what I do when I'm not brewing tea...

Check out the video here.

And even when I'm out on the snow and ripping off the tops of mountains, I still find time for tea, as you can see here.

 

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The 2017 Tea Harvest

Keep checking the Leaves of Cha website for new and restocked teas  

This is an exciting time of year as the tea world waits for all the new teas to come in. It is especially so when it comes to the small farm and single origin teas as even slight changes in weather can affect the quality, quantity, and cost of the tea produced. Many of the highest grade and most famous teas in China get bought up on the domestic market, leaving very little for the world market.

So look for some new teas to be added and for most to be restocked. Some teas might not be available this year because the quality was not there or the cost was too high to make it commercially viable. But I am always on the lookout for unique teas with provenance, with a story, and whose quality "is in the mouth."

Keep checking the Leaves of Cha website for all the developments. Drink With Me!
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Teaware the Ides of March

10% off all Teaware through March 22nd  

The Ides of March was not a good day for Julius Caesar. But everyday is a great day for tea. And great tea deserves great teaware. Check out all the great choices at Leaves of Cha here; from functional teaware to lovely handmade pieces that perfectly complement the handmade teas we sell here. 

10% off through 3/22.

Code: TEAWARETHEIDES17

"Et tu, BrewTea?"


In order to use it, enter the gift code above at checkout.
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Upcoming Events

Southwest Tea Festival

February 25th & 26th, 2017 in Las Vegas  

If you are looking to get out of whatever weather you are experiencing (it seems like everyone is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry!) and immerse yourself in tea, come visit my table at the Southwest Tea Festival. The Festival aims to unite tea educators, retailers, and growers with tea drinking consumers and hobbyists. This two-day festival will provide tea knowledge, cultural experiences, tastings, cuppings, pairings, and demonstrations for tea enthusiasts.

This will be Leaves of Cha's first Tea Festival and it's very exciting. I would love to see your there and meet you face to face over a cup of tea. AND, I have a discount code for my customers good for 25% off the ticket purchase price! Hope to see you there.

Code: LEAVESOFCHA

In order to use it, visit www.swteafest.com and choose to purchase tickets. When you are in the window where you get to choose the number of tickets that you would like to purchase, there is an option in the top right corner to enter a discount code. Once the code is entered, it will immediately take 25% off of the purchase price.

Cooking Demo with Tea Talk

Surfas Culinary District, Costa Mesa and Culver City CA  

Leaves of Cha has teamed up with the talented Bridget Reilly, owner of Costa Mesa's Royal Tea & Treatery for a couple of demonstrations at the Surfas locations in Southern California. The first one was at the Costa Mesa location before Valentine's Day and featured the making of delicious gluten-free, dairy-free treats. Whenever Bridget paused to prep or cook her treats, I would talk about and sample teas. The picture above is in the Surfas Test Kitchen at the event.

We have another one coming up at the Culver City location on Saturday, March 4th. Keep an eye on the Leaves of Cha Facebook page or other social media for more info on this event as it becomes available.

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"Take a Breath Teasday" Sale

Take a Breath Tuesday

Holidays are stressful. Have a cup of tea 

I hope everyone of my customers are taking time for themselves this holiday. Let's face it; they can be stressful for the simple reason that they are "supposed" to be happy. It's a little more complicated than that. So for me, I breath, I meditate, I make a cup of tea.

I hope you have some on hand so you don't even have to worry about purchasing some. But in case you don't, I have special pricing on some of my teas here. And don't worry that you have to do it now...while supplies last, I'll keep the sale going through for a week or so.

Thank you for all your support and for your love of tea. Peace.

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New Roasted Green Tea; New functional Tea Ware...

Houjicha

Roasted Green Tea from Shizuoka Japan 

Houjicha is a popular Japanese green tea. The dark color is due to the roasting process, which smooths out the bitterness and brings out beautiful aromatic, savory and smoky flavors.

Most houjicha is crafted from lower grade, autumn harvest leaves. However, this tea from the Kinezuka Family is crafted from Spring leaves, harvested in May. These young, tender leaves yield a stronger, more robust flavor and the tea lasts for many more infusions.

The roasting process is said to reduce the amount of caffeine to levels less than decaffeinated tea, but I’m not sure why that would be so I will reserve an opinion until I see some science behind the claim. That being said, the sweetness and lower caffeine content makes it popular for children and evening tea in Japan, so there might be something to it. It is also very easy to brew. The Japanese often drink it hot in the winter and cold in the summer.

This wonderful tea is from the small, completely organic Kinezuka farm in Shizuoka. Their natural growing practices are an anomaly in the midst of Japan’s typically heavy use of chemicals in their industrialized tea industry.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Nakayama Village in Fujieda, Shizuoka, Japan
  • Elevation: 350m (1150ft)
  • Grower/Teamaster: Kinezuka Family
  • Harvest Date: Spring 2015
  • Roast Date: Autumn 2015
  • Cultivar: Yabukita
  • Cultivation: Natural (Organic, no cert.) Toshiaki Kinezuka started farming with all-natural methods back in 1976, so the farm has been grown with organic practices for 38 years.
  • History/Pedigree: popular for children and evening tea in Japan; often served hot in the winter and cold in the summer

Tasting Notes:

  • warm, sweet flavors with savory undertones are reminiscent of salted caramel

Find it on the website here.

New functional Tea Ware

Just in time for holiday gifts for the tea lovers in your life or for your own tea enjoyment, I have added some beautiful functional tea ware to the store:

  • Tea Press, 11.8oz - I love tea presses for easy, daily tea making. This smaller press supplements the 16oz tea press already on our website. This is the size I use the most for brewing for myself, as it is perfect to brew 4 to 8oz cups of tea through multiple infusions.
  • Pour-Through Tea Maker, 17.7oz - Pour-through Tea Makers are an easy, simple way to make your tea. This tea steeper will allow you to brew your tea with little effort and no mess. Place your tea leaves in the top of the Tea Maker, let your tea steep, then simply place on top of your mug and push down. While pushing down, the tea will pour directly into your cup from the bottom of the Tea Maker! This Tea Maker may be the easiest, most convenient way to enjoy loose leaf tea in all it's aesthetic glory. The clear plastic allows you to see the tea open up as it brews, is perfect for multiple infusions, and is easily rinsed out with water.
  • Glass Double-walled demitasse teacups, 90ml/3 fl.oz. - These hand-made shot-style glass teacups will make your tea stand out like never before! Not only does the double-walled design look great and add class to your tea, but it will keep the drink at its desired temperature for your enjoyment. These teacups are, without a doubt, unique and beautiful. The set includes 4 hand-made double-walled teacups.

 

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