Sourced, a new curated collection of specialty tea
Specialty tea is nothing new. In fact, the Camellia sinensis leaf has been used as a medicine and experimented with for over a millennia within Central Asia, particularly China.
In the pre-modern era, tea was often preserved to ensure its integrity over far distances, or to guard against the harshness of winter. Over the course of time, tea became an artisan commodity, with certain provinces becoming renowned for styles of tea that exhibited great beauty and exquisite flavour. Think pressed semi-fermented cakes of pu’erh, tightly-rolled “shots” of gunpowder green tea, pan-fired green teas and wiry oolongs.
So why is the Western world only discovering these treasures now?
In a nutshell, the Cold War. This conflict inescapably blocked the discovery of China’s kaleidoscopic variety of tea, lasting until late in the 20th Century. Similarly, Japan had also been closed to the West owing to World War II. Of many other producing countries that continue to go unrecognised for their tea, these are just two examples.
As a result, the Indian Subcontinent was presented with a captive market for black and green tea for decades, with breakfast and afternoon teas becoming household names in the Western vernacular.
With the end of the war, free trade opened and the ocean’s depth of incredible tea from regions in China, Japan and surrounds has steadily became ready for trade in great volume.
With an estimated 3,000 kinds of tea on the global market, inclusive of blends and specialty styles, there is certainly no shortage of choice. But we only know black and green tea. Breakfast and afternoon tea. Mainly.
The grocery shelf hasn't represented variety
One could argue that the supermarket aisle has become an impediment to accessing a broader range of teas. For one thing, the titular English Breakfast, Earl Grey and misleadingly titled Orange Pekoe, although wonderful in their own right, remain the default choice for the tea lover.
In other cases, commodity products that are labelled as tea contain no tea leaf at all but are mixtures of herbs, sugar replacements, fruits and flavouring. Oftentimes, these products make spurious claims about health and wellness that distract from the enjoyment of tea as a gourmet food.
All that we need now is to enable tea lovers, new and old, to explore the possibilities. Customers need to look beyond the supermarket shelves. More importantly, we need more vendors to bravely champion specialty tea; a tea range should campaign for both innovative, quality blends and specialty teas side-by-side.
We need to bring back specialty tea
In addition to our existing lineup of original blends, we are excited to share with you a new range, Sourced.
The first collection focuses on Japan, where we recently travelled and discovered the nuances of green tea influenced by marine terroir and attention to detail from years of generational knowledge.
In Japan, tea is the default, not coffee. Tea is used to welcome guests, as a digestive, for contemplation and for appreciation with food. Yet there are just three categories of green tea: shaded, steamed and roasted. Mix in different environmental factors and personal taste, and the spectrum of taste multiplies.
With these factors in mind, we’ve sourced and curated a collection of tea from specialist farmers and plantations in Japan. They are delicious, easy to drink and simple to brew.