Two weeks ago, a small contingent of us from Arbor Teas headed to the big island of Hawaii to see what this exciting new tea growing region had to offer. Many suggested that a trip to Hawaii was simply an excuse to dodge the relentless cold and snow of southeastern Michigan’s winter. They were, of course, partly right. But after adding a couple exceptional green teas from Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Tea Farm to our catalog several months ago, we had other motivations, too!
At Arbor Teas, we’re regularly challenged by our customers to track down new and interesting organic teas from exotic locales. At the same time, we’ve seen increasing interest in domestically-grown sources of organic tea. It’s fascinating to think these seemingly opposite trends led us to the same place – aloha, Hawaii!
We are delighted to add two amazing NEW Organic Green Teas from Korea to our catalog! Most people associate green tea with China and Japan, but few know that Korea has an almost 2,000 year old history of tea production and tea culture within its borders. Widely unknown, Korean Green Tea is one of the best kept secrets (shhh!). We are delighted to add these excellent representations of Korea’s top two teas – Organic Woojeon Green Tea and Organic Sejak Green Tea – to our catalog on Valentine’s Day. Who said “green” can’t be the new “red”?! Grown on the volcanic island of Jeju, these organic certified teas are infused with the salty sea breezes and fertile soil of this pristine area of the world.
Organic Korea Woojeon Green Tea
This is an excellent representation of the highest grade of organic green tea from Korea. Plucked in early to mid-April, this tea has a beautiful, smooth cup of concentrated vegetal flavor that lingers in the mouth and evaporates on the mid-tongue. The tight, small dark green leaves have the occasional bright green wisp of a curl that hints at the light yellow, jade-like liquor to come. Its cup is thicker in mouthfeel than our other Korean green tea, Organic Sejak, and represents the most premium of Korean Green Teas.
Organic Korea Sejak Green Tea
More akin to a Japanese green tea flavor profile than a Chinese green tea flavor profile, this Organic Sejak Green Tea has a brothy and boldly vegetal cup that pleasantly lingers in the mouth with smooth, mild astringency. The liquor color reminds of an early spring dandelion and the wet leaves smell of dried straw and cooked asparagus with a brighter and thinner cup than our Organic Woojeon Green Tea. PS – If you like Sencha Green, then try this tea! It is a great alternative for someone looking to replace their Sencha with a new organic tea or want to mix it up.
To ensure delivery by Dec 24 please refer to the following shipping schedule:
USPS Parcel Post
We do not recommend choosing USPS Parcel Post for holiday deliveries
Order by 12 noon EST, Tue, Dec 10
Order by 12 noon EST, Tue, Dec 17
USPS First Class
Order by 12 noon EST, Fri, Dec 20
UPS 2nd Day
Order by 12 noon EST, Fri, Dec 20
Free Delivery in Ann Arbor
Order by 9 am EST, Fri, Dec 20
Also, plan ahead as Arbor Teas will have Reduced Hours for the Holidays: Dec 24, 2013 – Jan 3, 2014:.
Arbor Teas will have reduced hours for the holidays, Tue, Dec 24 – Fri, Jan 3. We will still accept online orders and make shipments during this time, but please plan for a slower turnaround (expect 3-4 days before an order is shipped). Free Delivery in Ann Arbor will continue as planned each Friday during this time period.
Wishing Everyone a Very Merry Holiday and Happy New Year!
Believe it or not the holiday season is just around the corner. This year Arbor Teas is has brought back all of its usual holiday treats plus two new ones:
Our gourmet Tea Infused Chocolate Truffles are back for the holidays! We have offered these tasty little treats during the holiday season for 5 years in a row, brought back each year by popular demand. They are amazing! Each truffle is infused with a different variety of organic tea, carefully matched with the perfect combination of chocolates to highlight the unique characteristics of each. Flavors include: Earl Grey; Coconut Rooibos; Masala Chai; Jasmine; Matcha; and Lapsang Souchong. Available in a 6-pack and 4-pack assortment.
Enjoy sweet and smoky tea infused artisan caramels. Last year we introduced our Tea Infused Caramels based on Olivia May’s most popular recipe from the Arbor Teas Cooking with Tea section. They were a huge hit! In fact, they sold out in the first few weeks forcing Olivia to run back to the kitchen to make more caramels by mid-November. This year, Sweet Gem Confections is re-creating Olivia’s recipe so that we can offer these tasty treats again for the holiday season. Think buttery sweet smoke wrapped in one amazingly gooey and salty caramel!
Organic Holiday Spice Black Tea (NEW — available in decaf too!) A perennial favorite for the holiday season (and only sold in November and December), our organic and Fair Trade Certified Holiday Spice Black Tea is now joined by its decaf companion. Both pair bold organic Indian tea with generous doses of orange, cinnamon and clove flavor! Like all of our flavored blends, our Holiday Spice Black Tea uses only the highest quality organic loose leaf tea, essential oils and botanical ingredients, insuring an excellent cup every time.
New for this holiday season! We have teamed up with our friends at Sweet Gem Confections to create fun and Fabulous Tea Infused Lollipops. Yes, you read that correctly! These unique handmade hard candies make a one of-a-kind gift for yourself or fellow tea lover and contain a concentrated infusion of our organic tea. Available in 3 distinctive “grown-up” flavors (as seen in the photo from left to right): Southern Sweet Tea; Matcha Mint; and Crimson Berry. Sold in sets of 6, every package is tied with a ribbon and includes 2 each of the 3 flavors.
Holiday Gift Sets are Available! Choose between two tea inspired gift sets (regular and deluxe) for the tea lover or the tea novice in your life. The gift sets are tied with a raffia ribbon for a festive touch and shipped in an eco-minded kraft box. Plus, the price already includes a built-in 15% savings!
Arbor Teas customer, Michael, recently made this pair of “goggles” for his son Gideon. To make the goggles Michael re-used the stretchy elastic band that wraps around the Arbor Teas bulk sized packages and an old tea ball with a broken clasp. Michael notes “The goggles have a kind of ‘steam punk’ look to them!” While Gideon wears them for fun and sometimes as eye protection if he is watching his Dad use power tools, we think they could also make an awesome accessory to a Halloween costume!
What is Fair Trade?
Millions of growers and workers worldwide have dedicated themselves to the production of tea. We have their knowledge, skill and artistry to thank for this exquisite product. Most tea is grown and manufactured in developing countries, which often lack fair wages and suitable working conditions. However, the best tea gardens and cooperatives understand that high-quality specialty teas depend on the people and the environment that produce them. Fair Trade Certification verifies and acknowledges the commitment of these producers to meeting internationally recognized Fair Trade standards, which include:
• Wages that meet or exceed legally established minimums
• Absence of forced or child labor
• Freedom of association and organization
• Safe working conditions, including protection from exposure to harmful agrochemicals
• Adherence to national and international labor protections, including those established by the International Labor Organization of the United Nations and, in India, by the Plantation Labor Act
Over the years, we have received many requests for an organic USA-grown green tea. But, unfortunately our search was fruitless because the United States is not an ideal tea growing location. The 5 traditional tea producing nations (China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Taiwan) have specific climates and soils that are perfect for tea growth and production. With the exception of a few successful (and many more unsuccessful) tea gardens on mainland USA, tea production in the USA has been fairly non-existent. Further, an organic certified tea garden has been unheard of.
Recently, Hawaii has begun to make its mark in the tea world. With support from the University of Hawaii, tea production in Hawaii has been encouraged and developed. When we found a USDA Organic Certified tea garden on the Big Island we couldn’t have been more thrilled. Cultivated on the misty slopes of the tallest mountain in the Pacific Ocean, this tea is harvested and manufactured in micro-lots on the Mauna Kea Tea Farm in Hawaii. Its namesake, Mauna Kea (pronounced “MOUN-na KAY-a”), means “white mountain” and provides a rich base of volcanic soil for this small, family-owned tea farm tucked away at 2,000 ft above sea level on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island.
Organic Hawaii Premium Green Tea
Handpicked from the newest spring growth and pan-fired, this Premium Hawaiian Organic Green Tea is a work of art. Each dried twist reminds of a bonsai limb artfully created to reveal the whole leaf and bud. The brew is a beautifully clear, light yellow-green that is subtly complex: delicate; smooth; buttery; green; and sweet. Enjoy the slight dryness felt on the backend and note how it becomes more astringent as it cools. A USA-grown green tea that can stand up to its international counterparts — a true delight!
Organic Hawaii Sweet Roast Green Tea
The Organic Sweet Roast Green Tea is selectively harvested, processed, and roasted to accentuate its naturally sweet character, reduce astringency, and add a slight roasted quality that hints at grilled sweet corn. Easy to prepare and easy to drink, the Sweet Roast is a popular drink in Hawaiian Farmer’s Markets and is delicious hot or iced. The wet leaves smell of sweet hay and create a brothy, vegetal cup that has a bright note felt at the back of the throat.
Ann Arbor-based food blogger, Willow Arlen, is the creator of the blog Will Cook For Friends. Willow is a writer, photographer, and lover of food. She started blogging back in 2011 as a way to combine her passions. Her blog has stunning photography and tasty recipes!
Of her Chai Iced Tea Cubes recipe, Willow says: “I love to wrap my hands around a nice hot chai in the winter, but in the summer months I prefer a cooler option. That’s where these super-concentrated chai iced tea cubes come in. Just add a couple cubes to a glass of milk (or dairy-free substitute), and you’ve got a refreshing glass of iced chai tea.”
We think Chai Iced Tea Cubes is simply a brilliant idea!
Here at Arbor Teas we have had a lot of time to observe the brewing techniques of our customers and ourselves. In a fit of summertime fun and laughter, we created the top 5 Personalities of Tea. Which are you?
We made a Facebook poll to keep track of which steeper is the most common! Let us know which Tea Personality YOU are by Monday, July 8, and we’ll enter you in a drawing to win a free Arbor Teas T-shirt. The winner will be announced on our Facebook page on Wednesday, July 10!
The Super Steeper
Super Steepers pride themselves on getting the “most” out of their tea leaf. They purposefully steep their tea for long periods of time using boiling hot water. The resulting super brew is strong and caffeinated. Super Steepers re-steep habitually. Only in this way, can they extract all the “greatness” from the leaf.
The Serious Steeper
Serious Steepers are studious. They have researched the precise methods to brew each tea and implement them. Serious Steepers want to enjoy and document the unique characteristics of individual teas. Occasionally prone to carrying personal thermometers, they often “educate” bystanders on proper water temperature and steeping time.
The Sidetracked Steeper
Sidetracked Steepers begin with the intent to brew tea using a specific method, but find themselves distracted by life. Inconsistency is the only thing constant. Sometimes the result is a fantastic cup of tea, sometimes not. Either way, it goes down the hatch while on-the-go.
The Serene Steeper
Serene Steepers prepare tea as a lifestyle. Although they are guided by best practices, Serene Steepers are not wed to the rules and are more likely to prepare tea according to their mood. Tea is usually enjoyed in tandem with another activity like reading a book, having a conversation, or enjoying the view.
The Simple Steeper
All teas are created equal in the Simple Steeper’s preparation of tea. Hot Water + Tea Leaves = Drink. Tea leaves are sometimes strained, sometimes not. Simple Steepers re-steep frequently and often do so by simply adding new leaves on top of the old leaves. Easy as that.
You may have noticed the long list of grading letters that often trail the name of an Indian or Sri Lankan (Ceylon) tea, such as in our Organic and Fair Trade Certified Assam Black Tea “TGFOP”. Once manufactured, tea is graded based on its physical description (including leaf size and color). Indian black teas are subject to the most structured and extensive grading system. It is important to know that Indian tea grading does NOT reflect the quality of the final brew, just the visual characteristics of the dry tea leaf. The basic term used for grading whole leaf tea,what we predominately sell at Arbor Teas, is Orange Pekoe (pronounced PECK-oh), or “OP”. In addition to the “OP” designation, additional letters are often assigned to describe the leaves’ various characteristics. So, for example the tea shown above has a rating of “TGFOP” which signifies a tea leaf that is Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Now that is a mouthful!
Well, this already complicated system might be getting even more complicated. As reported in the Business Standard today, the Tea Board of India is proposing to rate tea factories too. During his address at the inaugural session of the 24th annual general meeting of Federation of All India Tea Traders Association (FAITTA), the chairman of the Tea Board Board of India, M G V K Bhanu, announced that the Tea Board of India has proposed to give all the tea factories in India a category rating ranging from A to D, with A being the top quality category. Bhanu stressed this rating system would help spread awareness about the importance of good quality tea among the small tea growers and ensure good quality tea production in the country.
“We propose to map all the tea factories on some of the key parameters. An independent agency will take samples of tea from these factories and certify them with respective categories like A, B, C and D. This will give the factories an identity and ensure the quality production of tea,” said Tea Board of India chairman Bhanu.
This blog serves as a more casual forum for news and updates about Arbor Teas, as well as issues related to tea and sustainable living. Check out Arbor Teas for one of the largest selections of organic and Fair Trade Certified teas available!