Archive for the 'Organic Tea Facts' Category

The Forbidden Fruit: Pomegranates and Valentine’s Day

Pomegranate IllustrationFor many, Valentine’s Day is a day of romance, chocolate, and red roses. But here at Arbor Teas, we think it’s time to shake things up a little. Maybe enjoy a little of the “forbidden fruit?” That’s why our tea of the month is the pleasantly sweet and superbly indulgent Pomegranate White tea. But wait! You may be thinking, wasn’t the apple the forbidden fruit? What’s this about pomegranates? Though the apple has been cast as the perennial example of temptation, a little research reveals that the pomegranate is a worthy contender in the tradition of off-limits produce.

The Prominence of Pomegranates
Pomegranates, as delicious to eat as they are difficult to prepare, have a rich history in myth and society. Archeological evidence suggests that pomegranates have been cultivated for five and a half millennia, originating in the western Himalayas and what is now modern-day Iraq. Its popularity spread quickly, however, and by around the beginning of the second millennium B.C.E., the fruit would be commonplace in Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean.
Many religions and societies throughout history, including the Hindu, Hebrew and Chinese cultures, have viewed the pomegranate as a potent fertility symbol. Of interest to us, is how pomegranates became the focus of several mythological traditions among the ancient Greeks, and it is here that that they developed a reputation as a symbol for the taboo or tempting.

An Inconvenient Fruit
In the myth of Persephone, a quintessential tale of temptation and seduction, we find the pomegranate as a “forbidden fruit.” According to one version of the story, Hades (the god of the underworld) falls in love with Persephone, the beautiful daughter of Demeter (the goddess of the harvest), but she will not have him. Hades then lures Persephone into the underworld and tricks her into eating between three and six pomegranate seeds(the number differs depending on which version of the story you hear) because anyone who ate food in the underworld was doomed to spend eternity there.

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February 09 2011 | Organic Tea Facts | No Comments »

Dragonwell Tea Production: From Tea Bush to Tea Cup!

Dragonwell Green TeaMaking Dragonwell tea is a complex process: it requires many hours of manual labor, skilled workers, and just the right cultivation methods to produce one of the finest teas in China. The style of Dragonwell tea preparation perfected on Lion Peak Mountain (a mountain in the western part of Zehjiang province) has been emulated by numerous plantations around China, but subtle variations in growing and manufacture result in products of various qualities.

Location, Location, Location

All the processing in the world won’t make a bit of difference if the starting product is no good, and to grow the best tea leaves, you need optimal conditions for the tea plant. The best Dragonwell tea comes from plantations at high altitudes in moderate climates with high humidity and lots of rainfall. Lion Peak Mountain, the source of the first Dragonwell teas, has a topography that maximizes rainfall and moisture retention and soil that is high in phosphorus and mildly acidic. Factors such as these, combined with a legion of highly trained tea workers, result in the ideal Dragonwell tea leaf, but there are still many steps between the tea tree and your teacup.

The Art of the Harvest

The artistry involved in merely picking the Dragonwell tea leaves is exceptional. Workers must only collect terminal buds and another leaf or two (often referred to as a “bud set”), and they must be cautious not to tear or otherwise damage the leaves; all bud sets in Dragonwell tea must be pristine.

Even the harvesting season is meticulously managed; traditional harvest begins on March 20th and ends April 20th, leaving workers a meager four weeks in the fields! This is all the more astounding when one considers that skillful tea harvesters may only gather two kilograms of tea in the span of ten hours, which will amount to roughly a quarter of that weight in processed tea product.

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January 22 2011 | Organic Tea Facts and Products | 1 Comment »

Earl Grey Tea: Fact and Fiction

Earl Grey TeapotEasily the most popular of the English tea blends (our organic Earl Grey is certainly one of our most popular!), Earl Grey may seem as timeless as tea itself, but this tea is a surprisingly young blend with a checkered history that few can seem to agree on.

The Tea Itself

Traditional Earl Grey is a blend of black tea flavored with the essence of Bergamot rind, though the name may also be used to refer to any tea—black or otherwise—that uses bergamot as a flavoring (such as our organic green Earl Grey, and our organic Earl Grey rooibos blends). Bergamots are small tart oranges native to southern Vietnam that research suggests are a cross between the sweet lemon, Citrus limetta, and the sour orange, C. aurantium, and the essential oils from their rinds are what give Earl Grey its characteristic flavor. Consequently, the tea often sees use in all manner of confectionary, lending a subtle, citrusy zest to chocolates (like our tea-infused truffles!), cakes, or sauces.

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January 11 2011 | Organic Tea Facts and Tea Culture | 2 Comments »

Fun Facts about Our Organic Jasmine Green Tea

So what exactly puts the “jasmine” in our Organic Jasmine Green Tea?

Jasmine Blossom Used to Scent Jasmine Green Tea

A Jasmine Blossom (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Generally speaking, the term “jasmine” refers to an entire genus of shrubs and vines within the olive family Oleaceae. But the kind used to scent tea, Jasmine sambac, is a berry-producing plant that can manifest as either an evergreen vine or a shrub, and is native to southern Asia (Source: USDA). It also goes by the name Arabian jasmine. It grows in full sun to partial shade, blooming from June to September. Interestingly, many Jasmine plants only bloom fully at night, which is when it’s most aromatic. As such, late night is the optimum time to pick Jasmine blossoms when used for scenting tea.

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September 19 2010 | Organic Tea Facts | 1 Comment »