About three years ago I discovered a lovely China Keemun at the Perennial Tea Room in Seattle: Red Peach Keemun. Keemun is one of my favorite black teas and the one I drink most frequently; it is smooth and tasty (sometimes smoky, sometimes fruity) and has the unusual trait of being delicious both cold and hot. By this I mean not just that it makes delicious iced tea (which it does), but that when I leave the perfectly brewed cup sitting out while I wander off doing something else, my cold cup of tea still tastes sweet rather than going bitter when I come back to it. Darjeelings and Assams just aren’t forgiving this way; if you forget, you might as well throw out the cup.
So, Red Peach Keemun is a full star above regular Keemuns – like a movie that has a good script but then has an outstanding cast and a great cinematographer to boot. I am thinking it is probably four times as expensive as a regular Keemun, but its delicious flavor has made me indifferent (as when you are getting fifty cups from a quarter pound of tea the cost per cup seems to vanish). I haven’t found any place in London that sells it, so imagine my horror when I attempted to get some from my regular supplier and discovered they were out!
Well, one thing led to another and I discovered they were buying from Silk Road Teas. Their minimum order is rather a bit higher than Perennial (it may have gone down, I can’t tell on the website, but last summer it was $50), but since I wanted a pound of Red Peach Keemun, I had nothing to worry about. Then it was a question of what else do I want to order, and, my, the options were amazing.
Most exciting to me were their “Marketplace Specials” – teas they had found outstanding and were offering on discount. I’d never heard of most (any!) of them before. And then there was the Phoenix Bird Collection – a selection of oolongs with a description that left my mouth watering. Mmmm! I’m afraid I might have ordered rather a lot, but every time I’ve opened one of their well-sealed packages, it’s been like Christmas in … whatever month it is.
Anyway, it’s been almost a year since I placed my order with them, and I’m getting ready to restock … and I discover they have sent me a letter! It’s all about the tea harvest in China and mentions some more teas I have never heard of. I will post part of this letter in a few days when I am back home – it’s an exciting window into the world of tea and how Chinese weather has affected this year’s tea harvest.
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Freelance contribution by: Lucy Wyndham All tea leaves will eventually lose flavor, but properly stored dried tea leaves can keep their flavor for up to two years, depending on how fermented and intact the leaves are. Black tea leaves, for example, are more fermented than green or white teas, and will stay … Continue reading
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If you follow what gets said about prices each year, you would end up with the impression that the average price of tea has gone up. But more specifically the price at the most sought after regions (say Lao Banzhang, Bingdao) have gone completely through the roof. A lot of this narrative is anecdotal. Tales of rich Chinese buying up all the top-end product from X area. Part of it can also be seen when someone in the Sinosphere posts the maocha prices per location. These lists come with all sorts of contextual caveats, but the trend seems real. I don’t see any red flags to really doubt this storyline, but I was curious if it’d show up by looking at some of the data of prices on production by western facing vendors.