Through the windows of our (home-) offices, we watch the heatwave pass by in summery dresses and short trousers. Summer - not the season people typically associate with tea. Yet: True tea connoisseurs know that there is no outside temperature limit when it comes to enjoying high quality tea. Lightly oxidized teas in particular - Whites, Greens or Oolongs -, bring freshness and flavor to this time of the year. We are therefore tremendously excited to re-introduce our latest limited harvests to you; just arrived in Berlin this week.
As you might know, we are rather famous for our limited harvests of special and unusual teas from small gardens around the world. These fine teas are produced in very small quantities, of which we consider ourselves lucky to acquire significant, yet limited batches. Receiving these precious teas feels like Christmas for our team and our fellow tea lovers, and brewing the first cup of a limited harvest becomes an occasion to remember and celebrate. Nobody knows if these will even exist next year, or find their way back to our warehouses. As seasons change, so do the complex and intricate taste profiles of our limited harvests. Let us take you through our most prized teas, from our limited harvests to our rarest first flushes.
Just below the equator rises the sharp peak of Mount Kenya, Africa’s second largest mountain. At this high altitude growns our SILVER SINDANO N°106. Due to the higher African temperatures, this White tea is already harvested in February, which makes this the very first flush of the season. Pale yet potent, this aromatic cup releases a full-bodied firework of fruity-floral aromas with a soft, cocoa butter finish. What makes SILVER SINDANO N°106 so special, is that the Kangaita Tea Estate is using the Chinese method of imperial plucking for its harvest. As the name suggests, originally the finest teas were reserved for the emperor’s palette alone. Following this tradition, SILVER SINDANO N°106 only uses the most delicate and young part of the tea plant, its furry buds, which are extremely rich in taste. Exposed to the hot African heat, these gently dried buds produce a vanilla sweet flavour reminiscent of walking into a bakery heaving with fresh pastries.
Leaving the African continent, we invite you to follow us to one of China’s top ten teas and certainly the best thing 2020 had in stock for us: SNAIL'S PACE N°917. A slow tea. This limited harvest from spring 2020 took a while to get to us due to the ongoing pandemic, but the wait was worth every sip of this refreshing, fruity green tea. Surprisingly, its name has nothing to do with the wait though. The Chinese call it Bi Luo Chun, which means “green spring snail” and refers to the beautiful spirals its tea leaves curl into when dried. Watch them slowly unswirl while steeped, and smell the citrus notes being released. Citrus you ask? SNAIL'S PACE N°917 is grown on a tea plantation, which aims to replicate a natural environment by planting Loquat shrubs and other citrus trees in between the tea plants. The acidic, orange Loquats, which you might know as Japanese plums, give SNAIL'S PACE N°917 its distinct and atypical aroma.
“White tea is unique amongst all the tea under Heaven. The branches of the trees flare out wide and the leaves are so thin they are nigh translucent. White tea trees grow wild and sporadic, so they cannot be domesticated by man.”
This is a quote by a man who lived for tea. Chinese Emperor Huizong of the Song dynasty wrote in his famous book, Treatise on Tea, about the many different qualities and secrets surrounding the tea plant. The particular tea he speaks of here became something of a legend, as these wild tea trees were lost for centuries. What Huizong didn’t know was that any kind of tea can be produced from the one and only camellia sinensis; so what he thought of as a white tea plant, was in fact a tea plant with white looking buds.
Shining almost fluorescently, the tender leaves of Anji Bai Cha produce less chlorophyll in their naturally foggy mountainesque environment in the Anji County. This is why this tea has its name, Anji White Tea, even though technically speaking, it is a green tea. When its whitish looking leaves were rediscovered around 40 years ago, a wave of excitement went through China. That same wave just went through our offices, as the latest seasonal harvest of HAPPY HUIZONG N°301 arrived back here in Berlin. Taste the sweetly nutty aroma of its jade-white cup and experience its mood-boosting and relaxing qualities due to its richness in the amino acid L-Theanine. We assure you, you’ll agree with Emperor Huizong that HAPPY HUIZONG N°301 is a tea worth writing books about.
As you now know, when a tea plant is less exposed to direct sunlight it produces the amino acid L-Theanine. The Japanese love the resulting rich umami flavours, a chemical reaction produced in a L-Theanine heavy tea, which is why they developed shaded teas like Gyokuro. HANAMI FLUSH N°902 is the very first harvest of Gyokuro and yet an atypical Shincha. Growing at high altitudes means the temperatures rise much later in spring and whilst other Shinchas are already harvested and drying, the tea trees of HANAMI FLUSH N°902 are still individually wrapped in their sun-protective layers, growing the tiniest shaded leaves in the japanese mountains. Like a spring breeze wafting all the way from Japan's beautiful Kyushu Island this rare shincha carries the subtle fragrance of the region's beloved cherry blossoms and is ripe with succulent green flavor, tasty umami and rainforest freshness. We cannot stress enough how rare this first flush really is. Only 2% of the world’s tea production is Japanese, of which again only 8% are shaded. Add that only the first two weeks of harvests qualify as first flushes, HANAMI FLUSH N°902 is within the 0.01% finest teas of the world.