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Did you know all true tea comes from a single plant?

The tea plant is an evergreen shrub named Camellia sinensis. Over the centuries, tea growing regions around the world have used the leaves of the tea plant to craft their own distinct styles of tea. From simple to complex, the preparation and flavor profile of the tea is reflective of regional culinary tastes and are uniquely distinguished by both processing methods and terrain. While factors like altitude, soil, and weather all contribute to the flavor known as terroir, it is the varied steps in the handling and processing of the tea leaves that contribute to the taste and character of the tea.

A Step by Step Guide to Tea Processing

Click on Each Tea Style to Learn More

  • White
  • Green
  • Oolong
  • Black
  • Herbal
  • Sencha & Bancha
  • Hojicha
  • Kukicha
  • Lapsang Souchong

Organic Farming

High quality organic teas and herbs begin with healthy, organic soil.

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Organic Farming

High quality organic teas and herbs begin with healthy, organic soil.

Our tea estates and growers around the world practice verified methods of organic farming and have been cultivating the finest teas and herbs for generations. Chemical fertilizers are never used. Instead, our gardens utilize sustainable techniques like natural pest control, organic fertilizers, and composting to enrich the soil and nurture the plants. This not only benefits the plant, but supports the whole ecosystem, including the air, water, and surrounding wildlife. Organic farming creates a healthier product for the consumer, workers, and the environment.

Plucking

Tea is either hand plucked or shear harvested.

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Plucking

Tea is either hand plucked or shear harvested.

Hand plucking results in some of the world’s finest teas and requires a considerable amount of human labor. Shear harvesting is done in countries where the labor force is less available or a less precise cut of tea is desired. Within hours of plucking, the tea is brought to a factory for further processing.

Withering

A steady stream of dry air is used to wither and remove moisture from tea leaves.

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Withering

A steady stream of dry air is used to wither and remove moisture from tea leaves.

Leaves are placed in long troughs and withered with dry air. Withering takes 12 to 15 hours and removes up to 45-55% of the moisture. During this process, a natural chemical change takes place, helping to concentrate the flavors in the leaf.

Rolling

Machines are used to roll the leaves to bring out their natural flavor.

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Rolling

Machines are used to roll the leaves to bring out their natural flavor.

Special machines roll, twist, and press the leaves, massaging them so that the cell walls break, releasing the juices and enzymes within. This is where many teas start to develop their distinguishing flavors.

Crush, Tear, & Curl

For some black teas, a CTC machine is used to turn tea leaves into small pellets.

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Crush, Tear, & Curl

For some black teas, a CTC machine is used to turn tea leaves into small pellets.

As an alternative to rolling, some black teas are placed in a Crush, Tear and Curl (CTC) machine. This produces small pellets that brews a strong, brisk tea and is common for African, Assam, and breakfast-type teas.

Smoking

Tea leaves are exposed to smoke from pine fires for a unique, bold taste.

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Smoking

Tea leaves are exposed to smoke from pine fires for a unique, bold taste.

To create Lapsang Souchong, fresh tea leaves are exposed to smoke from pine fires before being oxidized, creating a unique smoky, bold, and hearty black tea. Traditionally, this style of tea comes from China.  

Oxidation

Oxidation begins immediately after tea leaves are rolled, resulting in a range of tea types from black to oolong.

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Oxidation

Oxidation begins immediately after tea leaves are rolled, resulting in a range of tea types from black to oolong.

Bruised leaves react to oxygen in the air and immediately begin to oxidize, turning them from brown to black. Oolong teas are partially oxidized, creating a spectrum of flavors from light and floral to dark and rich. Black teas are fully oxidized, producing a full-bodied and brisk flavor profile.

Steaming

Steaming preserves the desired crisp flavor in many Japanese green teas.

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Steaming

Steaming preserves the desired crisp flavor in many Japanese green teas.

Traditional Japanese green teas, like Sencha, are steamed immediately after rolling to prevent oxidation. Steaming the tea leaves creates a vegetal, umami flavor and a bright green brew.

Drying

Teas leaves are fired at high heat to quickly eliminate moisture and preserve taste and quality.

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Drying

Teas leaves are fired at high heat to quickly eliminate moisture and preserve taste and quality.

During the drying process, the tea leaves are fired in large dryers. This dries and lowers the moisture level of the leaves to below 3%. A well-fired tea will ensure the longevity and freshness of the tea.

Unlike other teas, Chinese green teas are traditionally dried using a method called pan-firing. The tea leaves are passed through a rotating cylinder at high temperatures to halt oxidation, creating a pleasant, bright flavor.

Roasting

After drying, some teas are roasted to create a warm, toasty flavor.

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Roasting

After drying, some teas are roasted to create a warm, toasty flavor.

Hojicha is roasted at high heat creating reddish brown leaves that have a savory, toasted flavor.

Kukicha, or Twig Tea, is made from the stems and twigs of the tea plant. Black volcanic sand is combined with the tea to help it roast evenly in a large revolving oven. The sand is later removed, producing a flavorful, rich tea that is low in caffeine.

Herbs

Herbal teas can be made from leaves, flowers, roots, bark, fruit, spices, and even mushrooms.

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Herbs

Herbal teas can be made from leaves, flowers, roots, bark, fruit, spices, and even mushrooms.

Also referred to as infusions or tisanes, herbal teas are made from any other plant than tea, or Camelia sinensis, that can be steeped in hot water and enjoyed. Most herbs are simply harvested, cut, and dried and do not go through extensive processing steps like tea.

Blending

Many of our teas are blended to create unique tastes and traditional brews.

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Blending

Many of our teas are blended to create unique tastes and traditional brews.

Once we receive the teas and ingredients, we begin crafting the blends you see on the shelf. Some teas we keep just as they are, only testing for taste and quality consistency before they’re packed for distribution. Others are combined with complementary teas or herbs to create blends that are true to tradition like English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Masala Chai, and Mint Green. In addition to traditional blends, we have created unique flavor profiles all our own like Blackberry Hibiscus, Lemon Lavender Mint, or even our Wellness Teas** with flavor and function combined.

Packing

Our teas are packed in Seattle, giving us the ability to control the quality of our products before you buy them at the store.

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Packing

Our teas are packed in Seattle, giving us the ability to control the quality of our teas before you buy them at the store.

As one of the few tea companies that manufactures in the US, we have direct control over quality and sustainability of our products. Our high standards for sourcing organic teas is matched with our standards for packaging materials. While loose leaf teas require only a sealed pouch, our Original, Gourmet, and Wellness Teas** are machine packed into unbleached abaca and paper fiber tea bags. These tea bags are folded and then sewn, not stapled or glued, placed into envelopes, and then put into boxes made from 100% recycled paperboard printed with plant based inks. Once the teas are packed, they are shipped for you to enjoy.

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