If I asked you if you'd like a cup of tea, what kind would you want? In your head you're going through all the varieties of tea you can think of, trying to make a decision. Maybe Earl Grey, Chamomile, some variety of green tea ...
But how about Lapsang Souchong? Or Pinhead Gunpowder? Or Silver Needles? Did you think of those?
The world of tea is really, really large. Consider that at two leaves and a bud we have 16 different offerings of tea that come in sachets, but those barely scratch the surface of how many varieties of tea are out there. This is one reason why we recently started offering 15 new teas only in loose form, known as our "exclusively loose" line of teas.
These are wildly different teas — from the polarizing smokiness of the aforementioned Lapsang Souchong, to the light and floral flavor of a Jade Oolong. These teas have great stories — Pinhead Gunpowder is a green tea produced in China with leaves that are withered, steamed, neatly rolled and then dried and polished into small round pellets. Hojicha is known as "stem tea" because it's made only with the stems of the tea plant, Camellia sinensis, and not leaves. Genmai Matcha is a Japanese tea made of leaves of green tea, roasted brown rice and powdered green tea. Silver Needles look just like their name, since they're made from the young buds of the Camellia sinensis plant, and have a fine, silvery hair on them.
Sure, loose tea can seem a little intimidating — it's just not as easy as plunking a sachet into a mug and adding water. On the other hand, the process of measuring out a teaspoon per cup, putting it in a filter (or even leaving it floating it loose in your mug), is gratifying, and after a while even becomes ritualistic.
I'd even argue that there's a certain magic to peering into your cup to watch your Jasmine Pearls unfurl slowly as they steep. Richard points out that in China they're fond of putting the tea loose into the cup, and then refilling the cup repeatedly with water as they drink, steeping indefinitely.
If you want to take a step into exploring any of these teas, now is a good time — we're offering 20 percent off these exclusively loose teas, while supplies last. You'll find suggestions on how to prepare each variety on our website, and plenty of accessories like filters and teapots. My own suggestion: try the smoky and rich Dark Oolong the next time you're having Chinese food. Delicious.