Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rare Tea Republic Cupping Event

By:  Lauren Rittermann

Rare Tea Republic hosted a small private event at the Fancy Food Show to showcase some of their spectacular hand-picked teas.  Sarah Scarborough, the tea buyer for Rare Tea Republic, went through the process of traveling the world and finding some of the best teas around.  We started by touching, sniffing, and tasting a variety of teas from black to white while we learned about the area where each one came from.

First were 2 teas from Darjeeling: Sungma Turzam First Flush Oolong 2012 which was silky, fresh, and had notes of nectarine and rose, and Tumsong Second Flush 2012 which was a bit stronger, and had notes of dried plums and sap.  First Flush is when the buds are just breaking and the juicy oils are released.  The teas are fresh, light, and taste like spring.  Second flush happens in the summer so the teas are a bit riper, fuller bodied, and usually have more sugar.
Sarah took us through a few countries showing us the difference in location, altitude, and taste of the tea.  We tried teas from Sikkim, Kangra, Nepal, Assam, and Kenya.

Temi Tea from Sikkim are prized teas because Temi Estate is the states only tea garden and they produce some of the most exquisite teas.  This tea was floral and had notes of pineapple.

Next, we tasted Wah Handrolled Green Tea from Kangra.  This tea was the taste of the 1800's because it is the tea that was enjoyed during that time.  This estate is near Dali Lama's monastery in northwest India and is one of India's original tea origins. This tea is best when it is washed before steeped and then steeped at 180 degrees.  The green tea had notes of honey and sugared apple.
Following that was the Jun Chiyabari Himalayan Spring Evergreen from Nepal.  Nepals rich soil is similar to Darjeeling, but they are relatively new.  Young plants and rich soil produce very a very flavorful tea that is much less expensive.  This tea was slightly brisk, floral, and had notes of tropical fruits.

We traveled to Assam in Northeastern India where they produce typical British Breakfast tea.  The tea in this area was planted by the British in 1843 and because of the low elevation gardens, Assam produces bold, malty teas.  This is a very famous tea origin, and the teas offer a brisk bitterness.

We completed our journey in Kenya where we tasted the first white tea of the tasting.  Kenya is a fairly new tea origin, but because of the right soil, and the right land, it is the worlds largest tea exporter.  They are making exciting progress in specialty teas including the Kangaita White Needles that we had the chance to taste.  This white tea is unprocessed and is full bodied with flavors of custard and shortbread.

All in all it was a fantastic learning opportunity to learn more about this company, the work that goes into finding each tea, and the quality of teas Rare Tea Republic produce.  You can purchase Rare Tea Republic Teas online at

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