This page contains my musings about tea, particularly Pu'er tea, of which I am especially fond, and numerous links to tea retailers and other sites with interesting information about tea.
A few years ago I was given a present of some superior Pu'er tea and the aroma from the first brew instantly conjured up a memory from some twenty years previously, my own madeleine moment...
I was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, staying overnight in a room-only hotel in Ipoh, a predominantly Chinese town. The following morning, I could find nothing resembling breakfast, either English or continental, so I settled in a Chinese tea-shop offering countless varieties of rice biscuit, which I selected by simply pointing at the jars. The tea served with my breakfast-biscuits was dark, with a full flavour and a unique earthy aroma. That was my first taste of Pu'er, and now, twenty years later, Pu'er is my tea of choice to start the day, most days.
I've subsequently discovered that there is something of a cult surrounding Pu'er, with collectors selling blocks of aged Pu'er for huge sums of money. If you are intrigued, here are some links which will tell you more than you probably want to know about Pu'er tea.
- Puerh, A Westerner's Quest
- Mike Petro's wonderfully passionate site states that it "...chronicles a westerner's quest to discover, and publish, the truth about Puerh".
- Pu-erh Tea Company Yunnan
- Tea manufacturer's site with a brief history of Pu'er and other Yunnan teas.
- Pu-erh Tea - TeaSpring.com
- California based retail site with a huge selection of aged Pu'er and other teas.
- Gray & Seddon's tea
- Anglo-Australian company that specializes in premium teas, including Pu'er.
- Generation Tea - Puer
- Another US retailer with some incredibly expensive cakes of 30 year old Pu'er tea.
Don't think that I'm fixated on Pu'er Tea, I've long been a fan of Assam and Darjeeling teas, but my conversion to green tea was sudden and unexpected. A few years ago I awoke in my room in a Paris hotel with something of a thirst after the previous night's wine, only to find that all the tea and coffee was gone except for a single teabag labelled "Gunpowder Green". I was surprised to find that I enjoyed it, especially milk-less, and so started my voyage of discovery.
Now, I'm becoming as eclectic in my teas as my music, regularly drinking Pu'er (of course), white tea (Shou Mei), green (Gunpowder and Anhui), oolong (Ti Guan Yin), and occasionally brewing up a pot of spicy Yunnan black to serve after a curry. In case you want to explore some other teas, here are a some links to tea retailers. I hope they whet your appetite...
- Journal Of Chinese Medicine
- A UK retailer which sells some very nice, premium-priced Chinese tea. Their Jasmine Pearls are exceptional, you can watch them unfurl in a glass for the perfect summer afternoon tea.
- The Teapot - Speciality Chinese Teas
- A tea retailer from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire who boasts that they have one of the best selections of quality teas in the UK.
- Cup of Tea
- A UK based web store with a good selection of reasonably priced teas including Darjeeling, Assam, Pu Erh Imperial, Oolong, and Ceylon. I will be trying their Pu Erh Imperial soon...
- Imperial Tea Court - Rare Asian Tea
- Traditional Chinese teahouse and tea retailer from San Francisco.
- Tribute Tea - Tea Selections
- Retailer from Washington state.
Here are a few more links to web sites with general information about tea, tea history, tea varieties etc. Many tea retailer's web sites also have information pages.
- The Legendary Origins of Tea
- A condensed history of Chinese tea through the ages from James Norwood Pratt.
- Holy Mountain Trading Company - Rare Teas
- San Francisco retailer of oriental goods with a huge selection of teas. The information section includes rare and exotic teas, tea legends, tea ceremony, tea terminology etc.
- Imperial Tea Court - Tea Leaf Classroom
- More tea information from a traditional Chinese teahouse in San Francisco.
- L'Amyx Tea Bar - Premium Tea
- Tea bar and web retailer from Oakland, California with a short introduction to tea varieties.