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Thoughts on how to decide what teas to give as gifts

December 05, 2019

Tea Gifts - how to choose?

The easiest way for me to break down this topic is to make fictitious categories of tea drinkers with some consideration of how well (or not) you know the gift recipient. Here are some types of gift recipients you might have on your list:

A. I don't know this person very well and I've never actually seen them drink tea.
This one seems tough at first, but actually there are two easy routes to go down for a gift win. The seemingly risky part is how to decide if this person would enjoy a flavored tea or an unflavored tea. My thinking on this is to choose a tea or two that is super solid and will likely appeal to all tea drinkers no matter their overall tea drinking habits. My starting recommendation would be to consider scented teas (which technically are different than flavored teas), extremely palatable oolongs, or even going with a nice herbal tea or two for nighttime drinking.
Why: A lot of people like jasmine teas and this particular tea is fairly unusual and extremely good.
Why? At first blush a rose scented tea may sound funky (as in funky bad, not funky good), but Empress Cup is a long standing best seller with a hard core devoted fan base and is just a downright awesome black tea. Super sweet, fragrant, and balanced.
Why? Many people genuinely go nuts for this tea. It has no actual additives or anything like that. Milk oolong is made from a varietal of tea plant in Taiwan that has naturally occurring creamy fruity aromatics that make for a real crowd-pleaser of a tea.
Why? No matter who you are it's nice to have an minty herbal around for unwinding after a stressful day or after a meal. Offering of Mint is exquisite - rich and nuanced with notes of clove and cardamom.

B. I know that this person loves tea of all kinds and that they love trying new things.
Easy peasy. As a tea gift giver, the trick for this person is choosing solid teas that are beyond what they've come across before to keep them engaged and surprised. My thought is that you don't want to get too out there just in case, but out there enough to keep them intrigued
Why? It's just so darn good, that's why. Extremely rich and dark, but not overly astringent or rough. Notes of molasses, cooked grains, and sugars. I hope to be so lucky as to always have this tea in my life - it's that satisfying.
Why? This is an unusual white tea from Yunnan Province, China. The tea steeps sweet and rich with extraordinary aromatics of purple flowers and fruits.
Why? Most Korean tea stays in Korea so it's fun to try something we don't usually get here in the States. Korea has a rich and extensive history of tea making and tea appreciation, and overall their tea production is very high quality. This specific tea has an incredible grainy sweetness in the aftertaste that is not to be missed.

C. I know my recipient enjoys English style teas and teas with milk or lemon in it.
This is a fairly easy nut to crack. Generally teas that are made English-style are teas from Africa, India, and Sri Lanka. There are also a handful of famous Chinese black teas that have made it to the pinnacle of European tea appreciation and have earned their rightful place at the English tea service table.
Why? Super smooth and rich, takes milk and sugar well.
Why? Bold and malty, takes milk and sugar well.
Why? A classic tea for tea service, this is a 'make it fancy' tea - sure to please even the hardest to satisfy tea-wise.
Why? It's a very solid organic Earl Grey with a tremendous fan base. People who really like Earl Grey often have a difficult time forming new relationships with other teas.

D. I know my recipient is a person who loves dessert teas and flavored teas.
They love to curl up with fragrant, cozy teas and do tea-loving activities. Flavored, highly aromatic tea is a part of their lives, their self care, and their time with others.
Why? This tea is basically comfort in a cup. It is reminiscent of sugar cookies and makes a lot of people really, really happy.
Why? This tea is basically Christmas in a cup. It's a sweet and fragrant tea with notes of Christmas oranges and cinnamon.
Why? Really rich and luxurious. Super soothing and sweet.
Why? An elegant and flavorful black tea with real vanilla pieces in it. A very classic style of flavored black tea that is comforting and delicious but not too too showy or out there.

E. And finally....the tea snob.
This person is an expert on tea. They drink tea often, enjoy many different types of teas, and are deeply moved by tea. Some might call it 'obsessed,' but we call it "deeply moved."
Why? This is a stunning black tea from the birthplace of tea, Yunnan Province, China. Everything comes together for this tea. It is exquisitely fragrant and smooth.
Why? This gold medal winning tea is a sublime, bug-bitten tea from Taiwan. The tea steeps rich with elegant notes of deep fruit and dark honey.
Why? Many chajin (or 'tea people') have a deep affection for Wuyi Oolongs. They are the original oolong, the first ever made. Old Bush Shui Xian is a beautiful, well-rested charcoal roasted Wuyi oolong from older bushes.
Why? A starchy, sweet, and relaxing spring grown green tea from a perfect two leaves and a bud hand-plucking. A real delicacy.
Why? This is a six year old white tea from Fujian Province. The tea liquor is rich with enticing aromas of baking spice. Get them the whole cake if you can. It's fun to have, beautiful to look at, and a treasure to own.